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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Spy Who Came in from the Heat (7)

[16: 81, the prisoner keeps answering Vafrino's questions]

Di nuovo il timoroso a lui ragiona:
- Fuor di Gaza Emiren gli Eggitii accampa,
Ché di muro o di vallo altra corona
Non voler dice in cui si fugge e scampa.
Arabi, Assiri, Mori ove risuona
Il mar han teso, e dove il lido avampa;
Ma fra terra Altamor co' Persi alberga,
Con gli Indi Adrasto ove il terren più s'erga.

Again the man, frightened, speaks to him:
"Outside Gaza did Emiren set his Egyptians,
Saying he does not wish to leave any wall
Or rampart to which people may escape.
Arabs, Syrians(*), Moors have been positioned
Where the sea resounds and the shore burns;
Altamor and his Persians in the hinterland,
Adrast and his Indians in the mountains."

(*) The text literally says "Assyrians," but the two names were often confused with each other in Medieval and Renaissance descriptions. As this stanza shows, Tasso turns the First Crusade into a sort of First World War, all the more so if we remember that the Crusaders themselves (are here supposed to) come from all Europe, "Vikings" included.