Canto VIII, XII (trapped in villa), XX (released from villa), XXIV (name-drop), XXVII (name-drop/prolepsis), XXXI (Paris, Rodomonte’s Bridge), XXXVIII (name-drop), XXXIX (Orlando), XL (Biserta), XLI (Lampedusa), XLII (dies), XLIII (funeral)
Raised in The Sylvan Fort by Bardino, Best Friend of Orlando, Lover of Flordelis, son of Monodantes, Brother of Gigliantes
Noble Second Tier Knight Dies Exactly As You Would Expect If You Read Epics
Once the Orlando saga finally gets underway at the end of Canto VIII, Brandimart sets out from Paris to find his best friend. He finds himself trapped in the magical villa of Atlantes for much of the poem while his lover, Flordelis, searches for him.
After Astolpho clears the villa with his magical horn, Brandimart finds himself back at Paris to help Rinaldo and company lift the renewed siege, where he is reunited with Flordelis. When she tells him what has happened to Orlando, he departs again only to come across Rodomonte’s insane bridge challenge. Against Rodomonte he acquits himself well, but nevertheless is taken captive for the second time.
Brandimart and the rest of Rodomonte’s prisoners are transported to Biserta, only to be rescued by Astolpho just as the Duke is about to attack the city. Before the battle Brandimart learns that his father has died and he needs to return home to rule the idyllic kingdom in his stead–his chance at a happy ending with Flordelis. He insists, however, that he is duty-bound to help Charlemagne first.
Orlando Furioso staggers into the scene and Brandimart helps restrain him so that Astolpho can restore his wits. When the restored Christian army lays siege to Biserta, he leads the heroic charge and delivers victory almost single-handedly. Peace for Europe, and the end of the poem, are almost in sight!
To finally resolve the dispute between the forces of Charlemagne and Agramant, the two armies agree to send three heroes to the island of Lampedusa for an epic duel. Orlando chooses Brandimart and Olivier as his allies to face off against Agramant, Sobrino, and, most dangerously, Gradasso, who wields Orlando’s unstoppable sword Durindana.
The six super-knights wage epic battle for an entire canto until, with victory nearly in hand for the Christians, Gradasso deals Brandimart a mortal blow. Orlando finishes the battle and then cradles his best friend, receiving his dying words. The knights return Brandimart’s body to the grieving Flordelis, hold a lavish funeral, and then build a monument-church over his crypt.
Quite a few of the poem’s traps are designed to keep Brandimart out of the story, otherwise the Christian knights would win too easily. After forcing one of the main heroes of the previous poem to cool his heels for most of this one, Ariosto finds just enough time to show off his greatness–the siege of Biserta and the duel on Lampedusa–before killing him off.
Obviously the best friend of
Achilles Orlando has to die, but…ouch. Painful. The circumstances of his death show another way that Ariosto has carved up his heroic tropes: it’s Rinaldo’s absence from the battle, not Orlando’s, that brings about his death…but it is also Orlando’s madness that placed Durindana in Gradasso’s hands to make the final scene possible.