For a summary of the Italian version of Bevis of Hampton, see this post.
THE THIRD ITALIAN REDACTION
After Buovo’s banishment due to the horse race, the story follows the Third French redaction for his family’s separation and adventures in the East.
Ottava rima. Survives in one fragmentary manuscript in the Riccardian library in Florence, 2820.
Runs from the beginning to Buovo’s capture by Sultan Baldragi. Chiaragia, Buovo’s maid, helps him escape, and is executed for it. Buovo is sent to Baldragi under the pretense that he will be trying to convert him.
BUOVO DI GHERARDO
Ottava rima. Surviving in only one fragmentary manuscript. The poem was in three books. We have Book 2 complete, and no trace of the others, except Buovo Riccardiano. MS: BNCF Magl. VII, 1202.
The story picks up with the recovery of Antona. Terigi is not at the recovery of Antona. Buovo pretends to be Merlino, a herald of Brandoia’s father, to gain admittance to the city. His assistant is instead the brother of Chiaragia, the maid who helped him escape and was executed for it. After the banishment of Buovo for the death of the Prince of England, all follows the Third French redaction, until the MS breaks off, just before the reunion of Buovo and Drusiana in Asinella [Seville].
A very learned version, filled with quotes from the Church Fathers and the classics, and much given to expanding the roles of middle-class characters, particularly merchants and innkeepers. Sometimes, I am told, too prolix, but filled with many excellent scenes.
THE FOURTH ITALIAN REDACTION
BOVO D’ANTONA – the version of 1497
Adds an episode, probably based on Il Morgante Maggiore, in which Pulicane despoils a monastery to find food and clothing for Drusiana’s infants. After strong competition with the version of 1480, this became the standard Italian version in verse.
Arminio is ruler of Armenia, a city in Flanders[!] Bovo’s sword is Pomele. Pelukan’s robbing of the monastery is included. Bovo, disguised as a doctor, does not bother expelling Dodon, but reveals himself and cuts him to pieces. After Bovo gives Margarete to Teyrets and returns to Antona with Druzeyne, the author announces that he will not tell in full about his many other battles, such as how he saved his father-in-law from the invading Markabrun. Markabrun was killed, and Arminio died soon after. Thus Bovo had three kingdoms, one for him and one for each of his sons.
Elia Levita had many talents, but fiction was not one of them. His version is poorly written, poorly paced, and hopelessly vulgarized [Brandonia’s messenger fouls himself for fear of her anger; Druzhvena strips to try to seduce Bovo, etc.]. Its latest translator frankly admits that the only reason the poem is interesting is because it is in Yiddish. The characters are all made into good Jews. Druzhvena’s first act upon returning to safety is to have her sons circumcised instead of baptized; Bovo locks his mother up until the next Jubilee year, etc. The poem was very popular among the Ashkenazi Jews. Rabbis warned that it was a frivolous pack of lies, and were ignored. “Bovo-Bukh” for several centuries was the Yiddish word for “Ottava Rima”, and any poem so written, even popular explanations of theology, were advertised as being in “Bovo-Bukh style”. Prose versions of Levita’s story continued to be sold as chapbooks up until the 1900’s, though they toned down the anti-Christian passages.
CELINOS AND THE ADULTERESS
A Spanish ballad, now found only among the Sephardic Jews.
The Queen combs her hair before a mirror, praises God for making her so beautiful, and curses her parents for making her marry an old man. As she looks out the window, she sees Carleto, her lover. They plan to kill the king. He tells her to pretend to be pregnant and to have a craving for a stag/pig/ram/goat that lives in a certain part of the woods. She does so, and the king orders his men to prepare for the hunt. She tries to convince him to go alone, but he will have none of it. He meets Carleto, and one of them kills the other. In a few versions, the king dies, but usually he wins and sticks Carleto’s head on a lance, which he presents to the queen. She confesses that most of her children are Carleto’s, and/or threatens that his relatives will avenge him. The king cuts her head off, and sticks it beside her lover’s.