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Friday, October 2, 2015

This is a thriller night (2)

[7: 111]

Pronto il fanciullo e la donzella è presta,
E l'uno e l'altro al suo parlar dà fede.
Nicea si spoglia la feminea veste
Che dagli homeri scende infino al piede;
E con vestire schietto ancora honesta
E bella ch'ogni credenza eccede,
Simile a chi già corse a' pomi d'oro
Et a lei che diè nome al verde alloro.

The boy and the maid readily come
And both believe her explanations.
Nicaea strips of her feminine dress
That covered her, shoulders to feet;
In her petticoat she still looks modest
While beautiful beyond belief, like
She who raced for the golden apples
And she who gave the laurel her name.


Notes
The final printed text has been mostly followed here, because it looks more 'reliable' than the manuscript (where, e.g., the woman is still called "Erminia" like in Gerusalemme Liberata).
The similes in the last lines refer to Atalanta and Daphne -- or rather, there has been an interesting change: In the manuscript the last verse read, "she who turned into a laurel," properly Daphne, while the new version mixes (up) the Greek myth with Petrarch's Laura, who took her name from the laurel.
Finally, this stanza -- like scores of other episodes -- shows the falseness of much commonplace according to which Tasso in the remake of his Gerusalemme rejected the erotic sections. No reference to sex has been deleted in the Conquistata: there is even more of it than in the Liberata, as a matter of fact.