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Thursday, October 31, 2013

What the hell (16)

In the parallel text (4: 15.5) in Tasso's Gerusalemme Liberata,  published in 1581 twelve years before, Satan said, "Fummo, io no 'l nego, in quel conflitto vinti," i.e. "In that conflict (I won't deny it) we have been defeated." The GC version puts it a bit more harshly.

But what is really worth noticing is the last two verses, that in GL were completely different: "Diede che che si fosse a lui vittoria: / rimase a noi d'invitto ardir la gloria," that is "Whatever gave Him victory, to us the glory of an unconquered boldness remains." This version may sound more daring than the GC one, and especially more Miltonian.

On the other hand, when in GC Satan calls himself the one who "moves the world" the sentence is not less daring at all. Indeed, it parallels God who "moves the sun and the other stars" (Dante, Paradiso, last verse), nearly suggesting a Gnostic-like worldview. In fact, this was one extreme of the swing of the pendulum in Renaissance theology, the other extreme being a Spinozian deification of Nature. Tasso clearly shows both in his long poem Il Mondo Creato (1592).

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Off Topic: Art for Hard's Sake

Dante, Inferno 18

A Pasolinian* Canto
full of

* after the name of the Italian columnist, movie director, writer, poet, and civil martyr Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922-1975)

What the hell (15)

[5: 15, Satan speaks]

Ah, non sia ver, ché non sono anco estinti
Gli spirti in voi di quel valor primiero
Quando, di ferro e d'alte fiamme cinti,
Pugnammo già contra 'l celeste impero.
Fummo (no 'l niego) allhora oppressi e vinti,
Ma non mancò virtute al gran pensiero;
E 'n questo tenebroso horror profondo
Quasi io pareggio il ciel e movo il mondo.

"Ha, anything but this! For the spirit of that ancient valor has not died out in you -- when, clad in iron and high flames, we fought against the heavenly empire. We were then (I won't deny it) crushed and defeated, but not without virtue was that great thought. And in this dark, deep horror, I do nearly match heaven, and I move the world."

The red-fonted words, as usual, indicate the places in which Tasso modified the text in comparison with Gerusalemme Liberata; see tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

What the hell (14)

Oddly enough, here Satan pronounces the Name of Jesus: Dante's devils would never have dared to, in fact they always used periphrases when they had to mention him.

Identifying non-Christian gods with devils is a stand dating back to the Tanakh / Jewish Bible (ofter improperly referred to as Old Testament), then developed by St. Paul and the Church Fathers, all the way up to Milton. This often led to including fairies, elves, etc., in the same hellish field. Only - in practice - with JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis would traditional Christian thinkers start to see the fantasy world as something neither angelical nor devilish, and basically positive.

It also dates back to the Tanakh to envision the gathering of all peoples around the true God, but in this case Tasso, with an implicit prophecy, also refers to the newly discovered peoples of America.

Monday, October 28, 2013

What the hell (13)

[5: 13.5 - 14.8, Satan speaks]

Non basta anchor, non basta anchor, non basta
Se 'l nome di Giesù la terra ingombra,
Ma d'altre lingue anchora i novi carmi
Aspetta, e novi anchor metalli e marmi?

Che sian gli idoli nostri a terra sparsi?
Ch'i nostri altari il mondo a lui converta?
Ch'a lui sospesi i voti, a lui sol arsi
Siano gli incensi, et auro e mirra offerta?
Ch'ove a noi tempio non solea serrarsi
Hor via non resti a l'arti nostre aperta?
Che manchi di tante alme ampio tributo
Alfine, e 'n voto regno alberghi Pluto?

"And isn't it enough, not enough, not enough, that the name of Jesus occupies the whole earth, and he now waits for new songs in new languages, and new works in metals and marble? That our idols are knocked down? That the world converts our altars to him? That to him alone are votive offerings hanged up, and incenses burnt, and gold and myrrh given? That, where no temple used to be closed to us, now no way open to our arts has been left? That, finally, the large tribute of souls may be missing, and Pluto may have to live in an empty kingdom?"

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sunday Guest: Aslan's Army

From: CS Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia)

The quote: . . . when they tried to look at Aslan's face, they just caught a glimpse of the golden mane and the great, royal, solemn, overwhelming eyes; and then they found they couldn't look at him, and went all trembly.
"Go on," whispered Mr Beaver.
"No," whispered Peter, "you first."
"No, Sons of Adam before animals," whispered Mr Beaver back again.
"Susan," whispered Peter. "What about you? Ladies first."
"No, you're the eldest," whispered Susan.

 The question: What's that?! L'Armata BrancaLeone?!

Beauty, or the Beast: According to Salwa Khoddam, "In Lewis' chronicles, one can generally observe that the mixed creatures are evil if they have human bodies but animal heads, and good if it's the other way round, suggesting the Renaissance concept of reason as the highest faculty" (Mythopoeic Narnia, 2013, p. 32). On the other hand, a man-headed bull may prove a decent hellish monster, like this Dantean Minotaur drawn by Beppe Madaudo (1982) . . .

Saturday, October 26, 2013

What the hell (12)

Octaves 12 and 13 are quite different from the corresponding verses in Gerusalemme Liberata, but no 'compared criticism' will be done here since the GC version is much more interesting. But, later on, it will be very interesting to see octave 15 both as it appeared in GL and as it has been modified in GC.

Here above, the quite unusual description of God as a vampire comes from Dante, Paradiso 27: 58-59, in a heartfelt invective by St Peter himself who however referred to the 14th century Papacy, namely Clement V and John XXII who "are about to drink our very blood."

The image of the devils' "then bright faces being turned into appalling faces" will be powerfully reworked by Milton in Paradise Lost 1: 84 ff:

"If thou beest he - but O how fall'n! how changed
From him, who in the happy realms of light
Clothed with transcendent brightness didst outshine
Myriads though bright . . ."

Friday, October 25, 2013

What the hell (11)

[5: 12.1 - 13.4, Satan speaks]

Ma ché rinovo i miei dolor gemendo?
Chi non ha intesi i nostri oltraggi e l'onte,
Il carcer, le catene, e 'n viso horrendo
Mutata quella chiara antica fronte?
Di quali ingiurie a ragionar mi stendo
Se parlo cose manifeste e conte?
Deh non vedete homai come s'inpingua
De l'altrui sangue? E non sermone o lingua

Il fido popol suo, ma 'l ferro e l'hasta
Adopra, ond'ogni regno atterra e sgombra;
E mentre a' Regi d'Asia egli sovrasta,
A pena lascia a noi la notte e l'ombra.

"But why should I moan so, and renew my sufferings? Who doesn't already know about our affronts and shame, this jail, these chains, and our then bright features being turned into appalling faces? What insults should I keep listing, as I speak of such obvious and well-known things? Ha, can't you see how 'he' is now getting full of our blood? And not speeches or tongues does his faithful people use, but swords and lances, and they overthrow and empty all kingdoms. And while he dominates the Kings of Asia, he hardly leave us the night and shadows."

Thursday, October 24, 2013

What the hell (10)

Ironically enough, Satan is the only character in GC who offers us a 'Sunday school' on the history of salvation; a sort of Catechism such as had been invented by Martin Luther and then published by the Catholic Church too (in 1566, when Tasso was working on his poem).

Special relevance is here given to Christ's Descent into Hell, that in the Western tradition is usually considered a minor, picturesque event in the life of the Savior, but in the Eastern tradition, i.e. that of the East-European Orthodox Churches, was and is the only way to portray his resurrection and triumph. Tasso's description of the Descent echoes Dante, once again; see Inferno 4: 52-54 and 12: 38-39.

In more modern times, a powerful image of Satan remembering that fatal Easter is provided by CS Lewis in his unsurpassable sci-fi fantasy horror philosophical theological erotic novel Perelandra (1943).

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What the hell (9)

[5: 11, Satan speaks]

Né ciò gli parve assai; ma in preda a morte,
Sol per farne più danno, il Figlio ei diede:
Quel venne e ruppe le tartaree porte
E porre osò ne' regni nostri il piede,
E trarne l'alme a noi dovute in sorte
E riportarne al ciel sì ricche prede
Vincitor trïonfando, e 'n nostro scherno
L'insegne ivi spiegar del vinto inferno.

"Nor did this look enough to 'him'; but, just to cause more damage to us, he gave the Son over to death -- who came, and broke the Tartarean doors, and dared set foot in our kingdom, and draw away the souls that were due to us, and take back to heaven such a rich booty after triumphing victoriously and, to our scorn, display there the standards of defeated hell."

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What the hell (8)

Satan's grand speeches in Milton's Paradise Lost are held shortly after the devils' Fall, but in Tasso's poems the episode is set in the year 1099, at the end of the First Crusade, so Satan already knows everything about the creation of Man and Man's salvation in Christ - while in PL he could only take a wild guess, and quite badly, for that matter.

In spite of this, Tasso gives his long poem/s a universal scope both with regard to space and time: in fact, virtually all the peoples of the Earth partake in the war (China and India included), and the historically limited event of the Crusade turns into a bird's eye view on the whole of human history and the history of salvation. That's why Milton can easily draw on Tasso's verses for his own Genesis-based poem.

Could a reference to Dante be missing? No! Satan's pain in recalling bliss while in hell comes from some statements by damned souls in Dante's Inferno, e.g. Canto 5: 121-122 and 24: 133-134. Farther on, this attitude could already be found in the words of the spirits in Hades according to Greek and Latin classical poets, e.g. see Aeneid 6: 514.

Monday, October 21, 2013

What the hell (7)

[5: 10, Satan speaks]

Et in vece del dì sereno e puro,
De l'aureo sol, de gli stellanti giri,
N'ha qui rinchiusi, in questo inferno oscuro,
Né vuol ch'al primo honor per noi s'aspiri.
E poscia (ahi quanto a ricordarlo è duro!
Questo è quel che più inaspra i miei martìri)
Ne' bei seggi celesti ha l'huom chiamato,
L'huom vile e di vil fango nato.

"And instead of the serene and clear sky, of the golden sun, of the starry circles, 'he' shut us up here, in this dark hell, nor does he want us to aim at our honor of old. And then - ha, that's so hard to recall! That is what sharpens my torments more - to those very fine heavenly seats he called Man, the low, mud-born Man."

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday Guest: ASLAN

From: CS Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia)

The quote: "This is no thaw," said the dwarf, suddenly stopping. "This is Spring. What are we to do? Your winter has been destroyed, I tell you! This is Aslan's doing."
"If either of you mention that name again," said the Witch, "he shall instantly be killed."

The echo: And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?" And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it. So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it. But one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals." (Revelation 5: 1-5)

And also, who knows: But not so much, that did not give me fear
A lion's aspect which appeared to me.
He seemed as if against me he were coming
With head uplifted, and with ravenous hunger,
So that it seemed the air was afraid of him
. . .

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Off Topic: Looks like youths still love Dante

Todi (Italy), "Liceo Jacopone," Oct. 18, 2013

What the hell (6)

John Milton loved these powerful opening words in Satan's speech so much that he reused and reworked them at least three times in his Paradise Lost.

PL 1: 315-316
. . .  "Princes, Potentates,
Warriors, the flow'r of heav'n, once yours, now lost
. . .

PL 2: 11-14
"Powers and Dominions, Deities of heav'n,
For since no deep within her gulf can hold
Immortal vigor, though oppressed and fall'n,
I give not heav'n for lost.  . . ."

PL 10: 460-462
"Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Virtues, Powers,
For in possession such, not only of right,
I call ye and declare ye now . . ."

As it will be easy to see through the following posts, the whole of Satan's speech in Gerusalemme Liberata and Conquistata will provide Milton with ideas.

Friday, October 18, 2013

What the hell (5)

Starting from the end. In Gerusalemme Liberata 4: 9, Satan lamented that they had been judged by God as "alme rubelle," rebel souls, i.e. spirits in this case - not "populace."

In GL, God was described as "Colui [che] regge a suo voler le stelle," He who rules the stars according to His will. The different wording in GC makes clearer reference to the very last verse in Dante's Divine Comedy: He who "move 'l sole e l'altre stelle."

But the most meaningful change concerns verse 5. In GL, Satan spoke of "gli antichi altrui sospetti," the early [literally: old, ancient] suspicions of 'somebody,' an indirect device to say God. While in GC Satan recalls "gli antichi miei pensieri," his own early thoughts. This also modifies the meaning of the second part of the verse, though the wording remains the same, i.e. "e i feri sdegni." That, with reference to God, might imply His "fierce wrath." With reference to the devil, it can be rendered as his "proud disdains." Both versions anyway can be read in a Miltonian key: the breaking of trust and confidence between Lucifer and God, and the former's plan to conquer heaven.

Last but not least, there possibly is a pun in verse 4. Satan points out "il gran caso" as the cause of their being in hell. In its older, Latinizing sense, "caso" means fall. But in Italian the term usually means "chance," therefore Satan - as he 'will again' do in Milton's Paradise Lost - may be suggesting that their defeat was due to mere chance, misfortune, bad luck.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

What the hell (4)

Devilman © Go Nagai
fan art by Selkis

[5: 9, Satan speaks]

- Tartarei Numi, di seder più degni
Là sovra il sole, ond'è l'origin vostra,
Che meco già da' più felici regni
Spinse il gran caso in questa horribil chiostra;
Gli antichi miei pensieri e i feri sdegni
Noti son troppo, e l'alta impresa nostra.
Hor colui regge il sole et ogni stella,
Noi giudicati siam plebe rubbella. 

"Tartarean Gods, worthier to sit 
There, above the sun, whence your origin is; 
You who, with me, down from a happier kingdom
Did the great fall push into this horrible jail!
My early thoughts and proud disdains
Are well-known, and our high enterprise. 

Now 'he' rules the sun and every star,
And we are judged as rebel populace!"

The red-fonted words are those that have been changed with reference to the parallel text in Gerusalemme Liberata 4: 9. See tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

What the hell (3)

[5: 6-7]

. . .
Et anzi lui parrebbe un picciol colle,
Tanto la fronte e le gran corna estolle.

Horrida maestà nel fero aspetto
Terrore accresce, e più superbo il rende,
Rosseggian gli occhi, e di veneno infetto
Qual sanguigna cometa il guardo splende;
Le guance involve e su l'irsuto petto
La nera e folta barba hispida scende;
E 'n guisa di voragine profonda
S'apre la bocca d'atro sangue immonda.

[Any biggest mountain] next to him, would look like a small hill, so high does he [Satan] raise his forehead and horns. A repulsive majesty in his fierce features increases a feeling of terror, making him even more superb. His reddish eyes, infected with venom, shine like a blood-colored comet. A black, thick beard hides his cheeks and comes down prickly to his hairy chest; and like a deep pit, his mouth gapes dirty with dark gore.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

What the hell (2)

[5: 4-5]

Corron gli Dei d'abisso in varie torme
A le caliginose oscure porte:
O come strane, o come horribil forme,
Quanto è negli occhi lor terrore e morte!
Stampano alcuni il suol di ferine orme
E 'n fronte humana han chiome d'angui attorte;
E volgon dietro la pungente coda
Che, quasi sferza, si ripiega e snoda.

. . .
E 'n vari mostri, e non più intesi o visti,
Diversi aspetti fûr confusi e misti.

The Gods of Abyss run, in varied swarms, to the dark, obscure doors. Oh, what strange, what horrible shapes! Terror and death in their eyes! Some leave animal footsteps on the ground, and have locks of entangled snakes on human foreheads, and wag stinging tails that, like whips, coil and unwind.  . . .  And in various monsters, never to be conceived or seen, different features were confused and mixed.

Welcome to Pandemonium. Instead of this world, meaning "All Demons" and coined by Milton, Tasso in GC 5: 2 uses the phrase "Concilio horrendo," a hideous Council, like a devilish mockery of the Council of Trent. In the last verse here quoted a reference to Dante, Inferno 25, especially verses 71-72 can be detected too.

Monday, October 14, 2013

What the hell (1)

by Nivalis70

Translations and comments on Canto 5 of Gerusalemme Conquistata (corresponding to Canto 4 of Gerusalemme Liberata) now begin. That is, where Satan calls the whole Hell, and recalls their glorious battle in Heaven, and decides to counter-attack on Earth. Does it sound like something well known? Yes, the heroic Satan was not invented by John Milton: he almost literally copied passages from Tasso. Some English versions of the Liberata may exist, but this is probably the first time that the Pandemonium octaves in GC are translated, and it is definitely worth it since details often vary. So, extended sections of Canto 5 will be offered here. Enjoy Tasso's genius!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sunday Guest: Maugrim

From: CS Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia)

The quote: Edmund stood and waited, his fingers aching with cold and his heart pounding in his chest, and presently the great wolf, Maugrim, the Chief of the Witch's Secret Police, came bounding back and said, "Come in! Come in! Fortunate favourite of the Queen -- or else not so fortunate."

The devil in the detail: Unless some blunder, the warrant signed by Maugrim (ch. 6) is the only place in the whole novel in which the evil Lady currently ruling Narnia is called "Jadis" instead of "the White Witch." And more precisely: . . .  her Imperial Majesty Jadis, Queen of Narnia, Chatelaine of Cair Paravel, Empress of the Lone Islands, etc., already suggesting the future adventures in the saga. "Future" with regard to the order in which Lewis actually wrote the stories, not the final and deceiving one-volume rearrangement. That "etc." may forecast 'her' conquest of Underland.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

From long-continued silence hoarse (3)

A Roman Catholic believer like Torquato Tasso could 'borrow' practically anything from the pagan Virgil; even prayers, just changing [the] God's name. But there is one subject matter on which Tasso does not follow Virgil - and Homer - and draws on completely different sources. And this is death.

In Aeneid 11: 36-41, Aeneas enters the place in which the dead Pallas has been arranged. And . . .
ut uero Aeneas foribus sese intulit altis
ingentem gemitum tunsis ad sidera tollunt
pectoribus, maestoque immugit regia luctu.
ipse caput niuei fultum Pallantis et ora
ut uidit leuique patens in pectore uulnus
cuspidis Ausoniae, lacrimis ita fatur obortis:
. . .

Tasso repeats the scene in a very similar way when Godfrey finds himself in front of the corpse of Guidon (see), but when he starts to speak, his words have nothing in common with Aeneas' words, that ran like this:

Just you, miserable lad, has envious Fortune - while showing up so happy - taken away from me, so that you may not see our kingdom, nor be exalted as a hero in your father's palace?

Friday, October 11, 2013

From long-continued silence hoarse (2)

In the two most recent posts called "Timber!" the cutting of a forest was shown, the work of the Crusaders in order to build big siege engines. But, again, if we place these verses by Tasso against the background of Virgil, Aeneid 6: 179-183
itur in antiquam siluam, stabula alta ferarum;
procumbunt piceae, sonat icta securibus ilex
fraxineaeque trabes cuneis et fissile robur
scinditur, aduoluunt ingentis montibus ornos
a different nuance emerges. In fact, Virgil's verses referred to the wood needed to build a high pyre to honor the corpse of a dead warrior, Mysen. So, the power of machines is turned into a dark shadow of death. Those engines will burn as an enormous pyre. It also clearly appears that Tasso modified the list of the tree species on purpose by adding the yew, i.e. himself ("tasso" = Tasso).

Thursday, October 10, 2013

From long-continued silence hoarse (1)

One of the major limits in this research on Tasso's works is the poor reference to Virgil's and Homer's poems, that would provide a lot of keys by linking passages from those classical epics and their Renaissance counterparts. For example, the description of Guidon's death we recently read (see) follows Virgil's description of the suicide of Dido, the queen who had fallen in love with Aeneas, in Aeneid 4: 690-692,
ter sese attollens cubitoque adnixa leuauit,
ter reuoluta toro est oculisque errantibus alto
quaesiuit caelo lucem ingemuitque reperta. 

This adds a powerful 'soundtrack' to Tasso's episode, letting readers 'see' more than a soldier dying in the battlefield here: it is a sad, painful farewell to life, to the most precious goods, to love, to the deceiving promise of a joyful future.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Timber! (2)

As it is suggested here, and much more evident in his Il Mondo Creato, Torquato Tasso developed a very early - 16th century! - ecological awareness. In the latter poem, for example, he not only notices that the shapes of coasts vary in the course of time, but also that lions have disappeared from Europe because of man.

In the GC passage we are examining a subtler element is present too. Among the trees being hacked up, yews are mentioned, a tree whose Italian name is "tasso" like the poet's name ("tasso" also means badger, but that's not the case here). Besides, Tasso adds a character called Tranquillo (Tranquil) in the plot, who clearly has autobiographical connotations: a poet who had written love songs, now dealing with war, etc. Quite interestingly, Tasso will 'have himself' killed, as Tranquillo, by an arrow shot by Clorinda, the main heroine. A 'sweet death,' for a man who wrote to a friend that "were it not for my Christian faith, I would already have killed myself."

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Timber! (1)

[4: 82]

Altri i tassi e le querce percote
Che mille volte rinovâr la chioma,
E mille volte ad ogni incontro immote
L'ira de' venti han rintuzzata e doma;
Et altri impone a le stridenti rote
D'orni e di cedri l'odorata soma.
Lascian al suon de l'arme, al vario grido,
E le fere e gli augei la tana e 'l nido.

Some hit yews and oaks that had already renewed their crowns a thousand times, and a thousand times, standing still, had withstood and tamed the wrath of winds. Others load the creaking wheels with the scented weight of ash and cedar trees. At the sound of weapons, at the varying cries, wild beasts and birds leave their lairs and nests.

Monday, October 7, 2013

When a friend dies (3)

Godfried's feelings, in front of the corpse of a dear fellow knight, are expressed through carefully chosen words creating a difficult balance between human sorrow and religious atmospheres of hope. In GC 4: 74, verses 5 and 7-8, plus 76, verse 2, Tasso intertwines not less than three passages from Dante, that is Inferno 4: 84 (an uncertain attitude, like in the Limbo), Inferno 5: 109-111, 117 (the sorrow for the death of Francesca da Rimini), and Inferno 8: 119 (anguish, lying in wait).

In general, this episode well summarizes the complex, ambivalent attitude of Tasso towards life, dithering between a feeling of universal collapse and a vision of an all-permeating divine light.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

When a friend dies (2)

[4: 75-76]

- Già non si deve a te doglia né pianto,
Ché se muori al mondo, in ciel rinasci,
E qui dove ti spogli il fragil manto
Di gloria impresse alte vestigia hor lasci:
Vivesti qual guerrier christiano e santo,
E come tal sei morto; hor cibi e pasci
D'eterno ben te stessa, o felice alma,
Et hai di bene oprar corona e palma.

Vivi beata pur, ché nostra sorte,
Non tua sventura, a lagrimar n'invita
. . .

"Not for you must we feel sorrow, and cry: you may have died to the world but are born again in heaven. Here, where you undressed your frail cloak, you now leave high signs of glory. You lived as a Christian knight, a saint knight, and you died as such. Now you feed and satisfy yourself on the eternal good, O happy soul, and receive the crown and palm of good deeds. Live in bliss! Our own lot, not your misfortune, invites us to weep . . ."

Friday, October 4, 2013

When a friend dies (1)

[4: 74]

Poi colà trasse ove gli amici ornâro
Il gran ferètro in cui Guidon si giace.
Quando Goffredo entrò, le turbe alzâro
La voce assai più flebile e loquace;
Ma, con volto né torbido né chiaro,
Frena gli affetti il pio Goffredo, e tace;
E poi che 'n lui pensando alquanto fisse
Tenne le luci, sospirando ei disse:
. . .

Then he [Godfrey] went where the [closest] friends had adorned the big bier in which Guidon lies. When Godfrey entered, the crowd started to raise much more mournful and frequent voices. But, with a face that is neither gloomy nor bright, the godly Godfrey restrains his feelings, and keeps silent. Then, after having thoughtfully gazed at him for a long time, he sighed and said: . . .

Thursday, October 3, 2013

In the beginning was the Sword (8)

[4: 61]

Né si darà l'assalto, onde ritorni
L'hoste con molto danno e poca gloria,
E di troppo ardimento al fin si scorni,
Di cui Riccardo pur si vanta e gloria.
Ma se non hoggi, in diece o 'n venti giorni
Con le machine havrem certa vittoria.
. . .

[Godfrey speaks] " . . .  We won't attack now, so as to have our army then come back with heavy damage and little glory, thus paying dearly(*) for this excessive boldness Richard even takes pride and glory in. But, if not today, in ten or twenty days we will enjoy full victory thanks to our machines."

(*) The verb "scornarsi" literally means to break one's horns. Cf. Dante, Inferno 9: 97. Horns as a synonym of power is an image coming from the Bible.

Gerusalemme Conquistata marks the passage from traditional chivalric battles to modern technological war. In the beginning was the Sword; in the end there will be the Machine.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

In the beginning was the Sword (7)

Godfrey of Bouillon, the - fictionally - head of the whole Christian army, sees Richard not as a hero but as a menace against the whole enterprise, as he acts in the wrong way at the wrong time; a berserkr rather than a soldier. In fact, as we will see, Richard is a much more rebellious character than his equivalent in Gerusalemme Liberata, Rinaldo. Godfrey will presently force him to stop his 'self-managed' attack, and Richard will reluctantly obey, but . . .

Here again, a study on language is very interesting. Some expressions have a clear Dantesque flavor, such as "non cura intoppo o schermo" (lit.: don't care about obstacle or barrier), "e so che 'l vero affermo" (lit.: and I know that I am saying the truth), but especially the verb "inforsa," one of the famous Dantean "in-" neologisms to be often found in Paradiso, where "in-" implies a movement, a direction (e.g. introduction, invasion, etc.). In this case, it is linked to "forse," literally "maybe, perhaps," so it could be translated as the action of "perhapsing" the final victory. In the Logfellow version of the Divine Comedy, Paradiso 24, it is rendered as "there is no peradventure."

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

In the beginning was the Sword (6)

[4: 59-60]

E 'n su la vetta che si volge a l'Orsa
Luminosa del cielo il passo ha fermo,
E dice al buon Raimondo: - Hor troppo è scorsa
La schiera, che non cura intoppo o schermo;
Ivi è colui ch'ogni mio stato inforsa,
Anzi pur nostro, e so che 'l vero affermo;
E 'ntento in perseguir nemica turba,
Tutti gli ordini nostri ei sol perturba.

Né gli ha dimostro anchor l'etade e 'l senno
Vittoria che non sia folle e sanguigna
. . .

And he [Godfrey] stops on the summit facing the luminous Bear in the sky, and he tells the good Raimond, "Now those soldiers have advanced too much -- they don't care about obstacles or barriers. There is he [Richard] who jeopardizes my whole state, ours indeed, and I know this is true. So intent on pursuing the enemy troops, he alone upsets all our orders. His age and personal judgment haven't shown him, as yet, any type of victory but mad and bloody . . ."