SiStan ChapLee

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

[GC] Tasso the Cimmerian

Argantes leads the Muslim warriors against the Christian fort in Jaffa, and a furious battle follows. It would not do to translate selected passages, since the effect is produced by the overall sequence, like in a war movie. In general, in this section the difference between Gerusalemme Liberata (published in 1581) and the Conquistata (1593) becomes clear, the latter adding 'barbarian' -- as well as classical, i.e. Homeric -- violence and horror to the more elegant descriptions in the former. Here is a sample, when a Christian knight, Robert, strikes a Muslim attacker, "Alteo," in the eyes with his sword. The translation is based on the GC manuscript; in the final printed book some details were changed, but, imho, the earlier text was better.

[18: 34]

Both of his head lamps, mixed with blood,     his eyes
fell down to the ground, in the black sand.     from Homer
He kept on fighting, although sightless,
not lifeless yet, in a desperate rage;
until his soul, sorrowful and sad—
almost like a wild beast—left its cage
roaring fiercely. The body, pale and blind,
remained as food to dogs and crows.     from Homer