English translation [LP]
I. The higher a man climbs the further he
can fall if he does not keep to the path where he has a guide; so the Venetians
ought to fear decline and fall, for they have achieved great recognition of the
highest merit, along with the Genoese, who similarly live rich in reputation;
for they used to conduct all their affairs with God’s help, but now they act
worse than if they were Jews.
Italian translation [lb]
I. Più in alto un uomo sale, più
rovinosamente può cadere se non resta sulla strada dov’è guidato; così i
Veneziani dovrebbero temere il declino e la caduta, perché sono assurti al più
alto grado del merito, insieme con i Genovesi, che vivono allo stesso modo
ricchi di pregio; poiché erano soliti condurre i loro affari con l’aiuto di Dio,
mentre ora si comportano peggio che se fossero ebrei.
Text: Levy 1883, with some changes of punctuation and a correction in v. 32 by LP. – Rialto 24.vi.2015.
Mss.: A 174v (Bertolomeus zorzis), I 101v (Denbertholome çorxi), K 85r (Denbertholomei çorçi).
Critical edition: Emil Levy, Der Troubadour Bertolome Zorzi, Halle 1883, p. 58 (CR Camille Chabaneau, Revue des langues romanes, 25, 1884, p. 195).
Other editions: Carl August Friedrich Mahn, Die Werke der Troubadours, in provenzalischer Sprache, 4 voll., Berlin 1846-1886, vol. III., p. 12; François-Juste-Marie Raynouard, Choix des poésies originales des troubadours, 6 voll., Paris 1816-1821, vol. IV, p. 234; Vincenzo De Bartholomaeis, Poesie provenzali storiche relative all’Italia, 2 voll., Rome 1931, vol. II, p. 270 (= Levy).
Versification: a7 b6 b6 a7 b6 b6 c7 c6 d7 d6 e10 e10 (Frank 535:1), -atz, -er, -at, -en, -ieu; 5 coblas unissonans and 2 6-line tornadas, unicum.
Notes: The Venetian troubadour Zorzi was imprisoned in Genoa from 1266 to 1273 during a war between Venice and Genoa and composed this sirventes there (see note to BdT 74.11). De Bartholomaeis (pp. 270-271) notes that the king of France had hired the Genoese fleet for his second crusade, and as this was about to get underway in 1269 he had intervened with the rulers of the two cities to try to wrap up an agreement that would have facilitated his expedition. The papal court was also involved in trying to conclude a peace or truce. At the end of the year these efforts, which remained ineffectual, ended in a compromise whose terms are unfortunately unknown. They are likely to have involved the release of prisoners of war, which did not happen; negotiations over this were still going on in February 1273. The song can be dated, as De Bartholomaeis states, to shortly before May 1270, since Louis has not yet set out (v. 59). As he points out, Zorzi is a ‘cattivo profeta’, foreseeing Louis second disaster, which the troubadour says he learned of before completely finishing his song (stanza VII). – De Bartholomaeis focuses on the release of the Venetian prisoners, but the fact that the troubadour includes the Venetians as well as the Genoese (vv. 7-9) in his strictures on fearing the loss of reputation would appear to blame both for not implementing what they have supposedly agreed. – Line 16: De Bartholomaeis translates ‘dovrebbe trattener presso di sé de’ prigionieri patteggiati co’ loro avversari’, but sos must refer to the ‘Jew or renegade’; the point is that the armies have concluded an agreement but the men in charge are still holding onto the prisoners. – Lines 20-21: De Bartholomaeis glosses ‘Perciò tutti [i Genovesi], per il torto e per il peccato [che han commesso]’; but a tort e a pechat means ‘unjustly’ (PD), and moreover both Venetians and Genoese seem to be implied here (see above). – Lines 23-24: literally ‘to not one of them are his people of any help so that through them he may fall down or get up’; De Bartholomaeis ‘come per nessuno di essi i loro hanno tal virtù da farli decadere o elevare’. – Lines 30-31: lit. ‘they consider themselves paid with the prisoners’. De Bartholomaeis: ‘è solo per parere di tenersi soddisfatti nell’avere de’ prigioneri [= solo per vanagloria] che lascian morire tanta gente!’ I think the troubadour means that those holding the prisoners are said to be arguing that the latter are part of the compensation for their losses, perhaps because they can expect some of them to be ransomed. – Line 32: Levy and De Bartholomaeis print the erroneous reading of IK coindat (I coidat with titulus above the ‘i’) rather than A comdat. De Bartholomaeis nevertheless translates ‘secondo que che sono andati dicendo’, which is the sense here. – Line 38: De Bartholomaeis: ‘angosciosi dispiaceri’. Bertolome seems to be referring to the vexatious effects of the protracted and unsuccessful negotiations. – Lines 55-60: Zorzi is blaming Louis for not resolving the issue of the prisoners. The king may have decided to lead a crusade, he says, but failure to free the captives is such a grave matter that it cries out for God’s vengeance; it seems that God has forgotten to punish him, but if He has not, Zorzi is sure that the outcome of this crusade will be as disastrous as Louis’ first one, unless the cross affords him protection. He is no doubt referring to the relic of the True Cross which Louis had acquired on 30 September 1241 and which was believed to have miraculously cured him of the illness which preceded his first crusade: see Matthew Paris, Matthaei Parisiensis, monachi Sancti Albani, Chronica majora, ed. Henry Richards Luard, 7 voll., London 1872-1884, vol. IV, 1877, p. 397. Louis had the Sainte Chapelle in Paris built to house this and other relics, including the Crown of Thorns (for details see J. Le Goff, Saint Louis, Paris 1996, pp. 140-148). – Line 60: in manleu (PD ‘délivrance d’une personne arrêtée ou d’une chose saisie’) Bertolome is playing on the idea of freeing prisoners: the king has not acted to free the Venetian and Genoese prisoners, and Louis himself may not be freed from the fate of his first crusade unless his crusading commitment (the cross) grants him immunity. – Lines 69-70: De Bartholomaeis punctuates A mort e a greu turmen / Sai, e lai mainta gen (Levy includes no commas) and translates ‘a morte e a grave tormento, qui il Re, e là molta gente’. But Louis died overseas, and the point is surely that there are many people not only in Tunis but also in Italy where the prisoners are suffering because the French king did not use his influence to secure their release. – Line 72: the new king is Philip III the Bold.