Notes to the First Canto, Parts 1 and 2

The Orlando Innamorato in English Translation. Book I, Canto I, Parts 1 and 2, Stanzas 1 through 40, Notes.

Argument. The arguments were not written by Boiardo, but have been added by the translator.

1. Charlemagne. Born to King Pepin the Short in 742, became king upon his father’s death in 768, crowned Roman Emperor by Pope Leo in 800. Conquered and converted Saxony 804. Institutor of many laudable reforms, most of which were undone by the incompetence of his successors after his death in 814.
2. Orlando. Or Roland, or Hrodland. Governor of Brittany under Charlemagne. Died in an ambush by the Basques at Roncesvalles Pass in the Pyrenees in 778. The minstrels made him the son of Milo and of Bertha, the (fictitious) sister of Charles.
3. Turpin. Tilpin was archbishop of Rheims from 753 to 800.  A fictitious chronicle of the deeds of Charles and Roland was fathered on him about 1000. Subsequent minstrels ascribed all their stories to Turpin, and Pulci, Boiardo, and Ariosto continue the tradition.
4. Gradasso. An invention of Boiardo’s.
5. Baiardo. The best horse in the world. Belongs to Rinaldo, the cousin of Orlando. Magic, almost as smart as a man. Able to carry Rinaldo and his three brothers on his back at once.
Durindana. The best sword in the world. Won by Orlando from the pagan king Almonte at the battle of Aspremont. This will be important later.
8. Whitsuntide. Pentecost. Fifty days after Easter.
10. Grandonio. Traditional minor character. Appears in the Song of Roland as Grandonie, where he is killed by Orlando at Roncesvalles.
Ferraguto. Invention of the minstrels. Son of Falsirone and Lanfusa, and nephew of Marsilius. In older works, he was a giant who was invincible except for his navel, and was slain by Roland during Charles’ invasion of Spain prior to the battle of Roncesvalles. Boiardo makes him of ordinary size, but keeps the invincibility.
Serpentino and Isolier. Traditional minor characters. Serpentino is a nephew of Marsilius, and is killed by Orlando during Charles’ invasion of Spain prior to the Battle of Roncesvalles.
Balugante. In the Song of Roland, he is the Emir of Babylon, and feudal overlord of King Marsilius of Spain. In later works, he is brother of Marsilius and Falsaron, and is King of Portugal. The story of how Charlemagne married his daughter Gallerana is completely fabulous, and is related in Old French chansons.
14. Desiderio. Desiderius, king of the Lombards from 756 to 774. Rebelled against Charles 772. Conquered by him 774 and deposed. Died 786. According to the minstrels, Ogier the Dane participated in this rebellion, to avenge the murder of his son Baldwin by Charlemagne’s (fabulous) son Charlot. The famous Amis and Amilon (Amys and Amiles) were killed fighting for Charles in this rebellion. Ariosto’s Cinque Canti, his unfinished sequel to the Orlando Furioso, is set in the same revolt.
Ottone. Purely fabulous. England was still divided into the Heptarchy in Charlemagne’s day. Father of Astolfo.
Salmone. The real Salamon the Wise ruled Brittany from 857 to 874, but he was associated with Charlemagne as early as the Song of Roland.
15. Ganelon. Wenilo, Archbishop of Sens from 836 to 865, and disloyal to the kings of France. The minstrels changed his name to Ganelon, and made him second husband of Charlemagne’s sister Bertha and thus step-father of Orlando. He had his own son, Baldwin (not to be confused with Ogier’s son Baldwin). In the Song of Roland, his treason is a single action, the culmination of a long simmering hatred of Roland. In later works, he is a habitual traitor, always openly opposed to Orlando and Rinaldo.
Maganza. Or Mayence. The family of Ganelon. All of them, except Baldwin, were as evil as Ganelon and held a bitter feud with the House of Clairmont, to which Orlando and Rinaldo belonged.
16. Rinaldo. Reynald of Montalban. Eldest of the Four Sons of Aymon, cousin of Orlando, owner of Baiardo. The minstrels conflate him with Saint Reynard of Cologne, a hardworking stonemason who was killed by his fellow laborers for making them look bad. It is unknown whether the saint was real, whether the knight was real, whether if real they were the same person, whether the legend originally was about a knight who retired from the world to live in obscurity, whether one part of the legend gave rise to the other, or whether two unrelated legends about people with the same name were combined.
22. Gallerana. Fictional. Her story is told in French romances.
Aldabella. The lovely Alda, called Aude in the Song of Roland. Sister of Olivier, and beloved of Orlando. In the Song of Roland they are only engaged when Roland dies. In other works they are married. The story of how they met can be found in the chanson de geste, Girart of Vienne.
Clarice
. Wife of Rinaldo, and daughter of King John, or Yon, of Gascony. Her story may be found in The Four Sons of Aymon, or in Tasso’s Rinaldo.
Ermeline. Wife of Ogier the Dane.
25. Uberto dal Leone. A pseudonym. Angelica’s brother is really named Argalía. There is a real Uberto dal Leone, a minor character who will appear later.
Angelica. An invention of Boiardo’s, like her brother and father.
27. Merlin’s Stone. Technically a stone, placed to help knights mount and dismount their horses.
31. I see the better and I choose the worse. A very common statement in love poems, ultimately derived not from Saint Paul, but from Ovid.
32. Namo. Or Naimo. Naimes in the Song of Roland. Duke of Bavaria. An invention of the minstrels. Uncle of Ogier the Dane, and father of Avin, Avolio, Ottone (not the king of England), and Berlingier.
34. Malagise. Or Malagigi, Malgis, or Maugis. Cousin of Rinaldo and Orlando. Son of Buovo, or Bevis, or Aigrismont (Not to be confused with Bevis of Hampton). Malagise, a skilled magician, is the brother of the very minor character Vivien (not the same Vivien who died at Aliscans). Malagise’s story is told in The Four Sons of Aymon, in Maugis d’Aigremont, and other works.
37. Galliphrone. An invention of Boiardo’s. Purely fictitious. Ruler of Cathay (China).
38. Charger. This horse will later be named Rabicano.
39. Ring. From Pio Rajna, Le Fonti dell’ Orlando Furioso: “Of the ring, one could speak at great length. Talismans which confer invisibility or which destroy all powers of magic, abound in the fairy tales and myths of a multitude of peoples. We may mention the ring of Gyges [from Greek mythology], that of Yvain [Chretien de Troyes’ Le Chevalier au Lyon, or The Lady of the Fountain in the Mabinogion], the helmet of Ade, the Tarnhelm of German and Scandinavian mythology, the herb in Morgante (XXV, 204), the magic stone, heliotrope, of the Lapidaries and of Boccaccio. So much for invisibility.
“For the other power, it is found in the rings given by the Lady of the Lake to Lancelot [The Vulgate Cycle, not in Malory, if memory serves me], by Isolde to Tristan [The Prose Tristan, or the Tavola Ritonda. Again not in Malory], by the Queen of Scots to her son Gadisfer [in Perceforest].”
The Golden Lance. One Sir Lasancis was sent to King Arthur’s court with a magic lance by an enchantress in La Tavola Ritonda. Other such lances are found wielded by Rubione in the Storie di Rinaldo¸ and by Antea in Orlando and in the Morgante Maggiore.

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