Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Chapter 117 [part 4 of 4]

[How Oriana learned about the victory and peace, and what happened to Arquisil.] 

[A map of Rome from folio 141v of the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, made in the early 1400s. Held at L’Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes.]

Then Amadis and Arquisil left the chamber, mounted their horses, and returned to the monastery. There Amadis immediately called for his dwarf, Ardian, and ordered him to go to Firm Island and tell Oriana and all the ladies there everything he had seen. And he gave him a letter for Isanjo telling him to immediately send, well guarded, Brondajel de Roca, the Duke of Ancona, the Archbishop of Talancia, and all the other Romans who were prisoners there, as quickly as they could come.

The dwarf took great pleasure in carrying this news because from it he hoped to win great honor and advantage. He immediately mounted his nag and rode all day and night stopping very little until he reached Firm Island, where no one knew anything about what had happened. Oriana had not received any news except about the two battles and how Nasciano, the holy hermit, had brought about a truce, and how the Emperor of Rome was dead, from which she took no little joy. But beyond that she knew nothing. Instead, she continuously felt great anguish thinking that the good man Nasciano was not enough to bring peace to such great disturbance. She did nothing except pray and make devotions and processions to the churches on the island and to ask God for peace and accord between the two sides.

When Adrian arrived, he immediately went straight to the garden where Oriana was, and he told a lady who was guarding the gate to tell her he was there and he brought her news. The lady told her that, and Oriana ordered him to enter, but as she awaited what he might say, her heart was not calm. Instead, she suffered great anxiety because she could only hear news that might be advantageous to one side but harmful to the other because her beloved Amadis was on one side and her father the King on the other, and although she feared harm to Amadis most of all, anything that happened to her father would give her great sorrow.

When the dwarf entered, he said to Oriana:

“My lady, I wish a reward for good news, not because of who I am, but because of who ye are and the great news that I bring you.”

She told him:

“Ardian, my friend, from thy face I see that thou comest on behalf of thy lord, but tell me whether my father is alive.”

 The dwarf said:

“What, my lady, whether he is alive? He is alive and well, and happier than he has ever been.”

“Oh, holy Mary!” she said. “Tell me what thou knowest, and if God gives me anything, I shall make thee blessed in this world.”

Then the dwarf told her everything that had happened and how, when her father the King had been about to lose his life and was defeated and surrounded by his enemies without hope, the young and very handsome Esplandian had told this to Amadis, who had immediately left with his men; and he recounted everything that happened on the way, which he had been present for. And he told how Amadis had arrived at the town, and the situation in which her father the King was, and how with Amadis’s arrival, all his enemies were destroyed, killed, or taken prisoner, including King Arabigo, Arcalaus the Sorcerer, the Duke of Bristol, and Barsinan, lord of Sansuena. And he told how afterwards the King came to Amadis, who was leaving without seeing him, and how King Perion arrived. Finally he had told everything that happened, and how they were happily together in the monastery, as he had seen.

Oriana, who as she heard it was out of her mind with the great pleasure she felt, knelt on the ground and raised her hands and said:

“Oh powerful Lord, Who heals all things, may Thy holy name be blessed. And as Thy, Lord, art the just judge and knowest the great injustice done to me, I always had hope that Thy mercy would bring an end for all this to my great honor and to those who fought on my behalf. Blessed be the handsome youth who has caused so much good to come about, and so made true the prophecy that Urganda the Unrecognized had written about him, for which everything that she said should and must be believed. I am very obliged to love and cherish him more than anyone could think, and to reward him for all the good fortune that shall come to me because of him.”

Everyone believed she had said this because of the rescue he had brought her father the King, but in secret it came from her heart as mother to son. Then she rose and asked the dwarf if he would be returning immediately. He said he would because Amadis had ordered him that after giving the news to her and the ladies who were there, he should deliver a letter to Isanjo that he brought, in which he was ordered to immediately send the Romans who were prisoners there.

“Then Ardian, my friend,” Oriana said, “tell me what fine things they will seek to do there?”

“My lady,” he said, “I do not know for certain, except that your father the King has detained King Perion and my lord, and all the lords and knights who are there, and he says that he does not want them to leave there until everything that remains between them has been settled with great peace.”

“May God be pleased to make it so,” she said.

Then Queen Briolanja and Melicia, who were there, asked him to tell them how the very handsome young Esplandian was and how King Lisuarte considered the great service that he had done for him, and he told them:

“My good ladies, I was with Amadis in the King’s chamber, and I saw Esplandian come to kiss his hands for the favors he was promised, and I saw how the King took him with his hands on his head and kissed his eyes. And of his handsomeness I tell you that, although he is male and ye consider yourselves beautiful, if ye were to find yourselves in front of him, ye would hide and not dare show yourselves.”

“Then it is good,” they said, “that we are secluded here, for he shall not see us.”

“Do not be sure of that,” he said, “for he is such that however secluded ye may be, ye and all those who are beautiful shall go to seek him.”

They all laughed at the good news they had heard and how the dwarf had answered the question. Oriana looked at Queen Sardimira and told her:

“My lady and Queen, be happy because the Lord, Who has given help to us here, will not wish you to be forgotten.”

The Queen said:

“My lady, I have great hope in Him and that ye shall seek my welfare, although I do not deserve it from you.”

Then she asked the dwarf about the unfortunate and ill-fated Romans who were with King Lisuarte. He said:

“My lady, many of those are now lacking, and those who are alive are badly wounded. But after the death of the Emperor and Floyan and Constancio, no important man is missing from among them, and I saw that Arquisil was well and that he spoke a lot with my lord Amadis, and your brother Flamineo was injured but not badly, according to what I heard.”

The Queen said:

“May it please God that since there is no hope for those who are dead, there is hope for those who are alive, and that He shall give them grace so that without heed to what has passed, they shall be friends with great love in the present and future.”

The dwarf asked Oriana if she had any commands, for he wished to deliver the orders of his lord. She told him that since he had not brought a letter, that he should give her regards to King Perion and Agrajes, and to all those knights.

With that he went to Isanjo and gave him the letter from Amadis. When he saw what was ordered in it, he immediately brought those lords from Rome out of the tower and gave them horses and one of his sons and other people to escort and guide them, and he had them given food and all the other things they would need. And he set free the others who were prisoners, almost two hundred men, and sent them to Amadis.

And so they traveled down the road and reached the monastery where King Lisuarte was, and they kissed his hands. The King received them with great pleasure although he felt otherwise secretly, but he did not show it so he would not give them more troubles than they had. But when they saw Arquisil, they could not keep tears from coming to their eyes, nor he to his. Amadis spoke to them with much courtesy, cheering them greatly, and brought them to their lodging, where they received much honor and consolation from him. And after they had arrived and rested a little from their trip, Amadis took them aside without Arquisil and told them:

“My lords, I had you brought here because it seemed to me that since things are reaching a good end, it is very proper for you to be present at everything that shall be done, for such honorable men should be taken into account, and also to have you know what I have spoken about with Arquisil, which I think ye have heard, that he should be imprisoned by me wherever I should wish.

“And knowing from what great lineage he comes and that his nobility deserves great recognition, I agreed to speak with you, since in the Roman Empire ye have no one left who ought to lead it as this knight would. A way should be found so that yourselves and all others who find themselves here may swear loyalty to him and take him as your lord.

“And in this ye should do two things: first, comply with your obligation to give sovereignty to the one who deserves it by right, a knight who fulfills all good qualities and shall do you many favors. Second, regarding the imprisonment of yourselves and him, I consider it proper to set you free so that without delay ye may go to your lands. I shall always be your good friend as long as it pleases you, and I greatly esteem Arquisil, and I have as great love for him as for a true brother, and I always shall, if he does not lose it, in what I have been speaking of to you and everything else that concerns him.”

When those Roman lords heard that, they asked Brondajel de Roca, who was the most principal and best reasoned among them, to respond, and he told him:

“We consider highly your gracious speech, my lord Amadis, and we must thank you very deeply, but as this matter is so important and for it is necessary the consent of many people, those of us here now cannot respond until we have spoken with all the knights who are here. Although many of them have not been taken into account, they are principal for this matter, my lord, because in our land they hold many fortresses and cities and towns in the Empire, and other offices in the communities that are very central to the selection of the Emperor. Because of that, if ye please, give us the chance to see Flamineo, who is a very honorable knight, and whom we are told is injured, and everyone shall be called into his presence by us, and we shall be able to deliberate and give you our answer.”

Amadis consider that good, and he told them they had replied like wise knights and as they should have, and he asked them, because he believed that they would leave there soon, not to take long. They told him they would act right away, and delay would be very serious for them.

Then all three mounted and they entered the town, which had been cleared of the dead, because King Lisuarte had ordered many people to come from the area to bury them. And when they reached the lodging where Flamineo was, they dismounted and entered his chamber. When they saw him, their spirits were very joyful, although their faces were very sad for the great misfortune that had come over them. Immediately they told him it was necessary to call all the officers and important persons that were still alive among those who were there, because they needed to know what Amadis had told them about his deliberation, and on which their continued freedom or imprisonment rested. Flamineo had them called, and when those who could come had arrived and were together, Brondajel de Roca told them:

“Honorable knight Flamineo and all ye others, good friends, ye already know the misfortune and ill fate that has overcome all of us from Rome since by command of our Emperor, may God forgive him, we came to the island of Great Britain. Because it is so well known to you, there is no need to repeat it now. While we were prisoners at Firm Island, Amadis of Gaul considered it good for us to come here where ye see us, where with great love and goodwill he has given us many honors, and he has spoken to us at length saying that, since our Roman Empire is without a lord, and by rights more than to anyone else the succession belongs to Arquisil, it would be agreeable to him that by you and by us he be made our lord and Emperor. Not only will Amadis set us free from the imprisonment he holds over us, but he will be our faithful friend and aid in everything we need.

“And it seems to us, given the affection he has shown us, as we say, that he takes it for a given that if it is done at our will, he shall give us the things that ye have heard, and if not, he shall find a way to have it done by other means. And so, my good lord, and ye, good friends, this is what we have been called for. And so that your will may be determined knowing ours, it is very right that ye be told, since we have spoken among ourselves about this and we find that what this knight Amadis asks and urges of us is what we would have asked and begged very earnestly from him because, as ye know, such a great dominion as Rome cannot be without its lord.

“Then who by right, by courage, and by virtue, deserves it more than Arquisil? Truly, from what I see, no one. This is our fellow Roman, raised among us. We know his good habits and manners, and from him without difficulty we may ask by law for the rights that another who may be a foreigner would deny us. In addition, we gain the friendship of this famed knight Amadis, who being our enemy had so much power to harm us, being our friend with the same power can do much honor for us, and he can make amends for everything in the past. Now say what ye please, and do not consider our imprisonments or fatigue, but only that which reason and justice guides you to say.”

Just as all things proper and honest have such force that even evil men cannot deny them without great shame, so these knights, as men of discretion and understanding, seeing how very justly they were obliged to what the knight Brondajel de Roca said, they could not contradict him. Although as always happens when there are many different wills, there was discord, so many saw reason and followed it that others who wished something else found no place for their desire. Together they all said that what Amadis had asked for they would do, and they would return to their homes with their Emperor without lingering any longer in those lands where they had been in such error, and they would let their leaders take charge of what had to be sworn and promised to Arquisil.

With that they returned to Amadis at the monastery and told him everything they had agreed to, in which he took great pleasure. Then finally, in the church, all those knights, great lords of Rome, and the other people of lower estate in the Empire swore allegiance to Arquisil as their Emperor and promised to be his vassals, and he swore allegiance to all their laws and customs, and he gave them all the favors they asked for that he reasonably could.

And so from this we can say that sometimes it is better to be subjugated and constrained by great men against our freedom than with freedom to serve and obey evil men, because from good men,  good can be expected without doubt, and from evil men, although for a while it may yield pretty flowers, in the end they shall soon become dry down to their roots.

It follows that Arquisil was raised by men whose blood was of the Emperor Patin, and who did many outstanding services in honor of the imperial crown. Instead of being recognized for it, he was cast aside, almost exiled, and mistreated wherever he was, for the Emperor feared the virtue and good conduct of this knight. He should have been loved and esteemed and done many favors, but the Emperor wished to banish him from his reign.

And being taken prisoner by his enemy when he expected no kind of grace or honor and instead the opposite treatment, this enemy, by being so different and perfect in the virtues that the Emperor lacked, brought him to such great honor and high estate as to become Emperor of Rome.

In this, all should take as an example and remain with the virtuous and wise, because from good men their share shall reach them, and they should shun wicked, scandalous, and envious men with little virtue and many vices, so that no harm shall reach them.


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