Orlando Furioso, Canto XXXI
This canto is all about the fights.
It has about half the surviving cast in it and there all getting in each other’s faces. But first we get a bit about Bradamante feeling sad and jealous. Oh no! Ruggiero saw another woman! Oh no! He is obviously now in love with her. Ariosto foreshadows it’s only going to get worse. But that doesn’t stop him from leaving her and following after Rinaldo.
Rinaldo and the Gang are off to Paris to help King Charles kill Saracens. Ricciardetto’s there, Viviano, Alardo, Malagigi, the whole gang. They promptly find their progress blocked by a knight with a damsel riding behind him. Challenges ensue. Damsels dismount. The Gang decides who will be first to joust and so on. Of course this knight’s awesome and unseats everyone until Rinaldo gives it a try.
Slash. Bang. Boom. Etc.
Neither can beat the other. Rinaldo invites the knight to camp with them. The knight says sure and when he takes off his helmet everyone’s happy to see that it is Sansonetto. (Remember him? He was the champion boy-toy back in the city of women.) He and Rinaldo exchange the kiss of peace and Sansonetto joins the gang. There’s a whole thing here about how Sansonetto and Rinaldo are related.
All continue on to Paris where they come upon Grifon the White, Aquilant the Black (Sansonetto’s pals), and Fiordiligi.
Fiodiligi’s still looking for her husband Brandimarte and she’s quick to tell the other knights how furioso Orlando was the last time she saw him (back on the bridge fighting with Rodomonte). Rinaldo corroborates. Fiodiligi then says how the Saracens took all Orlando’s stuff and now his horse is here, his armor there, and the sword with this other guy. Rinaldo weeps, but then resolves to reach Paris by any means.
So there’s a night raid on the Saracen camp. Mayhem ensues. People die. Limbs are hewn. King Charles rallies and rides forth to assist. With him comes Brandimarte (Fiordiligi’s husband). Fiordiligi rushes forward. There are hugs and kisses, and Ariosto does two things: highlights the May/December nature of their relationship, and starts insinuating that he has a new pair of tragic lovers to torment.
Fiordiligi tells her tale again, and Brandimarte, being a great pal of Orlando’s, decides to rescue him. He and Fiordiligi ride forth to the bridge where Rodomonte fought Orlando. Rodomonte is still there. He has that whole tower nearby where he lives beside the mausoleum that houses Isabella and Zerbino. Brandimarte issues a challenge and another duel ensues.
Smash. Bang. Boom. Etc.
The two fall off the bridge, but Rodomonte recovers while Brandimarte can’t. Fiordiligi wails and begs Rodomonte to save her husband, and so he does, stripping him of arms and armor and taking him back to his tower as a prisoner. Fiordiligi flees to seek help.
Back to Paris…
Maim. Slash. Stab. Etc.
Rinaldo’s slaughtering people. The Saracen camp’s in disarray. King Agramante flees along with the unconscious Ruggioro, but Gradasso doesn’t flee. He’s eager to fight Rinaldo and straps on his arms and armor.
The two were supposed to fight once before but Malagigi used Phantasmal Force to trick the two out of fighting. Both agree that won’t happen this time. They’re actually quite cordial and polite to each other in their chivalric way. They meet at the appointed place, embrace, and take their places.
Where Ariosto leaves their fate for another canto to reveal.
CANTO SCORE CARD
Knights: Bradamante, Rinaldo and the Gang, Sansonetto and the Gang (anyone else think Sansonetto sounds like an upscale brand of ice cream cone?), Brandimarte, Rodomonte, King Agramante and the Gang, Gradasso
Damsels: As yet unnamed damsel who rode with Sansonetto, Fiordiligli
Horses: Baiardo (Rinaldo’s Horse), Batoldo (Brandimarte’s horse – RIP)
Swords: Durindana, which is currently in Gradasso’s hands
Mages: Malagigi who gets blamed for every sneaky dishonest thing the Christian knights do.