Orlando Furioso, XXIII
This is it.
This is the canto.
The canto where Orlando sees a thing he shouldn’t see and goes completely, as the picture above shows, Furioso.
How’s it happen?
Well, pull up a chair and I’ll tell you…
… but first, Ariosto needs to talk a bit more about that bastard Pinabello and his bastard dad Anselmo. He’s a jerk through and through: cowardly, dishonorable, and just all around awful. And that’s why it was great that Bradamante killed Pinabel dead. That done she goes back to find Ruggiero, only he’s long ridden off, so she sets up camp, admires the stars, and heaves many long sighs. She blames herself for losing her love. In the morning she goes back to where the Knight Motel stood. She finds Astolfo there and he’s happy to see her because now he can give her his horse Rabicano and fly away on the hippogriff. Zip… he goes and Bradamante goes on in search of Ruggiero.
She wanders about until she sees a castle. This she recognizes as the place where her mother lives and she’s happy-sad to see it. Happy to have a place to rest. Sad because she knows if she goes there everyone will try and get her to stay and forget Ruggiero. So, she turns her back on safety and is about to ride on her way when her brother, Alard of the Unfortunate Name, appears. Well, now she can’t leave and she goes to the castle where she is compelled to stay longer than she would like. So she finds one of her maids (Ippalca) and puts her on Ruggiero’s horse, Frontino, to meet Ruggiero at the agreed place and tell him that she will be there as soon as she can.
Ippalca sets off and after a bit bumps into Rodomonte on the road. He’s like “Nice horse” and Ippalca’s like “It is and it belongs to a knight better than you.” Rodomonte’s then like “Oh yeah? Who?” and Ippalca says “Ruggiero” and Rodomonte’s like “Well, if he’s as tough as you say he can get the horse from me.” And so he hops on Frontino and bears the horse and a screaming Ippalca away with him.
But, enough of that… back to Zerbino and Gabrina.
They’ve discovered Pinabell’s body and wonder who he was and why he died. Zerbino’s says he’ll ride off to see what information he can gather. Gabrina’s left with the body, which she promptly loots for all its jeweled finery. Zerbino comes back with no answers but sees a castle nearby. It’s Altaripa where Anselmo, Pinabell’s dad, lives. When they get there everyone is having a sad because Pinabell is dead. Anselmo says he’ll pay a reward to anyone who can tell him who killed his son. Gabrina promptly connives an audience with Anselmo and shows her the jewels she looted and tells him how Zerbino did the deed. Forthwith Zerbino gets tossed in prison to await execution, but that doesn’t happen. What happens is when the people take Zerbino to the forest for dismemberment, Orlando shows up with Isabella (Zerbino’s girlfriend). She implores Orlando to save Zerbino and so that’s what he does. Out comes Durindana and with it the stabby-stabby. That done, he frees Zerbino.
At first Zerbino is delighted to see Isabella, but then he remembers all the talk Gabrina fed him (she was alone in a cave with twenty dudes!) But Orlando tells him all that was the hag’s lies and he was there and relays the truth of it. Fears dismissed, the two lovers give great thanks, but this gets cut short because Mandricardo shows up and he’s been itching for a fight with Orlando.
Boasts and challenges ensue. Glances rake the other up and down. Swords get talked about. At last the joust begins. Lances shatter. Spears break. By the end the two are whacking at each other with sticks like peasants arguing in a ditch (good one, Ariosto!).
Mandricardo then tries to use some wrestling move on Orlando, but Orlando doesn’t yield. In fact Mandricardo strains so hard he busts his bridle, spooking his horse and sending it and himself atop it fleeing into the woods. Doralice rides after him. She offers to give him her bridle, but he’s like “you’re a girl.” Fortunately, Gabrina appears. Her plan gone to shit, she’s taken off in search of safety. Mandricardo has no problem taking her bridle since she’s ugly and old, so that he does, and everyone’s happy. Except Gabrina who is sent through the woods now on an uncontrollable horse.
Meanwhile, Orlando’s been waiting for Mandricard to return, but the pagan hasn’t come back. He rides off in search of him, leaving Zerbino and Isabella behind.
Off he rides through the forest.
Riding. Riding. Riding. Lazy cattle loll about. The wind whispers by on a gentle breeze. But lo, what’s this? Some letters carved on a tree. Names, twined around each other with hearts and lovers knots. And whose names? None other than Angelica’s and Medoro’s.
Dafuq, Orlando says and he starts trying to figure out some explanation. But there’s none coming. But, still, maybe it’s some other people, so he rides on until he finds… a cave. And this cave is covered in writing and verses and it’s all about how great their sexy times were together, and yeah, isn’t cool that a common born bisexual mercenary like me, Medoro, gets to do the sexy with Angelica, the beautiful virgin (up until now *wink*) princess from Cathay.
Kaboom! goes Orlando’s wits right then and there. He reads and rereads the words. Each time his sanity and wits flee further. Swooning ensues. Sorrows flood his bosom. Nothing makes sense any more. And yet, he can’t bring himself to believe it’s true. Maybe it was written as a slander. He staggers along until he finds the shepherd who housed Medoro and Angelica. Orlando asks them what they know, and they, not knowing what they’re doing, fill him in on everything.
Yes, it was that Angelica. Yes, Medoro is a common-born mercenary. Yes, they did the sexy. Yes, they did it a lot. Yes, they liked it.
And that’s the last ax blow to Orlando’s wits. He flees in tears, throws himself down on the grass, realizes Angelica and Medoro probably did it right there. He screams. He wails. He uproots trees and smashes every stone in the cave. He sullies the fair water of the stream and throws off armor and weapons.
Goodbye, Durindana! Goodbye, wits!
Hello, horrendous madness!
CANTO SCORE CARD
Knights: Pinabello the Awful (RIP), Anselmo (Pinabello’s awful dad), Bradamante, Ruggiero, Astolfo, Alard younger brother to Bradamante, Rodomonte, Zerbino, Orlando
Damsels: Bradamante’s mom Beatrice, Bradamante’s nurse Callitrefia, Bradamante’s errand girl Ippalca, Doralice, Isabella
Horses: Rabicano, Frontino,
Monsters: Gabrina the Hag, the hippogriff
Magic Items: some mentioned, none used