Friday, March 9, 2018

Turin-Paris: Two snakes are worse than one

from Pompeii, first century AD

Carrying on his praise of Duke Charles Emmanuel I, G. B. Marino likens him to Hercules. The Greek hero, during the Renaissance, was not seen as a sort of Conan the Barbarian or Incredible Hulk, but as a symbol of moral strength as well, i.e. virtue; often, even a symbol of Jesus Christ. The "heresy" referred to in the quotation below is the small Waldensian community living in the Savoy territory: a Medieval 'Protestant-like' Church older than Luther's Reformation. The Duke also put forward a claim on the Calvinist Geneva. The Thirty Years' War is looming. As for the king against whom Charles Emmanuel dared to fight, Marino probably means Henry IV of France. The adjacent (little) Savoy Duchy and (big, powerful) France were often at loggerheads because of the ownership on some lands. Marino, anyway, praises the King of France at the same time -- his connections with Paris will prove useful.

Dicerie sacre, III. Il cielo, 25

Yes, yes, with you, O great son of Jupiter, I wish to compare him [the Duke]; and in my opinion, we must think that for no other reason than this well balanced equality he was destined by Heaven, when he was still very young, to strangle two vipers precisely as you did when, a baby yourself, you suffocated two snakes. You were being tested by your stepmother; he, tossed by fortune. You, the one who extracted the active venom out of the Hydra; he, the one who eradicated the reviving plague of heresy. You, the winner against Antaeus who kept rising again; he, the persecutor of an enemy who kept getting stronger and stronger. You, the conqueror of a frightening lion; he, the fighter against a magnanimous king. You faced a fierce boar, he attacked an indomitable leader.