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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

[GC] Meet Satan's brother

by Caravaggio

Canto 18 of Torquato Tasso's Gerusalemme Conquistata opens Homerically with the supreme God who looks down on the war, or rather, the wars -- not only the First Crusade but, at the same time, the battles taking place between Christians and Muslims in Spain, with a glorification of King Alfonso of Aragon. But meanwhile 'the Enemy does not sleep,' and decides to give battle to the Crusaders in Jaffa. Interestingly enough, this huge hellish warrior is not Satan but. . . his brother, the one who creates the tempests. Clearly another Homeric reference, i.e., to Hades/Pluto and Poseidon/Neptune, whose third brother, in fact, was Zeus/Jupiter as hinted at at the beginning. The name of this sea demon will turn out to be Fortuna, that means both Fortune and fortunale, "storm." The connection between a battlefield and a devil creating a storm may come from Dante, Purgatorio 5.

[18: 4]

But the great Rebel did not guard sleepily,
he who commands to storm and lightning
and, almost equal to his hellish brother,
upsets the sea and makes the air flare up;
sitting in Lebanon, he looked at the one
and the other shore, and the seas, the fields,
and Aelia, Jaffa, and the ships and port,     Aelia Capitolina: Jerusalem
from a rocky range facing East and West.