Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Council of Ten

I seem to always return to the secret and the mystery within history.

I don't know why.

Some very pleasurable days ahead, wandering in Venice's sestieres, inventing the canals at dawn through the eyes of Antonio da Parma, my main character. In this flurry of research, underneath the silks and draped turbans, beyond the Venetian merchants, the glittery world of artisans and the orgiastic madness of Carnivale; past the putrid den of a Jewish physician who mulls over the sores of a decaying man, I am losing myself in historical works by masters before our time.  Victor Hugo's Angelo.... Lord Byron's The Two Foscari...
And a more sinister joy surges in me, that of encountering those I know. Or rather, I feel I know them well.

The Three Capi and those others...the Consiglio dei Dieci, who we call The Council of Ten.

Am I ready for the evil? The evil of Venice.

Why, yes. Of course.


Those maxims for your mass of scared mechanics,
Your merchants, your Dalmatian and Greek slaves,
Your tributaries, your dumb citizens,
And masked nobility, your sbirri, and
Your spies, your galley and your other slaves,
To whom your midnight carryings off and drownings,
Your dungeons next the palace roofs, or under
The water's level; your mysterious meetings,
And unknown dooms, and sudden executions,
Your "Bridge of Sighs," your strangling chamber, and 
Your torturing instruments, have made ye seem
The beings of another and worst world!
Keep such for them: I fear ye not. I know ye;"

                    - Marina, wife of Jacopo Foscari, to the Council of Ten,
                                                                in Lord Byron's The Two Foscari