Orlando Furioso, XLII
We start in slow motion as Orlando watches Brandimarte fall. Fury once more returns to him and he stalks over to King Agramante and removes the king’s head before Gradasso can react.
Next it’s Gradasso’s turn and soon he’s dead. Sobrino this whole time bleeding out on the ground. Then Orlando goes to Brandimarte whose head is half split. His last word is “Fiordiligi” and then he’s dead. Orlando frees Oliver from beneath the horse and they return to their tents, carrying Sobrino along with them.
There’s a funny aside about a guy named Fulgoso who questions the accuracy of Ariosto’s story. A dude flew to the moon, bruv, and you’re hung up on whether Lampedusa was large enough to hold a fight between six knights?
That done Orlando looks out and sees a boat approaching. But before Ariosto tells us who that is, it’s off to Bradamante, who’s back to being all emo again.
I tell you. These two,
Bradamante and Ruggiero?
Complete trainwreck people.
Sure, they’re deeply in love, but the second they’re apart it’s like they’re expecting the worst of the other and ready to commit suicide. Bradamante is back to thinking Ruggiero hates her. She mopes to Melissa. She mopes to Marfisa. It’s Marfisa that tells her to get a grip. Ruggiero’s an honorable man. Etc. Etc. Bradamante is calmed… for now.
But what happens next is a complete side track. Ariosto switches to Rinaldo, who’s been chasing Angelica since the start of this book. He’s all messed up about her and sends people out to find where’s she gone. Eventually, Rinaldo seeks out Malagigi and that one uses his magic to discover how Angelica slept with Medoro and left with him for Asia. He tells all this to Rinaldo who does what all sullen men do when unlucky in love. They seek out someone to do violence upon. Rinaldo sets off east saying he wants to get his horse Baiardo back. He sets off and promptly encounters a monster.
This monster is a monstrous female figure covered in lidless eyes, ears, and snakes. This monster gets Rinaldo in her clutches and won’t let go, even when he tries to run away. He thinks all is lost, but before right before the end another knight rides up. He drives the snake away with his flaming mace. Then he takes Rinaldo to a pool where the waters will quench his thirst and free him from his obsession for Angelica. When Rinaldo asks the knight’s name, the knight says his name is Scorn, and like that he disappears.
I guess this whole interlude was an allegory about unworthy women should be scorned or something. Actually, this whole Rinaldo bit now and in the next canto is heavy with Kubler-Ross stages of grief for relationships allegories.
Rinaldo wonders what that was all about, but he’s glad to hate Angelica now and no longer love her. He continues on. Somewhere in Switzerland he hears how there’s to be a duel between Agramante and Orlando, and so he decides to make for that. Soon after he encounters another knight who offers to put Rinaldo up for the night.
It’s then that the men start talking about matrimony. We learn that Rinaldo has a wife. Night comes. Rinaldo and his host sit beside a great fountain where statues of women are kept on pedestals. This fountain gets described in intricate detail. All the statues give Ariosto a chance to commend the virtues of his female contemporaries. The host asks if Rinaldo wants to make a wager. Wager? Yes, wager. Does he think his wife is virtuous?
You see the host says he has a cup that spills before you can drink it if your wife is cheating on you.
What do you say Rinaldo? Care to see if you can drink from it?
CANTO SCORE CARD
Knights: Orlando, Brandimarte, King Agramante, Oliver, Sobrino, Gradasso, Marfisa, Rinaldo, King Charlemagne,
Swords: Durindana, Balisarda
Mages: Melissa, Malagigi
Damsels: Clarice (Rinaldo’s wife), Angelica (they’ve been slut-shaming her fierce, but she and Medoro got out of this the happiest)
Magic Items: Flaming Mace of Scorn, Cuckold’s Cup,
Monsters: The Monstrous Female With a Thousand Lidless Eyes, Scorn (looks like a knight)