Strange idea for a stretto play?

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Strange idea for a stretto play?

Postby CPenney » 07 Aug 2013 04:18

Hi, all. I wanted to get some feedback from folks (particularly any Italian speakers out there) regarding a peculiar play in the Getty version of the Gioco Stretto, namely the play near the end immediately before the three disarms of the sword (i.e. folio 30r, upper right).

http://www.getty.edu/art/gettyguide/artObjectDetails?artobj=143513

The text states:

Questo zogho se fa per tal modo zoè che uno vada cum lo colpo mezano contra lo mezano de parte riversa e subito vada cum coverta ale strette e butti la spada al collo del compagno come qui è depento. Buttar lo pò in terra senzo fallimento.


Tom Leoni’s translation is as follows:

Here’s how this play is done. The opponent makes a riverso mezzano, I make a mezzano of my own and immediately go to close play (while remaining defended) and whip my sword to the opponent’s neck as illustrated. I can then throw him to the ground without fail.


This translation seems to be very interpretive, with some significant changes to the structure of the description. The Schola Gladiatoria website translates the second part as:

...someone comes with a colpi mezano (middle strike) against the mezano of the left hand side...


I prefer this translation, as I feel it leads to a much more satisfying interpretation of the play that seems to more accurately reflect the manuscript. I wonder if that line could possibly be read as follows:

...the scholar throws a colpi mezzano towards the middle of the opponents left side...


If this is the case, then the play becomes a bit of a companion to the punta falsa, where it is the scholar which initiates the play. If my interpretation is correct, the scholar attacks colpi mezzano to the middle of his opponent (i.e. around the waist area). The result of this is that the defender has to cover with his hands held low (similar to the exchange of point), otherwise he gets his hands hit. The scholar then turns his sword over and raises it up, stepping forward to run the forte of the true edge of his sword at the opponents neck, trapping the blade of the opponents sword against him. He then finishes the play by grabbing his own blade and taking the opponent down.

I like this interpretation - I think it works well, and it respects the image in the Getty. The main issue I’m leery of is that I’m taking too much of a liberty with the Italian. I’d be grateful of folks here (particularly those who speak Italian) could weigh in on whether or not my reading of the text is possible. People have made unorthodox (if not downright weird) interpretations of these manuscripts based on peculiar and unrealistic translations of the original Italian. If I have done the same, I’d like to know. :)
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Re: Strange idea for a stretto play?

Postby leonardo daneluz » 09 Aug 2013 14:02

I'll try to put that in english literally following the same order than in the original.

'This play is made in such a way that one goes* with a colpo mezzano against the middle part of the reverse side** and quickly goes, with a covering, to the short play and pushes the sword against the neck of the companion as it is portrayed. Push him on the ground I can without fail"

* it is subjuntive, 'one' is obviously the actor.
** 'lo mezano de la parte riversa' is 'the middle' of the left side of the opponent's sword. Edit: it could be the middle opponent's body, as you suggest.


I have no idea why Leoni makes such an interpretative translation. The mechanics of the action are pretty clear. He beat the sword in the middle of the left side of the opponent and thus , keeping the sword there, probably doing a passing step, goes close to the opponent with full control of his blade. Turns around him putting a foot under his leg and pushes his sword against the neck.
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Re: Strange idea for a stretto play?

Postby CPenney » 10 Aug 2013 00:40

Thanks for this! It's one of those plays that seems very odd, but I'd had the idea that if the "one" in the initial part of the play was the scholar himself then it all seemed to fall into place.

The reason I suggested it was the middle "of the body" was that one needs to have the opponent cover kind of low, so that running your sword against the opponent's throat would go against the weak of his blade. If you struck to the throat and the player covered with more of a frontale, then you'd be fighting strong against strong.
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Re: Strange idea for a stretto play?

Postby leonardo daneluz » 10 Aug 2013 03:09

English uses the 'one' idiomatics much less than italian and spanish. Fiore is usually somewhat short in explaining things but not cryptic. He writes in a very straightforward and modern style. If I would explain that action in spanish I 'll do it using the same construccion, I can translate that into spanish, word by word and still is the most natural way to say it.
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Re: Strange idea for a stretto play?

Postby Michael Chidester » 10 Aug 2013 04:10

I thought this sounded familiar. In the Morgan, this text accompanies an entirely different image:

Image

I don't know how I never noticed that before; I'll need to revisit my Fiore compilation and figure out how to handle this. Regadless, I make the text as follows:

    [15r-c] Questo zogo se fa per tal modo zoè che uno vada cum lo colpo mezano contra lo mezano de parte riversa e subito vada cum coverta ale strette. E buta la sua spada alo collo dello compagno, pigliando la sua mane dritta cum la sua stancha de si instesso come aqui dipento. Butarlo pò in terra senza falimento metendo lo suo pe' dritto dredo lo suo dritto.

    This play is made in this fashion, that is, that someone goes with a middle blow against a middle [blow] to his left side, and then quickly goes to the strait with a cover. He throws his sword to the neck of his companion, at the same time grasping his right hand with his left (as you see depicted here). He can then throw him to the ground without fail, thrusting his right foot behind [the player's] right.
My reasoning for selecting this reading is that I went down and spent about an hour playing through different possibilities with Charles Deily, the head of the local Schola St. George chapter, and this was the most reliable version at speed which also seemed nicely Fiore-esque.
Last edited by Michael Chidester on 10 Aug 2013 15:47, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Strange idea for a stretto play?

Postby Michael Chidester » 10 Aug 2013 04:17

For completeness, here's the Morgan description of the image you're looking at:

This is another catch to throw someone to the ground, sword and all, that is, that this Scholar crosses with the player on the right side and steps into the strait. He pinches the right elbow of the player with his left hand, and then quickly he throws his sword to [the player's] neck, grasping his own sword at the middle (his right foot behind the right of the player). In this way, he throws [the player] to the ground with little honor.
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Re: Strange idea for a stretto play?

Postby CPenney » 10 Aug 2013 13:55

Michael Chidester wrote:I thought this sounded familiar. In the Morgan, this text accompanies an entirely different image:

Image

I don't know how I never noticed that before; I'll need to revisit my Fiore compilation and figure out how to handle this. Regadless, I make the text as follows:

    [15r-c] Questo zogo se fa per tal modo zoè che uno vada cum lo colpo mezano contra lo mezano de parte riversa e subito vada cum coverta ale strette. E buta la sua spada alo collo dello compagno, pigliando la sua mane dritta cum la sua stancha de si instesso come aqui dipento. Butarlo pò in terra senza falimento metendo lo suo pe' dritto dredo lo suo dritto.

    This play is made in this fashion, that is, that someone goes with a middle blow against a middle blow to his left side, and then quickly goes to the strait with a cover. He throws his sword to the neck of his companion, at the same time grasping his right hand with his left (as you see depicted here). He can then throw him to the ground without fail, thrusting his right foot behind [the player's] right.
My reasoning for selecting this reading is that I went down and spent about an hour playing through different possibilities with Charles Deily, the head of the local Schola St. George chapter, and this was the most reliable version at speed which also seemed nicely Fiore-esque.


Curiouser and curiouser...

What is the text that goes with the play to the immediate right of this one in the Morgan - this play has a drawing that is nearly identical to the Getty drawing, including grabbing the sword, trapping that of the opponent, and the body position and everything else.

Also, the drawing you show seems the same as in the Novati carta 22b lower left (not found in the Getty).

It's an interesting puzzle. Overall, though, I've noticed that the gioco stretto is the most inconsistent section between the various manuscripts.
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Re: Strange idea for a stretto play?

Postby CPenney » 10 Aug 2013 14:25

Michael Chidester wrote:For completeness, here's the Morgan description of the image you're looking at:

This is another catch to throw someone to the ground, sword and all, that is, that this Scholar crosses with the player on the right side and steps into the strait. He pinches the right elbow of the player with his left hand, and then quickly he throws his sword to [the player's] neck, grasping his own sword at the middle (his right foot behind the right of the player). In this way, he throws [the player] to the ground with little honor.


I'm thinking that the Morgan has the plays mixed up. Specifically, each of those plays correctly describes the take-down as drawn (one grabbing the wrist with the hand- the other grabbing the sword), but the descriptions of the entry do not work for me. The play on the right describes pinching the elbow (which is designed to take and clear the centre) but then the image shows the sword trapped against the opponents neck. For the left hand play, the text describes going with cover, yet the opponents sword is free and unconstrained.

I have a bit of a Stretto comparison somewhere that I'll dig up and look over.
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Re: Strange idea for a stretto play?

Postby Michael Chidester » 10 Aug 2013 15:42

The Novati text agrees about coming in with a cover.

    [22b-c] Per drita couerta io t'ò cussì ben preso,
    Che te mandarò in tera longo disteso.


    From the right cover I have caught you so well,
    That I will lay you out on the ground.

    Image
And for the other play in the Morgan, the Novati and Paris text are no help but it seems pretty specific to the play it accompanies.

    [15r-d] Questa è una altra presa de butare uno in terra cum tuta la spada. Zoè che aquesto scolar incrosa cum lo zugadore della parte dritta e passa ale strette, e cum la mane sua stancha penze lo cubitto dritto del zugadore. E subito glie butta la spada al collo pigliando la sua propia spada al mezo. Ello suo dritto pe' dredo lo suo dritto dello zugadore. Acosì lo butta in terra cum pocho honore.

    This is another catch to throw someone to the ground, sword and all, that is, that this Scholar crosses with the player on the right side and steps into the strait. He pinches the right elbow of the player with his left hand, and then quickly he throws his sword to [the player's] neck, grasping his own sword at the middle (his right foot behind the right of the player). In this way, he throws [the player] to the ground with little honor.

    Image
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Re: Strange idea for a stretto play?

Postby CPenney » 11 Aug 2013 01:18

I was actually just looking at that Novati play, but the way I see it, the play comes from the cover (meaning the stretto crossing) but the Scholar does not enter "with cover". To me, There are two plays as follows:

One play starts from the incrosada. You then grab the players right elbow and turn him so that you can get behind (or at least around to the side). You hook your right arm around him, grab the wrist and take him down. This is the Novati play above with the "ben preso' from the cover.

The other play is set up with a colpi mezzano to the middle of your opponents left side. When he defends himself, turn your sword over and move straight in "with cover" (meaning you keep his sword in check), heading for the opponents neck. In this case you are coming straight through his defense and trapping his sword in the process. This is the initial play from the Getty that I was wondering about.

The Novati and Getty each have only one of these plays (the Novati having the former and the Getty having the latter). I think the confusion comes from the fact that when the producer of the Morgan puts them both in the one copy he seems to mix elements of the two.
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Re: Strange idea for a stretto play?

Postby Michael Chidester » 11 Aug 2013 02:41

CPenney wrote:The Novati and Getty each have only one of these plays (the Novati having the former and the Getty having the latter). I think the confusion comes from the fact that when the producer of the Morgan puts them both in the one copy he seems to mix elements of the two.

Except that the Morgan was produced before the PD and probably before the Getty as well.
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Re: Strange idea for a stretto play?

Postby CPenney » 11 Aug 2013 05:13

Michael Chidester wrote:Except that the Morgan was produced before the PD and probably before the Getty as well.


I think it is much more likely that the Morgan was copied from the Getty, or a copy of it. Despite the difference in structure between the two, the text is so similar that they have to be copied one from the other (or from other unknown copies of the same version). As for the P-D being later, where does the possible date of 1404 for the other two come from?

Aside from the dating, how then would you interpret the plays of the Getty and P-D, and the different text/drawing combination in the Morgan?
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Re: Strange idea for a stretto play?

Postby Michael Chidester » 11 Aug 2013 18:56

The Morgan strikes me as older for three reasons. First, it more closely resembles the related German texts, which is what I would expect of a first attempt at creating his own treatise. Second, the Getty looks a lot more like what I would expect a "revised and expanded" version of the Morgan to look like than the reverse scenario. Third, if we were to try to create a historical narrative, it makes sense that Fiore would have had an existing treatise which was well-regarded by whoever commissioned Niccolo's copies, and the only extant manuscript that could fill that role is the Morgan. (Obviously we could postulate a missing manuscript to fill this role, but then we run into the old yarn about multiplying entities beyond necessity.)

Now, what I'd like to be the case is that an older master copy exists somewhere with all the content of the Getty and Morgan and Pisani Dossi in a perfect form. But I don't have any leads on such a manuscript or reason to expect it's existence beyond my own hopes and dreams.

But really, this conversation has been had many times before. Delve into the bowels of this forum and you'll find tons of historical debate about the 14th Century Italian politics and so forth to keep you guessing.
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Re: Strange idea for a stretto play?

Postby CPenney » 11 Aug 2013 20:39

Well, I don't think the Morgan is the original, mainly for the fact that it has a "chopped" sentence in the colpi di villano. The implication is (even if it is in fact the oldest of the known copies) that the Morgan was copied by a scribe from another text which may or may not survive.

I was wondering, though, where specifically the notion that either the Getty or Morgan were produced around (or before) 1404 comes from, as suggested on Wiktenauer.
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Re: Strange idea for a stretto play?

Postby Michael Chidester » 12 Aug 2013 00:15

CPenney wrote:Well, I don't think the Morgan is the original, mainly for the fact that it has a "chopped" sentence in the colpi di villano. The implication is (even if it is in fact the oldest of the known copies) that the Morgan was copied by a scribe from another text which may or may not survive.

The text isn't truncated, though--it's also rearranged. The clause "...ancora questo è bono" (this is also good), presumably referring to the instruction preceding it about thrusting the player in the chest, became the separate sentence "Anchora è questo zogho bon cum la spada contra la azza, contra un bastone grave o liziero" (Also, this is a good play with the sword against the axe or against a stick (heavy or light)). The Morgan's text is grammatically complete, so it could equally be that he just decided to tack on some additional advice.

CPenney wrote:I was wondering, though, where specifically the notion that either the Getty or Morgan were produced around (or before) 1404 comes from, as suggested on Wiktenauer.

It has to do with references in the introduction that place it around the turn of the 14th century as well as the fact that in 1404 Milan sent a diplomatic mission to Ferrara including gifts. Like I said, do some digging through this and other forums, and you might also consider reading Malipiero's thoughts on the subject.
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Re: Strange idea for a stretto play?

Postby CPenney » 12 Aug 2013 03:53

Michael Chidester wrote:
CPenney wrote:I was wondering, though, where specifically the notion that either the Getty or Morgan were produced around (or before) 1404 comes from, as suggested on Wiktenauer.

It has to do with references in the introduction that place it around the turn of the 14th century as well as the fact that in 1404 Milan sent a diplomatic mission to Ferrara including gifts. Like I said, do some digging through this and other forums, and you might also consider reading Malipiero's thoughts on the subject.


This is getting off-topic, but...

I've read more than a few things here and elsewhere, but to be honest, these things raise as many questions as answers. For example, if the Getty is related to a 1404 mission from Milan on the basis of the presence of the dedication, where does the P-D, with a dedication dated 1409, fit in?

All of that discussion of dates is speculative at best. Add to that the fact that the manuscript was obviously copied on several occasions, and never as an exact copy, I think it's clear that we can't simply take the prologues at face value, and the idea that one person did multiple copies with different plays added or removed seems far too much of a stretch for me. Not that this makes interpreting things any easier, but I think that critically comparing and evaluating the plays is a more fruitful approach to reconstructing things.
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Re: Strange idea for a stretto play?

Postby Michael Chidester » 12 Aug 2013 04:30

CPenney wrote:Not that this makes interpreting things any easier, but I think that critically comparing and evaluating the plays is a more fruitful approach to reconstructing things.

Of course it is. What makes you think anyone disagrees?
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Re: Strange idea for a stretto play?

Postby CPenney » 12 Aug 2013 12:51

Michael Chidester wrote:
CPenney wrote:Not that this makes interpreting things any easier, but I think that critically comparing and evaluating the plays is a more fruitful approach to reconstructing things.

Of course it is. What makes you think anyone disagrees?


I thought you disagreed. I proposed an explanation based on the comparison and contrast of the plays of three manuscripts, and you dismissed at based on the speculative dating of the Getty and Morgan manuscripts.
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Re: Strange idea for a stretto play?

Postby Michael Chidester » 12 Aug 2013 17:52

No, I disagreed with your historical assertion irrespective of your interpretation of the play. As far as that goes, I see no reason to accuse either manuscript of getting it wrong. There are lots of ways to do lots of things, and the description of all three plays is very workable as written.
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Re: Strange idea for a stretto play?

Postby CPenney » 13 Aug 2013 03:14

Michael Chidester wrote:No, I disagreed with your historical assertion irrespective of your interpretation of the play. As far as that goes, I see no reason to accuse either manuscript of getting it wrong. There are lots of ways to do lots of things, and the description of all three plays is very workable as written.


All four plays, since the other play in the Morgan next to the first also is close to (but not quite the same as) either of the ones in the PD or the Getty.

Now, it's possible that Fiore has two pairs of different stretto plays that come from different situations, call for different movements, yet end up looking identical to each other, and he then decides to put one in one version of his treatise, and the other variation in another treatise, but I think that the simpler explanation is that there are two plays, and a third MS (i.e. the Morgan) mixes elements of the two.

--

To go back to the history of the manuscripts, I think we are all still lacking a plausible scenario of how these all fit together. If we assume the Morgan was before the Getty, and these were a few years before the P-D, we need to consider the implications: We begin with the Morgan. We then have the Getty, which is textually very similar to the Morgan, but this version is dedicated to the Marquis of Ferara. It reverses the order of sections, and although it keeps the majority of the text, it makes a bunch of small changes (long spear for short, adding a new 12th posta and partially re-ordering them) in addition to expanding the treatise with some new material (and excluding other passages in the Morgan).

Five years later Fiore dedicates another version to the Marquis, this time greatly reducing the text, retaining the order of the Getty, but restoring most if not all of those little changes between the Morgan and Getty (about the spear length, and the 12 sword poste).

Without getting into it further, I think this scenario is unrealistic. My thoughts, in broad strokes, are that the producer of the Getty made changes to the original system, and that the person making these changes may not have been Fiore himself. Later versions (of which I include the Morgan and Florius) deliberately chose to ignore certain elements which are therefore remained unique to the Getty. However, as discussed above, only the P-D has an absolute date*, so the relationship of the other two is conjectural anyway.

___
*it's perfectly possible that the P-D is a scribal copy of an "actual" manuscript made by Fiore in 1409, retaining the prologue and either preserving all of the plays faithfully, introducing errors, or perhaps making small changes to them as desired by the patron who commissioned the copy.
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