Orlando Furioso, Canto XXV
Buckle up, we’re about to meet a half dozen new characters!
Rodomonte and Mandricard (at Doralice’s urging) have pledged to keep peace between themselves until the war’s over. They ride off and before long find a group of knights hanging around a well with a damsel. Ariosto tells us to remember how Ruggiero threw Atlante’s magic shield in a well, but before telling us what happens he decides to see what Ruggiero’s doing.
Ruggiero’s eager to complete his quest (rescue the transvestite knight) and meet Bradamante (so he can be baptized before the two get married), but up rides one of those messengers from Agramante urging him to return to the battle. This sparks introspection as to what course he should follow. In the end he sticks with the damsel who was taking him (and Bradamante) to rescue the transvestite knight. They reach the town where the knight is to be burned, and Ruggiero’s like “OMG, that’s Bradamante tied on the pyre!” He charges the crowd and the smoting ensues. It goes on for stanzas and Ruggiero is compared to a bird of prey and the common people to pigeons. Also his sword gets some lore “the cruel sword which Falerina made to slay Orlando in Orcagna’s glade.”
I have no clue about any of this.
Smoting done Ruggiero rescues Bradamante only to realize it’s not Bradamante at all, but a young man! They ride away, and Ruggiero’s really confused. At last the youth explains he’s in fact Bradamante’s twin brother Ricciardetto (the translator’s calling him Richard by the end of the canto and I will do the same). And so starts a story about Bradamante rescuing a damsel named Fiordispina, Fiordispina falling in love with Bradamante because she thinks she’s a guy, Bradamante’s attempts to clarify things, Fiordispina’s refusal to accept things, Bradamante’s leaving Fiordispina behind, going home and telling her family everything, and Richard realizing he always loved Fiordispina, and him thinking he might be a able to replace his sister in the damsel’s affections with a magical sex change from a nymph story. Yes, it’s a lot. But it works! Until he’s caught “planting his standard” and sentenced to death on a bonfire.
Ruggiero and Richard eventually reach a castle held by Aldigier. He’s Buovo’s bastard son (I don’t know who that is) and his brothers are Vivian and Malagigi. Are these people important? Again, I don’t know. But Vivian and Malagigi are supposed to be sold off to pay Aldigier’s debt to an actual bastard named Bertolagi and wouldn’t it be great if some brave knight were to step in and stop that from happening. Richard volunteers Ruggiero, but Ruggiero is super-conflicted right now. He has no idea whether to meet Bradamante, help Aldigier, or go back and serve his king and defeat the Christians outside Paris. Much internal conflict ensues, but in the end Ruggiero decides to return to his king. He writes a long letter, but before he can send it he’s duped into escorting Vivian and Malagigi to where Bertolagi awaits. Or some knight waits. But who? To learn that we have to wait.
Until next time!
Whenever that is…
CANTO SCORE CARD
Knights: Rodomonte, Mandricard, Ruggiero, Ricciardetto, Bradamante (in a flashback), Aldigier, Vivian, Malagigi, Bertolagi
Damsels: Fiordispina, Doralice in the background
Swords: Ruggiero’s sword “the cruel sword which Falerina made to slay Orlando in Orcagna’s glade.” Foreshadowing!
Magic Items: 0