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Italian Literature

Notes: Childhood of Roland (Ms. Marc. XIII)

  1. Lazzeri's translation into Modern Italian prose begins with this line, 10907. Editions of the original are by Mussafia and Cremonesi, as cited for Berta and Milone.

  2. "Rolandin" is "little Roland," used to distinguish the child from the grown man. In the manuscript, the name is normally abbreviated "r." so I have here regularized (free from concerns of rhyme) to the form "Rolandin." This makes following the plot easier for modern readers.

  3. Cremonesi gives this definition of "carega"; it is not found in Old French or Old Italian dictionaries.

  4. i.e., tied together at the corners so it makes a bundle.

  5. Literally, the insignia on the tablecloth.

  6. According to Rosellini, "hunger does him wrong" ("haine," "hatred"). But "haingre" means "skinny" ("maigre, descharnÇ") as well.

  7. Or, "Let him receive only good."

  8. "par poi q'il non fon": for a little that he doesn't explode. Lazzeri says, "for the little they did not do," but this does not fit into the context, especially since "par poi/poc" appears in several other contexts meaning "almost": cf. line 12253, "par poc d'ire no[n] fent"; cf. 2536, etc.

  9. A quarter is a heraldic term; other editors have suggested that it is not clear here exactly what the meaning is. Cremonesi has suggested a cross (which would divide the piece of clothing into quarters). However, quartering generally means combining two coats of arms. "Ordinarily, an 'armiger' has no right to use his mother's arms; that is, in case she had a brother to continue the family name, the arms descending exclusively in the male line of the posterity of the original recipient, so long as it continues. The children of an heiress, however, inasmuchas they become the representatives in blood of the last owner of the arms in their branch, have a right to use their mother's arms in a certain mode...the arms of the mother are placed in the second and third quarters of a shield, the first and fourth being occupied by the paternal arms" (Whitmore, 58). Since Charlemagne has but one son-- to be killed by the Dane-- Roland is in fact in line for the crown and thus could use a quarter by that definition.

  10. This is the don contraignant, the unconditional boon, of romance.

  11. Other editors suggest that there must be a lacuna here. However, if we understand that Rolandin is playing the diplomat, then this is comprehensible: in spite of his youth, he steps into the breach and smooths the situation.

  12. Lazzeri here translates, "attraverso i fianchi," "across (around) the hips"-- an embrace perhaps, putting his arms around him? It would depend on the age of the youth at the time; for a seven-year-old, pulling the child to his lap would make more sense than an adult embrace.

  13. The warmth of this assertion is somewhat dampened by the fact that Charlon is killed by the Dane in the Chevalerie Danois which follows. Charlon's death results directly from Charlon's having killed the Dane's son who had been left in Charles's charge. Charlemagne's reputation for care of youth is therefore somewhat suspect.

Leslie Zarker Morgan (April 16, 1996)

Copyright (C) 1996, Leslie Zarker Morgan. This file may be copied on the condition that the entire contents,including the header and this copyright notice, remain intact.

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