Notes to the Ninth Canto, Part 3

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto IX, Stanzas 41-60 Notes

43. Pards. Leopards. The term is used in heraldry for a lion passant guardant, such as those on the English royal arms, which Astolfo normally bears, since he is the son of King Otto of England.

51. This damsel, who will not be named until much later, is Fiordelisa, whom Ariosto calls Fiordiligi in the Furioso.

Notes to the Ninth Canto, Part 2

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

25. Similar unorthodox methods of killing a monster by tricking it into eating something were used by Bellerophon against the Chimera, Daniel against the dragon worshipped by the Babylonians, and others, but I cannot recall any instances exactly parallel to this one.

Notes to the Ninth Canto, Part 1

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

7. It is unclear whether Angelica will do this herself by magic, or will have Malagise burnt at the stake. Anent this, please note that the burning of witches at the stake was not done out of cruelty, but to prevent their corpses from being stolen and used in further magical rites. It was customary  to strangle the criminals before burning their bodies; burning alive was a late development. The witch hunts had not reached their full height in Boiardo’s day, but the fear was growing. It should be noted, however, that only 50,000 people (one-third of them men) were executed for witchcraft in the entire history of post-Roman Europe. The figure of nine million women, frequently bandied around, is a lie.

Notes to the Eighth Canto, Part 3

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto VIII, Stanzas 41-64 Notes.

46. Boiardo is airing his classical learning here. (He translated several Greek and Latin classics into Italian) Just as the vengeance of Marchino’s wife is based on the Greek myth of Procne and Philomela (which Boiardo would have read in Ovid), so Marchino’s vengeance was the favorite punishment of King Mezentius in the Aeneid.
50. Boiardo now moves from classical lore to medieval, as is typical of him. A similar story to this one was brought back by the Crusaders from the Byzantine Empire. It was a development of the Gorgon legend, and told how a young man who lived near the Gulf of Satalia [now called Antalya], consumed with lust for his deceased lady-love, begot a terrible head that, every seven years, rose out of the Gulf and brought misfortune or storms. Various versions can be found in Walter Map’s Courtiers’ Trifles, Book 4; Gervase of Tilbury’s Otia Imperialia 2.12; Mandeville’s Travels, usually near the section on Constantinople; and other places.
52. The cruelty is partly gratuitous, but partly prudent: it keeps prisoners from escaping and from needing to be fed.
57. Turning horns are generally attributed to the eale or yale, a creature found in Pliny (VIII.30) and sometimes in heraldry, but not, as far as I have ever seen, appearing in fiction or folklore.

Notes to the Eighth Canto, Part 2

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

25. Merlon. The stones that stick up in a battlement.
Blood. Blood dries black, as Boiardo and his audience were well aware. The castle must do a lively business in executions.
29. Grifone. Not to be confused with Grifone son of Olivier or the various Grifones of House Maganza.

Notes to the Seventh Canto, Part 4

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto VII, Stanzas 61-72 Notes

61. Boiardo actually writes that Oliver will be the cook and Ogier the carver [the servant who carves meat at table and serves it to the lords]. I have switched them for the sake of the meter.
68. Clasp his hands. Oaths of fealty were sworn by having the vassal kneel before his lord and clasp his hands together, while the lord stood and put his own hands around his vassal’s. The modern western posture of prayer arose from this custom, as a sign of offering fealty to God.

Notes to the Seventh Canto, Part 1

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

1. Curtana. Or Cortana, or Cortain, or Curtain. Ogier’s sword. The name means “Short”, and how he got this sword is told in Le Chevalerie Ogier le Danois.
3. Gui of Burgundy. Hero of Fierabras, and husband of the giant Fierabras’ sister Floripas.
15. The Bavarian. Naimo.