SiStan ChapLee

Friday, July 11, 2014

Highlander (1)

[6: 58.7-8 and 60]

Così dicean, quando chetò il bisbiglio
Del vecchissimo Duce il buon consiglio.
. . .
Ma udite i miei consigli e i miei conforti,
Ché de gli egri mortali hoggi il più antico
Son io, che vissi con gli Heroi più forti
Che me non disprezzâr giovene amico;
Né vedrò mai qual io già in guerra ha scorti
Carlo, Orlando, Egerardo, Anselmo, Enrico,
E Regi, e Duci tributari, e tanti,
Simili a Marte, cavalieri erranti.

They were speaking so, when their murmur
Was stopped by the oldest chief's advice,
" . . . 
But listen to my advice and my comfort,
As I, currently the oldest of the weak mortals,
Lived together with the strongest Heroes,
Who did not despise me as a young friend.
Never again, in a war, will I see people like
Charlemagne, Roland, Gerard, Anselm, Henry,
And Kings, and tributary leaders, and many
Knights errant who looked like Mars."

The character
John (Giovanni) is a three-hundred-year-old knight who did not appear in the Gerusalemme Liberata; Tasso introduces him for the first time here in the Conquistata. His personage is based on Homer's Nestor, but the new historical and cultural setting turns him into a sort of "Highlander" like in the 1986 movie. Somehow, John's personal experience links back Tasso's poem to its predecessor and 'rival,' Ludovico Ariosto's Orlando Furioso.