Orlando Furioso, Canto XVI
And here we are again.
Ariosto starts by telling us that he’s been unlucky in love too. He’s a sensitive guy after all and has felt the pain of being spurned. That done it’s back to Grifone sneaking away to Antioch to meet-up with the brazen Orrigille. She’s there with her new beau (as yet unnamed) to take part in a joust hosted by the King of Syria. Grifone’s itching to fight, but Orrigille doesn’t want him to kill her current boy-toy. She puts on a fake smile and embraces Grifone, saying how awful it was that he abandoned her. Her lover plays along, and they cool Grifone’s temper. In the end it’s himself who feels like he’s done wrong. The trio enters Antioch, and that’s where Ariosto leaves them.
Time to go back to Paris where a bajillion knights battle on.
A lot of these guys get named only to get killed a few lines later. The main part though is Rodomonte killing everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY he meets in Paris. Old man? Dead. Child? Dead. Fair maiden? Dead. He’s also setting fire to the city as he goes. It’s a grisly scene full of terror, and the Saracens would’ve won if they had followed behind him, but Rinaldo and his English reinforcements appeared. Rinaldo rallies the troops with a long speech and then the battle starts.
This is the meat of the canto, but difficult to summarize. I’ll say it’s a montage of mayhem. Spears break. People die. It’s grisly.
“And where you see one dying soldier lie,
Another he has slain lies stretched near by.”
Ferrau’s favorite lyre-boy dies. Zerbino is unhorsed and nearly killed. Bambirago and Agricalt, whoever the heck they are, die. Pauliano, too. Did I make up that last guy? I don’t know. At last, Charlemagne hears word that Rodomonte’s killing everyone and the city’s on fire. The king pulls back to save the city, and the tide of battle turns again.
But that’s a story for another canto.
CANTO SCORE CARD
Knights: Grifone, Orrigille’s as yet unnamed current beau, Rodomonte, Rinaldo, Zerbino, Lurcanio, Ariodante, Ferrau, a bajillion others (the Guidos! AGAIN!) some of whom are only named a line or two before they die.
Damsels: Orrigille the not-so-innocent
Horses: Baiardo, Rinaldo’s horse
Swords: Fusberta, Rinaldo’s sword
Monsters: None really, although some of the Saracen knights are descended from giants
Magic Items: Rodomonte’s Dragon Power Armor either burns and/or makes its wearer immune to fire
(My favorite thing about this canto is the illustration above. It could literally be captioned, “Holy shit! Is that your ex?”)