Orlando Furioso, Canto XL
I humbly beg your apologies. Last post I said that Orlando was the captain of the fleet, but I was wrong. It’s actually Dudone the Dane who is the captain. Mea culpa. I will find myself a suitable rock with which to pound my chest.
We start with a big sea battle that goes badly for the Saracens. Dudone employs Greek fire and soon Agramante’s fleet is ablaze. Agramante escapes, but the illustration paints a grim picture.
Back in Africa, we find Orlando, Astolfo, and the gang getting ready to attack Biserta. There are prayers. In the city the whole Muslim population turns out to pray for protection. This is all a call back to when Rodomonte attacked Paris back in canto whatever (it was Canto XVI).
Battle ensues. It’s grisly as we have come to accept from previous instances. Brandimart climbs a ladder but it breaks before his men can follow him, so he gets stranded in the city. Honestly, Brandimart seems a shit knight. Ariosto keeps saying he is one of the best, an equal almost to Orlando, but whenever we read about him he’s getting kicked in the nuts by events. The Patroclus vibes are strong with him.
Despite being stuck in the city Brandimart hacks and hews his way through the inhabitants. Again shades of Rodomonte here inside the walls of Paris, but, unlike the savage Rodomonte, Brandimart doesn’t slay his own troops and rush off before his comrades can reach him. When they do reach him, the battle’s won and it’s off to killing, looting, raping, and pillaging which Ariosto mentions.
So well done, fellows. True paladins of the faith.
From there it’s back to Agramante on a boat – or is it back to Dudone (Dude-One?) on a boat – or is it back to Ruggiero who has set off to find Agramante and ask him if he really and truly broke his oath about the duel fought back a few cantos ago? Anyway, it’s one of those things. Agramante encounters Gradasso on an island and they propose sending a messenger to Orlando saying let’s you and your crew fight me and my crew. Orlando accepts but lacks the weapons to do so with honor (Gradasso has his sword right now). Despite this he equips himself as well as he can and sets out with Oliver and Brandimarte. Meanwhile Ruggiero encounters the burnt ships of Agramante’s fleet and sets off along the coast only to encounter Dudone. Dudone attacks him. He fights with an iron club. But the club has no name. That’s all left unresolved when the canto ends.
Next time I don’t know what will happen, but I assume someone will get punched. Or we’ll be thrown to some other place and hear the names of another thousand characters. Until then!
CANTO SCORE CARD
Knights: King Agramante, Dude-one the Dane, Orlando, Astolfo, Sansonetto, King Branzardo (ruler of Biserta), Prester John, Oliver, Brandimarte, King Bucifar (ruler of Algaziers), Sobrino (Agramante’s councillor), Ruggiero
Horses: Brigliadoro (Orlando’s horse with King Agramante), Baiardo (someone’s horse Astolfo’s? Rinaldo’s? currently with Gradasso)
Swords: Durindana (Orlando’s sword with Gradasso), Balisard (Ruggiero’s sword)