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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Spy Who Came in from the Heat (3)

[16: 73]

Greco d'esser dicea, che già molti anni
Guerreggiato ha co' Franchi in Asia, e vinto;
E i rischi de la guerra, e i lunghi affanni,
Dal primo egli narrava all'anno quinto.
Guata Vafrino il viso, i modi e i panni,
Né presta intera fede al parlar finto;
E mentre l'un contrario e l'altro accoppia,
S'accorge ben che quella fraude è doppia.

A Greek, he said he was; who many years now
Had fought with the Franks in Asia, (*) and won;
And the perils of war and wearing times
He recounted, from year one to the fifth.
Vafrino inspects his face, manners, clothes, (**)
And does not believe his false words at all,
But by comparing one side and its contrary (***)
He well understands there's a double fraud.

(*) Asia Minor, current Turkey; the self-styled Byzantine soldier says he fought against the Muslims in his own country when the Crusaders, called collectively "Franks," passed through it coming from Western Europe.
(**) The same method that will be adopted by Sherlock Holmes.
(***) Echoing Dante, Purgatorio 16: 57.