Friday, April 15, 2016

And in fact, Argantes. . . (5)

[8: 47]

- Fate (dicea) che 'l predator romano,
Lo qual spogliati ha i vostri regni ed arsi,
Io atterri vinto e sanguinoso al piano,
Bruttando ne la polve i crini sparsi;
E veggia vivo anchor, da questa mano,
Ad onta del suo Dio, l'arme spogliarsi;
E cerchi a me co' suoi dolenti preghi
Ch'in pasto a' cani le sue membra io nieghi -.

And he said, "Make(*) this western(**) predator,
Who ransacked and burned your kingdoms, fall
Gory to the ground, defeated by me,
And soil his helmet-less hair with dust;
May he, while still alive, see himself stripped
Of his arms by me, in spite of his God;
May he desperately implore me that
I don't let his flesh be thrown to the dogs!"

(*) Both this verb and the adjective "your" in the following line are in the plural in Italian, implying "gods" as the subject. Again, while emulating Homer's style, Tasso 'forgets' that Argantes is a Muslim. In fact, it often occurs that Tasso, either following or actually translating from Homer (from a Latin version of the Iliad) or from Virgil, preserves details that are inconsistent with his own poetry, e.g. God the Father thundering from on top of -- Olympus! This curious literary phenomenon appears much more frequently in Gerusalemme Conquistata than in the Liberata. In the parallel episode in GL 7: 53-54, Argantes simply "shouted," did not "call his gods," and simply affirmed that "he would" defeat Tancred, without asking his 'gods' to help him do it.
Last but not least, Argantes' J'Accuse in line 2 is honestly true.

(**) Argantes says "Roman" in a very broad sense; Tancred -- a historical personage, unlike Argantes -- was a Norman from Southern Italy. But Muslims usually called the Crusaders, and the Westerners in general, "Franks."