Notes to the Twelfth Canto, Part 1

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

7.  This game is known in English as “hot cockles.”

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Notes to the Eleventh Canto, Part 2

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

Status of the Kings:
BESIEGERS:
Agricane of Tartary
Radamanto of Moscow and Comana
Polifermo of Orgagna
Pandragone of Gothland
Argante of Russia
Lurcone of Norway
Santaría of Sweden
Brontino of Normany
Uldano of Denmark

VS.

BESIEGED:
Sacripante of Circassia.
Varano of Armenia
Brunaldo of Trebisond
Ungiano of Roase
Savarone of Media
Torindo of Turkey
Trufaldino of Babylon and Baghdad
Bordacco of Damascus – killed by Agricane

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.

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.

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.

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.