Tag Archive | knights

Orlando Furioso, Canto XXX

I guess we’re nearing the end of the book. Less than twenty cantos to go. Ariosto’s started to tie up the loose ends and the deaths are starting to show up fast!

We start with Orlando raging around wreaking havoc with a dead horse around his shoulders and the intestines of his victims staining his lips. He’s killing everyone he comes across, one-punching his fists through their skulls, screaming, and all around carrying on in a bad way. 

He lays waste to here. He lays waste to there. The devastation done to Malaga is worse than that he did everywhere else. At Algeciras (AKA Gibraltar) he spies a boat full of revelers at sea. He decides he wants to be there and rides his horse straight out to sea. The horse dies. Orlando nearly drowns, but washes up in Ceuta (which is in North Africa but still governed by Spain to this day). There he sees an army and marches towards them. 

But enough of that… Ariosto flits over to Angelica and appears to write her out of the story. She’s fine he says, but it would take a hand better than his own to tell the rest of her tale. GRRM should take note. That’s how you do it.  

At last Ariosto returns to Mandricard and Doralice. They’re not happy. Mandricard keeps brooding. His pride’s been hurt by Ruggiero and Gradasso. Doralice implores him to get over it. But he won’t. And neither will Ruggiero nor Gradasso. They demand Mandricard turn over Hector’s shield (to Ruggierro) and the sword Durindana (to Gradasso). Neither will concede to the other and at last King Agramante tells them to cast lots to determine who will fight Mandricard. Ruggiero wins. Gradasso sulks. And Mandricard broods. Doralice almost convinces him to give up the fight, but at the very moment he’s about to relent Ruggiero shows up and challenges him. 

The whole Saracen army comes to watch. Some see only disaster from this fight between Moor and Tartar. Others are there simply for the thrill of watching the two klonk heads. 

And what a klonking it is! 

Helmets gleam, trumpets shrills, lances shatter and fly so high in the air their bits get singed by the sun. Melee ensues with the two trying to jab their swords through their opponent’s helmet visor. Mandricard wounds Ruggiero. Ruggiero wounds Mandricard. Mandricard casts aside his shield for a two-handed strike… and Ruggiero, gravely wounded, slips his sword Balisarda through the cuirass and unimpeded the blade reaches Mandricardo’s heart. Ruggiero then collapses from his wounds and for a moment Mandricard stands. Some cheer. Some wail. Then Mandricard falls. 

DEAD. 

A doctor rushes to treat Ruggiero. Gradasso seethes (that glory now being heaped on Ruggiero should be his!) And Ariosto insinuates that Doralice quit mourning Mandricard the moment Ruggiero won the day. Ariosto leaves Ruggiero under all their care and hies off to where Bradamante pines. 

In case you need a refresher, Bradamante is the Christian Lady Knight who is in love with Ruggiero but got separated from him when Ruggiero went back to Paris. She’s been in her family castle pining away for him in vain. Ippalca returns and tells the tale of all that happened to her. Then Ricciardetto arrives and continues the story. When he mentions Marifisa (Muslim Lady Knight) Bradamante gets sadder because obviously Ruggiero has shacked up with her. She’s so sad that when Rinaldo arrives recruiting for his warband to take to Paris, Bradamante stays home and lets the others go on and without her.        

And what happens on the way to Paris, the next canto will say.

CANTO SCORE CARD

KNIGHTS: Mandricard, Agramante, Marsilio, Ruggiero, Gradasso, Sobrino, Marsilio, Bradamante, Ricciardetto, Vivian, Rinaldo 

DAMSELS: Doralice, the most beautiful maiden in Europe now that Angelica has left for Asia and Isabella is dead, Ippalca

MAGES: Falerina who crafted Ruggiero’s sword Balisarda, Malagigi

SWORDS: Durindana, Balisarda 

HORSES: Brigliadoro, Orlando’s horse, then Mandricard’s, currently Ruggiero’s 

MAGIC ITEMS: Hector’s Armor

MONSTERS: Orlando, the guy’s too Furioso for his own good!

ANOTHER GUY: Turpin, Ariosto keeps talking about this guy as if he’s an expert on everything that happened to Orlando. He’s a mythical Bishop credited with fighting alongside Orlando and writing the account of all this back in the 8th century, six hundred years before Ariosto.  

Orlando Furioso, Canto XXVIII

Fiammetta

It’s now time for a sexy story, but before Ariosto tells the sexy story he advises his women readers to skip ahead a few pages as the whole thing is slanderous garbage not meant for their ears. 

You can do as you wish.

To refresh, Rodomonte had his heart broken by Doralice and abandoned his king and cause. He wandered a bit and then he reached an inn where the landlord learned the cause of his problem and said let me tell you a story.

“What could please me more 

At present than to hear an anecdote 

Which will confirm the view I held before”

This story is about guys named Astolfo, Fausto, and Giocondo. Astolfo is a king. Fausto is his friend and Giocondo is Fausto’s brothers. 

One day Astolfo is admiring himself in the mirror, saying how he has to be the handsomest guy in the world, and his beloved friend Fausto says “Well, you’re really handsome but you’re not as handsome as my brother Giocondo.” Astolfo then says, “Oh yeah, go fetch him.” 

So off Fausto rides to his brother’s castle, where his brother refuses to go back with him. 

Giocondo’s married and loves his wife and wants to spend all the time with her. Fausto begs and eventually Giocondo agrees and his wife sheds many tears. His wife says here take this jeweled crucifix and keep it with you always. Giocondo takes it but then after spending his last night with his wife he forgets the crucifix at home. He goes back to get it and of course when he does he finds his wife asleep in a heap with her spent young lover. Giocondo slinks away too ashamed to wake them, but now he’s all sad and sickly and not the good looking guy he was. Fausto notices and sends word to the king saying, “Listen I know I said my brother is the most handsome guy but something’s happened to him and he looks all sad and ugly now, please don’t think I’m crazy.” Astolfo takes this in stride and when Fausto and Giocondo arrive, the king has Giocondo put up in luxury and seen by doctors. But Giocondo refuses to explain what happened to him and mopes around the castle. 

While on one of these mopes he hears some strange sounds and upon investigating he finds a crack in the wall from which he can spy on the queen doing the sexy with her deformed lover. The sight cheers him up immediately, because by his reckoning at least his wife cheated on him with a handsome guy and not some misshapen dwarf. 

Astolfo notices the change over Giocondo and demands an explanation. Giocondo hems and haws but finally says okay I’ll show you, but no matter what you see you can’t punish anyone involved. The king agrees and off they go to spy on the queen. Astolfo nearly goes mad. The two promptly damn the female gender, but then relent and say well, what’s the point of staying virtuous then? So off they go on one of those Eurosex tours that requires disguises and what not.  They say they’re looking for a virtuous woman, but really they’re humping everything that offers itself. At last they tire of this and hatch upon the idea that a wife can only be satisfied by two husbands so they purchase a teenage bride in Spain and share her between themselves. 

They think this is great and all their problems solved. But the girl, Fiammetta, had a lover, Greco, of her own before these guys and when chance reunites them, this lover wants to sleep with Fiammetta himself. She’s like that’s impossible, and the guy’s like no it’s not, just wait until tonight. Night comes. Astolfo and Giocondo are in bed with the girl between them. In slinks Greco silent as a gecko, under the covers from the foot of the bed between Fiametta’s legs and commences with the sexy. 

All. 

Night. 

Long. 

Then as dawn approaches he slinks back out. 

When morning comes Astolfo and Giocondo each think the other was doing the deed, and are complimentary in their appraisal, but both deny sleeping with Fiammetta. Puzzled, they ask her and she breaks down in tears and explains everything. Astolfo and Giocondo nearly die from laughing, give the girl a dowry, and set Greco up to marry her. They then go back home where they live happily ever after with their wives. 

The End. 

Once done one of the bar patrons stands up and comes to the defense of women kind. Rodomonte doesn’t give a damn and rides off. He wants to get back to Africa but on the way he comes upon a lovely abandoned church and thinks, Gee that would make a nice home. 

And that’s what he does, park himself in this church where he can watch the road. And what does he eventually see coming down the road? A beautiful maiden and an old monk riding along escorting a coffin. That’s right, it’s Isabella from Canto XXIV escorting the dead body of her beloved Zerbino before going off to join a convent. 

Rodomonte rides down and asks where they’re going and why. When he hears Isabella’s plan he says that’s dumb and she should enjoy life. The monk takes umbrage and does the diatribe. Rodomonte takes umbrage to the monk’s umbrage and falls upon the old man. At which point Ariosto stops lest his words cause umbrage by exceeding what is acceptable.

But that’s a ship that’s long gone.     

CANTO SCORE CARD

Knights: Rodomonte, King Astolfo, Fausto, Giocondo, a dead Zerbino

Commoners: Fiametta and Greco 

Damsels: Isabella

Orlando Furioso, Canto XXVII

Welcome back. I was away for a bit. 

You know how people put up a notice about taking a break and then never come back? 

Well, I figured if I didn’t say anything that would increase my chances of coming back here and finishing this damn project. And lo, here I am. 

So let’s get back to it. But be warned. I’m going to be blunt here. This is one of those bad cantos. This is one of those cantos where some dude gets annoyed at some other dude because the first dude says the second dude has his rightful sword shield gauntlet armor horse whatever and this happens over and over with multiple dudes arguing over multiple things that it’s nigh impossible it all straight. Nothing but dickheads wagging their dicks around because they think the other guy’s dick should be their dick. Not to even mention I don’t remember who is who anymore. Do you? 

Didn’t think so. 

So let’s get at it.

Ariosto starts with some gender essentialist advice. To wit, women give better instinctive advice if given spontaneously, while men give better advice when they take the time to ponder the subject. This is used to say that Malagigi should have thought for a second or two before using magic to send Mandricardo and Rodomonte back to Paris where they would resume killing Christians. If he had thought a second or two he would have just sent them off to the bottom of the sea. But, what can you expect when you employ demons, ammirite? 

Meanwhile all the other Saracen knights are headed for Paris (at the behest of Satan no less) where Charlemagne’s now in deep water since Orlando and Rinaldo have abandoned him. Scenes of devastation ensue. Soldiers drowned in lakes of blood, headless torsos, split skulls, limbs lopped, the whole cruel slaughter bit. King Charles flees and counts himself lucky to have survived the day, because it was a bad one. So bad, the angels noticed. In particular Michael who now feels like he failed in his mission to recruit Dame Discord when the Big G told him to. So he flies around until he finds Discord and drags her back to the pagan camp and tells her to do more than she already did. 

So she does, and we enter the dick wagging dickheads section of this canto I mentioned above. 

The Saracen knights all appeal to King Agramnte asking him to decide on the order of duels between them over their various disputes. Marfisa wants to fight Mandricard. Rodomonte wants to fight Ruggierro. Mandricard wants to fight Ruggiero. In the end Agramante decides to have them draw lots for the fight. So, that’s settled. The duels start in the morning. Except they don’t. Mandricardo has Graddasso’s family’s sword and wants to fight Mandricard before the first fight. 

It goes on with this for a good bit with people claiming swords armor horses as theirs by right and must be settled for before the duels can be settled. It becomes a whole fracas with other knights taking sides or trying to keep the combatants apart. King Agramante then tries to settle things again and we get a lot of discourse about what should belong to who and why. In the midst of this Marfisa sees Brunello the Thief who stole all her gear. Marfisa takes him and says she’ll hang him if no one comes to challenge her and take him away. And off she goes. Now Brunello’s loved/hated by Agramante and would go after Marfisa to rescue him, but one of his advisers says it’s beneath his dignity to do so and there are enough quarrels already before him. 

At last, Agramante tells Doralice she needs to decide between Mandricard (her abductor) and Rodomonte (her betrothed). So she does, picking Mandricard. Rodomonte takes this poorly and prepares to attack. King Agramante however sides against him, and so Rodomonte tells every one to drop dead and rides away. Ruggierro and Gradasso then set off after Rodomonte (something about a horse). Events prevent them from catching him and Rodomonte rides on bad-mouthing all women as he goes until he reaches an inn where the proprietor hears his complaints and says let me tell you a story.  

And so, I expect here comes some casual misogyny for us in the next canto. 

Joys. 

Until then, keep your sword sharp.

CANTO SCORE CARD

Knights: Richardetto, Rodomont, Mandricard, Gradasso, Sacripant, Marfisa, Ruggiero, King Agramant, King Charles, some other knights whose names I don’t want to type. 

Mages: Malagigi

Thieves: Brunello

Damsels: Doralice 

Horses: Frontalatte, some knight’s horse they fight over

Swords: Durindana

Monsters: Satan, Michael the Angel, Dame Discord  

Magic Items: All that junk these people are fighting over

Orlando Furioso, Canto XXVI

I read this one in the middle of the night somewhere above the Sonoran Desert.

Needless to say my recollections may be fuzzy, but IIRC there’s a big fight about a horse.

More people show up because of course they do. Smoting happens. We encounter our first multi-classed knight. A lot of people argue about a horse. You know, the usual Orlando Furioso stuff.

When we last left off Aldigier, Ricciardetto, and Ruggiero were riding along to free Vivian and Malagigi from some bastard, when a mysterious knight blocked their path. This knight instantly starts with the challenges, but Al, Dick, and Roger say they can’t fight because there’s an army coming with prisoners they need to free. The mysterious knight then says, “A whole army! I’ll fight them with you.” So now it’s a whole adventuring party and the Mysterious Knight turns out to be Marfisa, Saracen Lady Knight Extraordinaire. 

Eventually the army shows up. The knights charge. They kill Bertolagi the Bastard then attack the army. Smiting, smoting, skicking, and snicking ensues. They win, free the prisoners Viviano and Malagigi, and loot all the random money that was in the caravan. Ruggiero and marfisa are impressed by each other’s smiting and flex for each other. It’s some chaste, gym rat stuff. Everyone’s happy and off they go to a nearby fountain.

This fountain was made by Merlin and works like a widescreen TV. First it shows them a beast defiling Europe. Then some brave kings defeat the beast and I think this is all a political reference towards the Guelph/Ghibelline strife, but it could also be a depiction of Europe being threatened by Islam. I don’t know. The knights watch it for a bit and are like what’s all this. Malagigi then tells them these are pictures of the future and the beast will attack Europe and these kings will unite to fight it. Like I said I think Ariosto is doing a propaganda here but I don’t know the history well enough to get the references.  

The most important bit of all this to me is that Malagigi is both a knight and a wizard! How cool is that?

The knights are interrupted by a damsel. She’s Ipplaca who was tasked with giving Frontino to Ruggiero only to have Rodomonte steal it. She managed to track Ruggiero down and promptly tells him the news. He goes straight to Dick and says, “Are we good?” Dick’s like yeah. Ruggiero’s like seeya! And off he rides with Ipplaca. They reach a crossroads and take the high road hoping to catch Rodomonte. But of course, Rodomonte is on the low road. He, Mandricard, and Doralice come to the fountain where Viviano, Aldigier, Malagigi, Marfisa, and Ricciardetto are lounging. Marfisa’s in woman’s clothes at the moment and Mandricard promptly demands she be handed over (so he can give her to Rodomonte and keep Doralice for his own.) Marfisa says hell no. The knights take to their horses and are promptly defeated. Marfisa then says:

“I belong to no one but myself; and so you see, 

Who wants me must do battle first with me.”

The smashing ensues except both have magic armor on and make little progress. Rodomonte then breaks them up and reminds them that they’re all on the same side. He shows the king’s message ordering all the knights back to Paris. Mandricard and Marfisa make peace. 

Meanwhile Ruggiero and Ippalca have realized they went the wrong way. He gives her the letter he wrote for Bradamante and returns to the fountain. And here all hell breaks out because there’s Rodomonte with Frontino, Ruggiero’s horse, and Ruggiero refuses to make peace until he has the horse back. Things escalate. Mandricard gets drawn into the argument. Weapons are drawn. And where there was peace discord appears. Marfisa tries to part them, but nothing she says or does works. Before long she’s pulled into the fray. Viviano and Ricciardetto too. It’s a mad free for all. At last Malagigi casts a spell that sends Doralice’s horse bolting. Mandricard and Rodomonte set off in pursuit. Ruggiero wants to pursue but knows none of the available horses are fast enough. Marfisa says we’re all going to Paris anyways, we can finish our fight there. 

So they bid farewell to Mal, Al, Dick, and Viv, then set off for Paris. 

Where I am sure a whole bunch more crazy stuff will happen!

See you then.       

CANTO SCORE CARD

Knights: Aldigier, Ricciardetto, Ruggiero, Marfisa, Bertolagi the Bastard, Viviano, Malagigi, Mandricard, Rodomonte    

Mages: Malagigi

Damsels:  Ippalca, Doralice 

Horses: Frontino, the cause of so much trouble

Swords: Balisarda, Ruggiero’s adamantine sword that cuts through iron like paper

Monsters: One seen on the magic widescreen fountain TV that is a political metaphor I don’t understand 

Magic Items: Merlin’s magic widecreen fountain TV, the usual magic armor forged for Hector or crafted from dragon bones

Orlando Furioso, Canto XXV

Buckle up, we’re about to meet a half dozen new characters!

Rodomonte and Mandricard (at Doralice’s urging) have pledged to keep peace between themselves until the war’s over. They ride off and before long find a group of knights hanging around a well with a damsel. Ariosto tells us to remember how Ruggiero threw Atlante’s magic shield in a well, but before telling us what happens he decides to see what Ruggiero’s doing.

Ruggiero’s eager to complete his quest (rescue the transvestite knight) and meet Bradamante (so he can be baptized before the two get married), but up rides one of those messengers from Agramante urging him to return to the battle. This sparks introspection as to what course he should follow. In the end he sticks with the damsel who was taking him (and Bradamante) to rescue the transvestite knight. They reach the town where the knight is to be burned, and Ruggiero’s like “OMG, that’s Bradamante tied on the pyre!” He charges the crowd and the smoting ensues. It goes on for stanzas and Ruggiero is compared to a bird of prey and the common people to pigeons. Also his sword gets some lore “the cruel sword which Falerina made to slay Orlando in Orcagna’s glade.” 

Falerina? 

Orcagna’s glade? 

I have no clue about any of this.

Smoting done Ruggiero rescues Bradamante only to realize it’s not Bradamante at all, but a young man! They ride away, and Ruggiero’s really confused. At last the youth explains he’s in fact Bradamante’s twin brother Ricciardetto (the translator’s calling him Richard by the end of the canto and I will do the same). And so starts a story about Bradamante rescuing a damsel named Fiordispina, Fiordispina falling in love with Bradamante because she thinks she’s a guy, Bradamante’s attempts to clarify things, Fiordispina’s refusal to accept things, Bradamante’s leaving Fiordispina behind, going home and telling her family everything, and Richard realizing he always loved Fiordispina, and him thinking he might be a able to replace his sister in the damsel’s affections with a magical sex change from a nymph story. Yes, it’s a lot. But it works! Until he’s caught “planting his standard” and sentenced to death on a bonfire. 

Ruggiero and Richard eventually reach a castle held by Aldigier. He’s Buovo’s bastard son (I don’t know who that is) and his brothers are Vivian and Malagigi. Are these people important? Again, I don’t know.  But Vivian and Malagigi are supposed to be sold off to pay Aldigier’s debt to an actual bastard named Bertolagi and wouldn’t it be great if some brave knight were to step in and stop that from happening. Richard volunteers Ruggiero, but Ruggiero is super-conflicted right now. He has no idea whether to meet Bradamante, help Aldigier,  or go back and serve his king and defeat the Christians outside Paris. Much internal conflict ensues, but in the end Ruggiero decides to return to his king. He writes a long letter, but before he can send it he’s duped into escorting Vivian and Malagigi to where Bertolagi awaits. Or some knight waits. But who? To learn that we have to wait.

Until next time!

Whenever that is…  

CANTO SCORE CARD

Knights: Rodomonte, Mandricard, Ruggiero, Ricciardetto, Bradamante (in a flashback), Aldigier, Vivian, Malagigi, Bertolagi

Damsels: Fiordispina, Doralice in the background  

Horses: 0

Swords: Ruggiero’s sword “the cruel sword which Falerina made to slay Orlando in Orcagna’s glade.” Foreshadowing!

Monsters: 0

Magic Items: 0

Orlando Furioso, Canto XX

Welcome back! 

If you remember last time, Ariosto teased a big reveal for the Black Knight. Going into the canto I was trying to guess who was it going to be? Brandimarte? Ruggierro? Sacripante? But no, it was none of those guys. It was…

… Guidon Selvaggio!

A. Whole. New. Fucking. Guy.

That’s right. Ariosto’s big reveal is to just add a whole new fucking guy. 

RAGE!!!

But, more seriously, Selvaggio is a chivalric character who was once popular but who hasn’t come down to our era like Lancelot or Parsifal has. At least that’s what this Bodelian Library PDF suggests. Fascinating! Back to the canto, Selvaggio of course has a story to tell and it’s all about how the city of women came about. 

It all happened because the Greeks went to fight the Trojan War. After twenty years they came back and found their wives had all shacked up with other men and their houses were full of bastards. The husbands forgave their wives, but couldn’t forgive all the bastards and demanded they die. Some were killed, but others were expelled. These exiles took to the wandering life. And one, Phalanthus by name (bastard son of Clytemnestra), recruited others into a mercenary army. They went to Crete to fight a coming war. There they took wives among the populace. Except the war never happened and the Cretans told the mercenaries to move on. They were happy to go, but their wives weren’t and begged to go with them. The mercenaries refused. The women didn’t care. They robbed their Cretan parents and piled into the boats with the men. For a bit things were okay, but after a time the men grew bored and wanted nothing more to do with their wives. And so they abandoned them on a rocky shore. 

Here the women went hysterical for a bit, until they decided to hell with men. Let’s get revenge! And that’s what they did. Any boat that landed on their shore they captured and murdered the crew. This went on a while, but then the women started to realize they needed men if only to keep their country populated. And so the ten champions ritual was established. Before long the whole place took on a eugenics cult kind of atmosphere with the women killing or selling male children and sending agents out into the world to trade for girls and money. Then a stranger showed up, Elbanio a Greek hero descended from Hercules. Of course he’s handsome and beautiful and the local princess, Alessandra, falls for him. She pleads with her mom to spare Elbanio, and after much discourse the City of Women add the smutch ten women bit to the defeat ten champions challenge. Elbanio agrees to the challenge, wins, and the rest is history. 

History lesson finished, Guidon then laments how he needs to kill Marfisa and her friends the next day. Also, he’s tired of being a boy-toy sex slave and is ashamed of wasting his youth in that way. Sadness ensues. But Astolfo leans in and tells Guidon that they’re actually cousins and he can free himself from shame if he joins them in destroying the City of Women. And between that and Marfisa’s urging, Guidone agrees to join them. He says one of his lovers (Aleria) can be trusted and she’ll prepare a boat for their escape. But they’ll have to cross the arena to reach the port.

Morning comes. Once more the knights set off for the arena. All the women have gathered there to watch the combat, but what’s this? Guidon’s entered and made for the far door with the captured knights right behind him. Treachery! Soon all the women are shooting arrows at the knights, but the knights give as good as they get. The smiting and smoting begins. Sansonetto’s horse gets killed and the knight thrown. Astolfo realizes they’re in a desperate way and their chance of escape is fast dwindling. He busts out the horn of blasting and lets toot. 

KABOOM!

People are thrown from windows. Buildings collapse. Everyone panics. Women. Knights. Everyone! 

Astolfo’s just done Hiroshima’d the City of Women! 

And he doesn’t stop. 

He keeps riding around the country blasting things apart. Meanwhile all the other knights have panicked and fled for the ship. They don’t care that Astolfo’s not with them. They haul anchor and go. Only when the ship’s way out on the horizon does Astolfo realize he’s been left behind. And so Ariosto leaves him and follows Marfisa and the other knights as they reach Marseilles. There Marfisa says goodbye to her companions, since she’s technically on the other team being a Saracen and all, and sets off alone. 

Marfisa rides for a bit and comes upon an old crone sitting by the road. She’s the crone from Canto XIII And she’s been having a bad time of it. Marfisa tells her to hop on her horse and the two ride off. Soon they encounter a knight and his lady. It’s that asshole knight Pinabello from Canto III and his unnamed asshole girlfriend. The girlfriend sees the crone and laughs at her, which insults Marfisa’s honor. She challenges Pinabello to a joust and trounces him. As a prize she claims the girlfriend’s horse and clothes and gives them to the crone. Eugene Delacroix did a painting of the scene. Marfisa decides to make this her schtick: ride around with a crone, get laughed at by a knight, trounce knight, ride away.    

And look, here comes Zerbino. He sees the crone and laughs, and before long he and Marfisa are trading barbs. At last they agree to fight with the loser having to claim the crone as theirs. Both agree and Zerbino gets his ass handed to him. Marfisa reveals she’s a Lady Knight, gives Zerbino the crone, and rides away. 

Now if you remember from Canto XIII this crone was kept by a group of bandits to watch over their prisoner, Isabella.  Isabella’s Zerbino’s betrothed and the crone had to listen to Isabella go on and on about the guy while they were captives. So she knows who he is and starts using her info to torture him. Stuff like “I saw your girl. She’s alive and she was with twenty dudes. Twenty. Dudes.” Zerbino threatens to kill the crone and she’s like fine kill me, but you won’t learn anything else about Isabella if you do. Knowing he’s beat, Zerbino simply bows his head. 

my favorite character so far!

And in silence the two ride on until the canto ends. 

What will happen next?

CANTO SCORE CARD

Knights: Guidon Selvaggio Sex Slave Knight, Phalanthus an Ancient Greek Bastard, Elbanio a Greek descended from Hercules, Astolfo, Aquilante, Grifone, Sansonetto, Marfisa the Lady Knight, Pinabello an Asshole Knight, Zerbino     

Mages: Atlante and Knight Motel Magic Castle mentioned in passing

Damsels: Orontea founder of the City of Women, Alessandra daughter of Orontea, Aleria Betrayer of the City of Women and Guidon’s favorite, Pinabello’s unlikable girlfriend

Horses: Sansonetto’s unnamed horse (RIP)

Swords: None named

Monsters: The Man-Hating Lesbians of the City of Women (the city’s named Alessandretta), A Crone (currently my favorite character)

Magic Items: Marfisa’s Hell forged magic armor, Astolfo’s Horn of Blasting

Orlando Furioso, Canto XVII

This canto’s odd and not for any good reason.

Ariosto gets political. Except he’s a Christian Monarchist. So in this chapter we learn that tyrants are god’s judgment against evil populations, Christians should invade Africa, and no European ruler should sleep while the Turks hold Jerusalem. Also like Dante, Ariosto has the habit of bringing up some genuinely awful local ruler you’ve never heard of.

That’s the trouble with the age of despots. If everyone’s terrible, it’s easy to get lost in the scrum and not stand out. No matter how Magnifico you might have been.*

After all this it’s back to the action.

Charlemagne rallies his troops. They return to a Paris where Rodomonte has left a trail of slaughter. The only survivors are trapped in the palace with Rodomonte pounding at the doors. No sword, no arrow, no catapult, nor mangonel can injure him. Terror runs rampant in the halls. Charlemagne arrives with his companions and makes some speeches. Then they all charge Rodomonte, and… Ariosto cuts to Grifone and Origille as they enter Damascus.

Damascus is hopping for the festival. Silks and gems adorn balconies, tapestries and brocades hang from every window, fragrant perfumes, gladsome sounds, sumptuous repasts, the whole bit. Grifone wants to know what’s the deal and who’s the party for. A courtier explains. The King (Norandino) married the Princess of Cyrpus. While traveling by ship they put in on an island. While wedding party hunted they encountered a terrible monster.

“It ambles on towards us where we sit,

As though an alp had yawned and given birth,

Its chest is moist with slobber, long its snout,

Whence tusks or fangs, as on a boar, stick out.”

This beast promptly captures heaps of people excluding the king but including the princess and takes them back to its lair for the eating. The king learns all this and sets off to rescue the princess. He encounters the monster’s wife. She tells him the Princess is safe because the monster only eats men, and simply keeps the women imprisoned forever and ever. That’s no good, the King says, but the wife tells him it’s hopeless. The king refuses to believe this, and the wife finally says “Well, I got this idea.”

And so, Norandino King of Syria covers himself in goat shit. Honestly, I don’t know if this is goat shit or not. They take an old goat carcass and remove “stuff” from its buttocks region.

“The beldam urged the king to use the grease

Of an old goat which around its bowels clung.”

The king rubs this all over himself and puts on a goat skin. This done he tricks the monster (the monster’s blind and hunts by smell) into letting the king into its lair where he quickly tells everyone imprisoned there to rub goat shit all over themselves. This done they all sneak away but Lucina gets scared and flees back into the cave. The king lingers. The princess languishes. Tears and sadness abound. This goes on until Mandricardo and Gradasso show up, loot the monster’s lair, and take the princess away. Except this isn’t really explored too much. They give Lucina back to her dad and he gives her back to Norandino, and that’s why they’ve decided to have a party.

Grifone agrees that this was indeed a cool story, bro. He then preps for the coming tournament and we learn Orrigille’s current boy-toy’s name at last. It’s Martano. Grifone and he enter the fray, but Martano gets scared during the first combat and flees. Everyone laughs and jeers at him. All this fills Grifone with shame, but instead of turning tail he uses his shame to fight ever harder. He defeats everyone including a state minister named Salinterno who no one liked. Grifone then goes home to sleep off his rage. While Grifone’s sleeping Martano sneaks in and steals his armor and horse (as yet unnamed). He then goes to the King and convinces everyone that it was himself who defeated all those guys. The King falls for this, and Martano-Grifone takes a seat of honor in the royal tent along with Orrigille.

Back in his room, Grifone wakes up and finds all his stuff stolen. Martano’s stuff however is still there, so he dresses in this and asks the innkeeper about whoever too his horse. He learns where Martano and Orrigille went and sets off after them. Meanwhile the King and Martano complain about that cowardly asshole who ran away. And look isn’t that him riding by now. So they capture Grifone and throw him in a dungeon and heap insults on him and parade him through the square and read his alleged crimes to his face which are in fact not his but Martano’s. The people plan to chase Grifone through the streets, but the moment they cut him free a sword and buckler does he seize.

Now he shall show them real power… well, not now but in the next canto. Ariosto’s tired and says this canto’s gone on long enough.

See you then!

CANTO SCORE CARD
Knights: Charlemagne, Rodomonte, Charlemagne’s Bros (Namo, Olivier, Ugier, Avolio, Alvin, Otto, Berlinger), Norandino King of Syria, Mandricard and Gradasso, Martano Boy-Toy Miscreant of Antioch, Syrian Knights (Thyrsis, Corimbo, Salinterno, etc)
Mages: 0
Damsels: Perfidious Orrigille, Lucina Princess of Cypress
Horses: none named
Swords: none named
Monsters: Another “Orc” who might be the aged cyclops Polyphemus
Magic Items: Grease from an old goat’s bowels, Grifone’s Impenetrable Armor (enchanted by a snow-white maid)

* The person Ariosto brings up is Ezzellino da Romano and I leave it to you to read about him on wikipedia.

Orlando Furioso, Canto XVI

And here we are again. 

Ariosto starts by telling us that he’s been unlucky in love too. He’s a sensitive guy after all and has felt the pain of being spurned. That done it’s back to Grifone sneaking away to Antioch to meet-up with the brazen Orrigille. She’s there with her new beau (as yet unnamed) to take part in a joust hosted by the King of Syria. Grifone’s itching to fight, but Orrigille doesn’t want him to kill her current boy-toy. She puts on a fake smile and embraces Grifone, saying how awful it was that he abandoned her. Her lover plays along, and they cool Grifone’s temper. In the end it’s himself who feels like he’s done wrong. The trio enters Antioch, and that’s where Ariosto leaves them. 

Time to go back to Paris where a bajillion knights battle on. 

A lot of these guys get named only to get killed a few lines later. The main part though is Rodomonte killing everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY he meets in Paris. Old man? Dead. Child? Dead. Fair maiden? Dead. He’s also setting fire to the city as he goes. It’s a grisly scene full of terror, and the Saracens would’ve won if they had followed behind him, but Rinaldo and his English reinforcements appeared. Rinaldo rallies the troops with a long speech and then the battle starts. 

This is the meat of the canto, but difficult to summarize. I’ll say it’s a montage of mayhem. Spears break. People die. It’s grisly.

“And where you see one dying soldier lie, 

Another he has slain lies stretched near by.”

Ferrau’s favorite lyre-boy dies. Zerbino is unhorsed and nearly killed. Bambirago and Agricalt, whoever the heck they are, die. Pauliano, too. Did I make up that last guy? I don’t know. At last, Charlemagne hears word that Rodomonte’s killing everyone and the city’s on fire. The king pulls back to save the city, and the tide of battle turns again. 

But that’s a story for another canto.

CANTO SCORE CARD

Knights: Grifone, Orrigille’s as yet unnamed current beau, Rodomonte, Rinaldo, Zerbino, Lurcanio, Ariodante, Ferrau, a bajillion others (the Guidos! AGAIN!) some of whom are only named a line or two before they die.    

Mages: 0

Damsels: Orrigille the not-so-innocent

Horses: Baiardo, Rinaldo’s horse

Swords: Fusberta, Rinaldo’s sword

Monsters: None really, although some of the Saracen knights are descended from giants

Magic Items: Rodomonte’s Dragon Power Armor either burns and/or makes its wearer immune to fire

(My favorite thing about this canto is the illustration above. It could literally be captioned, “Holy shit! Is that your ex?”)

Orlando Furioso, Canto XV

This one’s long and has a bajillion names in it so buckle up kids, it’s time to get FURIOSO!

Last we left off, the Saracen army was attacking the walls of Paris. Knights were dying every which way and Rodomonte was leaping over flaming trenches to get inside the city. We get back to that in this canto, but first Ariosto has to do some ass-kissing/state craft commentary. Lots of advice against killing everybody including your own troops in order to achieve your goals and stuff like that. Basically, don’t be a Rodomonte.

“Eleven thousand men and twenty-eight 

Amid that raging holocaust lay dead. 

Unwillingly they went to meet their fate, 

Unwisely by so great a leader led.”

Then of course we hear about another bajillion named knights: King Bambirago, Baliverzo, Corineo, Prusion, Malabuferso, Ugier the Dane, Salamone, the Guidos, both Angelins, Namo and his sons Avolio, Otto, Avino, and Berlingier, and many more. Are any of these people important? I don’t know. It’s a mad brawl and everyone is killing everyone, but Ariosto decides he wants to go back to Astolfo.

Who is Astolfo you ask? Well, he is a guy from a few cantos ago. 

To refresh your memories he was one of Alcina’s former lovers who got turned into a tree and told Rindalo? Ruggiero? Ruggiero to watch out for her. I think he’s also related to the king of England and might be in line for the throne. After Alcina’s defeat, he’s hung around with Logistilla and her people, but now it’s time to go back home. So he sets sail with a couple of Logistilla’s handmaidens (Sofrosina and Andronica) and because Alcina’s power doesn’t extend to Persia and Arabia he figures he can sneak past her by going that way. Logistilla also gives him a couple of magic items: a book (a Guide Against Enchantment) and a horn (pretty much a Horn of Blasting for you gamer nerds). Once outfitted, and “with a favourable wind to poop,” Astolfo is off. As they go Andronica talks about Italian explorers who she sees in the future discovering a new land somewhere in the sea and how great it is that Christianity will be brought to these places. 

Yeah… 

There’s also a long aside here about a historical figure named Andrea Doria. He was a statesman/mercenary captain from Genoa, and I only bring him up because I want to share this painting of him as an elderly thirst trap. 

Once all that’s done and the travelogue finishes up, Astolfo reaches the east coast of Africa (around Ethiopia) and disembarks. At which point he is given a horse, and not just any horse, but a *magic* horse named Rabicano. Now Astolfo is ready. First person he encounters is a holy man who says there’s a terrible giant nearby who kills all travelers so wise-up son and don’t go that way. But Astolfo is a knight and he says that sounds like someone that needs killing! So the holy man tells Astolfo how the giant has a magic net (forged by Vulcan) he lays under the sands to trap his victims before taking them back to his lair for slaughter. Astolfo thanks the hermit and makes for the giant’s abode.

The giant’s name is Caligorante and his place is covered in bones and grisly trophies, naked torsos and limbs and all that mess. He sees Astolfo approaching and gets giddy anticipating the killing. But Astolfo uses his horn first and the blast scares Caligorante so bad he takes off running, only to get caught in his own trap. As Caligorante struggles, Astolfo approaches with sword in hand ready to lop off his head – but at the last minute Astolfo relents. Instead, he keeps the giant bound and decides to parade him throughout the land. So that’s what he does, making straight for Cairo. Everyone there is very impressed, and they tell Astolfo about another horrible giant named Orrilo. 

Orrilo lives in the dread domain next door and is the enchanted offspring of a sprite and a fairy, born to do men spite. His magic power is that he can reattach limbs when they get chopped off. This is described as like when two beads of mercury draw together and rejoin, so I imagine him sort of looking like Odo from Deep Space 9.

When Astolfo gets there he finds two knights already fighting Orrilo. These guys are the sons of Oliver (?) and they’re names are Grifone the White and Aquilant the Black. They’ve already killed Orrilo’s giant crocodile and now are making to fight the giant. But no matter how many times they lop off his head or hack off a limb, Orrilo laughs and simply reattaches it. 

“Down to his teeth Grifone splits his skull 

And Aquilante splits it to his chest, 

On him such mortal blows are void and null. 

He laughs: the sons of Oliver are vexed.”

While the knights fight Orrilo their adoptive moms watch from nearby. Like plenty of others in this fakakta book Grifone and Aquilant have the Achilles problem where bad things are prophesied to happen to them if they leave home, so their moms are doing what they can to prevent their going. The moms step in when their knights are near to exhaustion and tell Orrilo to go home, which he does. Astolfo then rides up, glad to see the brothers, and all return to a nearby castle to recover. (They leave Caligorante tied up outside.)

Over dinner Astolfo pulls out Logistilla’s magic book and reads the entry for monsters like Orrilo. He discovers the giant can be killed if a certain hair is plucked from his head. But which one? That’s the puzzle. He asks the brothers if it would be all right if he fought Orrilo tomorrow. The brothers are like go ahead, it’s cool. So next day Astolfo and Orrilo in combat engage. 

There’s stabbing and smacking, Orrilo’s dismembered like the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but no matter how many times he slices the giant Astolfo can never figure out which hair he needs to pluck from the beast’s head. Finally he chops off Orrilo’s head and runs away with it while the body chases after him. Astolfo hops on Rabicano and as he rides away he searches the head for the hair. In the end he can’t find it so he decides to shave the entire thing. He sticks his fingers up the giant’s nose to hold it steady (a detail apparently forever lodged now in my head). This works, because once the head is shaved the giant’s torso falls down dead. Astolfo then rides back to town to show off, because why not?

But wait! There’s more! 

Astolfo convinces Grifone and Aquilant to leave home and come with him back to Europe by way of the Holy Land. Their moms are sad, but so it goes. Along the way they meet a knight from Mecca named Sansonet, who converted to Christianity at Orlando’s request. Sansonet is helping to build a fort against the Caliph and he welcomes the travelers and escorts them to Jerusalem. Once there Astolfo gives Caligorante to Sansonet as a gift and Sansonet gives Asolfo a sword (so far unnamed) and a set of spurs that once belonged to Saint George. And being Christian knights in the Holy land, all three tour the sites and spend time mediating in monasteries. As they prepare to leave they run into a Greek traveler who tells them all about the girl Grifone loves. Her name’s Orrigille and she’s BAD. 

“For she, a woman in the bloom of youth, 

No more could bear to sleep alone, in truth.”

And before anyone can stop him Grifone sneaks off to Antioch where he knows Orrigille has gone. 

But that’s a story for another canto.   

CANTO SCORE CARD

Knights: A bajillion (the Guidos!), Rodomonte, Astolfo, Grifone the White and Aquilant the Black, Sansonet 

Mages: Queen Logistilla and her hand maidens Sofrosina and Andronica, a holy hermit, the evil Alcina mentioned in passing

Damsels: Orrigille the not-so-innocent

Horses: Rabicano

Swords: As yet unnamed sword Sansonet gives Astolfo

Monsters: Caligorante the Giant, Orrilo the non-dismemberable Giant, Orrilo’s giant crocodile

Magic Items: Logistilla’s Guide Against Enchantment (it counters spells and is full of magic lore), a horn of blasting, Vulcan’s Net of Entrapment, the Spurs of Saint George

Orlando Furioso, Canto XIV

Mandricardo the Tartar killing a bunch of Spaniards because they refused to let him look at their sleeping princess.

This one has everything.

We get some historic details, some ass-kissing by Ariosto for his patrons. We get a list of names, all knights fighting for or against Charlemagne. We get a damsel being “rescued”. We get massive grand battles. We even get some of that yesterweirdness I love.

After the historic details (the state of the war this far), some ass-kissing (dealing with his patron’s sacking of Ravenna: “We feel too much the anguish and the woe // Of weeping women garbed in widows’ weeds, // The sad young victims of your valiant deeds.”), and a roll call of the Saracen army (Marsilio, Agramante, Brunello, Isolier, Folvirant, &c), we come at last to the Saracen knights who are the primary movers of this canto, Mandricardo and Rodomonte.

Orlando killed Mandricardo’s father at some point earlier. Now Mandricardo wants revenge. Driving home the Iliad homage, Mandricardo wears Hector’s armor after finding it in a tower in Syria and has recently arrived in Europe. He is not happy to sit in a siege, so he decides to hie off and seek adventure/glory/Orlando elsewhere. Very soon he finds survivors of Orlando’s earlier onslaught and they point Mandricardo on to where the battle was fought. Unfortunately, Orlando’s already gone by the time Mandricardo arrives, and so the search continues. Soon he comes upon a band of knights camped by the Tiber.

A parley starts with Mandricardo asking who they are. They say they’re from Granada and have come to escort the King’s daughter to Rodomonte since the two are betrothed. Mandricardo asks if he might maybe possibly get a peek at this princess, but the guard refuses. So Mandricardo kills him and all the other guards. Stabby. Stabby. Stabby (with a spear because Mandricardo doesn’t use a sword for reason’s mentions under Swords below). Killing done he goes to find the princess. Her name’s Doralice. She woke mid combat, tried to flee, but failed. Now she cowers from Mandricardo, but her beauty is so great it weaves a web of love around his heart. And so he abducts her. Content with his prize, he’s less keen on finding Orlando and he starts to pitch woo to Doralice. Eventually the two shelter in a cottage for the night.

“What in the darkness of the night befell / Between the Tartar and the young princess / I cannot, I regret, precisely tell, / So everyone must be content to guess. / I think that they agreed together well / For in the morning they arose no less / But rather more content”

In the morning they return to wandering and soon come upon two knights and a fair maid, but you’ll have to wait to hear about that later, because now it’s time for CHURCH!

King Agramant has heard that Rinaldo and a host of fresh knights are on the way from England to help Charlemagne, so Agramant wants to attack Paris in the morning. Knowing that the Saracens plan to attack, Charlemagne goes to mass. A whole lot of Catholic pomp gets described, communion hosts, confessions, how all the paladins and princes in Paris went to church too. And the prayers are so loud they reach the Big G, God Himself, in heaven. He hears all this and sees the threat to Christendom and decides to join the fray. (This is more inspired by the Iliad than by either Testament). God commands the Archangel Michael to find Silence and Dame Discord, the first to help the English knights sneak across France, the second to sow strife among the Saracens.

This bit delivers the weird.

Michael flies around searching for Silence. At first, he hears that Silence likes to hang out in monasteries, but when Michael arrives at one he discovers that Silence, Peace, Quiet, and Love have all left the monasteries and been replaced by Greed, Wrath, Cruelty, and the rest. In fact who should he find in the monastery but Dame Discord hanging around with a pack of lawyers. Well, Michael figures, that’s half the task done and he tells her what God wants from her. She sets off, but not before telling Michael that Fraud might know where Silence can be found. Michael finds Fraud and she tells him how Silence had taken up with Treachery and Homicide, but still visits the House of Sleep. Off then Michael flies to the House of Sleep where he finds Silence working as something of a security guard in slippers. Silence via gestures asks what Michael wants, and when Michael tell Silence God’s orders (in a whisper natch) Silence sets off right away.

Meanwhile, Agramant’s attack is ready. This guy is over there, this guy is over there, Charlemagne does this and barricades that and for a bit it’s like listening to war gamers go on but eventually Ariosto takes us into the action of siege warfare where Rodomonte (Algerian King, betrothed to Doralice who unbeknown to him Mandricardo is likely diddling at that very moment) hews down Christians right and left. His armor is made of ancient dragon skin, crafted by his ancestor who on the plain of Babel built a tower to challenge God’s majesty. It grants him great strength and invulnerability as if he was a Space Marine.

More hewing and more death ensues. It gets quite grisly. But…

“Discordant concert and harsh harmony / Of shrieks and wailing, fearful to relate, / Of anguished victims in their agony, / Led by so great a leader to their fate, / Were mingled in a strange cacophony / With raucous roarings of primeval hate. / My lord, this canto has now run its course, And I must rest awhile, for I am hoarse.”

CANTO SCORE CARD

Knights: A skazillion named Saracen knights, a skazillion earlier named English Knights, a skazillion Christian knights named as they die, Rodomonte, Mandricardo, Rinaldo

Damsels: Doralice, princess of Granada, betrothed to Rodomonte, abducted by Mandricardo

Mages: None except those Monsters below

Monsters: God (the Big G), Angels, personifications of various things like Silence, Fraud, and Dame Discord who are described as sitting squarely between Ovid’s cosmology and Neil Gaiman’s Endless.

Horses: None are named, but there’s one I’m keeping my eye on because it might be important.

Swords: Durindana lore (this is Orlando’s sword now but once belonged to Mandricardo’s dad, and way long ago belonged to Hector.)

Magic Items: Hector’s Armor (worn by Mandricardo), Rodomonte’s dragon-scale power armor