SiStan ChapLee

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

[GBM] The spark of love

Venus and Adonis by A. Canova

Adonis falls asleep in the small valley ("it" below, in line 1, refers to a hill). And Venus bumps into him. The episode reverses the scene, frequent in art, in which a satyr, etc., admires Venus or another beautiful woman asleep. As it has been told much time ago, the whole love affair between Venus and Adonis is caused by Love/Cupid's thirst for revenge after having been spanked by his mother. The last line has a general, symbolical meaning insofar as the arrow will actually wound Venus no sooner than in stanza 43.


At the foot of it, Chloris has her gardens;     a nymph
here the goddess of Love often returns
to gather the wet and dewy herbs to     odori (herbs) like in some dialects
give lukewarm baths to her white feet.
And lo! on a bridal bed of flowers
she—arriving by chance—sees the boy.
But, as she turns her eyes toward Adonis,
cruel Love turns his arrow toward her.

(to be continued after the Christmas holidays)

Sunday, December 17, 2017

The 7 Days of CryAction 6: 1804-1874

by ilTM + Selkis

He, again: “I gave you
angiospermous plants
self-sown by seeds
which will nourish you
solidly with sparrows
hens hummingbirds and
[1810] the heavier hulks
manned by their animae.”
In our prelapsarian planet
food also was felicitous
not gurgling with gore
nor the juice of injustice,
provided to anthropoi and
their fellow animals alike
that gladly obeyed them.
Nobody was murdered by
[1820] poisonous plants or snakes
every item made on Earth
was healthy and sweet.
No bloody teeth and claws
of wolves lions bears
no vulture ate corpses
for no dude was dead
no rotten carcass made
the atmosphere stink.
Throughout green fields—
[1830] as swans nowadays
do or dogs sometimes
led by Nature’s cues
to find fitting drugs—
spring grass was enough
for wolverines as well.
No assassin hunters
no hidden snares
against gorgeous game;
Mowgli-friendly felines
[1840] with satisfied faces
followed Eve’s footsteps
waiting for her will.
Not just a jungle king
over pythons ’n’ parrots
and over flying fish
was Man, but the master
of his innermost instincts
and Freudian thoughts,
yep, a reliable leader.
[1850] When however they
rebelled against the Rule
beasts boycotted them
and their frail frames
(the dowry of Death)
needed underdone steaks
mortal food for mortals
in a less happy hotel,
that is, after the Flood
had erased everything.
[1860] But Man maintained
his divine iconography,
did not lose leadership
over animals: he legally
or rather self-serving
provides prey and clothing
to his hyperactive limbs.
This is not abuse at all
but a norm of Nature
of Dios indeed who destined
[1870] to Man beasts birds
above and fish below.
Consummatum est. He saw
that his works were OK
and napped in nirvana.

(Christmas holidays: to be continued on Jan. 7)

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Notes on "Romeo and Juliet" (12)

Scene v

Lines 97-9  . . . a poison, I would temper it,
That Romeo should, upon receipt thereof,
Soon sleep in quiet.  . . .
again, Juliet describes what in a short while will be her own condition by referring (here, ironically) to Romeo

Lines 111-12  [Juliet] Madam, in happy time, what day is that?
[Lady Capulet] Marry, my child . . .
a pun based on the ambivalence of "marry"

Line 114  . . . at Saint Peter's Church
Saint Peter the 13th century Dominican martyr, not the apostle; a church in Verona that is currently deconsecrated, and also known as San Giorgetto, "Little Saint George"

Line 156 . . . Out, you baggage!
like bagascia still nowadays in Italian parlance, especially in Rome

Lines 201-2  Or . . . make the bridal bed
In that dim monument where Tybalt lies
it will actually happen so

Lines 210-11  Alack, alack, that heaven should practise stratagems
Upon so soft a subject as myself!
possibly one of the most powerful expressions, in literature, of Man's cry against God

Line 234  Ancient damnation! O most wicked fiend!
Juliet insults the Nurse identifying her with the Serpent of original sin: see the speech formulas culpa vetus, damnatio originalis, pessimus hostis, etc., in theological Latin 

(to be continued after the Christmas holidays)

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

[GBM] Freudian landscape

artwork by Nguyen Thi Hoai Tho (woman)

In the island of Cyprus, after saying goodbye to the friendly shepherd, Clizio, Adonis looks for a fresh place where to spend the hottest hours of the day. He finds a small valley and a spring whose features can easily be termed as Freudian. The landscape reveals the events in advance. In fact, Venus, who is 'older' than Adonis, will behave as both a lover and a mother with him, that's quite different from her relationship with the phallocratic Mars, not to speak of her despised husband, Vulcan. -- Adonis' biological mother is Myrrha; she appears seldom in the poem, but in some key episodes. See here for Marino's rehabilitation of this usually infamous character.


There spurts a spring, all around which
a she-poplar spreads protective shades;     dead Phaethon's sisters
where Nature, the lavish nurturer, fills
a marble cup with a lively liquid.
Fresh, sweet milk are those pure waves,
the breast a cave, a canal the nipple.
On the edge, to drink the distilled fluid
the grass and flowers open thirsty lips.

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Renaissance artists played (with) by Dario Fo

Correggio's Venus
reworked by Dario Fo

The 1997 Italian Nobel Prize in Literature, Dario Fo (1926-2016), mostly known as an irreverent playwright and performer, attended a prestigious school of art when he was young, the Brera Academy in Milan. In his late years he then lectured and published books on many Renaissance artists: Andrea Mantegna, Correggio, Raffaello, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, illustrating them with his own witty, fascinating drawings, paintings, and collages.

His book Correggio che dipingeva appeso in cielo [Correggio, who painted hanging in the sky] pays due honor to an original artist with a great culture and many skills, who was idolized during his life, then forgotten to the extent that many of his works were ascribed to other painters: Dosso Dossi, Giorgione, Lorenzo Lotto, Raffaello, Tiziano. . .  Dario Fo guides the reader in a well-documented tour among Correggio's masterpieces, highlighting their most innovative features while providing interesting insights into the painter's biography and his epoch. The books ends with a basically unknown, explosive text by Galileo Galilei: a dialog between an old-minded professor and a bold peasant, who talks in dialect, about the new pattern of the universe.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The 7 Days of CryAction 6: 1756-1803

He himself then blessed
his miniature model,
Be encircled by children
colonize the whole planet
[1760] and exert ecology.
Feel responsible for fish
underwater, fowls in the air,
all Talking Animals too
are your suitable subjects.”
Adam hardly existed and
already was a sovereign
nor was this authority
written on dry wood
or in a paper protocol
[1770] easy to be bypassed
but Nature herself had
God’s acts in attachment:
Emperors Adam and Eve
rule over lands and sea
they will explore space.”
We were born Basiles
so why serve our passions
and despise our dignity
and be subjects of Sin?
[1780] We prefer the prison
of Satan in spite of our
having been appointed
the chiefs of creation.
Why do we throw away
that which in our ousía
is most remarkable?
To our empire, in theory,
no limits were left:
Look at your backbone
[1790] you will see wings!
Nothing can brake brains.
We can fly beyond not only
the Earth’s atmosphere
but the stars themselves,
far less deep indeed is
the ocean than our genius
capable of setting cables
across undersea sands and
studying abyssal biology
[1800] before resurfacing
like Captain Nemo.
This is how human minds
look after God’s garden.

(to be continued on Dec. 17)

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Notes on "Romeo and Juliet" (11)

Scene iv

Lines 20-21  A Thursday let it be; a Thursday, tell her,
She shall be married to this noble earl
Thursday, actually, is when Juliet awakes in the grave

Line 23  We'll keep no great ado ‒ a friend or two
Capulet lies

Line 32  Prepare her, wife, against this wedding-day
The hidden wisdom of language! Juliet surely prepares to be "against" this wedding day.

Scene v

Lines 12-13  Yond light is not daylight; I know it, I:
It is some meteor . . .
usually a sign of ill omen in the Renaissance

Line 40  The day is broke; be wary, look about
possibly twisting Romans 13.11

Lines 55-6  . . . now thou art below,
As one dead in the bottom of a tomb
by a simile referring to Romeo, Juliet describes her own condition in a short while

Line 74  Yet let me weep for such a feeling [pause] loss
Juliet covers her true "feeling" with a witty last-second addition

Line 89  Where that same banish'd runagate . . .
an English word misspelling the Italian rinnegato, i.e. "renegade" or more generally "bad guy," so that it is interpreted as someone who runs toward the city gates in order to flee -- Primo Levi once made this remark, commenting on a passage from Robinson Crusoe

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

[GC] Argantes throws the first stone

The Battle of Jaffa. The Muslim commander, Argantes, performs a battle technique that was typical of Homeric warriors. Very interesting is Tasso's indecision about the concept of Fortune, a subject much debated in the Renaissance. Interesting are also the changes made in the process. In the final printed version, in fact, Fortune's light will no longer be described as ruthless but wonderful; its impetus, not "sentient" (sagace) but deceiving (fallace). And later on in the plot, Tasso will have a giant demon called Fortune take part in the battle against the Crusaders. The penultimate line is made up of two quotations from Dante, respectively Inferno 8.79 (not literally) and 7.130. The last line (starting from "steady" in the previous line, in this version) recalls Inferno 25.89.

[17: 131, lines 1-8 and 132, 5-8]

But Fortune—be it the ruthless light
of a fierce star that reigns in the sky
or the power of darkness, rebellious,     Satan
or a blind force, sentient impetus—
to the honor of the high enterprise does
bold Argantes call in endless perils:
A great rock, that lay before the gates,
he takes in his hands like light wool.
. . .
And Argantes, whose strength redoubles,
lifts it in his hand, and turns, and shakes,
and after much turning, finally, steady     E dopo molto raggirar, da sezzo
on his feet, hurls it into the middle.     Sovra i duo piè fermato . . .

Sunday, December 3, 2017

The 7 Days of CryAction 6: 1709-1755

God the Father forged
[1710] the inner humanity
after the pattern of Love
packaged in Adam and
concealed from senses.
And since He is wise just
and merciful bear(s)
He stands transgressors
and softens soon. So
Man was manufactured
according to Agape
[1720] and various virtues
marked his demeanor.
As Renaissance artists
in their stupendous styles
superimpose color layers
and spread the shading
till the painting is perfect
so the Painter of psyche
highlights our souls
and with Venetian nuances
[1730] makes them magnific.
Or, Michelangelo chisels
fragments away from marble
till out of the big boulder
dancing Dionysus emerges;
the Redeemer removing
from matter its most
hard earthily features
created Adam in clay
as a convincing image
[1740] of Elohim’s essence.
Alas, such colors and light
are stained and smeared
by descendants developing
into something different
no more a divine image
but a Dantean serpent in
the smoky slums of Dis,
our horrific humanity.
Know yourself consequently
[1750] as degenerate gods
and try to enlarge souls
to hold bodies at bay
so as to regain the Origin
and Man may once again
inherit Elohim’s home.

(to be continued on Dec. 10)

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Notes on "Romeo and Juliet" (10)

Scene iii

Lines 100-1  And now falls on her bed, and then starts up,
And Tybalt calls . . .
this last detail looks like having entirely invented by the Nurse

Lines 110-3  . . . thy wild acts denote
The unreasonable fury of a beast.
Unseemly woman in a seeming man!
And ill-beseeming beast in seeming both!
It would be weak to interpret this simply as moral imagery. The Renaissance/Baroque love for metamorphoses is operating. Again, see John Milton's Paradise Lost; Satan's words when he enters and merges, both physically and psychologically, with the serpent. See also Dante, Inferno 25.72, 77.

Lines 119-21  Why rail'st thou on thy birth, the heaven, and earth?
Since birth, and heaven, and earth, all three do meet
In thee at once; which thou at once wouldst lose
A more or less direct quotation from Dante, Inferno 3.103-5? Shakespeare anyway, as a late Renaissance author, stresses the subject of Man as a microcosm -- not meaning an elating philosophical concept (that would be the 15th century), but rather an existential paradox. And again, see Paradise Lost, Adam's reflections about his future after committing the original sin.

Lines 159-60  O Lord, I could have stay'd here all the night
To hear good counsel . . .
the Nurse's shallow, fleeting interest in wisdom is the same as a modern TV-addict may express

Line 169  Sojourn in Mantua; I'll find your man
basically the same line of action followed by Fr. Cristoforo in Alessandro Manzoni's classic Italian novel I Promessi Sposi (set in the 17th century) in order to solve the problems of the betrothed couple, Renzo and Lucia; and in both cases, the plan will fail

Friday, December 1, 2017

The Christmas present for YOU

G. B. Marino's Dicerie Sacre, "Sacred Orations," are a sort of lay sermons in which varied religious subjects, but especially with reference to Jesus Christ, are dealt with. While waiting for the opportunity to read it (it will be the Christmas present from my sister, of course on the recipient's advice), the first data gathered online sound definitely encouraging ;-) As a true Baroque author, and a free-minded one at the same time, Marino starts from the elements of tradition, then reworks them leading them as far as he can. If we have learned something about a decent way to interpret him, we can predict that these "sacred talks" are much more than a display of erudition -- though they also are, after the rediscovery of the Church Fathers in the Renaissance; see Torquato Tasso's long poem Il Mondo Creato.

As an appetizer, the first part of the Dicerie Sacre is 'devoted' to the Sindone, the Holy Shroud that popped up in Lirey, France, in 1353, then belonged to the noble Savoy family, the future Kings of Italy, from the mid-15th century, and is kept in Turin from the late 16th century. It is believed to be the very linen cloth that enveloped the body of the dead Christ. Its origin and earlier vicissitudes, as well as some of the later ones, are a matter of controversy. Marino wrote the Dicerie during the years 1608-14, precisely when he was in the service of Duke Carlo Emanuele I di Savoia. His strong point is that the unusual optical, physical, etc., features of the Holy Shroud can be seen as the bedrocks of a whole theory on Art; an idea that is often considered as dating back to Pope John Paul II in the late 20th century.

We will examine the book more in depth as soon as possible. So, Santa Claus, hurry!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

[GBM] Live. Love. Be Eaten.

G. Doré for Dante's Purgatorio

Canto 3 of Adone opens with an invective against the evils of "love," not simply as a feeling but rather Love as a cosmic power, i.e. basically, the human condition as such. As an example of the wide range of meanings implied here: In line 6, the classical reference to a snake hidden in a field had been already reused as a symbol of Beauty (Torquato Tasso, Rime, no. 650), but also of Fortune (Dante, Inferno 7.84).


Beautiful butterflies rush to sweet light,
incautious pilots cut through quiet waves:
the former burn their wings in roaring fire,
the latter are swallowed by water depths.
Often arsenic in gold, and habitually does
a stiff snake lie hidden among flowers;     "stiff": Aesop to La Fontaine
and often in a sweet and fragrant fruit
can a putrid worm live, concealed.     "putrid": a Baroque word if any

Sunday, November 26, 2017

The 7 Days of CryAction 6: 1640-1708


After allotting animals
He liked them and added,
Let us make Man in our
image.” Heaven and earth
and stars had been set
with nobody’s counsel
but now He needs “us.”
Hearken O Hebrews
listen to LORD’s voice!
He speaks to Himself.
[1650] You unluckily lack
Papacy and Pentecostals
that makes things tougher.
You don’t take in the Trinity
while It to us is—veiled.
You see Him as a smith
who loitering late at night
alone among his tools,
no apprentices around,
hurries himself with
[1660] common mumbling:
Hmm, let’s shape a sword
or a sharp scythe or plow.”
Nonsense! and worse
than that, slanderous lies!
Jews should justify
the ways of God to gentiles.
Like dangerous tigers
jailed in a little cage
unable to deal blows
[1670] roar behind the bars
and express the sadness
that gnaws at their guts,
heretics when cornered
conjecture that Jehovah
addressed the angels
who encircle his Chair,
asked cherubim for help
summoning his servants
(our obedient bros) and
[1680] naming them masters
in the making of Man.
But who can equal El?
Oh the blind brains
the folly of the profane!
Should God summon his
servants and not his Son?
Can “in our image” mean
that one shape is shared
by Adonai and the angels
[1690] as his link to Logos?
Our likeness with Elohim
does not befit the body,
it refers to reason, his
proper propeller in us
whose pattern is Trinity.
As He knows himself
and this releases love:
the origin of the Word
the procession of Pneuma,
[1700] a tripling Light
in three Hypostases,
so our mind emits
the will and both bear
memory as the outcome.
Human nature therefore
possessing three powers
implies a divine icon
includes God in itself.

(to be continued on Dec. 3)

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Notes on "Romeo and Juliet" (9)

Scene iii

Line 18  But purgatory . . .
A concept that was not unusual in Medieval or Renaissance Verona, but was in Elizabethan England. About the controversy about Shakespeare possibly being a Catholic, see e.g. this article.

Line 22  Thou cut'st my head off with a golden axe
Freudian Oedipus -- Romeo speaks to Friar Lawrence, who has just informed him about the ban. As a matter of fact, Lawrence actually "plays the role" of Romeo's father: we never see the young Montague and his biological father together

Line 43  And sayest thou yet that exile is not death?
see Adam's lament in Milton's Paradise Lost -- "deadly sin" had been mentioned in line 24

Lines 61-2  [Friar L.] O, then I see that madmen have no ears.
[Romeo] How should they, when that wise men have no eyes.
Brilliant. Period.

Line 89-90  . . . rise and stand;
Why should you fall into so deep an O?
The phrase has been interpreted in different ways, from a symbol of Romeo's distress to the nth risqué joke made by the Nurse. "Rising" might also imply "from hell," and in this case, "O" would suggest a Dantean circle (that would be Shakespeare's, not the Nurse's subtlety, anyway)

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

[GBM] The moral of the story

Azzeccagarbugli (left) "helps" Renzo

Clizio, the shepherd, is finished with telling Adonis the story of the golden apple. And from it, he draws a moral that may sound quite surprising to us, but we must remember that G. B. Marino wrote his poem in the early 17th century, i.e. the very same years in which the novel I Promessi Sposi by Alessandro Manzoni is set; when the Law was -- as still is, in Italy -- in the hands of politicians and lawyers epitomized in Manzoni's now proverbial character of Azzeccagarbugli, "Gifted4Tangles." Marino himself will often call his epoch a dark one. As for Adonis (stanza 178), he will grasp only one thing of the Judgment of Paris: that Venus is very sexy, and he looks forward to meeting her (he will not "get" Helen, he will "get" no less than the goddess in the flesh). Here is Clizio's non-Aesopian moral of the story:


"No wonder, then, if someone accustomed
to judging the quarrels of citizens—
a royal official—for flattery or money     or sexual advances? (lusinga)
sometimes strays from the path of duty,
since because of the charms of love
Paris too passed over due boundaries.     but he had to choose one!
Of a future, of a tragic pleasure     a basic oxymoron in the poem
the promised reward made him fall."

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The 7 Days of CryAction 6: 1600-1639

Now in awe I see
in paradise our sire
not fallen from Grace
and quitting all, I consider
him while a voice within—
not from fake Apollo
from oak or from grotto
nor from carved icons
but from true Tian
says, “Gnothi seauton!”
[1610] the celestial ladder
that lifts intelligence to God
above one’s small self.
By studying the stars
and the sun’s revolutions
we can in the invisible light
meet the Maker; but not
so precisely as by starting
from our minds and flying
towards Him with thoughts
[1620] not “human too human.”
Just, as our eye rays
anywhere they pay attention:
wilderness seas rivers
high chains or canyons,
don’t see themselves
and must use mirrors;
our inattentive intellect
(distracted by the art
of the supreme Painter)
[1630] misses itself unless
it is cleansed by crystal-
clear waters of Veritas
thus made able to admire
its meaning in the mirror
of the Almighty who made
it in his lovely likeness.
If you chance to be stained
cleanse yourself and see
God beam in your bosom.

(to be continued on Nov. 26)

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Notes on "Romeo and Juliet" (8)

Scene ii

Line 5  . . . love-performing night . . .
against "love-devouring death " in Act II, Scene iv, line 7 -- or, only apparently against: see here below

Lines 10-11  . . . Come, civil night,
Thou sober-suited matron, all in black
Juliet speaks. It reminds Death, especially if we consider that Morte (Death) is a feminine word in Italy, where the scene is supposed to happen; and she is imagined as a black lady.

Line 17  Come, night; come, Romeo . . .
are the two names meant as synonyms?

Line 43  What devil art thou that dost torment me thus?
maybe echoing Dante, Inferno 32.108; and, in its turn, echoed by S. T. Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Part I, the third to last line

Line 75  . . . fiend angelical
see 2 Corinthians 11.14

Lines 85-7  . . . There's no trust,
No faith, no honesty in men; all perjur'd,
All forsworn, all naught, all dissemblers
the Nurse gives voice to her experience, as well as her own more or less unconscious impulses; but also quotes from the Psalms, see 53.3, etc.

Lines 118-9  Why followed not, when she said 'Tybalt's dead,'
Thy father or thy mother, nay, or both
are these Juliet's fears, or hopes? 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

[GC] "C'mon!"

The Battle of Jaffa. A valiant Muslim commander, Rodoan, spurs his soldiers. The Christian fort has been built by reusing the hulls of their very ships.

[17: 126.6 - 127.8]

"C'mon, why do slow down your efforts,
O comrades? In vain will I struggle alone.
Nor will I open—thru the wall, or above,
there among enemy ships—a passage,
for the virtue of one strives in vain, and
in the excess of boldness deceives itself.
Better is the work of many instead, united.
Therefore come behind me, you all,
on this sand that covers firs and oaks,     the ships
'cause glory is a good exchange for danger!"

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The 7 Days of CryAction 6: 1520-1599

by ilTM + Selkis (picture data)

There existed of old
the son of mare and deer
embellished by the mane
and the majestic antlers
of parents one and two,
a bastard but beautiful
fast-running and robust
adorned in adulthood
with a rabbinic beard.
In the inland of India this
[1530] rarity roamed free
where wild oxen grazed
who had twisted horns
black hide strong brawn;
then probably disappeared
even tho’ in the far North
wild oxen, aurochses
and moose remained.
On the horse-deer hybrid
however no news come
[1540] nor do steeds have sex
with leopards any longer
to provide hippardions:
Crossbreeds are short-lived
and their names nullified
cause they weren’t created
by the immortal Maker
who eternalizes lineages
and safeguards species.
Gone are the grotesque
[1550] forms of fierce beasts
that flourished in Africa
the direful Disneyland,
or are gradually going
since uncertain stocks
cannot be kept forever.
Only the certified survive
as fixed by the Forger.
Going towards my goal
like a racer out of breath
[1560] I suddenly discern
both buffalos and hyenas
that violate our tombs
and imitate man’s voice.
I see long-horned rhinos
and the one-horned horse
that purges the springs
I see on ice and snow
the native reindeer
draw swift wagons
[1570] I see a lot of animals
polar and tropical
unwitnessed in the West
but illustrious thru legends.
Now no more delays,
tho’ tired I’ll soon reach
a Jurassic jungle where
among myriads of marvels
Adam was waiting for me.
As a confounded child
[1580] in a city for a fair
packed with vulgar people
if looking at a platform
distinguishes his dear
father shining from afar
like a crowned king—
dismisses the mob and
walks towards the place
where his powerful parent
now invites his son with
[1590] a wave or a word,
so throughout this habitat
of mortals and immortals
in which perpetual laws
warrant our welfare
I behaved like a visitor
in a modern museum fully
enjoying the exhibition
and often tarrying before
secondary specimens.

(to be continued on Nov. 19)

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Notes on "Romeo and Juliet" (7)

Act II
Scene vi

Line 7  Then love-devouring death . . .
Possibly a source for the controversial phrase in John Milton's Paradise Lost 9.792, when Eve "knew not eating death." She did not know she was eating / about to eat Death, or, she did not recognize all-devouring Death? Shakespeare would suggest the latter.

Line 21  Good even to my ghostly confessor
interestingly enough, Romeo and Juliet, in spite of the family feud, shared the same confessor even before meeting

Scene i

Line 114  O Romeo, Romeo . . .
Benvolio uses the same words as Juliet in Act I, Scene ii, 33; a repetition that, in both the Old and the New Testament, means a (divine) heartfelt address to people in order to show them their duty, see e.g. Genesis 22.11, Acts of the Apostles 9.4

[Enter PRINCE . . . their WIVES, and all.]
Lady Montague will not say one word

Line 139  Where are the vile beginners of this fray?
the Prince does not even ask "who," he will do so later (line 149)

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

[GBM] Summarizing

The Judgment of Paris in G. B. Marino's version: Venus adds to Paris' comfort by lingering on Helen's beauty. The word in line 2, epilogato ("summarized"), corresponds to the Greek verb anakephalaio-o used in the New Testament, Letter to the Ephesians 1.10 with reference to the cosmic Christ. The Latin version of the Bible, the Vulgate, rendered it by a different verb, instaurare ("to establish"); but Greek had been vastly rediscovered during the Renaissance. At any rate, the concept of something recapitulating all other things in itself, especially Man seen as microcosm, was widespread. In Catholic spirituality, see e.g. Dante's Convivio, the sum of all beauty and perfection was also identified with Virgin Mary. -- Flashforward: According to the Iliad, Venus will actually take part in the War of Troy (the consequence of Paris' love story with Helen) on the Trojans' side; but she will cut a poor figure, and be of little help.


"So well does, in her face, of all beauty
the aggregation unite, summarized;
so perfectly gathered together does
all earthly beauty flower in her
that Beauty herself, by far defeated,
fears comparison and feels ashamed.
On having worked on such a refined     like Athena vs. Arachne
veil, Heaven and Nature compete."     veil = flesh

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The 7 Days of CryAction 6: 1452-1519

In Day Six, Adonai
made no mules, illegitimate
off-off-Broadway offspring
of animals attracted by
unrestrained desire,
either a strong donkey
and a mare or a nimble
steed and a lazy mother.
[1460] Yet like heroic horses
mules sometimes won
in Olympic hippodromes;
they also carried Cardinals
in their red garments
(see Raffaello’s fresco)
to meet the messengers
from queens and kings.
Tho’ a thoroughbred’s son
can prove an ass, and so
[1470] does a mare’s daughter,
the first case is infertile
the second won’t conceive,
no mule mothers a mule
as horses habitually do
and in the Army’s herd
a son succeeds his father.
Causes are conjectural.
Deformed ducts” said
old Democritus the one
[1480] who, while blind, booed
delusions and disasters
of humankind humorously.
Empedocles who debatably
decided to meet death
in the flames of Etna
thought a failure follows
two orgasms too soggy:
contraries coalesce better—
as when someone melts
[1490] silver with a very
different metal, tin.
A more eminent mind
the philosopher frequently
adopted by tradition
saw the cause of sterility
in the coolness of seed
since donkeys are cool
unable to bear winter
so that none of them dwell
[1500] in northern Europe
though often in France.
A donkey-born he-mule
unlike his father has
infertile seeds inside
whereas a rare phenomenon
is Miss Mule with child;
but a seven-year-old mule
can mate with a mare
and make her pregnant.
[1510] In the Syrian sun
tho in ancient centuries
she-mules proved prolific
and mule came from mule
so that their descendants
mirrored the ancestors and
the race was preserved,
now however forever lost
among modern Syrians
worried over the war.

(to be continued on Nov. 12)

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Notes on "Romeo and Juliet" (6)

Act II
Scene iv

Line 72  I will bite thee by the ear . . .
this friendly threat is still used in Rome: Te dò 'n mòrzico su 'na recchia!

Lines 82-3  . . . now art thou Romeo; now art
thou what thou art by art . . .
the problem is, he must "refuse" his name and "be new baptiz'd"; from now on, his name "is no part of" himself, as stated in his dialog with Juliet in Act II, Scene ii

Line 157  . . . if you should deal double with her
Freudian projection: the Nurse will "deal double" with Juliet

Lines 199-200  . . . And she hath
the prettiest sententious of it, of you and rosemary
something having to do with "rose" (rising) and "marry"?

Scene v

Line 74  Must climb a bird's nest . . .
like a snake, not by chance

Lines 75-6  I am the drudge, and toil in your delight;
But you shall bear the burden soon at night
the Nurse as Queen Mab, see Act I, Scene iv, especially lines 54, 92-4

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

[GBM] Hold on! -- and cross fingers

Eustache Le Sueur, Venus Presents
Cupid to Jupiter

The Judgment of Paris in G. B. Marino's version: Paris is frightened by Juno's and Minerva's threats. Venus comforts him. In retrospect, as readers, we see that her reasons of comfort are the same that she will use with her own lover Adonis under the menace of jealous Mars, and, well, in both cases she will prove wrong.


"Adonis, my dear, what fear now seizes you?
If Love is with you, what can you be afraid of?     see Romans 8.31
Don't you know that on his arrow's point
all triumphs, all trophies have their location?
And that against his all-powerful power
the most powerful gods too are powerless?
And that the invincible strength of his fire
blows out the flashes of Jupiter himself?"     fire. . .blows out: witticism

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The 7 Days of CryAction 6: 1400-1451

by ilTM + Selkis

Skipping mysteries
and fairy-tale fictions
that hide truer ideas:
The same process causes
monsters and mars the
embryos in their bosoms
by either defective DNA
or matter’s malevolence,
all the more often when
nests are more numerous
[1410] e.g. industrial hens
and delicate doves whose
chicks are often a chaos;
not seldom bicephalous
serpents have been seen.
Christ’s dearest comrade
dreamed about a dragon
with seven snaky heads
and a starlet astride
who used to hook kings.
[1420] Seven had Hydra too
whose heads were beheaded
by iron blades in vain,
not to speak of the strange
lad in the labyrinth
and centaurs sphinxes
cyclopes Polyphemus
satyrs sylvans fauns
Pans and other peoples
who filled the forests
[1430] marvelous as the army
enlisted by Dionysus
to conquer Calcutta before
going back to Greece
as Camões composed.
Then add Arimaspians
& lazy one-footed fellas
& the Pigmies’ artillery
against the cranes and
all such exotic trash.
[1440] In fact such freaks
such unnatural natures
never existed, or if they did,
God made no monsters
then, insofar as freaks
are made of bad matter
that spoils parentage just
on casual occasions
dishonoring Nature; or
maybe a divine warning
[1450] to menace mankind
with disasters and death.

(to be continued on Nov. 4)

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Notes on "Romeo and Juliet" (5)

Act II
Scene iii

Lines 21-2  Virtue itself turns vice, being misapplied,
And vice sometime's by action dignified
The whole monologue of Friar Lawrence (lines 1-30) provides an epitome of the Renaissance worldview, but these two lines are the cornerstone of their ethics, that implied a 'careful' use of boldness as well as the acknowledgement of the great rule of chance/Fortune. "Virtue" retained its original Latin meaning of both physical and inner strength. This approach will be destroyed in the 18th century by the -- devastating -- model that sets supposedly universal theoretical principles to be applied each time.

Lines 65, 69  Holy Saint Francis! // Jesu Maria
The former exclamation is maybe a joke of Shakespeare, but the latter comes from true parlance, and is still used in Southern Italy (rather than Verona, in the NE): Gesummaria!

Lines 85-7  . . . her I love now
Doth grace for grace and love for love allow;
The other did not so
paraphrasing the Gospel of John 1.16-17

Scene iv

Lines 23-6
Mercutio's description of the then (late Renaissance) fashionable continental style of dueling is ironic. The same kind of description, but much longer and meant as highly honorable, will be used by G. B. Marino in Adone, canto 20, stanzas 233-247.

Lines 36-43
In Mercutio's list, Dante is conspicuous by his absence. To think that he was so warmly welcomed in Verona! Paradiso 17.70-75.
The famous women exalted by poets are mocked by punning on the sound of their names: "Dido, a dowdy," etc., with the exception of Cleopatra, "a gipsy" -- that however puns on "Egyptian."

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

[GC] The glory of British archers

Galleria Sabauda, Torino (Savoy Art Gallery, Turin, Italy)

The description of the (fictional) Battle of Jaffa in Tasso's Gerusalemme Conquistata continues with many valiant acts of the Crusaders besieged by the Muslims. This agitated section of the poem should be read in succession, like seeing a movie; it would not work much to extrapolate a few lines. Sometimes the pace slows down to focus on one warrior, for example here:

[17: 122]

With both Roberts was William, the handsome,
the honor and the glory of British archers;
he wore a golden armor and helmet, all
with gold did his beautiful weapons shine,     (*)
his Anselm carrying the golden quiver:
he shot arrows, and had already hit many.
With those golden, splendid arms of his
he kept making lethal, insidious wounds.

(*) A Renaissance parade armor, rather than Medieval war equipment.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

The 7 Days of CryAction 6: 1315-1399

HPL, The Dunwich Horror (by ilTM + Selkis)

This whole volume indeed
this wonderful world
did not start from ABC
and popped up perfect.
Did You make monsters?
[1320] You didn’t, Director
of Physis: it was the fault
of ill-measuring matter
now scanty now redundant.
If the sperm of a male
weak insofar as old
or feeble as too early
is unable to activate
the ovules to operate
in that wet dwelling
[1330] it will fatally fail—
a painful necessity,
while entirely unneeded
are mutant monsters
devoid of destination.
Here stubborn matter
rebels against Progress,
the end of development;
excluded X-Men issue.
When hyle however is
[1340] defeated, it follows
chromosomal commands
so that newborn babies
resemble their parents.
Transgressors also
betray their own breed
and turn into monsters;
so much so sometimes
that their degeneration
makes them inhuman
[1350] anthropologically aliens
and from a cursed seed
a cursed Cain is born
shunned by the society
hated by Nature herself.
Old stories report on
a ram-skulled kid
and an ox-headed one
or a calf with a child’s
head or a humble sheep
[1360] looking like a bull.
Think of the frightening
Chupacabra that recalls
a dog and a dragon.
A mare can mate with
a Griffin on the glaciers
of far northern regions
where he watches over
knick-knacks like Smaug.
Well-known everywhere
[1370] are Egyptian hybrids
e.g. a human forehead
embellished with bovine
horns under a veil,
Jove Ammon adored in
a well patronized temple
solitary and surrounded
by a stormy desert.
Pictured and carved
were Anubis in afterlife
[1380] and endless idols.
The Hebrews themselves
imitated the heathens
burning babies to Moloch.
The commencing cause
is Nature who overruns
her pregnancy protocols
by bearing extra-limbed
creatures like one torso
with many horrible heads
[1390] or feet in superfetation.
Therefore Fame felt free
to invent Hekatoncheiroi
with a hundred hands
and to crown Cerberian
Geryon gloriously
in Spain in past times—
but perhaps hinting at
the human mind with
its threefold faculty.

(to be continued on Oct. 29)