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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Knights Gallery (3)

[7: 48, Nicaea speaks]

Hor rimira colui che quasi in modo
D'huom che consigli sta da l'altro fianco.
Quegli è Giovanni, il qual per fama io lodo
Di senno e di sapere, huom veglio e stanco.
Raimondo è presso, e meglio inganno o frodo
Tesser di lui non sa Latino o Franco.
Ma quell'altro più in là, ch'orato ha l'elmo,
Del Re britanno è 'l buon figliol Guglielmo.

"Now look at that man standing at the other
Side of Godfrey as counselors usually do:
He is John, to be praised -- Fame says -- for his
Wisdom and knowledge; an old and tired man. (*)
Raymond is next to him: No Latin or Frank
Can plot tricks and frauds better than him. (**)
While the farther one, with a golden helm on,
Is William, the good son of the British King." (***)

(*) We have already met John, the tricentennial 'super-hero' who even fought next to Charlemagne; his character is based on Nestor in the Iliad. A new entry in Gerusalemme Conquistata, he overlaps with Raymond as the wise counselor of Godfrey and of the Christian knights in general. See the following lines, where Tasso splits in two a description that, in Gerusalemme Conquistata 3: 62, concerned the sole Raymond. The stress on "old and tired" is a refrain in Tasso's late works; in GL, the text simply said "white-haired."
(**) In the diplomatic milieu, especially during the Renaissance, this was considered a compliment. But in practice we won't witness this skill of Raymond's in action.
(***) William II the Red? But the adjective "good" fits him badly, and above all, he did not take part in the Crusade; his brother Robert did. Nor can a son of William II be meant, because he had none.