[Milton-L] Do witches and devils held a "Concilio" or "Consiglio"?

Dario Rivarossa ilTassista dario.rivarossa at gmail.com
Fri Jun 3 01:47:59 EDT 2016

Dear friends and scholars, while carrying on the online translation of
Torquato Tasso's 1593 long poem "Gerusalemme Conquistata" (the reboot
version of his own better known "Gerusalemme Liberata," 1581) I came
across a passage that may be of some interest here. It is set in a
"dark forest," where. . .

[16: 5]

Ivi le maghe sono accolte, e 'l vago
Con ciascuna di lor notturno viene,
Vien sopra i nembi, e chi d'un fero drago
E chi forma d'un capro infome tiene:
Conciglio infame, che fallace imago
Suole allettar di desïato bene
A celebrar con pompe immonde e sozze
I profani conviti e l'empie nozze.

There the witches gather, and with each
Of them her lover comes by night from
Above the clouds, some having the shape
Of a fierce dragon, some of an ugly goat:
A foul Council(*) that a deceiving image
Of a longed for good very often calls (**)
To celebrate, with a filthy splendor,
Profane banquets, ungodly weddings.

(*) Interestingly enough, the manuscript reads Con_c_iglio (more
exactly spelled Concilio), but in the final printed version the word
was slightly modified into Con_s_iglio: Though coming from the same
Latin root "concilium," in Italian the former means a Church assembly
while the latter means a town council, or nowadays an administrative
board. Maybe in the 'director's cut' of his main poem Tasso chose not
to stress the parallelism -- though ironic, or precisely because of
this -- with the Council of Trent, even if he himself had used the
term "Concilio" in Gerusalemme Liberata. John Milton, who had read the
Liberata, added to the irony by defining Pandemonium "a solemn

(**) Another interesting detail. Both Dante and Ariosto had dealt with
witches, but neither had proposed a sociological explanation of the
phenomenon as Tasso does here.

ilTassista http://tassonomia.blogspot.it
co-artist with the Magic Trio http://tiziafra.wix.com/the-magic-trio

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