The most outlandish and wonderful tale in Orlando Furioso, in my opinion, is Gryphon At The Gates. It also has an important lesson on the virtues of the king.
First, a recap of dark hilarity:
The naive Gryphon travels to Damascus in the company of his “true love” Origilla and her “brother” Martano. The reality of course is that Origilla is a promiscuous harpy and Martano is her feckless lover; when Gryphon crosses paths with them quite by accident and wonders why his “sick” love is not resting in Constantinople, the deplorable duo concoct an outlandish fabrication that the naive super-knight happily accepts.
At Damascus Martano foolishly decides to participate in King Norandino’s tournament of thanksgiving. After he humiliates himself and, by extension, his companions, Gryphon takes the field to make amends. He obliterates Norandino’s champions one and all, nearly killing some in the process in his zeal to restore the honor lost by Martano. All are in awe of this mighty white knight, but Gryphon returns to his lodging and promptly falls asleep.
While he slumbers, Martano steals his armor and presents himself, Origilla at his side, at the victory banquet as the champion of the event. When Gryphon arrives to set the record straight, the nobles of Damascus, thinking him the cowardly Martano, jeer at him. Norandino orders him arrested, beaten, and thrown in prison for daring to steal the honors of a great knight. Continue reading Orlando Furioso: Regnative Prudence
I’ve been entertaining myself reading a high-quality amateur translation of Orlando Innamorato. That blog is highly recommended if you are interested in the medieval romances, plus it’s a hundred times more attractive than mine. Tons of source material!
Reading the precursor poem to Orlando Furioso has greatly assisted my understanding of the story arcs of the characters. I thought here I’d just sketch the basic events of the poem in slightly more detail than one can find at weak sources like wikipedia.
This will probably become a permanent page on my sidebar at some point. Too useful! Continue reading Orlando Innamorato Outline
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. Continue reading Timing in Orlando Furioso (II)
When does anything happen in Orlando Furioso?
In terms of setting, there’s really no answer to that question. Charlemagne is the emperor of Europe…so after 800 AD? But it’s before Roland dies at Roncevaux, so it’s before 778 AD…except of course for the amazing anachronisms with technology and the trans-historical alliance of Moors, Turks, Saracens, and Arabs.
Ok, so it’s all times and never. But what about the internal chronology of the poem? Continue reading Timing in Orlando Furioso
Cantos II (Atlantes Tower), IV (Rescued), XII (Magical Villa), XXII (Released), XXVII (Tournament of Grievances), XXX (Durindana), XXXI (Rinaldo), XXXIII (Duel), XL (Lampedusa Plan), XLI (Trial on Lampedusa), LXII (Slain)
King of Sericane
Magical horse Alfana
Classical Type: ?
Coat of Arms: ?
TL;DR: Chief Villain of Previous Poem Held in Stasis Until the Final Battle
Summary Continue reading Orlando Furioso Cast of Characters: Gradasso
Cantos VIII (Paris), IX (Olympia), XI (Orc), XII (Villa), XIII (Isabel), XXIII (Zerbino) XXIV (Furioso), XXIX (Rodomonte’s Bridge), XXX (Spain and Africa), XXXIX (Restored), XL (Biserta), XLI (Lampedusa), XLII (Victory), XLIII (Brandimart’s Funeral), XLIV (Return to France), XLV (Wedding Dispute), XLVI (Wedding Feast)
Son of Milo, Cousin of Rinaldo, Count of Anglantes, Slayer of Almontes
Coat of Arms: Red and White Quarters
Durindana, Brigliador, Arms of Almontes. Invincible by the will of God.
Classical Type: Achilles
TL;DR Title Hero Drives Actions of Poem Directly and Indirectly, Saves Day at the End
Ecce, Homo! Continue reading Orlando Furioso Cast of Characters: Orlando
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 Continue reading Orlando Furioso Cast of Characters: Rodomonte
Cantos XVIII (Night Rescue), XIX (Angelica), XXIX (Orlando), XLII (Post-script)
Servant of King Dardinello, Comrade of Cloridano
Classical Type: Paris
TL;DR Absolute Nobody Gets the Girl and Happily Ever After
This won’t take long! Continue reading Orlando Furioso Cast of Characters: Medoro
Cantos XIV (Mandricardo), XXIII (Orlando), XXIV (Zerbino and Rodomonte), XXVI (Merlin’s Fountain), XXVII (Chooses Mandricardo), XXX (Death of Mandricardo)
Daughter of King Stordilane of Granada, Betrothed of Rodomonte, Lover of Mandricardo
Classical Type ?
Two-bit Helen Gives Heart Away Repeatedly, Disappears Unceremoniously
Summary Continue reading Orlando Furioso Cast of Characters: Doralice
Cantos VI (Tree), VIII (Escape), XV (Egypt), XVIII (Damascus), XIX (Laiazzo), XX (Laiazzo Escape), XXII (Magic Villa), XXIII (Bradamante), XXVIII (Rodomonte’s Ribald Tale), XXXIII (Ethiopia), XXXIV (Hell, Eden, Moon), XXXV (Parcae), XXXVIII (Nubian Army), XXXIX (Orlando), XL (Biserta), XLIII (Brandimart’s Funeral), XLIV (Return to France)
Duke of England, Son of Otho, Cousin of Rinaldo and Orlando
Magical horse Rabican, Magical Lance of Argalia, Horn of Dread, Book of Spells
Coat of Arms: Three Gold Pards on a Crimson Field
Classical Type: Odysseus
TL;DR King Arthur Soars Around World, Saves Orlando and The Day
Summary Continue reading Orlando Furioso Cast of Characters: Astolpho