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Friday, December 9, 2016

The Spy Who Came in from the Heat (2)

During a stop in his journey, the Christian spy Vafrino meets a strange guy.

[16: 70]

Quindi mentre prendea posa e restauro,
Meschiando il vin di Creta e l'onda fresca
E, sibilar udendo il pino e 'l lauro,
Dava al corpo digiuno humore ed esca,
Vi giunse huom di color sembiante al mauro,
A cui par che 'l vïaggio homai incresca;
Ma l'habito avea greco e l'idïoma,
E come greco lunga e culta chioma.

While he here took a break and refreshment,
Blending the wine of Crete with fresh water (*)
And, listening to pines and laurels that whistled, (**)
He gave his body something to eat and drink,
There came a man whose skin was like the Moors',
Apparently tired of his own long travel;
But Greek were his garments and language,
And his hair, long and combed as the Greeks have. (***)

(*) In past times, wine was quite thick, and had to be watered down before drinking it. Greek wines were renowned, and Tasso was a connoisseur.
(**) A Tassean touch in the landscape.
(***) What have today become folkloric costumes were the actual garments of peoples. "Greek" here means "from the Byzantine Empire."