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Friday, July 29, 2016

Trees are tough (3)

[16: 21]

Torna la turba, e misera e smarrita
Varia e confonde sì le cose e i detti
Ch'ella nel raccontar n'è poi schernita,
Né son creduti i mostrüosi effetti.
Allhor vi manda il sovran duce ardita
E forte squadra de' guerrieri eletti,
Acciò ch'a l'altra sia secura scorta
Quando il timor l'assale e la sconforta.

The group [of carpenters] comes back [from the enchanted forest], and being miserable and puzzled, they make such a mess of things and words that they are mocked by all others, who do not believe in those hideous phenomena. Then the supreme leader [Godfrey] sends a strong and bold squad of chosen knights with them to encourage them in case they are assailed and disheartened by fear.

This half-humorous interlude is sociologically remarkable insofar as it shows the air of superiority of the knights towards the carpenters, obviously considered ignorant, fearful and superstitious. As it is even clearer in Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, knights of either religion -- Christianity and Islam -- had more things in common with the knights of the other front than with the peasants of their own people. It would be interesting to know in what measure this was the case not only in literature but in true life, too, during the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Summer break: The posts on Gerusalemme Conquistata will resume on Aug. 23