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Friday, January 24, 2014

Brothers in arms (1)

Armida gets what she wants. Here speaks up Eustace (more literally Eustatius, a variant of Eustachius), a member of the "soldiers of fortune," i.e. Special Corps, contractors, etc., as well as a younger brother of Godfrey of Bouillon himself. Eustace has obviously fallen in love with Armida -- like basically all knights in the Christian encampment. His words are beyond criticism, but they don't tell the whole truth . . .  [5: 78]

Non che lascin lor alta e nobil cura
I duci qui de' suoi guerrier soggetti,
Torcendo il piè da l'oppugnate mura
E sian gli uffici lor da lor negletti;
Ma fra noi cavalier d'alta ventura,
Senza alcun propio peso, e meno astretti
A le leggi degli altri, elegger diece
Difensori del giusto a te ben lece.

"Let no captain here quit the high, noble guide of the warriors of whom he is in command, abandoning the walls we put under siege and thus neglecting his own duty. But among us knights of good fortune, who are not in charge, and are less tied to the others' laws,(*) you [Godfrey] can freely choose ten defenders of [Armida's] rights."

(*) This greater freedom of action of the mercenary troops -- then and nowadays -- will be clearly shown by the knight who is about to become their head: Richard the Norman, the main hero in the poem, who [WARNING: SPOILER] will kill a comrade during a brawl, disobey Godfrey, have sex with the partly-non-human Armida, and in the end, declare his homosexuality. Just in case this post happened to be read by any average Italian scholar considering Tasso a bigot.