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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Changing one's religion is no child's play

Balloons to be read right to left;
see below for an English translation

Some more words on the complex issue of the Christian/Muslim relationships in Ariosto's and Tasso's long poems. In general, during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, converts were disliked by both the followers of their 'source' religion and even by the followers of their 'target' religion: Honor was more important than statistics. To put it bluntly, could you trust people who had betrayed their God, the God of their fathers? What profit were they trying to get? -- against the troubles of being Muslims in a Christian country, or vice versa.

So, when in Orlando Furioso and Gerusalemme Liberata a noble, disinterested character changes his/her religion, especially when a Muslim knight embraces Christianity, it only happens because they chance to rediscover their older, true cultural roots (see Ruggiero, Marfisa, Clorinda) or because they experience the valor of Christians, the power of Christian faith on the field (see Samsonet, Sobrino). That's basically why -- in Orlando Furioso, canto 41 -- Brandimarte, a now Christian knight who has converted from Islam, fails in his attempt to convince King Agramante, too, to embrace the faith in Jesus by simply giving him a theoretical speech.

Anyway, always personal and carefully considered choices; no mass conversions. The greatest author of "poems of chivalry" in recent times, as it has already been mentioned, is probably the Japanese mangaka and cartoonist, Go Nagai. In his saga titled Jushin Ryger, 1989, the alien invaders are shocked when their best warrior, Dolga, reveals he will side with Terrestrials from now on:
"Are you going to betray us, Maryuo Dolga?"
"It is no treason at all: I simply opened my eyes. -- My god is not the Dragon. My god is Zenshin Argama. -- I have been deceived by [Empress] Zara, who kidnapped me when I was a child. -- The Dragon Empire and the Dragon God are my true enemies!"