SiStan ChapLee

Friday, December 20, 2013

And the answer is . . . (1)

Armida ends her story. She has unexpectedly been helped by one of the "ministers" of her cruel uncle: Arontes, who has then taken shelter with her in his own castle (incidentally, she says nothing about the kind of relationship she may have with Arontes). But the Uncle King threatens to attack and destroy the castle, unless Godfrey gives aid to them. Now Armida, and all the Christian knights with her, wait for Godfrey's answer . . .  [5: 66]

Ciò detto, tace, e la risposta attende
Con atto che 'n silentio ha voce e preghi;
Goffredo il dubbio cor volve e sospende
Tra pensier vari, e non sa dove il pieghi.
Teme i barbari inganni, e ben comprende
Che non è fede in huom ch'a Dio la neghi;
Ma d'altra parte in lui pietoso affetto
Si desta, che non dorme in nobil petto.

After having said this, she falls silent, waiting for his answer in an attitude that, while keeping quiet, sends voices and pleas. Godfrey sets his hesitant heart -- keeps it suspended -- among wandering thoughts, and doesn't know which choice he should make. He is afraid of the barbarian lies, and he well understands that you cannot trust someone who doesn't trust in [the true] God. On the other hand, a feeling of piety is stirred within him, a feeling never sleeping in a noble soul.

Tasso echoes the famous sentence in the Aeneid, in the episode of the Horse: Timeo Danaos et dona ferentis, "I am afraid of the Greeks, even if they bring gifts," but including it in the issue of the "true religion" and the effects of God's 'exclusive' grace on human behavior, or the so-called question of the "Christian difference." Problems that were alien to the Greek and Latin minds. But, as a matter of fact, as we'll see, religious considerations won't basically influence the following Armida-related events.