Book I, Canto III, Part 2

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

Astolfo has collided with Raineri,
And knocked his from his seat with legs spread out.
His limbs he stretches, his lance lifts with nary
A fear, and starts to turn his horse about.
Anselmo rushes at the duke unwary,
With guile and teachery, his foe he clouts
Upon the side with his unyielding lance.
He makes it seem not ill intent, but chance.

Astolfo headlong fell upon the plain,
And to the heavens was upturned his face.
You need not wonder if he was in pain.
He pulled himself up to his feet apace,
And drew his sword in ire and disdain,
And, uttering curses against all the race
Of false Maganza and of Ganelon,
He smote upon the helmet Don Grifon,
Who’s saved from certain death by his steel crest.
Now could you see a mighty brawl commence.
Macario, Gan, and Ugolino pressed,
With swords on high, against the English prince.
But Naimo, Turpin, and Ricard addressed
Themselves to bring their friend aid and defense.
On either side the cavaliers join in.
King Charles plunges in amidst the din,

Giving great whacks and blows to all about.
He cracked the crowns of thirty men at least.
“Who is the traitor, who the rebel lout
Who dared to start a quarrel at my feast?”
He spurs into the middle of the bout.
At his approach, all the barons ceased
Their fighting. Some for shame bowed down their heads,
And some for terror of his anger fled.

He says to Gan: “What art thou fighting for?”
And to Astolfo he says: “Now explain
Thy conduct.” Then Grifone, bleeding sore,
Falls on his knees before King Charlemagne,
And with a shout that almost is a roar,
“Justice!” he cries, and thus makes his complaint,
“Justice, my lord, august and elevated,
In whose high presence I’m assassinated.

“Make inquiries of all men here, my lord,
For ev’ryone can tell you what was done.
If thou find I was first to draw my sword,
Or spoke a threat’ning word to anyone,
They call me liar, bind me with a cord,
And have be quartered ere the set of sun.
But if thou find the opposite is true,
Than let the ill return to whence it grew!”

So wroth Astolfo is, his reason flies,
And of King Charlemagne he takes no heed,
But, “Villain, false and treacherous – he cries –
Thou worthy flower of a wicked seed!
I’ll tear thy heart out of thy breast alive
Before I leave this place, and I shall feed –”
Grifone interrupts him, “Have no fear.
I’ll fight with thee soon as we’re gone from here.

“But here I keep my anger within bounds,
For to our king such reverence I bear.”
Astolfo keeps on talking, “Felon hound,
Thou thief and ribald, what will thou not dare?”
King Charlemagne for anger glared and frowned,
And said, “Astolfo, by Our Lord I swear,
More court’ously thou shalt make thine appeal,
Or thou’lt have time enough to cool thy heels.”

Astolfo of his words takes no account.
So wroth was he, I doubt he even heard.
Like one who’s truly wronged, his anger mounts,
He speaks more villany with ev’ry word.
Behold Anselmo, the malicious count,
By his ill chance, towards King Charles spurred.
Astolfo saw this, and could not restrain him
From rushing forward with his sword to brain him.

And certainly he would have struck him dead,
If he had not been stopped by Charlemagne.
The men heap blame on Don Astolfo’s head,
And Charles bids them tie him up amain.
Now quickly to the palace was he led,
And in the dungeon given ball and chain,
Where of his folly he received the flower,
And languished there for many a weary hour.

But he is happier in his new abode
Than are those other three enamored knights
Whom love for fair Angelica so goads
They have no respite, nor by day nor night.
Each of the three, along a diff’rent road
To Arden Forest has pursued her flight.
Rinaldo reached it first, thanks to the speed
Incredible of Baiard his good steed.

Once in the woods, the lover looks around,
Searching and wondering which way to go.
A shady grove of little trees he found,
‘Round which a clear and sparkling streamlet flowed.
Thinking the lady might perhaps be bound
For such a joyous shelter, in he rode.
Therein he saw a pleasant fountain stand,
Which never had been built by human hands.

The fountain that was to his eyes displayed
Was wrought of alabaster pure and white.
With gold so richly was the stone inlaid,
It bathed the trees and flowers in gentle light.
Merlin it was who had the fountain made,
So Don Tristano, that redoubted knight,
Should drink its water and the Queen forsake,
Ere they should die for one another’s sake.

But poor Tristano, by his sad mischance,
Ne’er came upon that fountain fresh and clear.
Though oftentimes he sojourned in fair France
And through the forest hunted boar and deer.
But still the fountain has such strange puissance,
That whatsoever loving cavalier
Drinks of its waters, all his love abates,
And her he once adored now wholly hates.

The sun was high up and the day was hot.
Much heat and thirst Rinaldo had endured,
Before he stumbled on that pleasant spot
And by the smoothly running waters lured,
Off of his noble steed Baiard he got.
Of thirst and love alike he’s promptly cured,
For as the waters he imbibed, no part
Was left unchanged of his enamored heart.

Alongside those is vanished all his will
In quest of such a silly thing to fare.
No longer does his inmost being thrill
Rememb’ring her he thought beyond compare.
Such is the power of that wondrous rill,
Not only was his heart of love swept bare,
But changed completely, so that he abhorred
The sweet Angelica he once adored.

Out of the forest with contented mind,
Returns that warrior without a fear.
And on his way, a little stream he finds
Of living water, crystalline and clear.
Nature had decked its banks with ev’ry kind
Of flower which in springtime sweet appears.
And to give shade, she’d placed beside the stream
A beech, an olive, and an evergreen.

This was the Stream of Love, which was not wrought
By wise old Merlin, or by magic art,
But of its nature made the soul distraught,
And filled with frenzy and with love the heart.
Many a knight in error had been caught
By drinking of its water, but no part
Rinaldo had therein, for he had erst,
In drinking at the fountain, quenched his thirst.

When the proud knight came to that pleasant burn
He thought for rest it seemed a goodly place.
He loosed the bridle of Baiard, and turned
Him loose within the field, his fill to graze.
He laid him down to rest, all unconcerned,
Beside the river banks, beneath the shade.
The baron slumbered and was unaware
When somebody perceived him lying there.

Angelica, once she had turned and fled
From that great fight wherein those two knights vied,
Came to the river, and by thirst was led
To drink. She walks now by her palfrey’s side.
Now will she fell as she has ne’er felt yet,
For Love desired to rebuke her pride.
She saw Rinald among the flowers sleeping;
At once her heart for fear and joy was leaping.

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Notes to the Third Canto, Part 2

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

33. Merlin. A wizard, born from the union of an incubus and a mortal woman, in some stories a nun, in others a princess, in others a merchant’s daughter. He grew up with the gifts of prophecy and magic, and became advisor to King Uther Pendragon, and later to his son King Arthur. He did not create the Sword in the Stone, or the Round Table, but he did build Stonehenge as a memorial to Arthur’s uncle Ambrosius Aurelius. He at last fell hopelessly in love with Nimue, also called Vivien, and taught her all his magic. She used it to get rid of his unwanted attentions by trapping him forever, some say in a tree, some in a cave, some in a castle on a cloud. Afterwards she became the Lady of the Lake.
Tristano.  According to the earliest stories, born in Cornwall some time after King Arthur’s days, nephew of King Mark of Cornwall. When Mark sent him to fetch the beautiful Isolde of Ireland to be his queen, Tristan and Isolde accidentally drank a love philtre meant for Mark and Isolde. They loved each other ever afterward, until Tristan finally married a different Isolde, of Brittany. He fell sick, and Isolde of Ireland arrived too late to heal him, and died of love over his body.
In the later versions, Mark and Arthur live at the same time, and Tristan becomes a Knight of the round Table. Mark is a cruel king, and eventually kills Tristan as he plays the harp at court. Isolde again dies of grief over his corpse.
In either version, Merlin dies long before Tristan drinks the love philtre, so he clearly made the fountain because of his gift of prophecy.
34. Tristan was famous for his skill at hunting. Later medieval guides to the hunt cited him as their authority, and honored him as the founder of the rituals of courtly hunting.
34. Forgetfulness of one’s beloved is very common in folklore, but usually it is because of a one-time enchantment or curse, not usually is it because of a permanent feature of the landscape such as this, which will feature repeatedly in the plot of the Innamorato  and the Furioso. Pliny says “At Cyzicus [now in north-western Turkey] is a fountain known as that of Cupido, the waters of which, Mucianus believes, cure those who drink thereof of love.” (Natural History, Book XXXI, Chapter 16)
38. Love philtres are very common in romances and in folklore, of course, but a river causing love is rarer. A lake with such power is to be found in Isidore of Seville, allegedly in Boeotia [in Greece]. These two magic waters afterwards crop up in several medieval encyclopedias, and may have been Boiardo’s inspiration, if it was not simply the love philtre drank by Tristan and Isolde.

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On to Part 3

Book I, Canto III, Part 1

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



The fierce Grandonio is o’erthrown at last.
Maganzans give Astolfo cause to rue.
They have him into Charles’ dungeon cast.
Rinaldo’s cured; Angelica’s imbued
With love, but her beloved flees her fast.
Don Argalía fights with Ferragu.
The victor makes a promise to the dying,
And soon with Count Orlando is he vying.

My lords, remember when I sang before,
Astolfo to the Saracen so fell
Was saying, “Scoundrel, thou shalt boast no more,
Unless thou wish to make thy boasts in Hell,
Of all the mighty barons thou hast floored.
Know, once I conquer thee, I’ll make thee dwell
Within a galley. Thou hast so much strength,
Thou’lt have an oar unto thyself, I think!”

The King Grandonio, though he knows full well
To give insults, knows not how to receive.
For wrath and anger so much doth he swell
That not so much are swollen stormy seas
When racked by mighty winds and stormclouds fell,
The bravest captain falls upon his knees.
The king such anger has, all uncontrolled,
His teeth he gnashes and his eyes he rolls,

And flares his nostrils like an angry snake,
And with a curse, Astolfo he defied,
Then turns around, his starting place to take,
And lays his mighty lance in rest, and rides,
With which he’s certain that he’ll shortly break
Clean through him, and come out the other side,
Or stretch him lifeless out upon the plain,
Or knock him from his saddle, split in twain.

See where that Pagan in his fury starts!
And Don Astolfo swift against him sped.
His face was pale, and fear consumed his heart,
He knew he shortly would be shamed, or dead.
The cavaliers towards each other dart
At breakneck speed – now are they fairly met –
Grandonio falls! No words of mine could tell
How loud his armor rattled when he fell.

So great a cry goes up at his defeat,
It seemed the earth would split and heaven fall.
Ev’ryone seated rises to his feet,
And all men shout, the mighty and the small.
And each one presses forth to better see’t.
The Saracens are overwhelmed and galled.
King Charles, when the Pagan he espies
Rolling in dust, cannot believe his eyes.

When the great giant tumbled from his horse,
Because he’d landed heav’ly on his right,
The wound within his chest he’d got before,
When he had clashed with the Viennese knight,
Gives such pain to this king of Afric’s shore,
He lies still on the earth, half-dead and white.
With blood forth spurting, so that, sooth to say,
It seems just like a water fountain’s spray.

Some said Astolfo for this mighty blow,
Should have the prize, but other folk averred
It was pure chance that wrought this overthrow.
Some “yes”, some “no”, each spoke as he preferred.
They bear forth from the field, in pain and woe,
The King Grandonio, who, as I have heard,
Much later killed Astolf in battle’s strife,
But shortly after, he too lost his life.

Astolfo takes his place within the ring
And scarce believes he stands as victor there.
None of the Pagans dares to try to fling
Him from his horse, save for a valiant pair
Of stalwart warriors, and sons of kings:
Gisarte dark, and Pilïasi fair.
Gisarte’s father’s conquered with his sword
All of Arabia, and been crowned lord.

But that of Pilïasi holds in fee
The whole of Russia and some lands beyond
The mountains, reaching into Tartary,
So that his lands are bounded by the Don.
But now I wish to keep my story brief.
These two alone of Saracens came on
Against Astolfo, and, to tell it quickly,
He knocked them to the ground like they were sickly.

A squire comes to Ganelon and tells
The news of King Grandonio’s strange defeat.
At first, he scarce believes that infidel
Was by Astolfo tumbled from his seat.
But then he thinks, and he believes it well
That some unlooked-for chance hath wrought this feat,
And that proud giant’s fall must be a fluke,
And can’t be from the prowess of the duke.

And then he thinks that he will surely win
The foremost honor of the tournament.
With pomp and finery he enters in
The lists. T’impress the crowd is his intent.
Eleven counts, the flower of his kin,
He brought to ride behind him as he went
Before  King Charles, and with haughty words,
He made excuses for what had occurred.

Whether King Charlemagne believed this liar
I cannot say, but he bestowed good cheer.
Then Gano asked Astolfo by a squire
If he’d agree to combat with the spear,
Since none among the Pagans so desired,
And he (Count Gano) was so stout, ‘twas clear
He ought to demonstrate his chivalry
By knocking down the knights of less degree.

Astolf, who never thinks before he speaks,
Unto the herald says: “To Gano tell,
When he’s around, nobody needs to seek
For heathens, for he’s worse than infidels,
That foe of God, oppressor of the weak,
That traitor, heretic, and spawn of Hell.
Go tell that swine I hope to see him hung,
And fear him as I would a sack of dung.

When Gano hears himself held in despite,
He sends no answer, but his wrath burns hot,
And furi’usly he charges at that knight
And calls aloud to him, “Thou glutton! Sot!
Thou’lt cease thy boasting once thou feel’st my might!”
He thought he’d knock him down, for this was not
The first time they had jousted, and each time
Before, he’d laid him on the ground supine.

But things fall elsewise than we think they will,
And Gano on the soil takes his place.
Macario charges to avenge this ill,
And joins in shame the leader of his race.
“How can God suffer that this imbecile –
Says Pinabello – “should bring such disgrace
On House Maganza?” Then he lays his lance
In rest, and spurs his charger to advance.

But he was overthrown just like the rest.
You need not wonder if Astolf felt grand.
He shouts aloud to them, “O race unblest!
I’ll knock you one and all upon the sand.”
The Count Smiriglio, lance in hand, forth pressed.
Astolfo fells him with a blow so grand
They have to bear him, senseless, from the ring.
O how Count Ganelon was sorrowing!

Falcone says, when he beholds him swoon,
“Can Fortune to such malice be inclined?
Can Heaven have permitted this buffoon
To overthrow us all and make us pine?”
An evil plots wakes in his head, and soon
He secretly pulls out a rope to bind
Himself unto his saddle, then he calls
Astolf to combat, thinking he can’t fall.

He gallops forward, hoping him to mangle.
Thanks to the rope, he isn’t overthrown,
But such a blow he takes, his limbs all dangle,
He scarce can sit upright, his life nigh flown.
Ev’ryone sees him, hopelessly entangled,
And thus his subterfuge to all is known.
The crowd, enraged and in a fury, cried,
“See how the traitor to his horse was tied!”

The field he exits, covered with men’s spite,
Their hoots and jeers add to his misery.
Count Gano agonizes at the sight.
Astolfo calls aloud right valiantly:
“Come at me, if you’re itching for a fight,
And if you’re tied, it’s all the same to me.
Madmen like you should not be running round
The countryside, but with a rope be bound.”

Anselmo della Ripa, count perfidious,
Decides upon a most malicious plan.
T’avenge his kinsmen’s shame by means insidious.
“I’ll smite him soon as he has felled his man,
Before he’s ready, with a blow dispiteous.”
Rainieri, count of Altafoglia, ran
Ahead. Anselmo, lance in rest, awaited
A chance to overthrow the man he hated.

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Notes to the Third Canto, Part 1

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation. Book I, Canto III, Stanzas 1-20 notes

7. According to Pulci, Astolfo is killed at the battle of Roncesvalles by one King Balsamin (XXVII: 17). According to the same author, Grandonio kills Sansonetto, and is then killed by Orlando. In the Oxford manuscript of The Song of Roland, Grandoine kills, among others, Duke Austorje of Valence on the Rhone. This name is given as Austoine in the Venice 4 manuscript, and may be the same as our Astolfo, though Duke Austorje has no personality and is introduced in the same line he is slain. In the Chateroux/Venice 7 version, Estolz de Langres is the son of Odon [Boiardo’s King Ottone of Great Britain], and is given a bragging speech before the battle, though no more so than anyone else’s. He kills the Almanzor [a role Samson takes in Oxford and Venice 4] and is slain by Grandonie, who also slays Antoine d’Avignon, who holds Valence and La Roche. Otho does not appear. In the Paris manuscript, Estoult replaces Otho for the slaying of the Almanzor and in some lists of the Peers, but Otho is also present and slays some Saracens. Estoult dies offstage. In Cambridge, Grandonie slays Antoine, of whom nothing is stated. Estoult is not otherwise present. In Lyon, Estouz again slays the Almanzor. Grandonie slays Anselme d’Avignon, who holds Valence and the rock thereby.
8. Gisarte and Pilïasi. Boiardo’s inventions.
16. Smirigilio. Minor character, whether or not invented by Boiardo I cannot say.
20. Anselmo della Ripa. Anselmo of the Clifftop. A minor Maganzan. I do not know whether he is traditional.
Rainieri. Another minor Maganzan. Again, his origin is unknown to me.

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On to Part 2

Book I, Canto II, Part 3

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto II, Part 3, Stanzas 41-68, Notes

Astolf advances, eager for the fray,
Bearing the lance he found beneath the pine.
Three golden pards his crimson shield displays,
And he sits in his saddle, strong and fine.
But unexpected danger comes his way;
His charger stumbles and he sprawls supine.
Astolfo’s knocked unconscious at that point,
And his right foot is pulled out of its joint.

At this mischance, the crowd lets out a groan,
And Serpentino utters maledictions,
Lamenting that his prowess was not shown.
(But certainly this was a false prediction)
They bear the senseless duke back to his home,
Where carefully they tend to his afflictions.
They bring his senses back, and then his foot,
Is set and wrapped, and in good order put.

Though Serpentin has shown such awesome might,
No whit afraid is Don Ogier the Dane.
So fast he gallops that it seems like flight,
Or like the wind that sweeps across the main.
Upon his shield for emblem hath this knight
A chevron argent on an azure plain.
A basilisk was sculpted on the helm
Of this great champion of the Danish realm.

The trumpets sound, and those two knights ride out
With lance in rest, so fast it was a wonder.
All day there had not been a blow so stout
As this, which sounded like a clap of thunder.
The Dane Ogieri, with a mighty clout
Makes Serpentino’s stirrups split asunder
And knocks him back across his horse’s croup;
He lies in dust, his haughty pride must stoop.

Now strong Ogieri takes the vanquished’s place,
And stridently within the ring defends him.
Flushed red with shame is Balugante’s face.
His dear son’s overthrow so much offends him,
But soon he finds himself in like disgrace,
Because the Dane along the earth distends him.
And now advances the young Isolier,
The bold and court’eous heathen cavalier.

This knight was cousin unto Ferragu.
On his green shield he bears three moons of gold.
He spurs his horse; his lance aims straight and true,
And he collides against that baron bold.
The mighty Dane strikes him a blow to rue,
And sweeps him off his horse and knocks him cold.
‘Tis hard to tell if he is still alive.
He lays insensible for hours five.

Then Don Gualtiero, lord of Monleon,
Is by Ogieri laid upon the field.
A dragon, emblem of this hero, shone
In burnished crimson on his golden shield.
“Oh, Christians, – cries Ogier in woeful tone –
Why should we arms against each other wield?
Do you not hear the Pagans’ jeers and mocks
When to ourselves we give such dreadful knocks.

Spinella d’Altamonte was the name
Of a stout Saracen who sought renown
By jousting at the court of Charlemagne.
On his blue shield he bore a golden crown.
Ogieri sends him sprawling on the plain.
Now Matalista on the Dane bears down.
He’s brother to the lovely Fiordespin.
In battle he is ardent, fierce, and keen.

Upon his helm, a dragon is his crest,
His shield in halves of gold and brown is split.
Shortly upon the earth he takes his rest,
Of steed and saddle he’s completely quit.
That dog, Grandonio, issues forward next.
God help Ogier! He has great need of it.
In all the world you could not find so strong
A pagan, though you searched forever long.

This king was seven foot (it is no fable),
He rode the largest horse that could be found.
He held before him a great shield of sable
Which bore a golden image of Mahound.
There was no Christian who thought himself able
To stand against that mighty felon hound.
Gan of Pontiers, soon as he saw his height,
Quietly slipped away from field and fight.

Macario of Lusana does likewise,
Rainer with Pinabello disappears;
Falcone after his companions hies,
And till he’s gone, it seems a thousand years.
Though ev’ry other man of Mayence flies,
Grifon stands firm among King Charles’ Peers.
For fear of shame, or through his bravery,
Or else, he didn’t see his kinsmen flee.

But turn we to that heathen hound atrocious
Who rides as swiftly as the tempest blast.
His lance with which he means to strike his foes, is
So large, a ship could use it as a mast.
Nor was his charger any less ferocious.
It raised great clouds of dust wherev’r it passed,
And split the stones, and caused the earth to shake,
And all the crowd for very terror quake.

With such great wrath against the Dane he comes,
And strikes so hard that he destroys his shield.
Both horse and rider to the blow succumb,
And lie in dust. Ogieri’s senses reel.
The aging Naimo to his nephew runs,
And picks him up, and bears him from the field.
And fetched him doctors for his arm and chest.
Though for a month in bed he had to rest.

A mighty shout goes up on ev’ry side,
And loudest then the Saracens are heard.
Now King Grandonio holds the ring with pride,
But for all this, the Peers are undeterred.
Turpin of Rheims against the giant rides,
And clashes with him, and lands in the dirt.
He felt such pain when from his hose he flew,
The priest was certain that his life was through.

Astolfo had returned unto the square,
Upon a palfrey, gentle, white, and pretty.
No weapons, save his belted sword, he bears,
And sits amidst the dames of Paris city.
He speaks to them with pleasant words and fair,
For he was courteous and very witty.
But while he’s chatting with them, see Grifon,
By King Grandonio now is overthrown.

This knight was of the lineage of Mayence.
On his blue shield he bore a falcon white.
The King Grandonio cries with arrogance,
“O Christians, are you all too tired to fight?
Are your shields heavy? Have you all got splints?”
Now comes forth Guido, a most courteous knight,
Lord of Borgogna, and a he bears a lion
Sable on gold; Grandonio sends him flying.

He throws to earth the mighty Angelier,
Who bore a dragon with a woman’s face.
Avin, Avol, Otton, and Berlinzer,
One after th’other tumble in disgrace.
Their shields with checkered blue and gold shone clear,
Four sable eagles on their helms were placed.
For these four were the sons, I understand,
Of Naimo, Duke of the Bavarian land.

Don Ugo of Marseilles is thrown and killed
By this Grandon, he hits the ground so hard.
The more he jousts, the more he shows his skill.
He knocks down Riccardetto and Alard,
And mocks King Charles with a right good will,
Calling the Christians vile, faint of heart.
The court stands still, in mourning and in fear,
But see, advancing, Marquis Olivier!

It seemed as if the heavens would be torn
For each man cheered and laughed as he rode by.
The marquis comes, adorned in shining arms.
King Charles greets him with his panoply.
The trumpets blow; each herald sounds his horn,
And great and small alike send up the cry:
“Long life to Olivier! Long live Vienne!”
And King Grandonio laughed and armed him then.

The knights charged at each other with more hate
And with more vigor than my tongue could tell.
The crowd looks on, and in suspense they wait,
To see the outcome of this battle fell.
No word was spoken. Ev’ry man doth bate
His breath, and seems as if beneath a spell.
And now they meet! Don Olivier’s puissance
Pierces the Pagan’s shield with his good lance.

That shield was fashioned of nine plates of steel,
And Marquis Olivier has pierced them all.
He breaks the hauberk, and Grandonio feels
The iron wounding him; it stings like gall,
But he, the pitiless, with his mast deals
A blow to Olivier that makes him fall,
And that fierce giant struck him with such force,
He landed twenty feet beyond his horse.

Every man was certain he was dead,
Because his helmet had been cracked in two.
The Christians sorrowfully hang their heads,
Thinking his spirit from his body flew.
Stunned was King Charles, heavy tears he shed,
And cried in anguish, “Baron stout and true,
O flower of my court, my Peer, my son!
Can God be silent when such things are done?”

Grandonio now such arrogance displays
As dwarfs the pride he showed until this time.
He cries, while savage joy lights up his face,
“O Paladins, besotted with your wine,
Back to your taverns, lily-livered race;
This game is harder than your cards, you’ll find!
You Paladins are full of martial spirit,
And boast and threat – when no one else can hear it!”

When Charles hears his court held in despite,
And King Grandonio’s overbearing boasts,
His heart throbs, and his face for wrath turns white.
He glares with flaming eyes at all his host.
“Where are my vassals? Where my stalwart knights?
Why have they left me when I need them most?
Where’s Ganellone? Has Rinald turned dastard?
And where’s Orlando, that dammed treach’rous bastard?

Thou whoreson scoundrel, renegade thrice-damned,
If ev’r again I see thee, may I die
If I don’t stringthee up with mine own hands!”
This and much else the Emp’ror Charles cries.
Astolfo, hearing him, slips from the stands,
And rides back to his house, which stood close by,
And promptly arms himself and rushes back,
In shining armor, ready to attack.

No foolish hope that baron’s breast inspired
That he would best that Pagan in the ring.
With pure and good intentions he desired
Only to do his duty by his King.
He bore him proudly, in fine arms attired,
And seemed to be a paragon of strength,
But ev’ryone who recognized him groaned.
“God send us better help than him!” they moaned.

With reverence, he bends his head down low,
Before King Charles and salutes him. “Sire,
Yon braggart knight I mean to overthrow.
I understand that such is thy desire.”
Charles, scarce caring says to him, “Then, go!
And God go with thee!” But the king, in ire,
Says to his men, soon as the prince can’t hear,
“And from this crowning shame, God keep us clear.”

Astolfo boasts that he will cast that knight
Within the galleys, chained unto an oar.
The giant’s anger reaches such a height,
He has such wrath that no one e’er had more.
In my next canto, lordings, I’ll recite,
With the permission of th’Almighty Lord
A tale most marvelous of fights more dread
Than any you have ever heard or read.


Keep reading


Notes to the Second Canto, Part 3

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto II, Part 1, Stanzas 41-60, Notes

43. Chevron. A broad, inverted, V-shape on a shield.
Argent. Literally silver. The heraldic term for white.
Azure. The heraldic term for blue.
Plain. Properly called the field, changed here for sake of rhyme.
Basilisk. A mythical snake, about a foot long, with a white crown-shaped spot on its head, whence its name (Greek for “Little king”). Allegedly so poisonous that the mere look of it eye could kill a man, and that stabbing it with a lance would be fatal to the knight, as the venom traveled through the wood. However, it could be killed by weasels, or by the crowing of a rooster, or by seeing itself in a mirror. Frequently confused with the cockatrice, which is a monster with similar powers and weaknesses, but looks like a rooster with dragons’ wings and a snake’s tail. The creatures were allegedly spawned from chicken’s eggs either laid by roosters, or hatched by toads.
46. Isolieri. Traditional minor character.
47. Gualtiero of Monleon. Or Walter of Montleon. A Christian, and traditional minor character. May or may not be the same as the Walter Hum of the Song of Roland.
48. Spinella of Altamone.
Matalista. No more is known of him than what is given here.
Fiordespina. Will feature much later in the poem.
49. Grandonio. Traditional minor character. Appears in the Song of Roland as Grandonie, where he is killed by Orlando at Roncesvalles.
50. Images of Mahomet are, of course, forbidden by the Koran. Though the prohibition was not always as strictly enforced as it is today, it is doubtful any Saracen ever bore a picture of the camel-driver on his shield.
51. Macario and Grifone. These names are given to Maganzans and other Carolingian villains so frequently that it is impossible to tell which are meant to be the same characters. One Grifone is father of Ganelon. Another Grifone is son of Olivier, and twin brother of Aquilante.
According to two romances, the French La Reine Sibille and the Italian Macaire, Macaire kills a man by treason, and is later killed by the dead man’s faithful dog in a trial by combat. The legend was later transferred to the reign of Charles V. The later version goes by the name of “The Dog of Montargis”, and can be found in Andrew Lang’s The Animal Story Book.
Ranier and Falcone. Very minor traditional characters.
Pinabello. This is the Pinabel who is killed in trial by combat at the end of the Song of Roland. Ariosto, who did not know the Song, kills Pinabello off in the Furioso, well before Roncesvalles.
56. Guido of Borgogna. Traditional minor character.
57. Avin, Avolio, Ottone, and Berlengier. The four sons of Duke Naimo of Bavaria. They are mere names, and always mentioned together. They seem to be derived from the Song of Roland’s Yvon, Yvor, Otho, and Berengier, who are not related to each other, but are merely four of the Twelve Peers, and who all die at Roncesvalles.
58. Ugo of Marseilles. Boiardo’s invention.
Ricciardetto and Alardo. Two brothers of Rinaldo, and with him and Guicciardo, the Four Sons of Aymon. Their sister is Bradamante. Ricciardetto is also known as Richard [Ricardo]. Since he is the youngest brother, he was known as “Little Richard” or “Richardet”. Some commentators on the Carolingian legend wrongly call Ricardo and Ricciardetto two separate characters.
Olivier. Oliver of Vienne [a town in France, not Vienna, Austria], boon companion of Orlando, and brother of Alda, Orlando’s betrothed. His kinship varies from romance to romance, but he is usually a distant cousin of Orlando. The story of how he and Orlando became friends can be found in Girart of Vienne, in Heroes of the French Epic, translated by Michael Newth.
62. My son. Figuratively speaking.
63. Muslims are, of course, forbidden to drink wine. Cards are an anachronism; they were invented in China in the ninth century, but did not reach Europe until the fourteenth.
68. Galleys. The galleys of Greece and Rome were manned by freemen. The practice of condemning criminals to row ships was begun in Christian countries (mostly France) in the mid 1500’s, and somewhat sooner in Islam. The practice began to die out in the late 1700’s, in Christendom first, and in Islam only with the conquest of the Barbary Corsairs by France.
Giant. Grandonio. He is only seven feet or so. It should be noted that a giant’s intelligence usually bears an inverse relation to his height. Charlemagne, Ferragu, and Grandonio are almost ordinary (as knights go). The eighteen foot Margutte is a clever rogue, the twenty-four foot Morgante is honest and loyal, but rather simple, and the thirty foot giants who form Angelica’s retinue are never clearly shown to be sentient.

On to Canto III

Back to Part 3