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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The conspiracy (2)

With a narrative device typical of theater plays, and of future detective stories, Vafrino finds himself eavesdropping near a tent -- or a room -- precisely while the people inside talk about a crime they are planning. Here the newly appointed head of the Muslim army, Emiren, introduces to the Sultan of Egypt a warrior who promises to murder Godfrey of Bouillon, the head of the Christian army. (Of all these characters, only Godfrey is historical, though his leadership in the Crusade was less undisputed than in the poem.)

[17: 58.1 - 59.4]

Parla il Duce a colui: - Dunque securo
Sei tu così di dar morte a Goffredo? -
Risponde quegli: - Io sono, e 'n corte giuro
Non tornar mai, se vincitor non riedo.
Preverrò ben color che meco fûro
Al congiurare, e premio altro non chiedo
Se non ch'io possa un bel trofeo de l'arme
Drizzar nel Cairo, e sotto, un breve carme:

"Queste arme in guerra al capitan francese,
Distruggitor de l'Asia, Ormondo i' trassi
Quando gli trassi l'alma, e fûr sospese
Perché memoria ad ogni età trapassi".

The Sultan tells him, "So, you are absolutely sure you will put Godfrey to death?" He answers, "I am. And I swear, I will not come back to this Court if I can't do so in triumph. I will act swifter even than my comrades in the conspiracy -- and, I ask for no other reward than having the permission to raise a glorious trophy in Cairo, (*) with such words written underneath: These weapons from the Frank leader, the destroyer of Asia, (**) I, Ormond, took away when I took away his soul; they have been hanged here so that a memory may be kept throughout the ages."

(*) As in the manuscript of Gerusalemme Conquistata (and already in the Liberata); but Babilonia in the final printed text, i.e. Babel/Babylon, that had a greater symbolic meaning since in the Middle Ages and Renaissance the Biblical name of the enemy Empire par excellence was reused as a synonym of the Muslim community and power as a whole.
(**) In a very general sense, the current Turkey -- in the route towards Jerusalem -- and the Middle East. Trophies like this were very common in the poems of chivalry.