Orlando Furioso Cast of Characters: Gabrina

With Isabel in Cave XII, Flees XIII, Marphisa and Zerbino XX, Hermonides XXI, Pinabel Frame-up XXIII, Death XXIV

Wife of Argaeus of Servia, Archenemy of Hermonides of Holland, Slain by Odoric

Classical Type:

The Evil Queen Bavmorda

TLDR:

Eeeeeevil Woman Hangs Around Way Too Long, Finally Gets Her Due

Summary:

When first we meet Gabrina she is ambiguously “in the cave with” Isabel when Orlando comes to the rescue.  After Orlando overpowers and hangs all the slavers (Gabrina’s company), she flees into the forest.

After a flight of uncertain time, Gabrina encounters Marphisa.  Seeing her to be a knight from foreign lands (and thus unaware of her vile reputation), Gabrina enlists her aid as escort and protector.  The pair crosses paths with Pinabel and his paramour, who mocks Gabrina.  Marphisa teaches them manners the hard way; Gabrina dons the garb of the young courtesan and takes her horse.

Zerbino also laughs at Gabrina, this time since she is an old woman dressed up as a courtesan.  Marphisa unhorses him and forces him to become Gabrina’s escort so that she can continue on her heroic journey.

When Gabrina realizes who Zerbino is, she begins to torment him by claiming to know what happened to Isabel after her “death” at sea.  Zerbino threatens and cajoles her to tell him what she knows, but Gabrina prefers to torment him.

Her sick game is interrupted by the approach of the knight Hermonides, out for justice against Gabrina for many crimes.  She quickly manipulates Zerbino into defending her by concocting a story in which Hermonides is the villain.

After Zerbino defeats him, Hermonides reveals the true story of Gabrina: wife of a Serbian lord, Gabrina tried to seduce Hermonides’ brother Philander and then accused him of rape when she failed.  Her husband Argaeus imprisoned his former comrade and Gabrina went right back to trying to seduce him.  Failing again, she tricked Philander into killing her husband and guilted him into marrying her.  After using Philander for a time she poisoned him and ran away.

Zerbino, now full of hate but bound by his vow, continues on with Gabrina under his protection.  The two pour hate on each other until they find the aftermath of Bradamante’s battle with Pinabel.  While Zerbino investigates the area, Gabrina loots a girdle from the corpse of the Maganzese lord.

The pair journey on to the nearby castle of Altaripa where Anselmo mourns the death of his son Pinabel.  When Gabrina realizes there is a reward for capturing the killer of Pinabel–and Zerbino keeps his mouth shut to avoid suspicion–she accuses Zerbino of the murder and produces the girdle she looted from the corpse as “proof.”

While Zerbino is carried off to face mob justice (and saved by Orlando), Gabrina flees the scene of her latest crime.  She runs into Mandricardo and Doralice looking for Orlando to complete their duel.  Mandricardo strips her palfrey of its reins and Gabrina is carried off by her wild horse.

She wanders into the confrontation between Zerbino, Isabel, and Odoric.  With all the actors in this storyline assembled, Zerbino decides to punish Odoric and Gabrina together: he transfers his escort duty to Odoric and promises to kill him if he ever abandons the harridan Gabrina.  With that Zerbino and Isabel wash their hands of their painful recent past and leave her behind.

In a post-script stanza, we learn that not one day later Odoric hangs Gabrina from a tree.

Judgment:  Wow.  Ariosto picked a doozy of a true villain.  No two sides to this story!  She is so vile that she seems to be present in the poem for a lot longer than she really is.   Nice low-brow, petty ending.

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