Orlando Furioso Cast of Characters: Rodomonte

Cantos XIV (Paris Walls), XVI (Within the City), XVII (Palace), XVIII (Escape), XXIII (Frontino), XXIV (Mandricardo), XXVI (Merlin’s Fountain), XXVII (Tournament of Grievances), XXVIII (Innkeeper’s Tale), XXIX (Isabel’s Monument), XXXI (Brandimart), XXXV (Bradamante), XLVI (Finale)

Saracen King of Argiers, Betrothed of Doralice

Coat of Arms: Maid Bridling Lion on Red Field

Nimrod’s dragon-scale arms!

Classical Type: Turnus, Achilles

TL;DR: Distillate of Every Villain’s Worst Attribute Becomes Proverb For Arrogance

Summary

Rodomonte starts with one heck of a bang, leading a devil-may-care charge to shatter the Parisian defenses at the assault on Paris.  He slaughters many knights, vaults the moat in a single leap of over thirty feet, and charges into the city alone while most of his 20,000 troops are burned to death in fiery pitch.

Once inside Rodomonte massacres all who cross his path, combatant or not, and reduces much of the city to a smoldering Troy by himself.  He is finally turned aside at the palace gates by a mighty effort from Charlemagne, his many knights, and a massive mob of soldiers and citizens who simply threaten to overwhelm him with numbers.

Rodomonte carves his way to the river and leaps in to escape the thousands threatening to drag him to his death.  Emerging from the river outside the city he encounters Doralice’s dwarf-attendant who brings news that the princess of Granada has been kidnapped by Mandricardo.  Rodomonte immediately abandons his attack on Paris to rescue his fiancee.

After searching afoot for some days, the king of Argiers crosses paths with Hippalca bringing Frontino from Bradamante to Rogero.  Rodomonte, impressed with the horse and its trappings, overthrows Hippalca and takes Frontino for his own.

He finally catches up to Mandricardo just as the Tartar king has killed Zerbino and armed himself with Orlando’s gear.  The two wage a furious battle for the right to Doralice, who stops their duel to bring them back to Agramant’s aid.

On the way to Agramant’s camp the three come upon Marphisa and the four knights Aldigier, Richardetto, Vivian, and Malagigi feasting at Merlin’s fountain.  Rodomonte watches indifferently as Mandricardo unhorses the four knights in an attempt to win Marphisa as a consolation prize for Rodomonte.

Rogero re-enters looking for Rodomonte and a four-way battle breaks out, with Rodomonte insisting on his right to Rogero’s horse.  The feuds are interrupted by Doralice being carried off to Agramant’s camp by Malagigi’s spell.

Rodomonte and the other knights set aside their differences just long enough to drive Charlemagne back into Paris for a second siege.  Agramant then intervenes to settle all the disputes, beginning with Rodomonte’s contest with Mandricardo.  Before they can duel Rodomonte breaks out in a new feud with Sacripant over the right to Frontino.

Agramant demands that Doralice settle the affair by simply choosing which knight she wants to marry.  When the princess chooses Mandricardo the humiliated Rodomonte abandons the war effort entirely and makes his way back toward Africa bemoaning Fickle Woman all the while.  He stays the night at an inn and listens to the innkeeper’s ribald tale of the treacheries of womankind.  Rodomonte approves of this interpretation of reality and sleeps the night.

The next day he comes to the south of France and decides to conquer and rule it instead of going home to Africa.  Eventually Isabel and her hermit guide pass through on the way to a monastery.  Smitten with her beauty, Rodomonte dispatches the hermit and prepares to force his claim on the bereaved Isabel.

Rodomonte, lured by the promise of immortality and stupefied with drink, falls for Isabel’s con and is tricked into killing her.  In a fit of noble madness he erects a tower to her honor and builds a challenge bridge for all wandering knights: Christian knights who fall to him are sent to Argiers as slaves, while pagans are stripped of arms and sent on their way.

Eventually the furioso Orlando makes his way to the challenge bridge.  Too feral to comprehend the ritual of the challenge, the count grapples with Rodomonte and they both fall into the river below.  Later Brandimart tries his hand at defeating the Saracen and nearly drowns to death.  Flordelis pleads mercy and Rodomonte rescues the knight, only to ship him off to Africa as a slave.

Marsilius attempts to bring Rodomonte back into the war by promising him marriage to Almontes’ daughter, but the Saracen remains at his challenge bridge.  Finally Bradamante arrives, armed with Astolpho’s magical lance and riding Rabican.  She easily overthrows Rodomonte, compelling him to release his captives in Africa and surrender his dragon-scale arms.

Rodomonte disappears after his defeat at the bridge only to return in the final act of the poem.  He arrives to disrupt the wedding feast of Rogero and Bradamante, having first lived as an anchorite for a year, a month, and a day.  He accuses Rogero of treason and the two fight to the death.  In the final line of the poem Rodomonte’s soul is sent screaming, Turnus-like, to hell.

Judgment

Oh, my sweet, sweet, Rodomonte!  If ever I wrote fan-fic Furioso (and don’t rule it out), I would surely write about him!  Much of the poem is structured around preventing Orlando and Rodomonte from facing each other directly in battle.  His greatness, in the end, is meant to underscore Rogero’s.  Possibly my favorite villain of all time.

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