Orlando Furioso: Canto 1, 31-60

03/26/2009 § 1 Comment

Where did Orlando go? We’re 60 stanzas into this sucker and he’s nowhere to be found! Dont’ worry. He comes back in like a hundred pages or so.

So at the end of last time Ferraú vowed to win Orlando’s helmet from him after a ghost came and freaked him out. The ghost was, of course, Angelica’s bro, who Ferraú had slain earlier.

Rinaldo had set off upon a different trail and after we leave Ferraú with his vow we come back to Rinaldo who has not traveled far when lo! he sees Baiardo (his horse with man brain). He yells something priceless that could be used in a sappy song directed towards not a horse with man brain but to a girl, if one were so inclined. He yells “ho, there, wo! Without you weary is the road I tread.” Maybe a song for a hiphopera or something.

The horse, like a scorned lover, turns a deaf ear and gallops further off. And now the narrative follows Angelica.

She goes through the woods and terrifying undergrowth. She “abhors the dreaded traces,” which I take to be shadows. They remind her of her pursuer Rinaldo. She reaches a grove, with two crystal streams nearby.

She finds a charming nook which is made gay by roses and shady oaks. She falls asleep but alas! her slumber is cut short. A knight approaches. He heads towards the riverbank and props on his elbow, cheek in hand, deep in thought. He is dubbed the cavalier of grief because he begins to sob and the very stones are moved by his tears.

Then there are some passages about virgins being like roses…and plucking….and despoiling hands…..and rain and earth…and virgins should, with zeal, and more than her eyes, defend this prize. Eyes seem more valuable to me than virginity, but maybe the crusades were different than now.

The knight who waters the river with his tears ends up being Sacripante, King of Circassia. He laments by the river for quite some time. Angelica hears every word and is unmoved. She has known of Sacripante’s love for quite some time.

“She holds the world in such contempt and scorn,/ No man deserving her was ever born.”

Man. That Angelica!

She plots and schemes and instead of running from him as she did from Rinaldo, she steps out of her hiding place. Then, when Sacripante sees her there is a priceless description that may be, if you can believe it, an exageration. “No mother with such joy and stupor raised/ Her eyes to see the face of her lost son/Whom when his regiment without him blazed/ It’s homward way, she mourned as dead and gone,” Man. I don’t think that Sacripante’s lust compares with a grieving mothers’.

Dang. Then Angelica embraces him and coos and bills! She has him in her clutches now. She tells him all that has happened. How she was saved from death and dishonor, and she was “…in fact/ As when she left her mother’s womb, intact.”

Then comes the punchline from the astute narrator. “It may be true, but no man in his senses/ Would ever credit it;” haha. Yeah. Sacripante believes it of course “…for, as all men do,/ He gives assent to what he hopes is true.”

Sacripante prepares for his sweet assault of deflowering. But lo! through the woods a clamour sounds (and it’s not the clamour of their bodies meeting) that tears his ear drums. He dons his helmet, as he always does.

A side note. Again hollywood has ruined my own imagination and internal projector. Whenever I read this part I think of the horrible Excalibur from the eighties and when Arthur makes Merlin change his appearance so he can conceieve Morgan Le Fay. If one casts their memory back they will remember Arthur is in full armour as he plants his seed which is somehow horrifying and comical at the same time. There must be some kind of latch or gate in armour that we, the museum goers, are unaware of.


Into the forest rides a valiant Knight bedecked in snowy white. The plume on his helmet is also white. This is stanza 60, thus we are left with the two knights staring at each other with “stormy looks.”

Characters in this section:

Angelica: endlessly pursued by all

Rinaldo: left to pursue on foot, betrayed by manbrained Baiardo

Sacripante: King of Circassia. Also in love with Angelica. A touch weepier than the others.

Mysterious White Knight: ???


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