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4 - The Duel between Astolfo and Gradasso di Sericana (sera 159)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 February 2024

Jo Ann Cavallo
Affiliation:
Columbia University, New York
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Summary

Introduction

Following Angelica's sudden departure from France (discussed below), Astolfo of England wins the Parisian tournament initially proclaimed by the emperor thanks to his serendipitous acquisition of Argalia's lance whose magical property remains unknown to him. Yet rather than receiving recognition for his victory, Astolfo is wounded from behind “with / much treachery and false deceit” (OI 1.3.21) and then slandered by Gano and the Maganzese clan. In response to the resulting scuffle, the gullible emperor precipitously orders Astolfo's arrest rather than duly honoring him as the champion. After languishing in prison for months, the English knight is released only after Gradasso's army (having passed through Spain) wages a direct assault on Paris and overcomes Carlo's forces. With the fate of Christendom in the balance, the newly freed Astolfo courageously challenges the king of Sericana to single combat. Following his unexpected defeat of Gradasso, Astolfo also gains a moral victory over Carlo by censuring the emperor's poor judgment and departing from his realm (OI 1.7.37–71).

Most of the action in sera 159 concerns the vicissitudes taking place in Paris: from Gradasso's conquest of the city in the absence of Orlando and Rinaldo to its liberation at the hands of Astolfo (Figure 4.1). In addition, however, Agrippino also weaves in the romance adventures undertaken by both Orlando and Rinaldo far beyond Europe while Paris is under siege. The play's interlaced episodes not only thereby take place in three very disparate regions of the globe, but they also contrast the actions and mindset of the three paladins: (1) Astolfo, after single-handedly saving France, remonstrates with Carlo for having acted against justice; (2) Orlando, having deserted the emperor (and his own wife Alda) out of love for Angelica, falls under the spell of a fairy in the Caucasus region and thereby loses his identity; and (3) Rinaldo, having been whisked away against his will on the morning of a scheduled duel against Gradasso in Spain, arrives on an island in the Indian Ocean where he resists the allure of an enchanted site constructed by none other than Angelica.

Type
Chapter
Information
The Sicilian Puppet Theater of Agrippino Manteo (1884-1947)
The Paladins of France in America
, pp. 91 - 110
Publisher: Anthem Press
Print publication year: 2023

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