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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Tancred vs Argantes (1)

[7: 57]

Ne l'ira Argante arrabbia, e fera strada
Sovra il corpo del vinto al destrier face.
- E così (dice) ogni christiano hor vada,
Come costui che sotto i piè mi giace -.
Ma l'invitto Tancredi allhor non bada,
Ché quella crudeltà troppo gli spiace;
E vuol che 'l suo valor con chiara emenda
Copra il suo fallo, e come suol risplenda.

Now burning with rage, Argantes fiercely
Passes on the defeated knight with his horse.
"May this" he says "be the fate of all Christians,
As with this one who lies under my feet."
Then the unbeaten Tancred tarries no longer:
He absolutely cannot stand that cruelty,
And wants his own valor to make amends
And cover its fault, shining as it was used to.

Notes
Tancred "awakes," at last!
Argantes' words might outline what we now call a "clash of civilizations" or jihad, but they must not be taken literally, they are only an impromptu expression of rage. Global war and indoctrination are a modern phenomenon. As a matter of fact, both in Tasso's poem and in Medieval and Renaissance history, the purpose of both adversaries was not to convert the other to one's own religion -- or ideology -- everywhere but simply to gain control of a specific geographic area (here, the Holy Land). Moreover, Muslim countries were important commercial partners of Venice, though not 'harmless' partners, as it has been mentioned in a recent post. The Italian City's ambassadors in Cairo can be seen in a painting by Gentile Bellini. The very Battle of Lepanto, 1571, aimed to stop piracy and land forays in the Mediterranean area, not to defeat Islam as such.
We won't meet Ives any more, but he will survive this duel.