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Monday, February 13, 2017

[GBM] Prince of Outcasts


A casual flash forward all the way up to canto 16, stanzas 197-228 in the plot of G. B. Marino's Adonis to introduce a very interesting character: Tricane dal Dente, that could be translated as "Tridog O'Tooth." He will pop up as a competitor against Adonis in the beauty contest arranged to (!) choose the new king of Cyprus---well, not in his real shape (see picture) but magically appearing as a handsome young man. We won't deal with these events now, however.

What matters here is that Tricane's story is an impressive mix of humor and horror. He is the son of a dwarfish queen who has been deceived by a foreign conqueror: the man makes her believe he means to marry her, then seizes the power and has her raped by his own dog. So Tricane is half man and half beast, and further misshapen, i.e. lame, because of a childhood accident.

Dark-skinned, as short as a pygmy or even shorter than that, Tricane does not frighten the people but makes them laugh when he suddenly appears as is. Mocked as a freak, despised in an attitude of racism, he becomes the most important symbol of social alienation in the whole poem. Is this just a modern, politically correct interpretation, or Marino's very key? The second hypothesis may stand. Tricane in fact is lame like the devil in many pictures, but, more properly in our context, lame like Vulcan, Venus' husband, whom she hates and betrays. The "demi-dog," for some unexplained reason, has tusks like a wild boar, and a monstrous, sexually excited boar will finally kill Adonis (this is not spoilering, eh?, this is trivial Greek mythology) in a sort of preventive parody of Beauty and the Beast. And especially, Marino himself might sometimes have felt like Tricane while desperately trying to convince the Roman Inquisition that they should not blame and convict him. But they did.