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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

And in fact, Argantes. . . (4)

[8: 46]

Tal ne l'arme ei fiammeggia, e bieche e torte
Volge le luci ebre di sangue e d'ira;
Spirano gli atti feri horror di morte,
E minaccie di morte il volto spira.
Alma non è così secura e forte
Che non paventi ov'un sol guardo ei gira.
Nuda ha la spada, e la solleva e scote,
E 'nvocando gli dèi l'ombre percuote.

Such (*) in his armor he blazes, and turns dark
Eyes all around, longing for blood and wrath;
All his acts radiate the horror of death,
Death is threatened by his countenance.
No soul is so strong and self-confident
As to not be afraid of one of those looks.
He unsheathes his sword, lifts and shakes it
And calling his gods, (**) he stabs the shadows.

(*) Like a comet.
(**) In his impulse to 'go Homeric,' Tasso forgets that Argantes is a Muslim. But, what matters more, the simple episode of a warrior getting ready for a duel, basically a filler, turns into an epic scene. The "dark side" of Argantes is shown here, that makes him look like the devil in person (as was already the case with Rodomont in Ariosto's Orlando Furioso), but his personality is complex -- in Gerusalemme Conquistata even more than in the Liberata -- and we will see his noble, heroic side elsewhere. On the other hand, the fury of Argantes also functions as an ironic counterbalance to Tancred, who has been entrapped like a fool in Armida's castle and won't even be able to pop up in time for the meeting.