So the bewildering nexus of events surrounding Orlando’s titular madness and the battle of Paris mostly makes sense. I have a monster chart on the chalkboard in my office to prove it! But there are two timing problems that I have not resolved yet: Mandricardo and Rogero.
Mandricardo’s adventure begins when he learns of the carnage wrought on Agramant’s forces by a mysterious black knight (Orlando in disguise). He departs the war camp some time before the battle of Paris to investigate. After seeing the carnage firsthand and scouring the area for the perpetrator, Mandricardo comes upon Doralice’s entourage and…”woos” her. Instead of heading back to the war, he continues to search for the black knight, this time with Doralice at his side.
When Mandricardo finally catches up with Orlando, two days after the battle of Paris, he claims that he has been searching for him for ten days. Based on the narrator’s time stamps in his tale, that would mean that he started his quest seven days before the battle of Paris and that he’s been wandering with Doralice for a full week.
Quite against this claim is the intersecting tale of Rodomonte. At the conclusion of his aristeia in Paris, Rodomonte encounters a distraught attendant of Doralice who informs him that Mandricardo took her just the previous day. If all the other narrative time stamps are correct, that would mean Mandricardo began his quest just two days before the battle of Paris, not seven.
How to resolve? There may be a narrative time slip in the beginning of Mandricardo’s search, so that finding Doralice “the next day” really means five days after he first departed Agramant’s side. The other possibility that comes to mind is that he’s lying to Orlando–he has not been searching for ten days, but for five.
Ok, enough about Mandricardo; he dies soon anyway. What about Rogero?
For Rogero’s time slip, I still have the feeling that I’m missing something in my calculations. There’s a freakish amount of detail to sift for making this time chart and I only got to this section in the waning of my energy and willpower. But here’s the problem:
Rogero (and Bradamante) re-enter the timeline at one of the grand synchronizing events of the poem, the destruction of the magical villa by Astolpho. On that day, one day after the battle of Paris, Bradamante slays Pinabel (tying directly into the Zerbino timeline, which we take as our base) and Rogero defeats Gryphon & Company.
Somehow, perhaps by several “n+1” counting errors, Rogero’s next deeds must be spread out so that he is at Merlin’s fountain for the showdown with Rodomonte and Mandricardo. This showdown takes place on Furioso Day, four days after the battle of Paris. The problem is that it’s not obvious, given the narrative time transitions, how to achieve that.
He appears to save Richardetto from execution the evening after defeating Gryphon & Company, then arrives at Agrismonte late that night. There he learns that Vivian and Malagigi are about to be sold by the Maganza. The very next day he sets out and rescues them (meeting Marphisa in the process). To celebrate, they all feast at Merlin’s fountain, whereupon Rodomonte and Mandricardo interrupt them.
But oops, we got there too soon! On that chronology, the rescue of Vivian and Malagigi, and therefore the showdown with Rodomonte and Mandricardo, happens two days before Furioso Day. And that can’t be right, since Mandricardo already has the arms of Orlando he acquired on Furioso Day.
Looking at my ridiculous chalk drawing, it would be perfect if Rogero saved Richardetto the day after Pinabel’s death and then reached Agrismonte the day after that. Then everything would fit; he would indeed rescue Vivian and Malagigi on Furioso Day. But there has to be some slippage somewhere for that to work.
For this one, I still think I may have made a counting error myself, or missed a detail or three. Of course it’s entirely possible that Ariosto himself has botched his timing, either on composition or during his later revision. But saving the appearances is fun!
Next up: Ariosto abandons this Clancy-weave and resets his timing at the Tournament of Grievances!
(For an earlier treatment of another timing issue, see here)