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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 . . .