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Friday, June 20, 2014

Coup de théâtre (1)

[6: 53]

Così dicean fra lor, quando comparve
Riccardo in quel magnanimo sembiante;
Però che senza colpa haver gli parve
Il suo medesmo honor difeso avante.
Ogni ardimento al suo apparir disparve
Da' suoi nemici; e 'l cavalier costante
Dicea senza timore e senza duolo,
Tacendo tutti al ragionar d'un solo:
. . .

They were still talking about that, when
Richard appeared, and magnanimously so,
Since he found no fault at all in having
Defended his own honor few minutes ago.
All boldness, at his appearing, disappeared
From his adversaries; and the firm Knight
Said, showing no fear and no sorrow,
While everyone else listened in silence,
. . .

Now one of the greatest novelties in Gerusalemme Conquistata takes place: instead of abandoning the camp after having been advised by Tancred (as Rinaldo did in Gerusalemme Liberata), Richard defies Godfrey face to face. For those who knew/know Tasso's former poem, this move is a narrative 'shock' -- with a noble ancestry, anyway, since it comes from the clash between Achilles and Agamemnon in the Iliad: Homer and Virgil will in fact inspire many brand new episodes in GC. In Il Mondo Creato, written more or less at the same time as he was completing GC, Tasso condemns those who harbor anger after their honor has been injured, waiting for an occasion to take their revenge, but here a part of him, at least, sides with Richard.