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7 - The Enamorment of Bradamante and Ruggiero (sera 182)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 February 2024

Jo Ann Cavallo
Affiliation:
Columbia University, New York
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Summary

Introduction

By this point in the Orlando Innamorato, the North African invasion of Carlo's realm is well under way. Although Rugiero's wizard guardian Atalante had been sheltering him in the Atlas Mountains in the Maghreb to protect him from his destined early death by betrayal, the youth was lured out by a ruse and he subsequently joined Agramante's expedition as it followed Rodamonte to France. In the meantime, Gradasso has undertaken another journey from the Far East to France to attain Durlindana and Baiardo. Along the way, he teams up with Mandricardo, who has set out from Tartaria to avenge the death of Agricane by killing Orlando. As the two new companions head westward, the narrator remarks that “such a valiant pair / was not then found in pagan lands” (OI 3.2.39). The two warrior kings will eventually join the allied Saracen forces closing in on the Christian Franks. Nonetheless, as we find out in sera 182, they do not hesitate to fight each other over the right to possess Orlando's sword.

In the midst of the invasion of France, a battlefield love story arises between the Saracen Rugiero and the Christian Bradamante that goes against the “us” versus “them” mentality characteristic of war. Although the two are technically enemy combatants when they meet, they treat each other first and foremost as individuals deserving of respect. Their encounter is not a minor diversion from the martial exploits but rather the most crucial moment of the Innamorato given that Boiardo imagines the North African Rugiero and the Frankish Bradamante to be the progenitors of the Estense dynasty of Ferrara, currently headed by the poem's dedicatee, Duke Ercole I d’Este.

The core of sera 182 dramatizes the fateful encounter of Bradamante (Figure 7.1) and Ruggiero (Figure 7.2) leading to their enamorment. The growing bond between the two courteous knights provides a contrast to the animosity surrounding them on both a grand scale (the pan-African invasion of France serving as frame in Acts 1 and 3) and at an individual level (Rodomonte's discourtesy in Act 1, scene 5; the ambush in Act 2, scenes 2 and 3; and the dispute between Mandricardo and Gradasso over Orlando's sword in Act 3, scene 4).

Type
Chapter
Information
The Sicilian Puppet Theater of Agrippino Manteo (1884-1947)
The Paladins of France in America
, pp. 147 - 162
Publisher: Anthem Press
Print publication year: 2023

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