Orlando Furioso, Canto XLI
In this installment we are once again reminded that things have names.
Knights have names.
Horses have names.
Swords have names.
Also much cross-cutting ensues.
On land Dudone knows he’s beat. Ruggiero hasn’t been giving his all. They decide to cease fighting. Dudone asks what Ruggiero wants as a prize and he says some of your prisoners. (There are seven Saracen kings here and they all have names I can’t bother remembering.) Dudone hands these people over and they along with Ruggiero set sail. As soon as they do the weather turns and before long they’re all stuck in a great storm. The captain and crew make to abandon ship. Ruggiero does the same. He leaves his armor, weapons, and horse behind and leaps overboard. Everyone else apparently dies, but he manages to swim to an island. There he meets a hermit and the hermit teaches Ruggiero his cathechism and baptizes him.
There’s also something about having seven years yet to live but it’s okay because you’ll found this awesome family and they’ll grow so powerful that they can hire this guy named Ariosto to write your whole life story.
Meanwhile the ship that Ruggiero abandoned survives the storm and reaches Africa where it washes up near Orlando and the Gang. Inside are Ruggiero’s weapons and stuff. This being Balisarda (sword) and Frontino (horse). They’re pleased with this and Orlando doles out the gear. There’s an aside here about Fiordiligi who wails so much at the leaving of Brandimarte that Astolfo and Sansonetto have to drag her back to her chambers where she promptly takes to bed, but not before weaving Brandimarte a black surcoat decorated with jewels. Then it’s off to the island where King Agramant waits.
They get there too late to fight, so it’s nighty-knight. During the night Brandimarte goes over and visits the Saracens because he and King Agramante were once great friends. We get a bit of Brandimarte back story here. He was a Saracen up until he fell in love with / met Orlando. And now he wants Agramante to quit being Muslim and get baptized, but Agramante is like get the flip outta my face knave. And honestly, I don’t blame him. Brandimarte totally comes off as a missionary tool during this bit. In general Brandimarte is mostly a tool.
Morning comes and it’s time for the melee.
On the Christian side are Oliver, Orlando, and Brandimarte. On the Saracen side are Agramante, Gradasso, and Sobrino. Gradasso has Durindana (sword) and Baiard (horse) and Orlando has Balisarda (sword) and Unnamed (horse).
The fight is exciting stuff. Big steel cage tag team champs Wrestlemania vibes. Orlando’s horse gets knocked out. Agramante goes after Oliver. Brandimarte knocks Sobrino clear out of the saddle. Brandimarte goes to help Orlando. Gradasso fights Brandimarte. Sobrino gets up. Orlando knocks down Sobrino and climbs on a horse. He makes to assist Brandimarte. Gradasso turns to fight him. Sobrino gets back on his feet and backstabs Oliver’s horse. Horse and rider Tumbe. Brandimarte goes to help his friend. Agramante rushes in. Swords flash. Graddaso knocks down Orlando. He turns and Brandimarte’s about to kill his king. He rushes in. And orlando wakes up in time to see his beloved Brandimarte struck down.
“And from his charger Brandimarte fell,
And with blood which from his head drained
In widening crimson streaks
the sand was veined.”
Orlando charges Gradasso, and that’s where Ariosto ends the canto.
Pure cliffhanger material.
You might get some more of these this week and next. There are five cantos left and I would like to be done with this project by December 31st.
CANTO SCORE CARD
Knights: Dudone, Ruggiero, Seven Saracen Kings, Orlando, Brandimarte, Oliver, Astolfo, Sansonetto, Agramante, Gradasso, Sobrino,
Damsels: Fiordiligi the Tragic
Horses: Frontino (formerly Ruggiero’s, now Brandimarte’s), Baiard (Gradasso’s horse that belonged to someone else before), Brigliador (Agramante’s horse),
Swords: Balisarda (formerly Ruggiero’s, now Orlando’s), Durindana (formerly Orlando’s now Gradasso’s)
Mages: Falerina the witch who forged Balisarda, a Hermit