Book I, Canto VIII, Part 2

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

21
Rinaldo says to him, “Thou soon wilt know
Which of us two can better wield a blade!”
And viciously towards the brute he goes.
When the brute saw him, he was so afraid,
He turned his shoulders and he was not slow
But swiftly for a little stream he made.
One only bridge across this stream was thrown,
The which was made of one enormous stone.

22
On one end of the bridge there was a ring,
To which the giant fixed the chain’s hook tightly,
And when Rinaldo on the bridgestone springs,
And is about to slay the giant lightly,
The villain pulls the chain with all his strength.
The bridge collapses, “Holy God Almighty,”
Rinaldo cries, “O Virgin Mother, save –”
And with these words, he fell into a cave.

23
The cavern was tenebrous, foul, and wet,
And over it, rolled on the river black.
Across the mouth of it was spread a net
In which the baron’s captured. Nor doth slack
The foul giant. He takes no rest yet,
But slings the trussed-up knight across his back
And taunts him. “Wherefore didst thou give my friend
Such trouble? I still caught thee in the end.”

24
Rinaldo makes no answer to the churl,
But in his mind he thus laments his state.
“I see, how Fortune in her spite has hurled
Disgrace upon disgrace upon my pate.
Whoever is most luckless in the world
Would count him blessèd if he knew my fate,
For in such misery I have arrived,
I do not know how it could be described.”

25
As he lamenteth thus, tied up and bound,
The giant to the Cruel Castle came,
Where skulls and severed heads the merlons crowned,
And stuck on hooks, dead men and women hang,
But what was worst of all, were strewn around
The limbs and organs of men freshly slain.
The castle’s crimson stones seem from afar
Fire, but covered with men’s blood they are.

26
Rinaldo prays to God. He’s all alone.
I must admit that he was filled with fright.
Before him now appears an ancient crone.
Her dress was black, her unkempt hands were white,
Her face was wrinkled, her hands skin and bone.
She seemed both merciless and full of spite.
She bade the giant drop Rinaldo down.
Thus she addresses him, while he’s still bound.

27
“Perhaps, sir knight, thou’st heard from flying fame,”
The crone beings, “The customs full of sorrow,
Which we upon this barren rock maintain.
If not, then know that thou shalt die tomorrow,
And in what little time to thee remains,
Lest thou shouldst hope a further space to borrow,
I shall relate to thee the root and cause
Of our most cruel customs and fierce laws.

28
“A noble cavalier of matchless might
Was once this castle’s sovereign and lord.
He gave largesse, and kept his honor bright;
All travelers were welcome at his board.
He gave all wand’rers lodging for the night,
Damsels and pilgrims, cavaliers and bards.
His wife a lady was of high degree;
The fairest woman in the world was she.

29
“Grifone was this worthy baron named.
As Altaripa was this castle known.
His lady rightly was as Stella famed,
Because her beauty like the day-star shone.
It was in May, when Earth her joy regained,
Grifone left his castle, all alone,
And passed along the rolling ocean’s strand,
The very beach where you this morn did stand.

30
He roamed into the woods, and chanced to meet
Another knight, who out a-hunting rode.
He hailed him joyfully, and did him greet
With invitation to his own abode.
My husband was this knight of whom I speak:
Marchino, who did fair Aronda hold.
Grifone led him to this very hall,
And honored him, the way he did to all.

31
“Now, as it happened by unhappy chance,
Stella the beautiful he chanced to see.
And Love became his master with one glance.
He saw her comeliness and modesty,
And on her soft and lovely countenance
He gazed, and Love o’er him had mastery.
He longs for nothing, thinks of nothing else
Than how to have the lady for himself.

32
“He left the castle, meditating harm,
And came back home. We saw a great change in
His countenance, but knew not Stella’s charms.
He left Aronda with some of his kin
And took a shield that bore Grifone’s arms,
(For in his face, he somewhat looked like him)
And in the forest he did hide his band,
With armor on, and weapons in their hands.

33
“But he laid by his arms, as if the deer
He meant to hunt, and loud his horn he blew;
Grifon the courteous that winding hears,
For he was in the woods that morning, too.
He finds Marchino the accurst, who peers
Around to spot Grifone’s retinue,
And once he’s certain that he’s all alone,
‘Alas! I’ve lost it!’ he begins to moan.

34
“He hangs his head and sadly looks around,
Then starts, pretending that he just now sees
Grifon, and says to him, ‘I’ve lost my hound,
And know not where to look among these trees.’
They go together, and soon reach that ground
Where Don Marchino’s men plot villainies.
Not to prolong the history past reason,
They fall upon him and kill him by treason.

35
“Guised as Grifon, the gates he passes through,
And doesn’t leave a single man alive.
Young men and old, without remorse he slew,
The maidens, and the widows, and the wives.
Stella alone he spared, fair Stella who
Beholds the dead. He heart in anguish writhes.
To kiss and speak her fair Marchino starts,
But makes no impression on that pilgrim heart.

36
“She always thinks upon the cruel deeds
The wicked traitor wrought deceitfully,
And always close within her heart she keeps
Her much-belov’d Grifone’s memory.
Vengeance for him’s the only thing she seeks,
Vengeance, she thinks no thing could sweeter be.
At last, he cruel desires find consummation
Through the most fearful being in creation.

37
“The creature deadliest, most merciless,
The one most ravenous. More fierce than Hell is she:
A wife, who once was loved, who once knew bliss,
Who has been scorned and thus succumbs to jealousy.
The fiercest lion’s not more pitiless.
Than firedrakes or scorpions more fell is she.
Such is the wife, such is the woeful lover,
Who sees herself forsaken for another.

38
“I may well say it, for I proved it true,
When I found out about my husband’s deeds.
No greater grief I ever had been through.
Like a mad dog I howled in my grief.
When thou hear’st of the cruelty I used
That day, it scarce will win from thee belief.
But when love hath by jealousy been slain,
‘Tis strange if any goodness there remain.

39
“By my Marchino I had two young sons;
I slit the first one’s throat with my own hand.
The other stood and saw what I had done,
And said, ‘Stop, Mother! I don’t understand!’
I grabbed him by his feet, the wretched one,
And dashed his brains out on a boulder grand.
And dost thou think that my revenge was done?
May, rather I had only just begun.

40
“They still were warm, when I them cut in four;
And drew their little hearts out of their chests.
I chopped their limbs up. How my heart was sore!
But lust for vengeance all my soul possessed.
I save their heads, not for the love I bore
Them once. No love remained within m y breast.
I had no love, no pity, no remorse.
I wished to give my vengeance greater force.

Notes

Book I, Canto VIII, Part 1

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

ARGUMENT

Rinaldo at the Joyous Isle arrives,
But it’s Angelica’s, and so he leaves.
To save a kidnapped damosel he tries,
But he himself is by a giant seized.
In Castle Cruel, an old hag describes
Her wicked customs, scarce to be believed,
Then throws Rinaldo in a monster’s den
Where gallantly he doth himself defend.

1
Rinaldo at the Joyous Palace lands,
(For thus the island he had come to hight)
Whereas his wayward bark ran on the sand,
That bark that steered, though with no pilot dight.
Fair shady trees within a garden stand,
The sea inclosed it, beating on each side.
All was abundance, green was all the isle,
That stretched its length and breadth for fifteen miles.

2
Amidst the garden, looking out to sea,
A palace rich and beautiful appeared
Of marble white, polished so wondrously
That all the garden in its walls was mirrored.
Upon the sand Rinald leapt instantly.
To stay upon th’enchanted boat he feared.
And when he stands upon the beach, there greets him
A lady beautiful, who sweetly greets him.

3
The lady said, “O worthy cavalier,
You have been hither led by kindly Fate.
Pray do not think that you were guided here
Without  a reason on your journey great
Though such strange passages, so full of fear.
Joyful and sweet will be your final state
And pleasant, though most painful was its start
If, as I think, you have a loving heart.”

4
As thus she spoke, she took him by the hand
And to the Palace Beautiful him led.
The doors were reed and white, with carvings grand,
With marble black and green and flecked, inset.
The very flooring upon which they stand
Is all of parti-colored marble set.
Loggias on ev’ry side great treasure hold
Of bas-reliefs, inlaid with blue and gold.

5
And hidden gardens, luscious, fresh and green
Are on the rooftops and upon the grounds.
With paintings rich, with gold and gems’ fair sheen
These noble, joyous pleasances abound.
Clear fountains and delightful spread their streams
Beneath the shady trees that ring them round.
And best of all, there wafted sweet perfume
To joy the heart that’s most beset with gloom.

6
The knight and dame go in a gallery
Rich and delicate and gaily trammeled.
For ev’ry face and corner you could see
Was decorated with gold and enamel.
The sunlight’s rays were gently blocked by trees,
The sweetest known in all of nature’s annals.
The columns which that lovely work uphold
Have crystal shafts and capitals of gold.

7
Into this loggia is the baron gone.
Of ladies beautiful there was a band.
Three sang together, while one played upon
An instrument unheard of in our lands,
But sweetly harmonized it with the song.
The other ladies in a ring did dance,
And when that worthy in the loggia found him,
The ladies came and formed a ring around him.

8
One of them, with a count’nance sweet and fine
Begins, “The tables are made ready, lord,
And now it is the hour when we dine.”
And so, upon the lush, sweet-smelling sward
Beneath a trellis rosy they recline,
Beside a fount whence waters clear outpoured.
Here all things for a feast were ready dight.
The plates were golden and the cloths pure white.

9
Four of the damsels at the table sit,
And bid Rinaldo take the highest place.
Rinaldo with astonishment is smit.
His chair with ornaments of pearls is graced.
He sees arriving viands delicate
And goblets decked with jewels from brim to base,
Filled up with wine of scent and taste superb.
Three of the damsels on Rinaldo serve.

10
The dinner ended, and they cleared away
The sparkling plates and chalices of gold.
On lutes and harps they now begin to play.
One of the ladies to Rinaldo stole
And softly in his ear began to say:
“This royal palace, all the wealth it holds,
(And thou hast not yet seen one half its treasures)
Are all thine own to deal with at thy pleasure.

11
Our Queen devised this palace for thy sake,
For thee alone, alone of all men born.
Thou art a worthy knight indeed, to wake
Love in her heart, who doth so many scorn.
She’s whiter than the lily on the brake,
And redder than the rose among the thorns;
Angelica the lovely maiden hight,
Who loves with heart and soul and mind and might.”

12
When Don Rinaldo, joyous past belief,
Hears the maid named whom he detesteth so,
He never in his life has felt such grief,
And on his face is plainly writ his woe.
He rates the palace at a withered leaf,
And has no wish but to arise and go.
But then the lady says, “Attend, good sir.
Deny thou canst not. Th’art our prisoner.

13
Thy sharp Fusberta will not help thee flee.
Hadst thou Baiard, yet couldst thou not take flight.
On ev’ry side we’re girded by the sea;
Thou must forgo thine arrogance and spite.
To change thy bitter heart behooveth thee.
My lady wishes nought besides thy sight.
If thou art scared of one whose love is great,
What will thou do to one who bears thee hate?”

14
The damsel  now seems bold and now seems meek,
But neither art affects the cavalier.
He does not listen to a word she speaks,
But turns and stalks out of the garden dear.
The Joyful Palace seems but dull and bleak,
As with a pitiless cold heart and fierce
Desiring nothing but to leave that place
Towards the sea he firmly set his face.

15
He seeks the bark that bore him to these shores,
And when he finds it, leaps into the stern.
He’d rather take his chance with wave and storm
Than ever to that garden fair return.
The boat won’t move. He thinks he’s all forlorn.
To leave this isle doth his spirit yearn
So much that he is just about to leap
Over the rails and drown him in the deep,

16
When suddenly the boat casts out to sea,
And soon the island out of sight has passed.
No words of mortal man could possibly
Describe how swift it went, it sailed so fast.
When morning dawns, before his eyes he sees
That he has landed by a forest vast.
When Don Rinaldo steps upon the sand,
At once he’s greeted by an ancient man.

17
The greybeard says, though weeping sore with grief,
“Oh, don’t abandon me, O worthy knight.
For chivalry, for honor, give relief
To this poor ancient and defend the right!
A false, deceitful, and most vicious thief
Has stol’n my only child, my daughter bright.
He just ran off, thou’lt catch him if th’art fleet.
They can’t have gone more than two hundred feet.

18
The cavalier by pity’s overcome.
He has his sword, although he lacks a steed.
Along the sand, in armor clad, he runs.
Not for an instant does he slack his speed.
When the false robber sees the champion come
He drops the lady, but he doesn’t flee.
Instead, a mighty horn he drew and wound,
And with that noise the earth and sky resound.

19
Rinaldo rushes up the slope and sees
Not far ahead of him, a little spit
Of rock that’s jutting out into the sea,
On top of which a crimson castle sits,
Whose drawbridge lowers when the horn blows free,
And a ferocious giant crosses it.
His head was sixteen feet above the land.
A chain and javelin he had in hand.

20
This great chain had a hook upon its tip
(Now see if you can guess the reason why)
When the fierce giant sees the knight, he grips
His dart, and raises it, and lets it fly.
All the way through Rinaldo’s shield it rips
(Although ‘twas finest steel; I do not lie)
Then pierced the hauberk and the mail within
And lightly pricked the worthy baron’s skin.

Book I, Canto VII, Part 2

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

21
He would have been a captive, or a corpse,
But as I said, Alfrera reappeared,
Swinging his iron mace with deadly force
As through th’advancing Christian host he sheared.
Burgundian Gui he topples from his horse,
And good Duke Naimo of the hoary beard.
But Olivier, Dudon, and Charlemagne
All three at once against the giant came.

22
One charges from that side, and one from this.
Boldly and gallantly they urge their steeds.
He cannot turn his giraffe around. It is
By nature quite a lazy, sluggish beast.
He swings great strokes, but all of them just miss.
Charles and his companions dodge with ease.
Since nought he did availed him, he abated
His fight and fled to where Gradasso waited.

23
His flight the haughty lord Gradasso spies,
Who used to hold him in a high regard.
He turns to him in anger, and he cried:
“Ah, worthless coward, vile sack of lard!
Art thou not shamed, so cravenly to fly?
Art thou so great of limb and small of heart?
Go wait inside my tent, thou scorned of men,
And never let me see thee armed again!”

24
He ceases talking and he spurs his horse,
And with one thrust he overthrows Dudon.
And with what seems a more than human force
He floors Ricardo and King Salamon.
The men of Sericane behind him course.
Their dragon-hearted king deserves his throne.
His lance was iron bound, twenty feet long.
The world has never seen a man so strong.

25
Against Count Ganellone he collides,
Striking the falcon’s breast upon his shield.
He knocks him to the ground, his legs sprawled wide,
Then spies King Charlemagne across the field.
His lance in rest, with utmost speed he rides,
And with one blow, his seat the emperor yields.
But as Gradasso Baiard’s bridle clasped,
That destrier turned its croup, and lightning fast

26
With a loud neighing, he kicks out his heels,
And just below the knee gives such a clout
That though his greaves were of enchanted steel,
Yet they were dented in, while sparks flew out.
Worse pain than ever now Gradasso feels.
It runs all through him, so he turns about,
And leaves Baiardo, letting fall the rein;
The good beast swiftly back to Paris came.

27
Gradasso flees in anguish to his tent.
You all may guess what agony he’s in.
Straightaway for an agéd man he sent,
A master of the art of medicine.
He binds the wound with skill, and then presents
A potion brewed from herbs and roots to him,
Which, when Gradasso quaffs it all, it seems
As if his wound were nothing but a dream.

28
To battle he returns, sans pain or fear .
In fact, he’s even fiercer than before.
Against him gallops Marquis Olivier,
But with one blow he knocks him to the floor.
Avin, Avolio, Guido, Angelier,
Without a pause he overthrows all four
To tell it shortly, ev’ry Paladin
Was by Gradasso captured with great vim.

29
The Christian people turn about and flee;
Against the Saracens no more they fight.
The Frankish lords are in captivity.
The other rabble in distress take flight.
No Christian faces do the pagans see;
Captives or slain are all the valiant knights.
And of the rest, none than the next is bolder,
And all show to the Saracens their shoulders.

30
Now all of Paris hears the tidings dread
Of the defeat, and Karl’s captivity.
Ogier the Dane leaps up at once from bed,
Lamenting loudly, as a baron free.
He donned his arms, then to the gate he sped
On foot, not waiting even for his steed.
But he commanded it be harnessed straight,
And brought to meet him at the Paris gate.

31
When he arrived, he found the gate was down,
And from without he hears the woeful cry
Of all the baptized cruelly cut down.
The murd’rous porter at his ease there lies;
So that the Pagans enter not the town
He is content that his compatriots die.
The Dane him bids to open up the gate;
He clearly sees he can’t a minute wait.

32
The scowling porter, like a churl, informs
The Dane he has no wish to raise the gate,
And with proud boasts he blusters and he storms
That his appointed post he’ll ne’er forsake.
Ogieri lifts his axe, which so alarms
The porter, that he doesn’t hesitate
To run away in terror with a shout.
Ogieri opes the gate and rushes out.

33
Upon the bridge forth strides the gallant knight;
With axe in readiness he takes his stand.
Now is he fortunate to have keen sight,
For as in terror fled the Christian band,
Each of them wishing to be first in flight,
The swiftest Pagans mixed among them ran.
The mighty Dane perceives them where they go,
And with his axe he brings them all to woe.

34
The Pagan army ever closer sped.
Don Serpentino leads them their attack.
Upon the bridge, as swift as lightning, leapt
The Danish hero, brandishing his axe,
And brought it down on Serpentino’s head.
The sparks fly from his helm, which would have cracked
If Serpentino’s armor were not made
By magic art, secure from all such blades.

35
The Dane upon the Pagan army gazed.
Gradasso led, and mighty Ferragu.
So many enemies Ogieri faced,
He clearly saw that nothing could he do.
He called behind him that the bridge be raised.
There never was a knight so brave and true.
Alone against the Pagan host he fights,
And keeps them off the bridge in their despite.

36
Gradasso confidently ‘gainst him came,
Ordering all his vassals to step back.
Ogieri hears the gate shut with a clang,
And in a brave despair he lifts his axe.
Gradasso seizes it, to snap in twain,
Then lights down off his charger, and he grasps
The Dane, who’s stout and skilled in wrestling play,
But King Gradasso carries him away.

37
No knights were left to make an opposition,
As day gave was unto the dusky knight.
The priests lead all the people in processions,
With pure intent, and clad in garments white.
Open is ev’ry church, and ev’ry prison
With fear and terror they await the light.
None dare to rest, for once the gates are breached,
Destruction waits alike for all and each.

38
Astolfo with the others was set free;
No one remembered that he was alive;
For once he’d been thrown in captivity
A rumor went around that he had died.
His habit was to talk incessantly
And brag more proudly than I could describe.
He heard the news, and “Oh, alas!” he moaned,
“Of my arrest, Gradasso must have known!

39
“Had I not been thrown in a dungeon cell,
King Charlemagne would have no cause to moan.
But even now, I can make all things well,
I’ll take Gradasso pris’ner by my lone.
Soon as the dawning o’er th’horizon swells
I’ll arm myself and mount upon my roan.
You all, stand on the walls and watch me fight.
Woe to the infidel who tests my might!”

40
Meanwhile, joy possessed the pagan races.
They cheer their ruler and upon him fawn.
His glee unbounded written on his face is,
Dreaming of seizing Paris at the dawn.
He’s put Alfrera back in his good graces.
Now to review his prisoners he’s gone.
When he sees Charlemagne, he sits down, and
He takes his fellow monarch by the hand

Book I, Canto VII, Part 1

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

CANTO VII

ARGUMENT

Ogier retreats, the barons issue out,
Stoutly they fight, but all are caught at last.
Gradasso doth the Christian army rout,
But thanks t’Ogier, the Paris walls aren’t passed.
Astolfo, like a foolish, headstrong lout
Ruins the truce, and leaves King Charles aghast.
Astolfo and Gradass joust one on one,
And with that joust, so shall the war be done.

1
Cruel and chaotic was the fight begun,
Outside of Paris, as I sang before.
Now does the Dane against Urnasso run,
And with Curtana through the heart him gores.
The pagan army’s routed and undone,
But King Urnasso’s thrice-accursed horse,
Strikes with its horn upon the Dane’s cuirass,
And doth through chainmail and through platemail pass.

2
Ogieri, wounded sore in places three,
Returned to Paris and a doctor found.
The Emperor, who all the battle sees,
Sends Salamone to the battle ground,
And Turpin after him, that ardent priest.
The drawbridge of Saint-Denis he lets down,
And thence sends Ganelon with all his force.
Ricardo by another route goes forth.

3
Out of a third go mighty Angelieri,
And strong Dudon, the soul of courtesy;
And from the Royal Gate comes Olivieri,
And mighty Guido, lord of Burgundy.
The wise duke Naimo, his sons Berlengieri,
Avol, Otton, Avin, each bold and free,
Some from one gate, some from another go,
To wreak upon the heathens pain and woe.

4
The Emperor, the fiercest soldier there,
Issues forth armed, and leads the last brigade,
The while to God he softly makes his prayer
That Paris might from fire and sack be saved.
Relics and crosses monks and mass-priests bear
In long processions, and devoutly prayed
To God and all His saints, that they preserve
King Charles and his barons strong of nerve.

5
And now there is a mighty sound of bells,
Of drums, and trumpets, and of battle-cries.
From ev’ry part advance the infidels,
And straight against them do the Christians ride.
There never was a battle half as fell,
Both sides are mixed together in the fight.
Don Olivieri ‘mongst the Paynim ranks
Seems like a stream that overflows its banks.

6
He rides against footmen and cavaliers,
And some he knocked to earth and some he slew
With Altachiara, filling hosts with fear,
More than a thousand other knights could do.
And not a single thrust his armor pierced.
Now Stracciaberra comes into his view,
That Black-skinned Indian, King of Lucinorca
Who had two tusks protruding like a porker.

7
The fight between these cavaliers was brief,
For Olivier brought Altachiara down,
Between the Indian’s eyes, then ‘twixt his teeth,
Splitting in two his ugly visage brown;
This done, his sharpened blade he did not sheath,
But wreaked destruction with it all around,
And while he wasted all of that brigade,
Emperor Charlemagne came to his aid.

8
That monarch’s sword was all awash in blood.
That day he rode to battle on Baiard;
None of the Saracens against him stood.
You never saw a king who fought so hard.
He sheathes his brand, and takes a lance of wood,
Because he’s challenged by the King Francard,
Francardo, ruler of Elissa’s land,
In India, who had a bow in hand.

9
The strange man, as he rides, shoots constantly.
He is coal-black; snow-white is his destrier.
Charlemagne interrupts him in his spree,
And all the way though him he drives his spear.
The body’s pierced and broke; the spirit flees.
Baiardo’s not yet tired, it appears.
The steed lay dead before him on the ground,
But he leapt o’er it with a single bound.

10
“Who is the man who dares to block my way?
Who stops me riding whereso I desire?”
So shouts King Charles, and within the fray
He passes through the Saracens like fire.
Cornuto, once Urnasso’s charger gay,
Races around, unrid by knight or squire.
With its horn down, it runs against Baiard,
But this steed’s courage is by no means marred.

11
Without King Charles prompting him, he starts
To turn around, and he kicks out his hooves,
And strikes Cornuto where his forelegs part.
He falls to ground, and never more he moves.
Oh, how King Charles laughs with all his heart!
Now does the battle grow more fierce, in sooth,
Because Alfrera leads a mighty corps
Of Saracens, all eager for the war.

12
Upon his giraffe the mighty giant fares,
Swinging his club and dealing dreadful harm.
Turpin of Rheims he lifts into the air
And then he tucks him underneath his arm
And fights as well as if he wasn’t there.
Oton and Berlengier, to their alarm,
He grabs, and ties them up, and then he brings
Them, trussed up like a faggot, to the king

13
And turns immediately back to the plain;
To seize and bind the others is his plan.
Marsilio comes, with all the folk of Spain,
And he himself is leader of the van.
Thoughts of surrender or of flight are vain.
Ev’ryone fights as stoutly as he can.
Olivier and the Paladins concur
To form a circle round their emperor.

14
In gilded arms he sits upon Baiard,
Covered from crest to spur with precious stones.
And Marquis Olivier his right side guards,
And at his other shoulder brave Dudon,
And Angelier, and worthy Don Riccard,
And good Duke Naimo, and Count Ganelon.
They from their line and gallop off to bring
Doom to the heathen Spaniards and their king.

15
Don Ferragu against the Marquis speeds,
And that stout pagan has the upper hand,
But not enough to knock him from his steed,
So they begin to fight with their good brands.
Don Angelieri and Spinella meet,
And Gano with Margante breaks a lance.
The Argalif with the Baviarn jousts,
And ev’ryone is fighting all about.

16
And while the mêlée and the tumult grow,
Grandonio meets Dudone in that place.
These two lay on each other mighty blows,
For each of them prefers to use his mace.
Each paladin confronts his chosen foe.
Marsil and Charlemagne are face to face,
And king Marsilio’s life would have been through
Had he not been relieved by Ferragu.

17
Forgetting Olivier, he leaves his fight,
Fearing lest his dear uncle should be slain.
But the Marquis, just like a valiant knight,
Rides to the aid of Emp’ror Charlemagne.
Now of these four, each is a man of might,
Each quick of limb, and each of battle fain.
On that day Charles more adroitly sparred
Than any other, for he rode Baiard.

18
Each a great baron, or a mighty king,
And each in love with honor and with glory;
Their shields they have forgotten, while they swing
Their swords with both their hands, in raging fury.
Meanwhile, the Chrisitans to the Spaniards bring
Defeat, and chase them in a routing gory.
Marsilio’s standard lay upon the ground;
This was the state of things Alfrera found.

19
The Spaniards fled as swiftly as they could,
Across the plain, and dared no longer dwell.
Neither Marsilio nor Grandonio stood
His ground, but joined in the retreating swell.
The Argalifa showed his legs were good,
And King Morgante, that false infidel.
Spinella back towards the camp has flown.
Don Ferraguto fights his foes alone.

20
Just like a lion he confronts their ranks,
Nor does he falter in the slightest manner.
Upon his armor now, Dudon the Frank,
Charles and Olivieri stoutly hammer.
He guards his front side now, and now his flank,
And strikes them back again with mighty clamor.
But since his army’d left him all alone,
These three ferocious soldiers wore him down.

Notes

The Legend of Bevis of Hampton, 4: Continental French versions 2 and 3

The legend of Bevis of Hampton is extant in three great families of redactions: the Anglo-Norman, the Continental French, and the Italian. The Italian versions are the only ones to link Bevis with the legend of Charlemagne, but this post treats of the Continental French Redaction. It is the least interesting of the three, except for those who wish to puzzle over the great and still unsolved mystery of which version came first.

The Continental French family consists of the following versions.

The First Redaction: Assonanced decasyllables. The only edition is Stimming’s Der festländische Bueve de Hantone, Fassung I, 1911.

The Second Redaction. Assonanced decasyllables. The only edition is Stimming’s Der festländische Bueve de Hantone, Fassung II, 1912. Two volumes, one for the text and one for the notes.

Beufves de Hantonne. The French prose rendering. Based on the Second verse redaction. The only edition, according to Arlima, is Beufves de Hantonne, version en prose, éd. Vérard, présentée et transcrite par Marie-Madeleine Ival, Aix-en-Provence, Publications du Cuerma (Senefiance, 14), 1982, 339 p.

The French chapbooks, descended from the prose redaction.

Beuvijn von Austoen. The Dutch translation. A verse translation survives in fragments. The prose rendering survives entire, and is the ancestor of the Dutch chapbooks. As far as I know there are no modern editions.

The Third Redaction. Assonanced decasyllables. The only edition is Stimming’s Der festländische Bueve de Hantone, Fassung III, 1914. Two volumes, one for the text and one for the notes. The closest version to the Italian

The Second Redaction

Incredibly padded out. Gui marries the daughter of Renier. Her first attempt to kill him is asking the cook to poison him. The cook refuses, and she throws him in the dungeon. The sellers of Bueves are named Fromont and Hate. The false courtiers of Hermin’s are named Gonsselin and Fourré. Josiane uses magic to keep her virginity, much to the annoyance of Yvorin (this is the only version where he is aware of what’s going on). There are ten robbers in the woods. No plot is used to free Josiane, they just flee. On arriving at Hampton, Bueve pretends to be “Girard de Digon”, to Soibaut. Doon de Maience recognizes Bueves, but Renier’s daughter does not (he beats her for daring to contradict him). Luckily, a spy he sends also concludes Girard is not Bueves. Aelis, Soibaut’s wife (not named in I and III) recognizes Bueves, who reveals himself. Soibaut goes with Bueves to pick up Josiane and incidentally foil the scheme of Huidemer, the Archbishop’s nephew. As they return to England, they are blown off course by a storn, and conquer the port city they arrive at (an interpolation found only here). Bueves fights so well when they finally get back to England that Doon flees to London to appeal to the King. Meanwhile, Bueves is taking Hampton and sparing his mother. He arrives in London, and the king is at last persuaded to do the right thing: let them duel. Bueves beheads Doon, and his wedding is celebrated at Hampton.

After seven months, Bueves goes to London, where in another interpolation, he encourages Maxin, a young knight whose circumstances are similar to his own, to regain his inheritance. Maxin is the one who persuades the king to spare Bueves’ life after Arondel kills the prince. Bueves helps Josiane give birth with no fuss. Yvorin kidnaps Josiane and one son, leaving the other. Bueves puts his other son in a boat and sets it on the sea. Yvorin is shipwrecked at St. Gille, whiter Soibaut comes to rescue Josiane, having heard the story. A fisherman, meanwhile, has rescued the other son, Gui. Soibaut falls ill when he returns with Josiane to Hampton. The Queen of Simile is named Vencadousse, and though  Bueve is chaste for a while after their marriage, eventually they they have a son, Li Restorés. Soibaut finally recovers, and he and Josiane go to seek Bueves, with Josiane disguised as a male minstrel. Her identity is discovered, Tierri is wed to Vencadousse, and Josiane and Bueves go to Armenia, where they fight King Yvorin. Yes, they, for Josiane now fights in full armor. After a long, tedious war, Yvorin is converted, Hermin dies and makes Bueves king. Bueves and his son (by Josiane) Beuvonnet succor their new vassal Yvorin.

Meanwhile, Gui has been raised on the coast of France by Gui the fisherman, who apprentices him to a furrier. Young Gui’s noble blood shows, however, when he buys a horse instead of the goods his master told him to. A lord notices his resemblance to Bueves (who is now the heir to the throne of England, the old king being dead) and gives Gui his daugher in marriage. Gui passes through Simile, rescues it from a pagan host, and proceeds with his half-brother to Armenia, where there is much rejoicing. Bueves and Josiane leave Gui in charge of Aubefort and head hom to England, fighting pagans on the way. They hang Rohart, who led the prince astray. Soibaut’s wife is dead. Soibaut receives Hampton, and he dies soon after. After five years, Josiane dies. Bueves leaves the throne to Li Restorés, and retires to a hermitage, where he dies five years later, with his sons around him.

The French Prose Redaction

Moral reflections are added, more detail is given about characters’ psychology, and the general tone is more refined and less violent. Achoppart is again a traitor. He leaves Beufves to tell Ygnorin [Yvorin] what has happened, so that he invades Armenia. The Queen of Cyrelle is named Vaudoce. Josiane’s stint as a warrior is played up.

The Third Redaction

Gui’s wife is still Renier’s daughter. She sees her beauty in a mirror as she decides to kill him. She tries to poison Bueves, but he has been given a pomander by an abbot to protect him. He is suspicious of one of her meals, and feeds it to a dog, which dies instantly. Soibaut is very suspicious of Bueves’ disappearance, but is persuaded that he is with Oudart, the duchess’ brother. The Bellerophon letter is Hermin’s idea. Josiane uses a herb to stay chaste. The lovers send a forged letter to Yvorin from his uncle, and drug Garsiles. The lions eat Bonnefoi. Bueves and Josiane are married in Cologne. Bueves calls himself Miles, and bribes Doon’s minstrel-spy Jolipin to leave him alone. The traitors who sold him are hanged and burned. Açopart is killed in the war, before Doon and Bueves agree to fight a duel before the King Guillaume. Doon loses, confesses, and is hanged. Josiane persuades Bueves not to burn his mother. The prince is named Huon. Bueves blindfolds himself to help Josiane in labor, though as in I, he is very reluctant, and would rather fight against two men at once. They are betrayed by foresters. Bueves cannot overcome Yvorin’s army, and so flees. The Queen of Sivele is never named, but her niece and confidante is named Aiglentine. Bueves is wed, keeps his chastity awhile, but then begets a son, who is never mentioned again.

Meanwhile, Yvorin has had Hermin through his daugher and grandsons in prison. Soibaut and a relative rescue them uneventfully. The King of England stands godfather to the children. After the recognition in Sivele, Bueves returns to England, where he helps King Guillaume conquere King Brian of Ireland. He lives uneventfully in Hampton for seven years, having another pair of twin boys. He then goes on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, visiting Tierri on the way. He saves Hermin from Yvorin and Açopart (somehow resurrected). As his reward, he asks to duel Gonce and Fourré. He overcomes them, they are stoned, and Yvorin and his people convert. Bueves finally reaches Jerusalem, saves it from the pagans in a long and tedious war, and is crowned King. Since Guillaume and Hermin both wish to make him their heirs, and Cyprus, Rome and Germany have surrendered themselves to him spontaneously, Bueves has enough kingdoms to give to all four of his sons, and some of his vassals to boot. He and Josiane die together.

Book I, Canto VI, Part 2

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

21
I asked Him to be helped, and not consoled.
A curse upon the ass that did thee bear!
I wouldn’t die if thou wert not so old,
No worser helper could have found me here!”
The friar says, “Alas! Thou baron bold,
I see thou art abandoned to despair.
Thou soon shalt lose thy life, as all must do.
Think of thy soul, and do not lose that, too.

22
Thou seem’st to be a lord of strength and sense,
And in the face of death art thou so weak?
Know thou, that God Almighty’s providence
Never abandons those who for Him seek.
Immeasurable is His omnipotence!
About myself a little shall I speak,
For all my life I’ve never had a doubt of
God’s mercy. Hear what He has brought me out of.

23
I and three friars from Armenia went
At holy shrines in Georgia to seek grace.
We travelled on the road with pure intent,
And came into the kingdom of Circase.
The youngest of us four ahead we sent
So that he could discern for us the way.
When suddenly, we saw him running fast
Towards us, shouting “Help!” with face aghast.

24
Westward, descending from the mount, we saw
A mighty giant with a single eye
Amidst his forehead. Through my shock and fright
The mail he wore I could not well descry,
But I think it was made of dragon hide.
Three javelins and a mace he carried high,
But did not need to use them to entrap us.
Without a fight, we simply let him grab us.

25
He led us to a cavern’s gaping maw,
Where many other prisoners he had.
And once within, with my own eyes I saw
Him grab our erstwhile guide, a tender lad,
And dash his brains out and devour him raw.
I never saw a spectacle so sad.
The brute then looked me and uttered, scowling,
“This tough old geezer isn’t worth the gnawing.”

26
And with his foot he kicked me out the door,
And down a slope all jagged, stark, and grim.
Three hundred feet ‘twas to the valley floor.
In God I trusted, and was saved by Him,
For as I tumbled down, in peril sore,
I found within my hands a sturdy limb,
On a young sapling growing in a cleft.
I clung to this, and ‘neath it took my rest.

27
And there, in silence, keeping still, I waited,
Until the evening faded into night – ”
But as the friar thus his tale related,
He glanced around, and, overcome with fright,
Ran for the woods, and cried, “O wretch ill-fated!
Behold, the wicked monster, whose delight
It is to feast upon the flesh of man.
O worthy knight, I leave thee in God’s hands!”

28
With these words said, no longer did he wait,
But ran and hid himself within the wood.
The fearful giant to the bridge came straight.
His beard and mustaches were soaked with blood.
With his large eye, the region he surveyed.
He saw Orlando, and surprised he stood.
He grabbed him by the arms and stoutly pulled him,
But could not break the chains that did enfold him.

29
“I do not wish to leave so plump a man,”
The giant said, “here lying on the ground.
I ought to boil him like a luscious ram.
But since my dinner I’ve already found,
I’ll only eat his shoulder – if I can.”
Then pondering he cast his eye around,
And saw where Durindan lay on the sand.
He quickly knelt and took it in his hand.

30
His mace of iron and his three great darts
The giant leans against a mighty oak.
Then raises Durindan, that blade so sharp,
And swings with both his hands a mighty stroke.
He doesn’t kill the count, for he is charmed.
But certainly the iron net he broke.
And Don Orlando felt the mighty blow,
So he broke out in sweat from head to toe.

31
But he is so delighted to be free,
That soon he doesn’t feel the pain at all.
He squirms out of the net, and instantly
Runs to the oak, and grabs the club so tall.
The monster’s startled, for he thought that he
Would be as docile as a gelding small.
But now he sees that things are otherwise,
And he will have to fight to win this prize.

32
These two had switched their weapons, as you know.
Orlando of his Durindan is wary,
And so he doesn’t wish to get too close,
But from a distance he the giant harries.
The brute swings downward many fearful blows.
To dodge which, Count Orlando does not tarry.
Now there he dodges, and now here he smites,
But keeps aye Durindana in his sights.

33
He hits him often, but no blood he draws.
The giant doesn’t even feel his blows,
Because his mail is made of griffin’s claws.
No harder  substance on the earth is known.
Orlando wearies, and thinks all is lost;
He can’t endure until three days are flown.
But as he fights on with a sinking heart,
He has a new idea and grabs a dart.

34
One of the darts the brute left on the sward,
Orlando snatches up, and lets it fly.
The aim is true of good Anglante’s lord.
He strikes the center of the giant’s eye.
He had but one, as you have heard before,
Above his nose. He had no time to cry,
Before the dart had driven through his brain.
The brute falls with a crash upon the plain.

35
No further blows are needed; he is dead.
Orlando kneels to give God thanks and praise.
The monk returns, by noise of battle led,
And sees the giant lying on his face.
Even in death, the monster seems so dread,
That back towards the wood he starts to race.
Orlando, laughing, calls him to draw near.
The monk obeys, though trembling with fear.

36
And then he says to him, “O knight of Heaven,
For well thou dost deserve that name to have,
For like a pious baron hast thou striven,
The innocent from that ill fiend to save.
New life unto his captives hast thou given.
Follow, and I will lead thee to his cave.
But if he blocked the entrance with his stone,
Then thou wilt have to open it alone.

37
These words once spoke, he was the baron’s guide,
Towards the cave, which, as he feared, was blocked.
Orlando stood in front, and loudly cried.
The mouth was closed by an enormous rock.
They head a woeful voice from th’other side,
Coming from those inside, that hapless flock.
The rock was square, and of one solid piece.
Each side thereof did span ten feet at least.

38
One and a half feet was the depth of it.
Two chains of iron held it in its place.
A strength and potency nigh infinite
The worthy Count of Brava now displays.
With Durindan the iron chains he split,
And then within his arms the rock he raised;
All of the prisoners he swiftly frees,
Who then resume their journeys as they please.

39
Orlando left the friar and the rest,
And traveled on along a forest trail.
He came where four roads cross, and paused, perplexed.
He stared down each of them, and pondered well
Which of these branching paths to take were best,
To come unto some land wherein men dwell.
As he debates, there comes a herald riding.
The Count him halts, and asks him for his tidings.

40
He says, “I’m coming from among the Medes,
And go to seek the King of Circassy.
Through all the world I travel with my steed,
To find help for my wretched princess. She
Has suffered woes, which I beseech thee heed.
The mighty Emperor of Tartary
Loves her so much, that he’s to madness nigh,
But for her part, she’d gladly watch him die.

Notes to the Sixth Canto, Part 2

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

23. Georgia, the country north of Turkey and Iraq, next to Armenia. Not the American state.
Circassia is a region east of the Crimean peninsula and north of Georgia and Armenia. It was famous in Boiardo’s day and later as the home of beautiful women who were much sought after by Sultans and other Muslim rulers as excellent additions to a harem. Indeed, selling beautiful virgins as slaves was the primary economic activity of the region up until the Russian Revolution.
24. Dragon hide. This time, Boiardo does use the word “draco”. He never calls the giant a cyclops, though this whole story is inspired by the Odyssey.
40. Media is in what is now northwestern Iran. Tartary was a vaguely defined region North of China, including what are now Mongolia and Siberia. The Tartars were nomads, related to the Mongolians, the Turks, and the Huns.

Book I, Canto VI, Part 1

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

ARGUMENT

Zambardo, dying, springs a booby trap,
And heavy chains around Orlando wind
A giant cannibal him finds, by hap,
Orlando conquers him, then seeks to find
Angelica, but by a fairy’s trap
He is bewitched and made to lose his mind.
The Christian army flees, their foes advance,
And King Gradasso conquers half of France.

1
Now hearken, lordings, to the battle great,
Greater and darker than all others ever,
You’ve heard already how malicious fate
Had brought Orlando to the bridge which never
A knight had left alive. I’ll now relate
How great Zambardo, giant fierce and clever,
Was fighting him, but unaware was he,
Orlando was the best there’d ever be.

2
The knight steps on the bridge and loud defies
Zambard, who bears his iron mace in hand.
Although the count comes only to his thigh,
He makes a mighty leap, so tall and grand,
That he could look the giant in the eye.
Lo, where the giant swings his iron brand!
Orlando sees it from on his descend,
And leaps aside, before his life it ends.

3
The foul Saracen is quite disturbed.
Orlando makes him more unsettled still,
Because he strikes his arm with so much verve,
He dropped his iron mace; to earth it fell.
Now Count Orlando seems just like a bird,
He strikes now here, now there, both swift and well,
But so tough was the dragon-hide turned mail,
That nothing could Orlando’s blows avail.

4
Zambardo, since his mace he cannot get,
Out of his scabbard draws his scimitar.
He sees he’ll clearly have to use his net,
Because this cavalier so fiercely spars,
But he does not desire to use it yet.
He deals the count a backhand blow. So hard
A blow upon his helmet did he beat,
Orlando staggered backward twenty feet.

5
At this, the worthy count is half deranged,
He flushes, and his race by wrath is rent,
His eyes begin to glower fierce and strange,
The fearsome giant’s life is nearly spent.
Orlando strikes so fiercely in his rage,
That mighty Durindan is backwards bent.
Although, as Turpin mentions in this place,
The blade’s width was four fingers at its base.

6
The hero strikes the giant in the waist,
Splitting the dragon-armor, scales and hide.
Within an iron belt was he incased;
The sharp blade effortlessly through it glides.
Beneath his hauberk was his cuirass placed,
But Durindana all of these defied,
And certainly, he had been cleft in twain,
Had he not thrown himself upon the plain.

7
Through cunning, or mischance, he fell to ground,
I don’t know which; at any rate, he fell.
No trace of color in his face was found.
Once he had felt that blow so stout and hale,
He beat upon his breast; his teeth he ground.
He reaches out and grabs his fallen flail.
Towards the Count so skillfully he aims,
Right o’er the breast he strikes him with the chains.

8
That blow knocks down to earth the valiant knight,
And so they lie, each glaring at the other.
Through sprawled out, not yet over is their fight.
Orlando is the foremost to recover
His feet, and grabs the giant’s beard with might,
But he is captured and is nearly smothered.
The felon pinned him close against his chest,
Then stood up, and towards the river pressed.

9
Orlando punched the giant in the face,
For on the ground was Durindana dread.
So hard he struck him, that he left him dazed.
A second time the giant fell as dead.
Immediately the Count broke free. With haste
He wrapped his arms around the giant’s head.
The brute is furious and cannot see,
But nonetheless, upon his feet leaps he.

10
And now the merciless assault renews.
This one has Durindana, that his flail.
Orlando clearly sees that he will lose,
If on the ground he stays, so to assail
His foe, he leaps on high before he hews.
Ho fighter ever had such great travail.
Orlando masterfully wields his sword,
And gives the giant ugly gashes four.

11
Zambardo feigns to strike a back-hand blow,
But in the middle of his swing, he stops.
He sees Orlando stepping back, and so
He presses forward. With both hands he chops.
Orlando cannot leap to safety now.
He hears the chains come whistling as they drop.
The valiant hero is no whit afraid,
But meets the blow impending with his blade,

12
And strikes the mace so hard he shatters it.
And do not think he therefore paused to nap.
He swung his sword into the giant’s hip,
Where earlier his blows had made a gap.
The serpent’s hide already had been split.
What could Zambardo do in such mishap?
For Durindan as swiftly through him clove,
As thunderbolts hurled by Almighty Jove.

13
Thus with his top and bottom parted quite
(What holds him still together’s small, or none)
The giant’s visage turned completely white,
For he saw clearly that his death was come.
With his last strength, he stamps his foot in spite.
Immediately the hidden net upsprung,
And with such strength around the knight it wound,
That he dropped Durindana to the ground.

14
His arms are painfully tied ‘gainst his chest,
So that he can’t move either one at all.
No hempen cords, but iron chains oppressed
The knight. His chances of escape were small.
“O God of Heaven, Virgin ever blest,”
The cavalier exclaimed “For aid I call!”
And as the Count was tangled in the net,
Zambardo tumbled in two pieces, dead.

15
That place is so remote and desolate
That hardly ever does a man pass by.
The Count, tied up beneath the hot sun, waits.
His hope of rescue sickens, faints, and dies.
Gone is his vigor; gone his spirit great.
His strength is useless. Durindana lies
Out of his reach. With neither food nor drink
He lies all day; that night sleeps not a wink.

16
The night wore by, the dawn her light outspread,
His hope grew lower and his famine higher.
But then he heard a noise and turned his head,
And he beheld a snowy-bearded friar.
When he perceived him, Count Orlando said,
As loudly as he could, he was so tired:
“O Father, as thou lovest God Most High,
Come set me free, for I’m about to die.”

17
The aged friar is surprised to see
This sight, and searches all the net, but can’t
Find any way to set Orlando free.
The baron says to him, “Take up my brand,
Slice through this net and thus deliver me.”
The friar says, “I leave thee in God’s hands.
If I should kill thee, I should break my oath.
To take so great a chance am I most loath.”

18
“Upon my word, thou shalt incur no guilt,”
Replied the Count, “My armor is so sound,
That by that sword my blood will not be spilt.”
With such like words he brings the palmer ‘round.
The monk grabbed Durindana by the hilt,
And with an effort, raised it from the ground,
And swung with all his might and struck the chains.
He scratched them, but intact they all remain.

19
The friar sees that poorly he will fare.
He drops the sword, then he begins to try
Consoling Count Orlando, speaking fair.
“O worthy, it behooveth thee to die
Like a good Christian. Yield not to dispair,
But hope and trust in God the Lord on High.
Patiently bear this death which he hath given,
And thou shalt be his cavalier in Heaven.”

20
The wise old monk made many other words,
And all the martyrology relates,
Telling the sufferings the saints endured,
How some were crucified and some were flayed,
“My son, thou shalt be with them, be assured,
And for thy holy death, give God the praise.”
The Count Orlando’s modest answer is:
“May He be praised indeed – but not for this!”

Book I, Canto V, Part 4

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto V, Stanzas 61-83

61
“My only son, a tender youth, and I
Came walking by not sithence many hours.
But of the giant, not a trace we spied,
For he, God damn him, hid within the tower,
Then snatched my son before my very eyes,
And bore him off. I fear he’s been devoured,
And now, sir knight, thou knowest all my woe.
I beg thee that thou wilt no further go!”

62
Orlando thinks a moment, then replies,
“I will go further on, let come what may.”
“Then God have mercy!” the old palmer cries,
“Thou oughtest not to throw thy life away.
Believe me, I am telling thee no lies,
Thou shalt behold that giant with dismay.
To see his size, his fierceness, and his might
Will make thee tremble, thou though art a knight.”

63
Orlando smiled and besought the man
To stay and wait for him a little space
And if he didn’t shortly some again,
Then not to mourn for him, but go his ways.
The palmer to the knight an hour grants,
Who to the crimson clifftop set his face.
When that the giant sees him come, he saith,
“O worthy baron, do not seek thy death.

64
The monarch of Circassia placed me here,
And ordered me to let none pass beyond,
Because, atop this cliff so wild and drear,
A monster dwells, who of men’s flesh is fond.
Whene’er a traveller in her sight appears,
To aught he asks she’ll truthfully respond,
But with a riddle of her own she’ll meet him,
And if he says amiss then she will eat him.”

65
Orlando next inquires of the lad.
The giant won’t return the palmer’s son.
They speak awhile, then they wax half-mad,
And soon a battle have the two begun.
This one a sword, that one a great mace had.
I shan’t recount their blows all one by one,
But Count Orlando so adroitly wielded
His sword and shield, that soon the giant yielded.

66
Thus the Count saved the young man from his plight,
And thus the grieving father he consoled,
Who drew out something wrapped in samite white,
Which he had hidden in his garments’ fold.
Then he displayed a little book to sight,
Covered in fine enamel and bright gold.
Then to Orlando he said, “Knight renowned,
To be thy servant I’m forever bound.

67
“If I desired to do as much for thee,
As thou hast done, I am too worn by years.
And so I beg thee, take this book from me,
Which is of potency without a peer.
For ev’ry riddle, ev’ry mystery
Within its pages is made plain and clear.”
And giving him the book, said, “Go with God!”
Then joyfully upon his way he trod.

68
Orlando stood there with the book in hand,
And with himself a while held debate.
He sees the cliff which rises high and grand,
And swears to climb it, whate’er may await,
And see the beast which on the summit stands,
And answers any question she is made.
For this alone th’adventure will he try:
To learn where sweet Angelica abides.

69
He crosses o’er the mountain without scath.
The giant lets him pass without a stop.
He’s felt what Durindan can do in wrath.
He points the road, and lets the drawbridge drop.
And up a dark and narrow winding path
The Count rides on until he gains the top,
And sees the path lead on between two rocks,
And sees the monster who the passage blocks.

70
Her hair was gold, he woman’s face was fair,
But when she smiled you saw her wolfish teeth.
Breasts like a lions, forearms like a bear’s
She had. Her griffon claws she did not sheathe.
She held her dragon’s tail aloft in air.
Her wings would make even a peacock seethe
With envy. With her tail she struck the ground,
Which echoed off the rocks for miles around.

71
When that fierce monster sees the cavalier,
Her wings she spreads out and her tail she raises,
And grins malignantly from ear to ear,
And smites a rock and cracks it. Nought this fazes
The Count, who says to her with visage fierce,
“Among all peoples, nations, tongues and races,
From cold to hear, and from the dusk to dawn,
Tell me, whom dwells Angelica among?”

72
The beast malignant, with words soft and king,
Thus gives the Count Orlando answer meet.
“She for whose seek thou art disturbed in mind,
Near Cathay, in Albracca has her seat.
Now to my questions must thou answers find.
What animal can walk but has no feet?
And say what other creature there may be,
That walks on four feet, and on two, and three?”

73
Orlando ponders o’er thse questions curious,
But can’t come up with any good replies,
So he draws Durindan. The sphinx is furious,
And leaps into the air and at him flies.
Now she attacks him with a blow injurious,
And now she soars aloft with piercing cries.
Now she strikes with her claw, now with her tail,
But his charmed skin against her blows prevails.

74
If he were not enchanted, as he is,
That favored knight would have been sorely pressed.
A hundred gaping wounds would have been his,
Criss-crossing o’er his shoulders and his chest
The Count regains his balance, and at this
His anger mounts, and wrath swells in his breast.
He bides his time, then with a mighty spring,
He leaps on high and slices through her wing.

75
Shrieking, the cruel monster fell to ground.
Her bellowings could be heard far afield.
Her tail around Orlando’s legs she wound,
And with her claws she tears apart his shield.
But soon the ending of the fight came round,
For through her ribs Orlando drove his steel.
And when Orlando saw the beast was slain,
He climbed back down the cliff unto the plain.

76
He leapt upon his horse, the reins he shook,
And rode on boldly, as a lover ought,
But still he pondered, as his way he took,
What might the answers be the monster sought.
Then he recalled the palmer’s little book,
And to himself he said, “I had forgot!
I had the power to appease the beast,
Without a fight; but otherwise God pleased.”

77
He searches through the book, in hopes to find
The answers to the sphinx’s mysteries.
He reads about the seal, and of its kind,
That walks on flippers when it leaves the sea,
And then he finds it written of mankind,
He goes on four feet in his infancy;
He goes on two feet in his life’s next stage,
And totters with a cane in his old age.

78
He read, till at a river he arrived,
Swift and deep, and horrible, and dark.
No place to swim across it he espied,
For both the banks were jagged, steep, and stark.
Along the riverbanks downstream he rides,
Hoping to find some passage on a barque.
He saw a bridge, which had a giant placed
For guardian, and thither he made haste.

79
The giant saw him coming, and he said,
“O wretched knight, enjoy thy final breaths!
Thy great misfortune hath thee hither lead.
Know, thou art come unto the Bridge of Death.
All ways hence are so tortuous and dread
That none have e’er survived who by them left,
And if across the stream thou’rt fain to go,
Then one of us must lay the other low.”

80
This bridge’s guardian, so tall and fierce
Had for his name Zambardo the Robust.
His head was two feet wide from ear to ear,
And all his limbs were in proportion just.
When armed, just like a mountain he appears.
He held an iron bar devoid of rust.
From off this bar five iron chains extend,
Each with a ball of iron at its end.

81
Each of these balls was twenty pounds or more.
From head to toe he wore a serpent’s hide,
For plate and mail, which kept him safe in war.
His scimitar hung dangling by his side.
But what was worse, he had a trap in store:
A heavy net. When anyone defied
Him to a duel, and he seemed like to win,
He’d trap him in the net and finish him.

82
No cavalier this thick net ever sees.
It’s fully hidden underneath the sand.
Whene’er he wishes, he the knight can seize,
And throw him bound into the river grand.
The wretch has no recourse, no remedies,
But drowns most painfully at Zambard’s hands.
But nought of this the worthy baron knows.
He lights on foot and rides towards his foe.

83
With shield on arm and Durindan in hand,
He sees his enemy grand and appalling,
The Roman Senator is as alarmed
As if his foe were but an infant squalling.
A mighty duel began that caused much harm,
Which in this canto I won’t be recalling,
Because already has my throat grown sore,
And I must rest before I tell you more.

The Legend of Bevis of Hampton, 3: The Continental French Redaction

The legend of Bevis of Hampton is extant in three great families of redactions: the Anglo-Norman, the Continental French, and the Italian. The Italian versions are the only ones to link Bevis with the legend of Charlemagne, but this post treats of the Continental French Redaction. It is the least interesting of the three, except for those who wish to puzzle over the great and still unsolved mystery of which version came first.

The Continental French family consists of the following versions.

The First Redaction: Assonanced decasyllables. The only edition is Stimming’s Der festländische Bueve de Hantone, Fassung I, 1911.

The Second Redaction. Assonanced decasyllables. The only edition is Stimming’s Der festländische Bueve de Hantone, Fassung II, 1912. Two volumes, one for the text and one for the notes.

Beufves de Hantonne. The French prose rendering. Based on the Second verse redaction. The only edition, according to Arlima, is Beufves de Hantonne, version en prose, éd. Vérard, présentée et transcrite par Marie-Madeleine Ival, Aix-en-Provence, Publications du Cuerma (Senefiance, 14), 1982, 339 p.

The French chapbooks, descended from the prose redaction.

Beuvijn von Austoen. The Dutch translation. A verse translation survives in fragments. The prose rendering survives entire, and is the ancestor of the Dutch chapbooks. As far as I know there are no modern editions.

The Third Redaction. Assonanced decasyllables. The only edition is Stimming’s Der festländische Bueve de Hantone, Fassung III, 1914. Two volumes, one for the text and one for the notes.

The First Redaction

Gui of Hantone weds Beatix, daughter of King Edward of Scotland, who loves Doon of Maience. Hantone is not Southampton, but a town on the Maese. Boeve is fifteen when all goes down. He is sold to King Hermin of Armenia, at whose court he slays a man who accused him of being a peasant. Hermin is impressed, and Josiane falls in love, and gives him her horse Arondel. Boeve enters the world of chivalry one May, when Josiane finds him weeping that he is too poor to enter a tourney, and helps him out. After he does very well in the tourney, King Danemons of Persia lays siege to Armenia, for love of Josiane. As Boeve fights the war, he and Josiane fall in love. Two traitors, Foré and Gouse, betray their love to the king, who tries to get Boeve killed in the war, but Boeve wins, taking Brandimond of Damascus prisoner. Hermin spares him, so that he can put into motion his plot to kill Boeve. As Boeve is going to Damascus with his death-note, he kills a boar, then meets a pilgrim, who is not Terri seeking for him, and does not offer to read the letter. [In fact, he is fairly irrelevant]. Boeve does not demolish the idols of Damascus. In the dungeon he kills cockatrices, but no dragons. Meanwhile, Josiane pleads with her father not to wed her to King Yvorin, but to no avail. She enchants Yvorin to keep her maidenhood, making him think he has taken it. Arondel is not imprisoned, but cared for richly by her. Boeve is freed by an angel, kills the guards, and heads to Jerusalem. He does not make a miraculous leap to escape. After the giant’s castle, he kills four robbers who robbed a pilgrim, and then reaches Jerusalem, not speaking with the Patriarch.

Passing Monbranc, he recognizes Josiane and Arondel. They recognize and escape as usual, Boneface is killed by the lions, who drag Josiane to their den, whither Boeve tracks them and kills them, with Arondel’s help. Garsile sends Ascopart, and all goes as the Anglo-Norman, until they reach Cologne, only without the comic baptism scene. Boeve goes to Doon, pretends to be a merchant named Aïmer of Hungary, and then meets Sobaut’s nephew David and joins Sobaut. In the war, he kills Hate and Fromont, the men who sold him to the Saracen slave traders.

Meanwhile, in Cologne, Count Audemar, the Emperor’s nephew, has forged letters telling of Boeve’s death, lured Ascopart into a dungeon, and wed Josiane. Boeve walks in on the wedding, and kills Audemar just as Ascopart arrives, panting. With Ascopart’s help, Boeve defeats Doon, in a very long war. Doon is hanged, Ascopart marries a rich noblewoman and exits the story, and Boeve and Josiane settle in Hampton, which seems to now be Southampton in England again.

After a year, Boeve attends the king’s feast, at which the prince tries to buy Arondel after Boeve wins a race with him. When Boeve won’t sell, the prince, egged on by Doon’s nephew Rohart, tries to steal him. In the ensuing battle, both are killed, along with three stablehands. The King banishes Boeve, who stops by Southampton to pick up Josiane and to have his mother locked in a tower until he comes back. Only her confessor is to be allowed in. Boeve, Josiane, Terri [Sobaut’s son], and Arondel now depart for the Acre, but a storm drives them to Monbranc, in Africa. Here, in the wilderness, Josiane goes into labor. The men blindfold themselves to help her. After the twins are born, Terri goes to town to buy food, but is followed home by foresters, who tell King Yvorin, who kidnaps Josiane and her children. In a subsequent battle, Boeve kills Garsile, but he is hopelessly outnumbered, and flees on Josiane’s orders. He and Terri come to Siviele, where they save the Queen Eglantine from Escorfaut of Majorge [Majorca?], in a very long and very tedious siege. She compels Boeve to marry her, but he places a sword in their bed every night.

Meanwhile, Josiane and the boys are in prison. One Bertram, of Bar-sur-Aube, joins with Sobaut to go look for Boeve. They find Josiane in Monbranc, and rescue her uneventfully, bringing her home to Hampton. They take the children to the king in London, who stands godfather to one of them, naming him after himself, and making him his heir. King Oduars of Scotland names the other one his heir. Sobaut and Josiane, the latter guised as a minstrel, now resume the search for Boeve. They come to Sevilie, where Arondel recognizes her, as she sings a song about Boeve. Her husband recognizes her too, and there is much rejoicing. Terri weds Queen Eglantine, and Boeve and Josiane go home to Hampton, and meet their sons, Boevon and Guion. They live happily, and have a third son, but then word comes that King Hermin is besieged. Boeve rescues him, and kills Braidimons. Guy and Buevon inherit England and Scotland, Sobaut is given Hampton, and Boeve and Josiane move to Armenia, where they live happily until their death, when their son Hermin inherits it.

 

Though there are many minor differences between the three redactions, the most notable difference between the them is that in the Second Redaction, as in all others, Bevis and Josiane have twin sons, Bevis and Guy. In the First and Third Redactions, they have two pairs of twins: firstly Guillaume, who grows up to be King of England, and Hermin. Bueve and Guy are born later.