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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Ummah (5)

And now, in this endless military parade, look at a personage that has become a legend especially thanks to Marco Polo:

[GC 17: 31]

Venne con gli Assasini il vecchio Mastro,
Che tra' fenici per honor s'elegge;
Al cui fero pugnal non valse impiastro,
Mentre seguiva ancor la falsa legge.
Et altri, che lasciȃr la zappa e 'l rastro
O pur abandonaro armenti e greggie,
Guida Aldïel, che presso i salsi gorghi
Vote fece restar castella e borghi.

With his "Assassins" the old Master came,
By honor chosen among the Phoenicians;
Against whose fierce dagger poultice was useless --
As long as he followed the false religion. (*)
And others, who left their hoes and rakes
Or abandoned their cow and sheep herds
Were led by Aldiel, who by the salt waters
Emptied of people castles and villages. (**)

(*) Tasso seems to assume that, later on, the sect of the "Assassins" would convert to Christianity.
(**) The words castella and borghi are used in their Medieval sense: the houses built within the walls of a castle, and those in the surrounding area.