Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Emperor Charlemagne (shahr-leh-MAHN-yeh), also called King Charles and Carlon, represented as being two hundred years old, with a flowing white beard, regal bearing, and undiminished vigor. He presides democratically over his court in an orchard near Cordova and accepts the majority view in favor of what proves to be a false peace pact with the Saracens. His militant zeal for Christianizing pagans is offset by his humble submission to fate when his beloved nephew Roland and twenty thousand of his troops are killed by Moorish forces in the Pass of Roncevaux. He laments the deaths of his men before taking terrible vengeance on their conquerors, but he is completely unmoved by the pleas of Ganelon, the traitor knight.
Roland, the duke of the Marches of Brittany and nephew of Charlemagne. The favorite of his uncle, he glories in his post as leader of the emperor’s rear guard, the exposed flank of the French army, on its homeward march from Spain. Roland is the most outspoken of the Twelve Peers, a hater of all pagans, and the enemy of Ganelon, his stepfather. His suggestion that Ganelon be sent to negotiate the truce proposed by the Saracens seems designed as a test of that knight’s loyalty and honor. Brave in battle, Roland is also rash to the point of folly and lacking in foresight. He is the owner of the famous sword Durendal and the horn called Oliphant,...
(The entire section is 1083 words.)
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