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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Is it her or not? (5)

We will momentarily skip some stanzas in order to keep following the ones dealing with Armida and/or the Queen of Daphne. During the official banquet of the Sultan of Egypt with the Muslim leaders, the Lady "in whom valor and chastity reign" (17: 50) talks to him, and says. . .

[GC 17: 51]

- Gran Re, morto il mio sposo, anch'io ne vegno
Per la fede, et ardisco a voi mostrarme.
Donna son io, ma real Donna: indegno
Già di reina il guerreggiar non parme.
Se per arte real si merta il regno
E dansi ad una man lo scettro e l'arme,
Saprà la mia, se torpe il ferro o langue,
Ferire e trar da le ferite il sangue -.

"Great King, my spouse is dead, (*) and here I come
For our faith, daring to appear before you all.
A woman I am, but a royal Lady: (**) unworthy
Of a queen it does not seem to wage war.
If a kingdom is deserved by royal skills,
And scepter and weapons are given the hand,
My hand -- if (***) the sword proved lazy or weak --
Can wound, and draw blood out of the wounds."

(*) This detail was not mentioned in the parallel text in Gerusalemme Liberata 17: 43. Does she hint at her broken love story with Richard?
(**) She uses the same word, donna, in two senses: "woman," like in current Italian, and "lady" like in Medieval Italian, from Latin domina, see e.g. Dante. "Woman" was then expressed with femmina, from Latin foemina, see "female." N.B. When Tasso wrote both the Liberata and the Conquistata, it was the epoch of Queen Elizabeth I, quite fiercely hated in continental, Catholic Europe.
(***) She is ready to kill her enemies with her nails. But the word here was (not se) in GL, and with other differences, so that the whole sentence read: "My hand, that is not lazy or weak with a sword, . . ." In spite of the Queen's bold resolution, however, we won't see her in action during the battle, while Armida actually fought against Rinaldo in GL.