This week, Hasan’s wacky adventures brought us to one of the most important parts of the story, the rebirth of Hasan as Leo Africanus. He has found himself in Rome, the world center of Christianity. He is baptized and rechristened Leo under Pope Leo X. He becomes a teacher and a scholar in Rome. It is also in Rome that he comes upon Lutheranism, a new movement in Rome to purify the Catholic Church and its various corruptions.
But how did he get there? The reading begins with Hasan’s exile from his community. He was exiled for defending his brother in law who was accused of murder. He left with a bang, scattering coins to the townspeople. He left with his slave Hiba and some guards. However, on their journey, a storm struck which killed Hasan’s guards, and Hasan and Hiba sought refuge in a cave. The two were snowed in, and it was during this time that Hasan realized that he loved Hiba. They were rescued by shepherds, who acted generously to help them.
The two of them then head to Timbuktu, and to Cairo, and also in Constantinople before Rome. What I found most interesting in this section is how Hasan / Leo seems to live many lives, have many families and lovers, yet is so disposed to pick up and leave for another part of the world. Perhaps he is an explorer at heart, and he seems to fit in no matter what part of the world he is living in.
The one question I have for this section of the reading is about Leo’s move to Rome. How did he so quickly become ingratiated with the pope and become such a well respected figure in Rome?