Book I, Canto X, Part 1

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

CANTO X

ARGUMENT

The bold Astolfo turns his tail and flees.
Then Agricane’s army he descries.
He beats them to Albracca. When he sees
The siege begun at last, then out he hies.
His golden lance gives him some victories,
But then he’s conquered. Sacripant arrives
To save Angelica. He fiercely wars,
And all day long the noise of battle roars.

1
Orlando after Duke Astolfo spurred,
Quick as he could, but no reward it brings.
For Baiard, “marvellous” is not the word,
He runs as swiftly as if he had wings.
Off the road, to the woods, Astolfo turned.
The though of leaving Brandimart stings.
He’d been a true companion n the trail,
And now he left him in a worse than jail.

2
But mighty Durindan so much he feared,
Which in his cousin-german’shand remained,
That in the wild wood he disappeared.
Orlando tried to follow, but in vain.
He climbed a hill, and all around he peered,
But could not see him, in the woods or plain.
Out in the fields he makes no longer stay,
But rides back to the bower without delay.

3
There still is raging an intensive fight,
For yet high in the saddle Brandimart
Now King Ballon, now Chiarïone strikes,
Hammering them, and makes them sorely smart,
The while his lady pleads with all her might
That he will leave the battle and depart,
And with the two enchanted knights make peace,
And strive the lady Dragontin to please.

4
For by no other means could he evade
Having to drink of the enchanted glass,
Which would wipe clean his thoughts and mem’ry’s slate,
But when she saw the fay tread o’er the grass,
Certainly with intent her knights to aid,
She dared not tarry, but the frightened lass
Swiftly turned roundabout her palfrey good,
And galloped till she reached the shadowed wood.

5
Ballan and Chiarïon now draw apart.
The fairy’s will is law throughout her palace.
And Dragontina takes Sir Brandimart,
Off’ring a drink from her enchanted  chalice,
Which from the magic stream she filled by art.
The cavalier falls victim to her malice.
Forgetting ev’rything he once knew, he
Completely changed from what he used to be.

6
O pleasant liquor, bev’rage sweet and clear,
Which thus can snatch a man out of his mind!
Now Brandimarte’s love has disappeared,
Which did his heart in silken cords once bind.
He hopes for nothing; he has no more fear
To lose his honor, or disgrace to find.
On Dragontina centers all his thought,
And of all things beside he reckons nought.

7
Back to the garden comes the Count, astounded,
And before Dragontina’s feet he kneels.
He makes excuses, in which long words abounded.
No knight so eloquently e’er appealed.
The Paladin was perfectly confounded
That a mere boy outdid him in the field,
Speaking of which, I ought to go and find him.
He thinks Orlando ever right behind him,

8
So constantly he travels on his way,
By day and night, that hero stout and good.
Nothing at all he finds the foremost day,
Travelling through a vast deserted wood,
But on the second morn his eyes survey
Where on a plain, a vast encampment stood.
Astolfo asks a herald to explain
Why all these people gathered on this plain.

9
The herald shows a banner to the knight,
Which fluttered in the center of the horde,
And says, “Here lodges, with his men of might,
The king of kings, the Tartars’ sov’reign lord.
That is his royal banner, black as night,
The one that has a rampant silver horse.
It’s decked with pearls and precious stones and gold.
The world does not a richer treasure hold.

10
“The white flag, there, that has the sun of gold,
Marks great Mongolia’s monarch, Saritron.
The world knows not a knight so frank and bold.
That green one, where the lion white is shown,
Belongs to Radamant the Uncontrolled,
Who measures twenty feet, it’s widely known.
Beyond the mountains, holds he ‘neath his hand
Moscow the mighty and the Coman land.

11
“That golden moon upon the flag of red
Is Polifermo’s, a great king who reigns
Over Orgagna. He’s a man to dread
And often shows his prowess on the plain.
I wish to speak of ev’ry flag outspread,
So that unknown no standard will remain,
So thou mayst tell out might to friend or foe
Into whatever country thou mayst go.

12
“The mighty king of Gothland there is shown.
King Pandragone is this worthy hight.
The emperor of Russia’s flag is blown;
He’s called Argante. He’s a man of might.
See Santaría and the fierce Lurcon.
The first is ruler of the Swedes by right,
The next of Norway. See on his right hand
The banner of the king of Norman land.

13
“Brontino is this mighty ruler called.
His is the green flag with the burning heart.
Camped next to him, the Danish monarch tall,
Who’s named Uldano. Well he plays his part.
King Agricane, master of them all,
Summoned these vassals when he wished to start
A war, and all have gathered on this plain
To give King Gallifrone bitter pain.

14
“This Gallifrone is from India, where
He rules a vast dominion called Cathay.
He has a daughter, with whom can’t compare
The freshest rose that blossoms in the May.
Such love for her King Agricane bears
He thinks of nothing else by night or day,
Save how to have the lady for his own.
He cares not for his kingdom or his throne.

15
“Yesterday, Gallifron to us addressed
A message, by one of his heralds sent.
With many words, his majesty confessed
He could not yield the girl, though his intent
Had been to do so, for she was impressed
With madness, had defied the king, and went
To the Rock of Albracca, where she claimed
She would remain unwed till death her claimed.

16
“So now it’s likely that this massive throng
Before Albracca will begin a siege.
Because her father has done nothing wrong,
If his fair daughter cannot love my liege.
But I believe (and my belief is strong)
The damsel won’t have any remedies
To make a very lengthy war of it;
It would be better for her to submit.”

17
As soon as Don Astolf the reason hears
For the assembly of this people vast,
He sets out journeying, that cavalier,
Riding by day and night exceeding fast.
Albracca Rock at length the hero nears
And to the lovely damsel comes at last.
She, when she saw Astolfo face to face,
Knew him at once, and gladly him embraced.

18
“Welcome a thousand times!” the lady cried,
“Welcome a thousand more, Sir Paladin,
Thou who to succor the distressed dost ride!
Would that Rinaldo with thee had come in!
This castle gladly would I cast aside
And all my kingdom reck not at a pin,
To have that worthy baron with us here;
All of the world beside I would not fear.”

19
Astolfo says, “I wish not to deny
Rinaldo is a valiant cavalier,
But I would have you recollect that I
In battle am more fearsome than that peer.
Many a time we two our strength have tried,
And he has had the worst of it, I fear.
For I have made him sweat, and made him sore,
And made him say, ‘I yield, I can no more.’

20
“And of Orlando, too, thou mayst record,
The standard-bearer of all chivalry,
That were he missing Durindan, his sword,
The way my other cousin’s lost his steed,
He would not be as famous as before,
Nor so intimidating would he be.
Not like myself, you see, for when we fight,
No matter what my arms, I beat those knights.”

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Notes

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Book I, Canto IX, Part 4

The Orlando Innamorato in English translation, Book I, Canto IX, Stanzas 61-79

61
To Sacripant he answers thus, “My lord,
Before thou dost acquire this damosel,
Thou art obliged to settle one more score;
If from thy horse’s back I can thee fell,
Then I shall make thee leave without a horse.
If thou canst throw me, treat me just as well,
And take my gallant steed away from me.
Then let thine other challenge settled be.”

62
King Sacripante says, “O God Mahound,
What blessings on thy servant dost thou pour!
I sought a horse and armor, and I’ve found
A lovely creature whom I’ll prize far more.
And I shall conquer, with a single bound,
The lady, and the armor, and the horse!
This said, away from Duke Astolf he paced,
Then turned and said to him, “Go, take thy place.”

63
And now towards each other, raged, they rushed,
Lances aimed squarely at their chests they sped.
To overcome the other each one trusts.
They near; they strike; they make a clamor dread –
But Sacripante from his steed is thrust.
Against the grassy lawn he knocks his head.
Astolfo leaves him lying on the field.
To Brandimart the conquered horse he yields.

64
“Hast thou heard ever such a merry tale,”
Astolfo says, “as of that cavalier,
Who thought he could unseat me without fail,
And now must go on foot away from here?”
Thus they go talking on their way, until
The damsel says, “My lords, we’re drawing near
The River of Forgetfulness. Take heed;
Caution and counsel all of us will need.

65
If all of us do not act prudently,
Before nightfall we will be lost forever.
Courage and arms of no avail will be,
For not three miles off there flows a river
Which robs the drinker of his memory.
His very name is from his mind dissevered.
In fact, I think it would be best to find
The way we came, and leave this road behind,

66
Because the curséd river can’t be crossed.
On either bank of it tall mountains rise.
From one to th’other side a bridge is tossed,
Which the two giant rocks together ties.
Atop a turret there, come sun or frost,
A lady stands and waits for passers-by,
And from a shining crystal goblet, offers
All travellers to drink the river waters.

67
When he has drunk, gone is his memory,
His very name he can recall no more;
But if a man trust so his strength, that he
Tries to resist her and to cross by force,
Impossible would be his victory,
For all her captive knights and men of war
Are so enchanted that they all will fight
Madly and blindly for that lady bright.

68
With words like these the lady maketh clear
Their risk, and urgeth them their road to change.
Neither knight, though, felt a trace of fear.
It is for quests like these the world they range.
The time appears to them a thousand years
Before they come to this adventure strange.
Until the early morning, on they ride.
The bridge across the river they espied.

69
The damsel, as she’s often done before
Steps on the bridge to greet them when they come.
Sweetly she spoke; a lovely look she wore,
And offered them the chalice, every one.
“Ah!” cries Astolfo, “Stop, thou lying whore!
Thy wicked magic arts today are done.
Now shalt thou die! And think thou not to flee,
Or fool us; we know all thy trickery.”

70
The damsel, when she hears his threat’nings dire
Lets fall the crystal goblet from her hand.
At once the narrow bridge is swathed in fire.
It seems that none can pass the blazes grand.
The other damsel, fearing not the pyre,
Grabs the two cavaliers with either hand.
The dame, I mean to say, of Brandimart,
Who’s wise to conquer this malicious art.

71
She grabs the hands of either valiant knight,
And swiftly as they can, the threesome go
Along a hidden path just on their right,
And they pass over the enchanted flow
Upon a narrow bridge, just hid from sight
So that no travellers this secret know.
But the new damsel, who knew all about
The ill enchantments, found this passage out.

72.
Don Brandimarte batters down the door,
And the false garden all three enter in.
Here of enchanted knights are half a scoe,
Here prisoned is Orlando Paladin,
And King Ballano, master of the war,
And Chiarïone, the brave Saracen.
Here is the real Uberto dal Leone,
The brothers Aquilante and Grifone,

73
With Adrïano, the redoubted king,
The Belarussian worthy, Antifor.
None know each other; none know anything.
They don’t remember who they were before,
If Jesus or Mahomet is their king.
All have been snared by necromantic lore.
All have been captured by that lying dame.
Dragontina is the lady’s name.

74
When Brandimarte and Astolfo enter,
They start an uproar, for bold Chiarïon
And King Ballano meet them as defenders,
Both clad in mail that’s Dragontina’s own.
The other knights stroll through the garden’s center,
If once they knew each other, now unknown;
All, save the count, are in the garden bright;
Orlando views the logia for delight.

75
In all his armor was the cavalier,
For he had only been ensnared that morn,
And Brigliadoro, his renowned destrier,
Is tied amidst the roses and the thorns.
Of any other thoughts his mind is clear,
And lo! where Dragontina comes before him,
And sweetly asks him, “Knight, wilt thou go see
What all that racket is, for love of me?”

76
Without another thought, the baron grand
Leaps to the saddle, drops his visor down,
Goes to the scuffle with his sword in hand.
Brandimart’s knocked Don Chiarïon to ground,
Astolf stretched King Ballano on the land;
On foot and horse there’s fighting all around.
But when Orlando entered in the fray
Astolfo recognized him by his blade,

77
And cried aloud, “O bravest knight and best,
Of ev’ry paladin the crown and flower!
May God in Heaven be forever blest!
Dost thou not know thy cousin? With much stour
Through all the world I’ve gone of thee in quest.
Who has betrayed thee to this curséd  bower?”
The Count Orlando hears no word of this.
He has forgotten who Astolfo is.

78
Without a thought, and with ungoverned rage,
With both his hands he swings a mighty blow,
Which, if Baiardo hadn’t been so sage,
Or if that steed had been a tad more slow,
Would have dispatched Astolfo from life’s stage,
Which would have caused Orlando mickle woe.
High was the wall that ringed the garden round,
But Baiard leapt it with a single bound.

79
Through the gate, ‘cross the bridge, Orlando chases.
He wants to utterly destroy his foe.
Although his Brigliadoro swiftly races,
Compared with Baiard, ev’ry horse is slow,
And Brigliador he easily outpaces.
But I have sung enough for now, I trow.
Next time, my lords, you’ll hear, if you come back,
How Duke Astolfo dealt with this attack.

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Notes

The Legend of Count Claros

Count Claros of Montalban, allegedly the son of Rinaldo, features in a very complicated tradition of Hispanic ballads. There are, according to the late lamented Samuel Armistead, the foremost expert on Sephardic balladry, seven essential themes, which were combined in a variety of ways.

1: Conde Claros y el emperador [Count Claros and the Emperor]. Claros asks the Emperor for money, who offers him as much as he needs. Claros asks for the hand of the princess, Claraniña. The Emperor will not grant it, as he has promised her to Don Beltrán.

2: Conde Claros insomne [Sleepless Count Claros]. Claros cannot sleep for thinking of Claraniña. He has his servant dress him, and he goes to the palace to see her.

3: Conde Claros y la infanta [Count Claros and the Princess]. Claraniña compliments Claros on his strong body, good for fighting Moors. He answers that it’s also good for pleasing dames. The two make love. A hunter finds them under a rose boush and tells the king. The king kills the hunter and orders Claros arrested.

4: Conde Claros preso [Count Claros Arrested]. Claros is thrown in jail for seducing the princess. She runs to the scaffold just as he is about to lose his head, stops the execution, and asks the king to spare his life. He does so and they are wed.

5: Conde Claros degollado [Count Claros Beheaded]. The king finds Claros and the princess together and throws him in jail. The court sentences him to death, and is is done. The king cuts his heart out and serves it to his daughter on a plate. She dies of grief, and the lovers are buried in one tomb.

6: Conde Claros y la infanta huyen a Montalbán [Count Claros and the Princess Flee to Montalbán]. Claros sends the princess to Montalbán, and then tells the king that his daughter is pregnant but that he is going to marry her. The king calls for his arrest, but he rides for his life through Paris. Roldán and Oliveros pursue him, but let him get away. They then persuade the king to pardon Claros, who weds the princess.

7: Conde Claros fraile [Count Claros in Friar’s Garb]. Claros tells the king that his daughter is pregnant but that he intends to marry her. The king throws her in a dungeon with water up to her waist, and plans to burn her at the stake. She sends a letter by her page to Claros, who disguises himself as a friar to hear her confession at the stake. She confesses that Claros is the only man she has ever been with, and so Claros carries her off on his horse.

Four ballads of Count Claros were printed in the Siglo d’Oro, and they follow.

“Media noche era por filo,” Duran 362, Primavera 190. = Insomne + Infanta + Preso
Count Claros of Montalvan, Renaldo’s son, cannot sleep for love of the princess Claraniña. He finally tells her that he’s loved her seven years. They arrange a meeting in the garden, where they act as man and wife, but are surprised by a gardener, who refuses Claros’ offer of land and his sister’s hand in marriage if he keeps silent. The gardener tells Charlemagne, who kills him in a fit of rage, then arrests Claros. He summons his barons, and sentences Claros to death. Claros’ uncle the archbishop [unnamed] visits him in prison, to bring the sad news. Claros sends a message by the bishop’s page to Claraniña, who meets him at the scaffold. Claraniña falls down before her father and beseeches pardon, for the sake of Renaldo his father, who died in battle. She obtains it and marries Claros.

“A caza va el Emperador,” Primavera 191, Duran 364. = Emperador + Fraile
Charlemagne rides out hunting with Count Claros. Claros asks for Claraniña’s hand in marriage, since he has had her these six months. Charlemagne rides back to the city in a fury, throws his daughter in prison, and sentences her to be burnt. She writes a letter to Claros, who rides to the court like mad. He presents himself to Charlemagne disguised as a friar, and asks to hear her confession. Instead of so doing, however, he tries to kiss her, and the truth comes out. Claros tells Charles she is innocent, but a knight who loves her and is jealous of Claros accuses the supposed friar of lying. They duel. Charlemagne recognized Claros by the way he tighten his saddle straps. Claros kills the knight and then rides off with Claraniña.

“A misa va el Emperador,” Primavera 192. = Emperador + Insomne + Montalbán
The Emperor [unnamed] goes to Mass on St. John’s Day with Count Claros. Claros complains that the Moors have taken his castle of Montalban, which the king gave him. He threatens to turn Moor himself if the king does not succor him. The king promises him arms, and summons Oliveros, Montesinos, Roldan, Urgel [Ogier], and Merian to help him. Claros now asks for the king’s daughter in marriage, but he says she is promised to Don Beltran. Claros returns to his home, but cannot sleep that night for love of the princess. He calls his servants to dress him in fancy clothes, and he goes to the princess, and bids her flee to Montalban. He then goes to the king and explains that the princess is with child and that he is going to marry her. The king calls for his blood, but Claros flees through the streets of Paris. Oliveros and Roldan follow him, but he persuades them to let him go free. They return to the court and stall Don Beltran and the king. They persuade the king to pardon Claros, and the lovers are married.

“Durmiendo está el conde Claros,” by Antonio Pansac. Duran 363. = Insomne + Degollado
Count Claros cannot sleep for love of the princess, so he dresses in finery and goes to woo the princess [unnamed], and wins her favors without blessing from the altar. The king [unnamed] finds them, and has the count executed, and presents his heart to the princess on a golden plate. She dies of grief, and the king lays them both in one tomb.

 

Segment 1, Emperador, is still sung by the Sephardic Jews in Morocco as a prologue to Insomne. In Aragon, it is a prelude to Fraile. In different versions, the hero (Claros, Niño, Flores, Vélez) laments that his uncle the emperor’s gift to him of Montalvan has not made him rich, or simply that he has lost his money. Once he is confident that the emperor approves of him, he asks for Claraniña. Occasionally, among the Eastern Sephardim, Emperador stands alone. An uncle and nephew race their horses, then the nephew asks his uncle for Claraniña/Blancaniña as his wife. The uncle reminds him that he didn’t want her when he first offered her, and says she is now betrothed to the Count of Livorno. But, since the nephew is a strong knight, he could, hypothetically, win her back. The nephew says that his weapons are in pawn, so the uncle gives him money and fine cloths. He rides through the city streets, slowly when there are people, quickly when there are none. The women ask him why is trying to destroy their city, but he answers he is only looking for Claraniña. Most versions end here, but some make him rescue her from a tall tower where she is dining with her husband the Count.

Segment 2, Insomne, is sung in Morocco with Emperador, as we have said. In Castille, it is a prologue to Infanta + Fraile. In Portugal and Catalonia, it introduces Infanta + Preso. Armistead mentions that it is sung in Asturias, but does not say with what. Different versions expand or contract the description of the Count’s lavish and expensive clothing. In Morocco, at the end of Emperador, the emperor announces that Claros and Claraniña’s betrothed, the Count of Montalban, will duel for her hand the next day. After a sleepless night, Claros is armed (in a very long, elaborate description of his clothing) and rides through the streets, making sparks fly. The denouements vary widely. Claros wins the duel, or he stops outside Claraniña’s window to ask whom she loves best. She says “Count Albar,” and he faints. Luckily, she was only jesting, and she weds Claros the next day. Or, she really does love Count Albar better, and marries him. Or, after she makes her jest, Claros drops dead or rides away in madness. Claraniña, repentant too late, jumps from the window.

Segment 3, Infanta¸is sung with Fraile in Morocco and Castille, with Insomne and Preso in Catalonia, and with Insomne, Preso, and/or Fraile in Portugal. It also survives in fragments among the Gypsies of Andalusia. When it stands on its own or begins the ballad, it usually begins with a description of the princess leaving the palace, or coming home from the baths, though sometimes they simply meet in the garden. Various versions tone up or down how explicit the love-making is, and how willing the princess is. Usually the lovers try to bribe the hunter (sometimes a page, or squire, etc.) to keep silent, offering money, or the princess’ cousin in marriage. In Portugal, the hunter’s rejection of the bribes is because he was in love with Claraniña. The hunter’s execution is sometimes explained as being because he has brought dishonor on the king by telling his story in public.

Segment 4, Preso, is sung alone in León, and as a sequel to (Insomne +) Infanta in Asturias, Portugal, Brazil, Catalonia, and Argentina. Generally shorter than “Media noche era por filo”, but as far as I know changing the plot only by dropping such incidents as the prison visit, if at all. Two sections of Preso, from “Media noche era por filo” were extracted, expanded, and became popular songs in their own right. One, Pésame de vos, el conde, attributed Juan del Encina, expands the dialogue between Count Claros and the archbishop in prison. Another, Más envidia he de vos, conde, expands the dialogue between Claros and the bishop’s page. Both dwell on the idea that love does not deserve to be punished by death.

Segments 5 and 6 have not survived in oral tradition, if they were ever a part of it.

Segment 7, Fraile, is by far the most popular, sung in Morocco, Castile, Portugal, Catalonia, the Canaries, the Azores, Madeira and Brazil. Very rarely, it stands alone, and begins with the king asking his three daughters which one of them is pregnant, before sentencing the guilty one to burn. She then sends for a page to take the message, etc. Slightly less rarely, it is preceeded by Insomne + Infanta. Most commonly, however, it begins with verses taken from other ballads known as Aliarda y el alabancioso (also called Alabanza) and Infanta parida. This version is known as Lisarda, (the name generally given to the Princess). The hero has his way with the heroine, despite her protests (Alabanza). The next day, he boasts that he has slept with the most beautiful woman in the world. The king says that woman is his daughter (Parida). Then he has her imprisoned, she sends a message, etc. Still other versions run Insomne + Infanta + Alabanza + Parida + Fraile.

In “A caza va el Emperador”, the king throws his daughter in the waist-deep cold water to cause an abortion. This horrid detail was surpressed in all popular traditions, most of which tone down her imprisonment even further. The page (pajecito) who takes the message sometimes becomes a bird (pajarito), and from this, probably, an angel. Sometimes the hero’s mother suggests the friar disguise. His ride to the rescue covers a fortnight’s journey in a week. He usually speaks to his horse to encourage it, and sometimes the horse replies with advce to get him stronger shoes. In traditional versions, there is no duel, only the attempt to kiss her and the confession. They mount and ride away immediately from the scaffold, without waiting for the king’s pardon.

Some add ringing conclusions: the hero slays seven guards; the princess says that she will never hear the bells of her city again; the hero shouts that the king will never see them again. In others, the princess returns after seven years to rebuke her family for trying to burn her, or she sends her son or her twin children to do the same. In still other versions, the princess does not realize that the friar is her lover. Once they are safely away, he asks her why she weeps, and she tells him she would rather burn than be a friar’s mistress, whereupon he reveals himself.

Claraniña sometimes becomes Claralinda, or has her name changed completely, often to Galanzuca or Lizarda, but there are many other names for her. Sometimes she is given a brother named Rondale, i.e. Roland. Claros is sometimes replaced with Oliveros del Mar, or with Carlos Magnos. Other times he is simply known as Count of Montalban, or as Count Alvar. Due to the frequent changes of names, there are some localities where, for example, Infanta + Fraile and Emperador + Insomne are both sung, without any realization that they used to be connected.

Compare Fraile with Lady Maisry (Child 65), the German The King of Mailand, and the Hungarian The Dishonored Maiden.

The Legend of Girfaus

The legend of Girfaus survives in only one fragment: the top portion of one manuscript leaf which was used as part of the binding for a later book. The fragment is from between 1200 and 1250, and is written in monorhymed decasyllabic laisses. The only edition is “A Fragment of an Unknown ‘Roland’ Epic”, by Roger Middleton and Karen Pratt, in King’s College London Medieval Studies XII: Roland and Charlemagne in Europe. There is no English translation, and to my knowledge this is the first English summary.

…Karles tells Milon the Bearded that he intends to burn towers, castles and cities to the ground. A Saracen spy overhears this, and begins making his way back to his own camp. He passes by the tents where Roland and Oliver are sleeping, and returns to Orbloise, where he tells Girfaus all. Girfaus splits his army in two, and advances…

…Oliver kills someone…

…Guifar mentions his father Fouré, apparently after killing Druin…

…Roland has Durandal, and kills Jonafin. Oliver kills Brut. Girfaus sees this…

…Antone does something [probably gets killed by Girfaus]…

Girfaus sees the ruin of his men. He kills the young Guion d’Orleans. Roland pursues many, no one can escape him. The younger son of Fourez [probably Guifar] kills Folcart and Focerez, with the sword with which Marsiles the Amirez [Emir] had dubbed him. Oliver sees this, and kills him with Hauteclere. He says that he [the son] will never avenge his father. He then shouts aloud to Girfaus, taunting him with the death of his brother* and of his father Fourez.

[*The MS actually reads “Thy father is dead, and thy father Fourez.” The correction is the editors’, and makes much more sense.]

THE SOURCES OF THE LEGEND

We have so little information that anything would be mere speculation. If Guifar was dubbed by Marsile, then perhaps this is from some lost version of the Entrée en Espagne? Or perhaps it is a completely different war. We will probably never know. It is anyone’s guess if “Milon le Barbé” is the father of Roland or not. The only other Milon le Barbé listed in Langlois has a walk-on role as one of Ganelon’s family in Aye d’Avignon.

Book I, Canto VI, Part 3

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

41
King Galifron, the father of the lady
Is ancient. Peace at any cost he prizes.
No quarrel with the Prince of Tartars made he,
Who’s strong and bold, and vast his army’s size is.
His lovely daughter ‘gainst all reason bade he
To wed this man whom she so much despises.
Unto her father’s will she’ll ne’er submit.
She’d rather die than even think of it.

42
Unto Albracca did the lady fly,
A day’s ride past the borders of Cathay,
Which is a castle strongly fortified
Which can withstand a siege for many a day.
The courtly lady now is trapped inside,
Angelica, who through the world is famed;
For Heaven’s star that shines most brilliantly
Has lost its light, and is less fair than she.

43
The herald takes his leave and disappears.
Orlando gallops off with all his power.
He seems already to behold his dear
Angelica, and tread within her bower.
As thus in rev’ry rides the cavalier,
He sees a  mighty wall around a tower.
A pair of mountains was this fort between.
To reach them was a bridge across a stream.

44
Upon the bridge there stood a fair young maid,
Who held a crystal chalice in her hands.
When she espied the cavalier, she bade
Him stop, and with a gladsome countenance
And sweet voice said, “O baron, thou art stayed.
Thou canst ride on no further, nor advance
On foot. Thy strength and cunning may not serve.
The custom of this place thou must observe.

45
The custom is that ev’ry knight must drink
Out of this goblet ere he passes us.”
Of guile Count Orlando does not think;
He drains the brimming glass, but as he does,
Before he has the time to even blink,
He’s changed entirely from what he was.
He knows not whence, or how, or when he came,
Or whither he is bound, or his own name.

46
Angelica the beautiful is fled
Out of his mind. Extinguished is the flame
By which across the world he has been led.
He has forgotten Emp’ror Charlemagne.
All other thoughts are banished from his head.
Over his heart, this newcome lady reigns.
He does not seek for pleasance, but he stands
Obedient to what she shall command.

47
He rides his Brigliadoro through the gate,
That Count of Brava, rapt out of his wits,
And dismounts in a palace finely made,
And for astonishment he gapes at it.
On amber columns with fine gold inlaid
A large and finely-furnished loggia sits.
The floor was made of marble green and white;
The ceiling was with gold and azure dight.

48
A garden spread beneath the gallery,
Shaded by palms and cedars fresh and green,
And many other pleasant kinds of tree,
Beneath whose branches was a rich sward seen,
Where springtime flowers bloomed eternally.
A marble wall enclosed this pleasant scene,
Where from each herb and bush and tree and flower
A sweet scent wafted, filling all the bower.

49
The count stands marv’lling at the loggia’s three
Arcades, which have been richly decorated
By paintings which were wrought so skillfully
That Nature’s self looked not so real as they did.
As the Count looks on them amazedly,
He sees a noble hist’ry there related.
Ladies and cavaliers from days of old
Were painted with their names below, in gold.

50
They showed a damsel standing on a beach.
She looked so lifelike that you would have swore
That as you looked at her, you heard her speech.
She beckoned passing sailors to her shore,
But as they came, she turned them into beasts.
Their human shape away from them she tore.
Some became lions, others wolves or bears.
Boars’ or gryphons’ shapes do others wear.

51
A ship, arriving, could you painted see,
And a knight who was stepping off her decks,
Who with his handsome face and his sweet speech
Kindled the flames of love within her breast.
And she was shown in giving him the key
With which she locked the potion in a chest,
The potion by whose means the mighty dame
Turned into beasts all men who thither came.

52
There could be seen how she so much did glow
For that bold cavalier with such emotion,
That by her own enchantments she’s brought low.
He tricked her into drinking her own potion,
And thus transformed her to a milk-white doe,
And then that knight for whom she’d such devotion
(Circella was this hapless lady’s name)
Mounted his horse and rode to hunt the dame.

53
All of her history the walls relate,
How he pursued her, and restored her shape.
The painting was so rich and so ornate,
The gold lit all the garden, without jape.
The count, whose mind is in a mazed state,
Can do nought else than simply stare and gape,
But as he’s standing there, his wits without,
He hears within the park a mighty shout.

54
But ere I tell you how he ran toward
That noise, and why that clamor was begun,
Somewhat of King Gradasso I’ll record,
Who was all armored like a champion,
Beside the sea, upon the sandy shore,
Where all day he awaited Aymon’s son.
He thought that leaving early would be wrong.
The seashore was two thousand good leagues long.

55
But as the starry heavens he perceived,
And of his foe Rinaldo not a sign,
Then was he certain he has been deceived.
He hurried back towards the battle lines.
I’ll sing of Ricciardetto, sorely grieved,
For when he saw the day to eve decline,
And that his brother dear was not yet come,
He thought he must be dead or overcome.

56
Think of how dreadful must have been his grief!
But sorrow did not so possess his heart
To stop his summoning the Christian chiefs,
And bidding them make ready to depart.
That very night, as silent as a thief,
The army left, nor did the Pagan guards
Perceive them, for, prepared for all events,
Rinald had camped three leagues from Marsil’s tents.

57
Without a rest they hurry on their path,
Until they see once more the land of France.
Now turn we to Gradasso. In his wrath,
He bids his men at daybreak to advance.
Poor King Marsilio now much terror hath.
His champions are gone, his army scant.
Pris’ners are Ferragu and Serpentin.
The Christians fled, Rinaldo nowhere seen.

58
He went himself to where Gradasso sate,
And knelt before him, bowing low his head.
The outrage of the Christians he relates,
And how the glutton Don Rinald has fled.
He offers to give up his kingship straight,
And hold his lands from King Gradass instead.
With few words more, the terms of fee are fixed,
And the two armies are together mixed.

59
Grandonio comes from Barcellona town,
And swears an oath at King Marsil’s command,
That he will follow King Gradasso’s crown
Against King Charlemagne and all his land.
The king in secret vows he will burn down
All Paris to the ground, if to his hand
They do not give Baiardo, and he yearned
To see each bit of France it such wise burned.

60
Don Ricciardetto all the army brought
Back to the palace of King Charlemagne,
But of Rinaldo he could tell them nought
And from his silence a great outcry sprang.
Those of Maganza villainously sought
To have Rinaldo instantly proclaimed
A traitor, but the villains he defied,
And wished to prove by combat that they lied.

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Notes

Not to be Confused With…

NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH

Orlando, or Roland, the hero of our story, has no connection with:

Orlando, Florida, which is named after a pioneer named Orlando. Although California was named after an imaginary kingdom in one of the sequels to Amadis of Gaul, Spanish love of chivalry was not responsible for every place name in the New World.

Orlando in Shakespeare’s As You Like It, which is based on The Tale of Gamelyn¸ a story once wrongly attributed to Geoffrey Chaucer, and found in some of the old manuscripts of the Canterbury Tales.

Childe Roland who to the Dark Tower came, as explained in this post.

The hero of Grimm’s fairy tale, “Sweetheart Roland”.

RINALDO

Rinaldo, or Reynard, has no connection with Reynard the Fox, more information on whom can be found here.

Rinaldo of Montalban, the cousin of Orlando and hero of Torquato Tasso’s poem Rinaldo is NOT the same person as Rinaldo of Este, the hero of Torquato Tasso’s poem Jerusalem Delivered.

BAIARDO

Bayard, the steed of Rinaldo, has no connection to the Chevalier de Bayard, who was the flower of chivalry in the 15th century, held a bridge single-handedly against two hundred Spaniards, and was known as “The Good Knight”, or “The Knight without Fear and without Blame”. Some of his adventures can be found in the Red True Story Book, by Andrew Lang.

TURPIN

Turpin, Archbishop of Rheims and alleged chronicler of the history of the Paladins, is not to be confused with Dick Turpin, the notorious English highwayman.

SACRIPANTE

Sacripant the wizard in The Old Wives’ Tale, by George Peel, has nothing but the name in common with Boiardo’s King Sacripante of Circassia.

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.

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Notes

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!”

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Notes

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.

Keep Reading

Notes

Notes to the Fifth Canto, Part 4

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

73. Boiardo never uses the word “sfinge”, but his monster is clearly meant to be one, and so I have added the name.
In Greek mythology there was only one sphinx, a monster which was guarded the roads to Thebes, put a riddle to passersby, and ate them if they couldn’t answer it. Hesiod says that Echidna lay with her son by Typhon, Orthus, a monstrous hound that was later Geryon’s watchdog, and the two of them produced the Sphinx and the Nemean Lion. Sophocles gives no description of the creature. Apollodorus states the Sphinx was sent by Hera, and was the daughter of Echidna and Typhon. She had the face of a woman, the breast, feet, and tail of a lion, and the wings of a bird. Her riddle about man is the only one she gives in Greek myth. Pausanias rationalizes the myth, claiming that Sphinx was the name of Oedipus’ sister, who seized a fortress near Thebes until Oedipus and his army slew her.
According to Pliny, sphinxes are a species that live in Ethiopia, have brown hair, and have two udders on their breasts. (VIII, xxx) That is the whole of his description, and he seems to have thought of the sphinx as a kind of monkey. Certainly Isidore of Seville lists the sphinx as a species of ape, and he is followed in this opinion by Western writers all the way down to Topsell.
81. Serpent’s hide. Probably meaning a dragon.
83. Orlando was made an honorary member of the Roman Senate out of gratitude after one of the numerous occasions when he saved the Eternal City from invading Saracens.

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On to Canto VI