SiStan ChapLee

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Helen of Turkey (2)

[7: 38]

Pria vide ancise e rotte amiche squadre,
E 'l paese nativo arso e, combusto,
Fuggir piagato Solimano il padre,
Sé venduta da' suoi con prezzo ingiusto.
Poi co 'l fratello e con l'afflitta madre
Prigioniera restò del Greco Augusto,
Che donolla a Tancredi, et ei la rese,
E qui fu castità l'esser cortese.

She saw friendly troops killed or routed,
Her homeland on fire, and her own father
Solyman flee, burnt and covered in sores;
Herself unrighteously sold by her relatives.
Then, together with her brother and mother,
She was a captive of the Greek Emperor,
Who gave her to Tancred; but he released her,
And chastity was the mark of his courtesy.

Nicaea's biography here diverges from Helen's. It is a quite complex story, but Tasso -- except for her unreciprocated love story with Tancred -- will not explain it in detail. The hint at her slavery is not a mere tearjerker, though: slavery actually existed in the Renaissance, the main market in Italy being Venice. Line 8 reworks Dante, Inferno 33: 150.