Saladin (Salah al-Din Yusuf) is a great 12th. century romantic figure. He began his career in Egypt under the Fatimids. and he saught to re-educate that country in the orthodox Sunni faith. Although his most famous creation was the Citadel in Cairo, probably his greatest architectural contribution to that city was the Madrasa of five colleges and a mosque. Administration, geodesy, mathematics, medicine and religion were taught there. Within the Citadel he built a hospital which has been described as as good as a modern clinic. It contained special wards for sick women and for the mentally ill. From Egypt he was to go on to unite and lead the Arab world in the fierce struggle against the Crusadors.
|In 1187 Saladin recaptured Jerusalem for the Muslims after defeating the King of Jerusalem. When his soldiers entered the city they were forbidden to kill civilians, rob people or damage the city. Thus Saladin achieved a great reputation in Europe as a chivalrous kniight. Richard 1 of England, praised him as a great prince and saw that he was the most powerful leader in the Islamic world. Saladin said, "There is no more honourable a Christian lord than Richard." After a final treaty between them they sent each the other many gifts as tokens of respect. They never met face to face.||
Colà diritto, sovra 'l verde smalto,
mi fuor mostrati li spiriti magni,
che del vedere in me stesso m'essalto.
I' vidi Eletra con molti compagni,
tra ' quai conobbi Ettòr ed Enea,
Cesare armato con li occhi grifagni.
Vidi Cammilla e la Pantasilea;
da l'altra parte, vidi 'l re Latino
che con Lavina sua figlia sedea.
Vidi quel Bruto che cacciò Tarquino,
Lucrezia, Iulia, Marzia e Corniglia;
e solo, in parte, vidi 'l Saladino.
Comedy. Dante Canto iv.
Return to Jean Marie Bowcott
There opposite, upon the green enamel,
Were pointed out to me the mighty spirits,
Whom to have seen I feel myself exalted.
I saw Electra with companions many,
Mongst whom I knew both Hector and Aenas,
Caesar in armour with gerfalcon eyes;
I saw Camilla and Penthesilea
On the other side, and saw the King Latinus,
Who with Lavinia his daughter sat;
I saw that Brutus who drove Tarquin forth,
Lucretia, Julia, Marcia, and Cornelia,
And saw alone, apart, the Saladin.
Comedy. Dante. Canto iv. Henry W. Longfellow (trans.)