Orlando Furioso, Canto XLVI – THE END!
This is it. This is the end!
Ariosto starts with a bit of meta about himself being on board a ship and piloting it to shore where all his friends and favorite writers are there waiting eagerly for him. He thanks his patrons and their wives, their holdings, their subjects. Needless to say he goes on. (But I will admit if he you look up most of the people he mentions on wikipedia, such as Julia Gonzaga they’re interesting rabbit holes to get lost in.) At last, we get back to the story.
“Enough of this delay: the wind is right
And of my course remains but little more.”
Everyone’s searching for Ruggiero. Melissa really wants Ruggiero and Bradamante to wed, so Melissa uses her magic powers to send spirits out searching for him. The spirits find him in the gloomy woods and Melissa hies herself over there. Along the way she bumps into Leon and convinces him to accompany her.
They find Ruggiero near death. Leon asks why he suffers and Ruggiero explains the whole thing. He loves Bradamante and suffers for the sake of love, especially now that his actions have allowed him, Prince Leon, to marry her. Leon’s moved by all this and quite surprisingly he relinquishes any desire he had for Bradamante. He will not stand in Ruggiero’s way. At this, Melissa does another magic and brings all of them back to Paris.
Ruggiero recovers in an abbey. Frontino gets saddled. Ruggiero dons his armor again that hides who he is. All three head to court where they come upon a group of Bulgars. It turns out the Bulgars want to make Ruggiero their king. Leon then addresses the assembled court.
He points to Ruggiero and says this is the knight who fought Bradamante. Everyone’s confused because they all thought it was Leon. Marfisa draws her sword and gets ready to attack the knight. It’s then that Ruggiero reveals who he is and at this everyone’s delighted. Marfisa embraces him. Orlando. Sobrino. The whole crew gives him hugs. Leon gives the full account. This moves everyone even Aymon, Bradamante’s dad. He relents and grants Ruggiero permission to marry his daughter. Of course, it also helps that Ruggiero is now also the King of the Bulgars.
A wedding gets planned, and heralds travel the land proclaiming the news. Melissa magics over a pavilion from Turkey. It once belonged to Cassandra the Trojan Princess. The one who had the gift of prophecy, and the tent’s decorated all over with pictures from the life of Ariosto’s patron. Ruggiero and Bradamante stay there to entertain their guests. I don’t go into it here but Ariosto goes on and on about the pictures on the tent.
In the end the wedding party goes on for nine days. On the ninth day there is a tumult. A fearsome knight approaches. Who’s this now? It’s Rodomonte.
Rodomonte was last seen taking a vow to pray for a year after his defeat at the hands of Bradamante. He’s heard all about Agramante’s defeat, but stuck to his vow. Only now that it’s done will he raise his hand. He rides into Paris showing the inhabitants contempt and makes straight to Ruggiero who he calls apostate for abandoning the faith. All the gathered knights are ready to fight on Ruggiero’s behalf, but he’s like no, I got this.
And so a duel commences. The last duel.
It’s the usual lance shattering escapade. Swords are drawn. Horses gambol nimbly as their riders slash and make stabbity-stabbity upon each other. Balisard is much to be feared, especially since Rodomonte abandoned his dragon scale armor after his defeat at Bradamante’s hand. But his strength is great. Soon he’s smashing Ruggiero on the head until the poor knight’s stunned. Rodomonte’s sword shatters. Enraged, he lifts Ruggiero from Frontino’s saddle and throws him to the ground. The crowd gasps. Bradamante’s face turns crimson with rage and fear. Seeing this Ruggerio steadies himself. Rodomonte spurs his horse forward. Ruggiero stabs him in the leg and thigh. He drags Rodomonte down from the horse. They stand there a moment, gasping. Rodomonte throws the remnants of his sword at Ruggiero. Ruggiero’s stunned. Rodomonte charges, but the wound in his leg makes him slip. Ruggiero wastes no time and charges. Rodomonte’s knocked down, but he gets up gain. He takes hold of Ruggiero and puts him in a clinch. It’s now a full on wrestling match with Rodomonte losing blood the whole while. At last, Ruggiero manages to break free and throw Rodomonte across the ground. Rodomonte makes to stand but barely can. His blood loss is too great. Ruggiero crosses over to him and kneels on his chest. Out comes a dagger.
“Ruggiero holds the dagger at the sights
Of Rodomonte’s helm; he makes it clear
By threats that his surrender he invites,
And says that in exchange his life he’ll spare.”
Rodomonte tries to throw Ruggiero off. Realizing this is hopeless, he draws his own dagger. It’s poised to strike Ruggiero in the back. But Ruggiero sees it there and knows Rodomonte will never surrender.
Only death will end this feud.
“He plunged his dagger in that awesome brow,
Retrieving it not once, but more than twice.”
And so Rodomonte dies, a dagger to the eyes. And that’s it. Another few lines as Rodomonte’s soul flies free and then Finis.
The book is over.
Pretty wild, huh?
CANTO SCORE CARD
Knights: Ruggiero, Prince Leon, Marfisa, Bradamante, Rinaldo, Orlando, Dudone, Oliver, Sobrino, King Charles, Rodomonte
Magic Items: Cassandra’s Pavilion, Hector’s Armor worn by Ruggiero