Book I, Canto XI, Part 1

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto XI, Stanzas 1-20

CANTO XI

ARGUMENT

King Agrican and Sacripant agree
To fight in single combat, one on one.
But when the valiant King Torindo sees
Sacripant losing, to the duel he runs,
And war resumes. The Tartar valiantly
Enters the keep. Great deeds by him are done,
Ere Sacripant compels him to retreat.
Rinaldo and Don Fiordelisa meet.

1
You’ve heard already of the ruinous course
King Agricane ran, that spirit fierce.
As when a wave destroys a fleet by force,
Or when a cannon through an army sheers,
E’en thus that king attacks without remorse,
Chopping the standards, smiting cavaliers,
Slicing his foes and hacking his own men.
For wrath the king made no distinction then.

2
Circassians and Tartars all are one.
Of friend or enemy he takes no heed.
He cut down all who in his pathway came.
And now that worthy knight advanced with speed
To where he saw the high emprises done
Which Sacripant performed upon his steed.
He saw his men flee fast as legs could carry them,
And the Circassian monarch sorely harry them.

3
“You curst, degen’rate breed, out of my sight!”
King Agricane cries, “You worthless flock!
My vassals nevermore will you be hight.
I won’t be king of such a wretched stock.
Go where the hell you want, and let me fight,
For I can better stand the foeman’s shock
Alone, just as I am, in this fierce battle,
Than I can do with you, you useless rabble.”

4
These words once said, he seeks his foeman out,
And Sacripant to combat he invites.
My lords, believe me, ye need have no doubt
He instantly accepts, that ardent sprite.
He sends a squire through the battle rout
Up to Albracca, to the lady bright,
Praying her that upon the wall she’ll stand,
So that her sight will strengthen his right hand.

5
The damsel stands upon Albracca’s wall,
And to King Sacripant a sword she sends,
That will stay sharp, whatever may befall.
Now grief King Agricane’s bosom rends.
He mutters soft, “I do not care at all,
Because that sword will be mine in the end,
So will Albracca. Sacripant will grovel,
So will that dirty slut and all her brothel.

6
“Hast thou no shame at all, thou ugly witch?
To scorn my love, how is it that thou durst?
When I could make thee happy, make thee rich,
And make thee of all earthly queens the first?
Women, ’tis true, a thousand times will switch
Their minds, and always settle on the worst.
The King of Kings at thy feet doth abase him,
And thou art lusting for a vile Circassian!”

7
Having thus spoke, he turns around and glowers
As from his foe he spurs across the ground.
His mighty lance into its rest he lowers,
As on the other side now turns around
King Sacripant, who comes with strength and power.
The one and th’other clash. The noise resounds
With such a fracas and so great a din,
It seems the sky will fall, the world will end.

8
Each of them strikes the other’s helmet front
With their immeasurably enormous lances,
But neither can his foe from saddle shunt.
Each lance up to its hilt in splinters glances,
Though each was three palms wide, without affront
To truth. To swords the combat now advances.
They fall on one another, raging high,
For each of them desires to win or die.

9
If in a field you’ve ever seen two bulls
Who madly for a milk-white heifer fought,
And seen them locking horns and clashing skulls
And heard their bellowing, with dreadness fraught,
You know how seemed those knights of valor full,
Who for Love’s sake esteemed their lives as nought.
Their shields, in pieces hacked, they cast away,
And fight with more abandon in the fray.

10
Now Sacripant, with all his strength, brings down
A blow dispiteous, uncouth, two-handed,
On Agricane’s head. He splits his crown,
But not his helmet, for that is enchanted.
At the same time the Tartar of renown
A blow on Sacripante’s left flank planted.
Vengeance is all the thought within their heads,
To pay back cake where they were given bread.

11
So swiftly fall not rain, nor hail thus rattles,
Nor in such numbers fall the flakes of snow,
As in that bitter and imperiled battle
Fell the strokes of the broadswords, blow on blow.
Blood runs down from their helmets to their saddles.
No crueler fight can any his’try show.
Each one is wounded sore in places twenty,
And yet of fury they heap up more plenty.

12
But Sacripant fared worse, I have to say.
The blood ran down his leg whene’er he strove.
But little did he prize his life that day,
And thinking of Angelica above
All else, he said, “O King of Heaven, I pray
That all the deeds I do today for love,
Angelica will watch,  and grateful be.
Then care I not for death or injury.

13
“I’d be content to know my death is nigh
If that sweet creature held me in regard.
Oh, if I only once could hear her sigh,
‘I am too cruel and make my heart too hard,
To make this cavalier for Love’s sake die,
When for my love, his life he disregards!’
If but these gentle words mine ears caressed,
In life or death I’d be forever blest.”

14
And with these thoughts he is so much inflamed
That of all cowardice he was bereft.
With ev’ry blow, he shouts his lady’s name,
Striking great blows upon his right and left.
His only thought is how to please the dame.
He cares not for the wounds by which he’s cleft;
But as he loses blood, his spirits fail,
Although he still fights on, his face is pale.

15
The other kings look from afar and wait,
Watching the dreadful combat of their chiefs.
To each of them, it seems a damage great
To watch him die, and bring him no relief.
But, above all, his pity can’t abate
The Turk Torindo, and he’s filled with grief
To see King Sacripante in distress
And not be able to bring him redress.

16
And to the others he begins to say,
That certainly a grievous sin it were
To watch their king die and lend him no aid.
He bursts out: “Ingrates! How can ye endure
To look upon his death without dismay?
The worthiest king that ever vassal served.
We fled, all routed, overwhelmed by strife;
Sacripant saved our honor and our life.

17/18
Be not afraid of them, for all their might,
For with our swords we’ll cut them down to size!
Don’t think it treason to disrupt the fight.
But we’ll be traitors all if our king dies!
’Tis simple duty, ’tis not treason hight,
To save one’s king. If any blame here lies,
Be the blame mine and be the glory yours!”
And with these words he spurs his gallant horse.

18/19
His lance in rest, against the crowd he runs,
Flooring the first and second men he meets.
The third and fourth to him likewise succumb.
A mighty outcry his aggression greets,
As ev’ry Turk and each Circassian comes,
And Trebisond and Syria are fleet,
Following King Torindo down the line.
Russians, Mongolians, and Tartars join

19/20
With mighty Trufaldino of Baghdad.
The dust flew thick, and many men were flayed.
King Trufaldin a hundred thousand had
Who came behind him in a vast brigade.
When Agricane sees this mishap sad
And how his army sorely was dismayed,
To Sacripante thus he speaks: “Sir Knight,
Thy men have done a deed against all right.”

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Book I, Canto X, Part 3

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto X, Stanzas 41-53

41
Who with him brings a host of troops so vast
One hundred thousand men form his brigade.
Damascus’ king his lot with them has cast.
There’s twenty thousand ‘neath this giant’s flag.
He’s called Bordacco. Sacripant is last,
Circassia’s ruler, vigorous and brave,
With a strong body and a prudent soul,
And eighty thousand under his control.

42
They reach Albracca fortress on the day
After Astolf was caught for lack of wit.
They fall upon the camp without delay,
Though Agricane’s host is infinite.
It was at Prime that they began the fray,
And by the rosy dawn the sky was lit,
When the ferocious battle was begun
In which so many lab’rous deeds were done.

43
Of the cruel battle who could even try
To put the seventh part of it in words?
The bitter fighting, blows on ev’ry side,
The shrieks that from the wretched men are heard
Of either army when they fall and die?
Who could set forth the blood that paints the earth,
The crashing metal, and the flags’ advances,
And the field covered with the splintered lances?

44
‘Tis King Vorano strikes the foremost blow.
Without a trace of fear he leads the van.
He’s made sure that all of his soldiers know
To take no pris’ners, but kill ev’ry man.
With speed and without warning his troops go.
“To arms! To arms!” throughout the Tartars ran.
This one defends himself, and that one arms,
And that one hides and flees in his alarm.

45
But they the wisest are who run away;
The enemy’s already in their tents.
The Tartars with the sword and lance they slay.
Not one of all th’Armenians relents.
Through woods and fields, and down the roads and ways
The Tartar army flees, by terror sent.
Behold another reason to abscond:
Here comes the Emperor of Trebisond.

46
With all his men the Tartars he attacks.
Next is the great Ungiano’s prowess shown.
Leading his men, no knightly skill he lacks.
And now Torindo and brave Savaron
Amidst the Tartar army slash and hack.
And still, beneath their banner gently blown,
Sacripant and Bordac are in reserve,
With Trufaldino, treach’rous cur of curs.

47
The sprawling battle engulfs all the crowd.
Some here, some there across the fields take flight.
Of dust the armies kick up such a cloud
That all are hidden from each other’s sight.
And so disorganized is all the rout
It can’t be helped by all the strength and might
Of Agricane, though his force is dread.
He sees before him all his people dead.

48
The king, as sorrow o’er his spirit came,
Left his brigade behind and charged ahead,
And called on all his barons bold by name,
Uldano, Saritron, Argante dread,
King Pandragone, worthy of great fame,
Lurcan and giant Radamant the Red,
With Santaría, Polferom, Brontin,
Summoning one and all to battle keen.

49
Upon Baiard doth Agrican advance,
Before all others, with his lance at rest.
Not one of all his foes against him stands.
With such great wrath across the field he pressed,
He strikes men down without a backwards glance,
And now to King Varano he addressed,
And on his helmet lands a mighty blow
That sends him loudly to the ground below.

50
Brunaldo is unseated from his horse
By Polifermo; look at strong Argante
Who overthrows King Savaron by force;
And see the cruel giant Radamante
Meets with Ungiano and that worthy floors.
Now well perceives the knightly Sacripante
That all his people will be dead or routed
Unless himself he something does about it.

51
He left his troops, that king of valor true
And spurred his charger, laid in rest his lance,
And Poliferm with one blow overthrew;
Brontin and Pandragon to him advance,
The worthy Emperor Argante, too,
Who all fall with a blow of Sacripant’s.
And then he takes into his hand his sword
And drove back to retreat the Tartar horde.

52
Elsewhere is fighting Agricane grand,
And does great deeds of wonder on his own.
He sees how by the hills and level lland
His people have from Sacripante flown.
For ire great he gnaws on both his hands
And cruelly into battle he has thrown
Himself, and cuts down anyone he can,
Whether his own or Sacripante’s man.

53
As when, about the thawing time of Spring,
A river from a mighty mountain flows,
And oversteps its banks, to ruin bring,
So swollen ’tis with showers and with snows,
Just so advances that impetuous king.
With ire great and tumult fierce he goes,
And on that day performs a mighty feat,
Of which in my next canto I will treat.

Notes to the Tenth Canto, Part 3

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto X, Stanzas 41-53 Notes

41. Sacripante thus has 382,000 men (the entire population of Miami), against Agricane’s 2,200,000 (the entire population of modern Paris). The results are predictable.
48. The Red. My addition, forced by the rhyme. Referring to his armor and bloodthirstiness, rather than to his physical appearance.

Never Forget

Never forget.

"I Came, I Saw, God Conquered" -- John Sobieski, on the Battle of Vienna

John Sobieski. Original by Marcello Bacciarelli. Derivative image hereby released into Public Domain.

Today is the anniversary of one of the most glorious events in human history: three hundred thirty-four years ago today, King John Sobieski III and the Polish army arrived to rescue Vienna from the besieging Ottoman army. The following day, September 12, they joined battle, and the Turks were routed. The Ottoman Empire would never recover, and Christendom was saved. To commemorate the victory, Pope Innocent XI extended the feast of the Holy Name of Mary, formerly celebrated only in Spain, to the entire Church.

Blessed be the Name of Mary, Virgin and Mother!

Read more about the siege at this link.

Book I, Canto X, Part 2

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto X, Stanzas 21-40

21
The lady pays his boasting slight attention.
She knows full well he’s an amusing braggart.
Of Don Rinaldo she makes no more mention,
Hearing him blasphemed pierced her like a dagger,
And she knew all about Astolf’s inventions,
For when in Paris, she had been no laggard
T’examine all the worthies of the court
And find out what their rank and what their sort.

22
She treats Astolfo with utmost respect.
To dight a chamber for her guest she hies,
When, lo, outside a cry begins to spread,
Because a messenger just then arrives.
With dust the man was covered, and with sweat.
“To arms! To arms!” to one and all he cries.
Ev’ry man arms and turns out on the ground,
Because the fortress bells the signal sound.

23
Three thousand cavaliers were kept inside,
One thousand footmen made the Rock their bower.
The lady, with Astolfo at her side,
Consults with them, of all her knights the flower.
To stay within the fortress they decide,
And guard Albracca’s walls and lofty towers.
The grounds and fort so wondrously are shapen
That never in a war can they be taken.

24
They think to trust in their defenses good,
Which may for fifteen years withstand all strife.
Astolfo answers, “If I thought I would
Waste here a single day out of my life,
Besieged and fighting not at all, I should
Be glad to end myself with rope or knife.
And for eternity may I be damned,
If on this day I take not lance in hand!”

25
No sooner silent, then he took to arming,
And mounted on Baiard he leaves the fort,
Shouting things stupefying and alarming,
Which might stop e’en the boldest warrior short.
“You knights will wish you’d spent your whole lives farming,
When I get through with you!” Astolfo roared,
“None of your soldiers can against me stand,
I’ll cut down all your men with my two hands!”

26
Twenty two hundred thousand, maybe bigger,
The size was of the troops of Agrican.
Good Bishop Turpin ‘tis who gives this figure.
Astolf didn’t count, but charged straight on.
Truly, a hair this valiant knight could trigger.
That day such obstacles he came upon,
That somewhat of his rashness he repents,
And ever after had a bit more sense.

27
For now, though, all the army he defied,
Calling on Radamant and Saritrone.
For Polifermo and Argant he cried;
Insults Brontino and King Pandragone,
And Agrican, their master and their guide,
And strong Uldano, and the false Lurcone,
And Santaría, ruler of the Swedes.
Outrage and threats against them al he breathed.

28
The siegers arm themselves in madcap fury.
You never saw so humorous a sight
As was this multitude in such a hurry
To arm themselves against a single knight.
Loudly they cry, and eagerly they scurry.
The noises echo off the mountains’ height.
The flags are raised, batallions are arrayed,
Ten kings together march in one brigade.

29
When Don Astolf alone there they espied,
They are ashamed that such a host they’ve led.
Emp’ror Argante not a bit delayed,
But left his troops and to Astolfo sped.
Six palms could fit between his shoulder blades.
You never saw such an enormous head.
His nose is flat and broad; his eyes are slits;
The dog is ugly, but he has good wits.

30
With head aloft, the challenger advanced,
Upon a fine destrier with pelt of sorrel.
The Frankish duke, thanks to his golden lance,
Knocks him down from his seat and ends their quarrel.
The hosts assembled look at him askance.
Uldano lays his lance in rest. With laurels
He often has been crowned, this cavalier.
He’s cousin german to the good Ogier.

31
Astolfo with the lance his foeman clouts,
And on the ground Uldano takes his place.
The other kings are seized with awe and doubt.
They dare not look each other in the face.
There rose from ev’ry side a mighty shout,
“Kill him! Kill him!” thus the cry is raised,
And all together, the uncounted rabble
Charge at Astolfo and begin the battle.

32
He, on the other side, stands firm, secure,
And all that charging army he awaits
Just like a rock behind high walls endures,
Ready with Baiard to perform feats great.
By all the dust, the heavens are obscured,
Raised by the feet of that accurséd race.
Four of them lead the vanguard: Saritrone,
Radamont, Agrican, and Pandragone.

33
Now Saritrone first accosts the knight,
And of his horse and saddle he’s bereft.
But Radamonto charges on his right,
And strikes the English duke, while on his left
At the same time, king Agricane strikes,
While charging head-on, with a blow most deft
King Pandragone strikes Astolfo, too,
And these three blows him from his saddle threw.

34
Half-dead, upon the earth he lies distended,
From the three mighty blows he had received.
King Radamanto from his steed descended
And Don Astolf as prisoner he seized.
Astolf now no more himself defended.
He was alone. Nobody him relieved.
What Agricane held in more regard
Than Duke Astolfo was his horse, Baiard.

35
I do not know, my lords, if that destrier
No longer being in his master’s hands
No longer was to Saracens as fierce,
Or if his being in a foreign land
Made all his hopes of fleeing disappear.
At any rate, to Agrican’s command,
As gentle as a gelding, he submits,
Unforced by rein or bridle or by bit.

36
Taken Astolfo is, and lost Baiard,
And the rich harness and the lance of gold.
In all Albracca, not one has the heart
The field against their enemies to hold,
But on the walls they stay, their foes regard
With drawbridge up and with portcullis closed,
For days they stand upon the wall and wait,
Until a host arrives before their gate.

37
Who are these people in this newcome horde,
Who make a noise that echoes up to heaven?
Here is the terrible Circassian lord,
King Sacripante, who has boldly striven
To raise the army with which now he warred.
An emperor is there, beside kings seven,
Who all have come to bring the lady aid.
And who they were, for you I will relate.

38
The foremost of them is a Christian knight,
Although he’s strongly stained with heresy,
King of Armenia, Varone hight,
Of ardor and of vigor full is he.
Full thirty thousand march with him to fight
Who all are excellent at archery.
The second, just a little ways beyond
Is the great Emperor of Trebisond.

39
Brunaldo hight this worthy most renowned.
Twenty-six thousand warriors round him throng.
The third is ruler of Roase crowned;
He’s named Ungiano, and he’s very strong.
Full fifty thousand in his camp are found.
And next two kings, to each of whom belongs
Much honor, vast dominion, mighty works.
One rules the Medes, the other rules the Turks.

40
Torindo is the Turkish leader named,
And Savarone ‘tis who rules the Medes.
Thirty-six thousand soldiers with him came,
And forty thousand Turks Torindo leads.
The land of Babylon is widely famed,
And Baghdad is renowned for valiant deeds.
The lord thereof is come, his foes to meet:
King Trufaldino, master of deceit.

Notes to the Tenth Canto, Part 2

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto X, Stanzas 21-40 Notes

30. Cousin german. First cousins. I strongly suspect Uldano is Boiardo’s invention, or at most a very minor character in the romances of Ogier.
38. Stained with heresy. The Armenians, the first nation to adopt Christianity (several decades before the Roman Empire), succumbed to the Monophysite heresy in the 500’s. Subsequent attempts at reunion have met with only very limited success.
Emperor of Trebisond. After the fall of Constantinople to the Fourth Crusade in 1204, several rump states arose, all claiming the Imperial legacy. The longest lived of these was Trebisond on the Black Sea, which refused to submit to the Greek Emperors when they reclaimed their city in 1261. Trebisond actually outlasted Constantinople, and did not fall to the Turks until 1461.
39. Roase. Mesopotamia.

Book I, Canto X, Part 1

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto X, Stanzas 1-20

CANTO X

ARGUMENT

The bold Astolfo turns his tail and flees.
Then Agricane’s army he descries.
He beats them to Albracca. When he sees
The siege begun at last, then out he hies.
His golden lance gives him some victories,
But then he’s conquered. Sacripant arrives
To save Angelica. He fiercely wars,
And all day long the noise of battle roars.

1
Orlando after Duke Astolfo spurred,
Quick as he could, but no reward it brings.
For Baiard, “marvellous” is not the word,
He runs as swiftly as if he had wings.
Off the road, to the woods, Astolfo turned.
The though of leaving Brandimart stings.
He’d been a true companion n the trail,
And now he left him in a worse than jail.

2
But mighty Durindan so much he feared,
Which in his cousin-german’shand remained,
That in the wild wood he disappeared.
Orlando tried to follow, but in vain.
He climbed a hill, and all around he peered,
But could not see him, in the woods or plain.
Out in the fields he makes no longer stay,
But rides back to the bower without delay.

3
There still is raging an intensive fight,
For yet high in the saddle Brandimart
Now King Ballon, now Chiarïone strikes,
Hammering them, and makes them sorely smart,
The while his lady pleads with all her might
That he will leave the battle and depart,
And with the two enchanted knights make peace,
And strive the lady Dragontin to please.

4
For by no other means could he evade
Having to drink of the enchanted glass,
Which would wipe clean his thoughts and mem’ry’s slate,
But when she saw the fay tread o’er the grass,
Certainly with intent her knights to aid,
She dared not tarry, but the frightened lass
Swiftly turned roundabout her palfrey good,
And galloped till she reached the shadowed wood.

5
Ballan and Chiarïon now draw apart.
The fairy’s will is law throughout her palace.
And Dragontina takes Sir Brandimart,
Off’ring a drink from her enchanted  chalice,
Which from the magic stream she filled by art.
The cavalier falls victim to her malice.
Forgetting ev’rything he once knew, he
Completely changed from what he used to be.

6
O pleasant liquor, bev’rage sweet and clear,
Which thus can snatch a man out of his mind!
Now Brandimarte’s love has disappeared,
Which did his heart in silken cords once bind.
He hopes for nothing; he has no more fear
To lose his honor, or disgrace to find.
On Dragontina centers all his thought,
And of all things beside he reckons nought.

7
Back to the garden comes the Count, astounded,
And before Dragontina’s feet he kneels.
He makes excuses, in which long words abounded.
No knight so eloquently e’er appealed.
The Paladin was perfectly confounded
That a mere boy outdid him in the field,
Speaking of which, I ought to go and find him.
He thinks Orlando ever right behind him,

8
So constantly he travels on his way,
By day and night, that hero stout and good.
Nothing at all he finds the foremost day,
Travelling through a vast deserted wood,
But on the second morn his eyes survey
Where on a plain, a vast encampment stood.
Astolfo asks a herald to explain
Why all these people gathered on this plain.

9
The herald shows a banner to the knight,
Which fluttered in the center of the horde,
And says, “Here lodges, with his men of might,
The king of kings, the Tartars’ sov’reign lord.
That is his royal banner, black as night,
The one that has a rampant silver horse.
It’s decked with pearls and precious stones and gold.
The world does not a richer treasure hold.

10
“The white flag, there, that has the sun of gold,
Marks great Mongolia’s monarch, Saritron.
The world knows not a knight so frank and bold.
That green one, where the lion white is shown,
Belongs to Radamant the Uncontrolled,
Who measures twenty feet, it’s widely known.
Beyond the mountains, holds he ‘neath his hand
Moscow the mighty and the Coman land.

11
“That golden moon upon the flag of red
Is Polifermo’s, a great king who reigns
Over Orgagna. He’s a man to dread
And often shows his prowess on the plain.
I wish to speak of ev’ry flag outspread,
So that unknown no standard will remain,
So thou mayst tell out might to friend or foe
Into whatever country thou mayst go.

12
“The mighty king of Gothland there is shown.
King Pandragone is this worthy hight.
The emperor of Russia’s flag is blown;
He’s called Argante. He’s a man of might.
See Santaría and the fierce Lurcon.
The first is ruler of the Swedes by right,
The next of Norway. See on his right hand
The banner of the king of Norman land.

13
“Brontino is this mighty ruler called.
His is the green flag with the burning heart.
Camped next to him, the Danish monarch tall,
Who’s named Uldano. Well he plays his part.
King Agricane, master of them all,
Summoned these vassals when he wished to start
A war, and all have gathered on this plain
To give King Gallifrone bitter pain.

14
“This Gallifrone is from India, where
He rules a vast dominion called Cathay.
He has a daughter, with whom can’t compare
The freshest rose that blossoms in the May.
Such love for her King Agricane bears
He thinks of nothing else by night or day,
Save how to have the lady for his own.
He cares not for his kingdom or his throne.

15
“Yesterday, Gallifron to us addressed
A message, by one of his heralds sent.
With many words, his majesty confessed
He could not yield the girl, though his intent
Had been to do so, for she was impressed
With madness, had defied the king, and went
To the Rock of Albracca, where she claimed
She would remain unwed till death her claimed.

16
“So now it’s likely that this massive throng
Before Albracca will begin a siege.
Because her father has done nothing wrong,
If his fair daughter cannot love my liege.
But I believe (and my belief is strong)
The damsel won’t have any remedies
To make a very lengthy war of it;
It would be better for her to submit.”

17
As soon as Don Astolf the reason hears
For the assembly of this people vast,
He sets out journeying, that cavalier,
Riding by day and night exceeding fast.
Albracca Rock at length the hero nears
And to the lovely damsel comes at last.
She, when she saw Astolfo face to face,
Knew him at once, and gladly him embraced.

18
“Welcome a thousand times!” the lady cried,
“Welcome a thousand more, Sir Paladin,
Thou who to succor the distressed dost ride!
Would that Rinaldo with thee had come in!
This castle gladly would I cast aside
And all my kingdom reck not at a pin,
To have that worthy baron with us here;
All of the world beside I would not fear.”

19
Astolfo says, “I wish not to deny
Rinaldo is a valiant cavalier,
But I would have you recollect that I
In battle am more fearsome than that peer.
Many a time we two our strength have tried,
And he has had the worst of it, I fear.
For I have made him sweat, and made him sore,
And made him say, ‘I yield, I can no more.’

20
“And of Orlando, too, thou mayst record,
The standard-bearer of all chivalry,
That were he missing Durindan, his sword,
The way my other cousin’s lost his steed,
He would not be as famous as before,
Nor so intimidating would he be.
Not like myself, you see, for when we fight,
No matter what my arms, I beat those knights.”

Notes to the Tenth Canto, Part 1

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto X, Stanzas 1-20 Notes

Argument.  The quote from Tennyson, I must confess, is justified by nothing in the Italian.
10. The Coman land. The area north of the Crimea, between the Don and the Volga.
Radamant the Uncontrolled. The Italian “smesurato” is an adjective; I turned it into a name.
11. Orgagna. As I ought to have said before, this name is found on old maps of Central Asia, usually about where Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are now, but I do not think the name was ever in use by the locals.
12. Gothland. The south-west part of Sweden, still known by this name. Homeland of the Geats, or Goths.
Norman land. Not Normandy in France, but the northern part of Sweden, called today Norrland or the Northlands.

The Legend of Renaud of Montauban 11: Italian Variants and Origins

CRITICISM

This poem’s vast popularity, which resulted in Rinaldo becomming the most famous knight of Charlemagne’s among the Italian people, is due, I think, to two related factors. The first is that the poem is, as far as a foreigner can judge, well-written. It moves along with scarcely a dull moment from beginning to end. The second is, that it is unabashedly on the side of the House of Clairmont. Gone are the moral dilemmas of the French poem, the conflicts between loyalty to country and loyalty to family, the question of whether it is right to obey one’s king when he is clearly in the wrong. The poem sometimes even crosses the border into protagonist-centered morality, as when Namo and Ogier have no qualms about sacrificing thousands of Christians in the vain hope of reconciling Charles and Rinaldo, or when Malagigi arranges the betrayal and slaughter of the Maganzans. Anything the House of Clairmont does is fair play, but anything the Maganzans do is foul treason. One can clearly see the difference between a poem written for the nobility of France serving kings of highly varying competence, and a poem written for the lower and middle classes of an Italy which had only recently advanced from deadly feuds within her cities to deadly feuds between her cities.

ORIGINS

The poet relates the traditional episodes rather briefly, to make more room for his own inventions.

In much the same way as the Old French, where the traditional heart of the poem (the treason at Vaucoleurs and its aftermath) is the same across all MSS, whereas the later additions (Montessor and Tremoigne) were freely rewritten, so in the Italian the (by-then) traditional portions representing the Old French chanson are similar in all four of the oldest copies, while the new additions such as Rinaldo’s giant-killing spree are freely altered.

Two messengers are sent to Buovo d’Agrismonte, as in O. Afterwards, however, the account of the quarrel at chess and the rest of the story follow DPA.

Combats between fathers and sons are well-known in folklore. Odysseus is slain by his son. Cuchulain slays his. Rustan slays his. Arthur and Mordred slay each other. Hildebrand and his son recognize each other before either is slain. Amadis of Gaul was slain by Esplendian in the [lost] original book, but in Montalvo’s reworking they recognize each other in time.

The siege of Monte Soro is much abridged, but what it does keep follows the French closely, such as the slaying of one Ugo de Sant’ Omeri by Guicciardo.

Mambrino is simply a replacement for Begon. His brothers appear to be Italian inventions.

The siege of Monte Albano is much condensed from the French, and appears to take place over a few months, rather than years and years.

The corpse stops in Ceoigne, as in POA, the French prose, and Caxton.

VARIANTS

In a: immediately after the slaying of the giant Constantino, the next adventure is that of the Amostante of Persia, wherein Rinaldo visits the Sultan before offering his services to the Almostante.

The Marte episode is also narrated differently. The four cousins have their own adventures while crossing the sea. When they finally arrive, Rinaldo and Ulivieri fight in a judicial duel for Queen Sibilia. At the feast after they win, the spies of Gano expose the identity of the four newcomers, and a battle breaks out. The eight Paladins are driven back to the Royal Palace, where the Queen confides to them the secret of her love, and shows them a secret exit. They are nonetheless pursued, Rinaldo cuts off Marte’s head, but Astolfo is captured. Rinaldo sends Baiard away, and the battle proceeds as usual. Only after this battle do the Four Sons visit the Holy Sepulcher, and when they return to France Orlando specifically reconciles them with Charles.

In the beta family: Two cantos are interpolated at the beginning of the poem. The first expands on the backstory between Amone and Ginamo, and the second is merely a description of the Paladins gathering at Charles’ court.

Later on, it is Ginamo’s brother Folco who meets the Sons and is slain by them. Rinaldo kills Ginamo in a judicial duel in Paris.

The Amostante’s daughter is named Constanza, not Fioretta.

The story of Fierabras is interpolated between the end of the war against Mambrino and the attempted pilgrimage of Ganelon to Compostella.

Rinaldo’s corpse, very sensibly, does not travel to Cogna but instead into Saint Peter’s Church in Cologne. A scroll proceeds from his mouth, on which his name and history are written. The news is taken to Charles, who comes with the Paladins to pay their respects. The lamentations of Aymonetto, Ivonetto, his brothers, Orlando, Astofo, etc. are related. Even Ganelon is given a stanza of (undoubtably hypocritical) mourning, regretful for all the times they quarrelled. Charles hangs the masons, and endows an abbey of monks.

The poem appears to end, but in some beta editions is added, without explanation, a whole furter canto of adventures. (In other copies, this episode is more logically placed just before Rinaldo’s departue for Cologne) Ganelon tells Charles he really ought to hang that thief Rinaldo. Charles concurs, but asks how. Ganelon suggests inviting Rinaldo to court, and then hanging him. Charles agrees, and writes a letter, which he sends via Turpin. Rinaldo arrives at court, and after a feast, retires to his chamber in a tower. Ganelon, Charles, and a hundred goons come in the middle of the night to arrest him, having first distracted the Peers on some pretext or other. Rinaldo is imprisoned and sentenced to be hanged, much to the Peers’ grief. Malagise, on hearing the news, summons a demon, Macabello. The two disguise themselves as friars and fly to Paris, where they request to hear Rinaldo’s shrift. Charles lets them into the prison, where Macabello assumes the shape of Rinaldo and stays behind while Rinaldo dons friar’s garb and leaves with his cousin. The two of them go back to Charles and announce that Rinaldo is impenitent, and ought to be hanged at once. As the friars leave, Charles sends the Maganzans to bring Rinaldo out for execution – but he is gone! Charles rants and raves, and accuses Alda the Fair (here Orlando’s wife, not betrothed) of helping him escape. She knows nothing, but a fight has broken out in the palace between the Maganzans and everyone else, and the traitors die by the score. Some confusing trips of Rinaldo back and forth to Paris and Montalbano follow, in which he fights Maganzans and makes speeches to Charles. Ganelon, alas, survives, but after the treason of Roncesvalles he will be quartered by wild horses.

There were, of course, many other corruptions in the later printed editions, sometimes extending to whole cantos being omitted or shuffled around. The curious may find them all duly catalogued in Melli’s edition.

Book I, Canto IX, Part 4

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto IX, Stanzas 61-79

61
To Sacripant he answers thus, “My lord,
Before thou dost acquire this damosel,
Thou art obliged to settle one more score;
If from thy horse’s back I can thee fell,
Then I shall make thee leave without a horse.
If thou canst throw me, treat me just as well,
And take my gallant steed away from me.
Then let thine other challenge settled be.”

62
King Sacripante says, “O God Mahound,
What blessings on thy servant dost thou pour!
I sought a horse and armor, and I’ve found
A lovely creature whom I’ll prize far more.
And I shall conquer, with a single bound,
The lady, and the armor, and the horse!
This said, away from Duke Astolf he paced,
Then turned and said to him, “Go, take thy place.”

63
And now towards each other, raged, they rushed,
Lances aimed squarely at their chests they sped.
To overcome the other each one trusts.
They near; they strike; they make a clamor dread –
But Sacripante from his steed is thrust.
Against the grassy lawn he knocks his head.
Astolfo leaves him lying on the field.
To Brandimart the conquered horse he yields.

64
“Hast thou heard ever such a merry tale,”
Astolfo says, “as of that cavalier,
Who thought he could unseat me without fail,
And now must go on foot away from here?”
Thus they go talking on their way, until
The damsel says, “My lords, we’re drawing near
The River of Forgetfulness. Take heed;
Caution and counsel all of us will need.

65
If all of us do not act prudently,
Before nightfall we will be lost forever.
Courage and arms of no avail will be,
For not three miles off there flows a river
Which robs the drinker of his memory.
His very name is from his mind dissevered.
In fact, I think it would be best to find
The way we came, and leave this road behind,

66
Because the curséd river can’t be crossed.
On either bank of it tall mountains rise.
From one to th’other side a bridge is tossed,
Which the two giant rocks together ties.
Atop a turret there, come sun or frost,
A lady stands and waits for passers-by,
And from a shining crystal goblet, offers
All travellers to drink the river waters.

67
When he has drunk, gone is his memory,
His very name he can recall no more;
But if a man trust so his strength, that he
Tries to resist her and to cross by force,
Impossible would be his victory,
For all her captive knights and men of war
Are so enchanted that they all will fight
Madly and blindly for that lady bright.

68
With words like these the lady maketh clear
Their risk, and urgeth them their road to change.
Neither knight, though, felt a trace of fear.
It is for quests like these the world they range.
The time appears to them a thousand years
Before they come to this adventure strange.
Until the early morning, on they ride.
The bridge across the river they espied.

69
The damsel, as she’s often done before
Steps on the bridge to greet them when they come.
Sweetly she spoke; a lovely look she wore,
And offered them the chalice, every one.
“Ah!” cries Astolfo, “Stop, thou lying whore!
Thy wicked magic arts today are done.
Now shalt thou die! And think thou not to flee,
Or fool us; we know all thy trickery.”

70
The damsel, when she hears his threat’nings dire
Lets fall the crystal goblet from her hand.
At once the narrow bridge is swathed in fire.
It seems that none can pass the blazes grand.
The other damsel, fearing not the pyre,
Grabs the two cavaliers with either hand.
The dame, I mean to say, of Brandimart,
Who’s wise to conquer this malicious art.

71
She grabs the hands of either valiant knight,
And swiftly as they can, the threesome go
Along a hidden path just on their right,
And they pass over the enchanted flow
Upon a narrow bridge, just hid from sight
So that no travellers this secret know.
But the new damsel, who knew all about
The ill enchantments, found this passage out.

72.
Don Brandimarte batters down the door,
And the false garden all three enter in.
Here of enchanted knights are half a scoe,
Here prisoned is Orlando Paladin,
And King Ballano, master of the war,
And Chiarïone, the brave Saracen.
Here is the real Uberto dal Leone,
The brothers Aquilante and Grifone,

73
With Adrïano, the redoubted king,
The Belarussian worthy, Antifor.
None know each other; none know anything.
They don’t remember who they were before,
If Jesus or Mahomet is their king.
All have been snared by necromantic lore.
All have been captured by that lying dame.
Dragontina is the lady’s name.

74
When Brandimarte and Astolfo enter,
They start an uproar, for bold Chiarïon
And King Ballano meet them as defenders,
Both clad in mail that’s Dragontina’s own.
The other knights stroll through the garden’s center,
If once they knew each other, now unknown;
All, save the count, are in the garden bright;
Orlando views the logia for delight.

75
In all his armor was the cavalier,
For he had only been ensnared that morn,
And Brigliadoro, his renowned destrier,
Is tied amidst the roses and the thorns.
Of any other thoughts his mind is clear,
And lo! where Dragontina comes before him,
And sweetly asks him, “Knight, wilt thou go see
What all that racket is, for love of me?”

76
Without another thought, the baron grand
Leaps to the saddle, drops his visor down,
Goes to the scuffle with his sword in hand.
Brandimart’s knocked Don Chiarïon to ground,
Astolf stretched King Ballano on the land;
On foot and horse there’s fighting all around.
But when Orlando entered in the fray
Astolfo recognized him by his blade,

77
And cried aloud, “O bravest knight and best,
Of ev’ry paladin the crown and flower!
May God in Heaven be forever blest!
Dost thou not know thy cousin? With much stour
Through all the world I’ve gone of thee in quest.
Who has betrayed thee to this curséd  bower?”
The Count Orlando hears no word of this.
He has forgotten who Astolfo is.

78
Without a thought, and with ungoverned rage,
With both his hands he swings a mighty blow,
Which, if Baiardo hadn’t been so sage,
Or if that steed had been a tad more slow,
Would have dispatched Astolfo from life’s stage,
Which would have caused Orlando mickle woe.
High was the wall that ringed the garden round,
But Baiard leapt it with a single bound.

79
Through the gate, ‘cross the bridge, Orlando chases.
He wants to utterly destroy his foe.
Although his Brigliadoro swiftly races,
Compared with Baiard, ev’ry horse is slow,
And Brigliador he easily outpaces.
But I have sung enough for now, I trow.
Next time, my lords, you’ll hear, if you come back,
How Duke Astolfo dealt with this attack.