September 14, 2023

#08-344: Florante and Laura

Florante and Laura, Flerida and Aladin, in a 2015 stage production (website)

Note: Two sets of lovers meet in a forest, reminiscent more of Shakespeare (A Midsummer Night's Dream?) than a long 19th century Filipino poem!

Get Ready: How big a role do you think coincidence plays in our lives, and how much is "fate"?

Florante and Laura is a long epic poem written in 1838 by the Filipino poet Francisco Balagtas. Its plot has the feel of a Shakespeare play.

Set in Europe's classical period, it begins in a dark forest in Albania where Prince Florante is tied to a tree. His loud laments about his lost love Laura attract a pair of ferocious lions.

Meanwhile, in another part of the forest, a Muslim soldier named Aladin, a prince of Persia also laments about losing his lover, named Flerida. Suddenly, he hears the voice of Florante and moves toward the sound.

There he easily kills the two lions and sets Florante free. The two men sit down to tell their stories.

Florante is the son of Duke Briseus, adviser to the king of Albania, and Princess Floresca of Crotona. After a happy childhood, he was sent to Athens to study with the renowned teacher Antenor. There, another Albanian boy, Adolfo, joined his class. He seemed to be kind, but became jealous of Florante and tried to kill him during a school drama.

When Florante returned to Albania he fell in love with Laura, daughter of King Linceus of Albania. But the king sent him off to defeat the Persians in Crotona (his mother's country). When he returned to Albania again, he saw Persian flags flying over the country.

Hiding in the mountains, he saved a woman about to be beheaded--and it was Laura. Florante defeated the Persians and freed his father; the king; and Count Adolfo. This success caused Adolfo to hate him even more.

One day when Florante was off fighting against yet more invaders, he received a letter calling him back to Albania. There he was ambushed by an army of 30,000 soldiers under Adolfo, who had beheaded his father and the king and seized the kingdom. He also planned to marry Laura, and it was he who had tied Florante to the tree.

Aladin then tells a similar story, about how his own father (the Sultan) had stolen his love, Flerida, and forced him to flee Persia.

Laura and Flerida enter the forest; after the men see them and hear their stories, they go back to Albania, which had been retaken from Adolfo by Florante's friend Menandro.

The two couples marry. Florante and Laura rule Albania, and Aladin and Flerida take over Persia when the Sultan dies.


Practice: Match the term to its definition:

Term Definition
  1. ambushed
  2. beheaded
  3. classical period
  4. invaders
  5. jealous
  6. laments
  7. meanwhile
  8. renowned
  9. seized
  10. Sultan
  1. famous
  2. unhappy at someone's success
  3. the Greco-Roman age
  4. a Muslim king
  5. attacked by surprise
  6. at the same time
  7. people attacking a country
  8. took by force
  9. cut the head off of
  10. expresses sorrow

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for September 14, 2023

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. e; 2. i; 3. c; 4. g; 5. b; 6. j; 7. f; 8. a; 9. h; 10. d