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Monday, July 15, 2013

Enter Solyman (5)

In the two octaves here translated, like on many other occasions, Tasso's 'parity politics' (we would say "par condicio" in Italy) can be appreciated. In fact, throughout the poem, if in a given situation the Christian army prevails, in the next episode the Muslim army will do so, and vice versa.

And precisely Solyman is the epitome of this attitude. Both in Gerusalemme Liberata, Canto 10, and in Gerusalemme Conquistata, Canto 11, he receives The Promise, with three powerful verbs that sum up Tasso's worldview: "Osa, soffri, confida," dare, suffer, trust. And the promise is that a (fictionally) descendant of Solyman, Saladin, will reconquer the lands now conquered or about to be conquered by the Crusaders. Like Dante before him, Tasso glorifies Saladin as a man of culture, and even as a warrior.

This might sound a bit strange to us - to us who have been educated according to the 'teachings' of so-called Enlightenment, namely that Pure Reason is on one side, and it happens to be our own. That is also, incidentally, what led to giving the Nobel Peace Prize to the NSA Lord of the Drones. Well, this is not the way the mind of a Renaissance man worked, but rather: Fortune rules the world. The wheel turns. Today it's my turn, tomorrow it will be yours. And rightly so. Even in a poem like Gerusalemme Conquistata.

To be continued . . .