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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Look who it is! (2)

[8: 26, the mysterious knight speaks to Tancred]

- O tu che (siasi fortuna o voglia)
Al paese fatal d'Armida arrive,
Pensi indarno fuggire. Or l'harme spoglia
Fra verdi mirti e pallidette olive,
Et entra pur ne la guardata soglia,
Con queste leggi, ch'ella altrui prescrive:
Senza contrasto ella qui impera e regge,
Sol liberando chi servirla elegge -.

"O you who, led by Fortune or decision, (*)
Has come to Armida's fatal(**) territory,
You cannot flee. Now strip of your armor
Among green myrtles and pale olive trees, (***)
And feel free to cross this guarded gate,
Just, following the laws decreed by her:
Unopposed she here dominates and reigns (****)
And frees those only who accept to serve her."

(*) With an echo from Dante, Inferno 32: 76.
(**) The adjective fatale may also imply "enchanted" since fata means "fairy."
(***) The symbols respectively of love (Venus) and wisdom and/or war (Minerva). Armida in fact is a seducer, a witch/wiccan like Circe, and a warrior at the same time. In the corresponding stanza in Gerusalemme Liberata (7: 32) the text was completely different: ". . . and hold out your hands as a prisoner to her ties."
(****) Ironically quoting Dante, Inferno 1: 127. The last two lines too were completely different in GL, but also included a quotation from the Divine Comedy: "Do not hope you will be able to look at the sky again [Inferno 3: 85] / even after many years have passed and you have grown old."