Florante at Laura

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Florante at Laura (or Florante and Laura) is a masterpiece of Francisco Baltazar (also known as Balagtas). It is one of the most influential Philippine poems ever written. The title “Florante at Laura” is an abbreviation of the poem's actual title which is Pinagdaanang Buhay Nina Florante at Laura sa Kahariang Albanya: Kinuha sa Madlang Cuadro historico o pinturang nagsasabi sa mga nangyari nang unang panahon sa imperyo ng Gresya, at tinula ng isang matuwain sa bersong Tagalog. (The Life Story of Florante and Laura in the Kingdom of Albania: Culled from historical accounts and paintings which describe what happened in ancient Greece, and written by one who enjoys Tagalog verse.)

Florante at Laura was said to be a result of the heartache that Baltazar received after losing the woman that he loved the most, Maria Asuncion Rivera, to a rich and powerful man named Mariano Capule.. Rivera was said to be the woman to whom Baltazar referred to as “Celia” and MAR in his poem. Florante at Laura was also written as a depiction of the country's situation during the rule of the Spaniards. The poem shows that religious difference should not be used to discriminate against one another.

Florante and Laura is considered an “Awit” or “a song” in English. It has 399 stanzas and is written in poetic form with the following characteristics:


  • There are 4 lines per stanza;
  • There are 12 syllables per line;
  • It has an AAAA rhyme scheme;
  • It has a slight pause on the sixth syllable;
  • Each stanza is usually a complete grammatically-correct sentence;
  • Each stanza is full of figures of speech


Contents

Characters

  • Florante – son of Duke Briseus and Princess Floresca; Laura's love
  • Laura – daughter of King Liceus; Florante's love
  • Aladdin – a Muslim soldier; son of Sultan Ali-Adab; Flerida's love
  • Flerida – Aladdin's love; the woman who saved Laura
  • Count Adolfo – a traitor; son of Count Sileno; Florante's arch-enemy
  • Duke Briseus – father of Florante; Princess Floresca's husband
  • Princess Floresca – mother of Florante; wife of Duke Briseus, princess of Croton
  • King Linceus – king of Albania; father of Laura
  • Antenor – Florante's mentor while he was studying in Athens, Greece
  • Count Sileno – Count Adolfo's father
  • Minandro – Florante's classmate and best friend
  • Menalipo – Florante's cousin
  • Sultan Ali-Adab – father of Aladdin; king of Persia
  • General Osmalick – a Persian general who wanted to invade Croton
  • Miramolin – headed the Persian troupes towards invading Albania


Plot

The following is a summary of the poem in chapter form:


Chapter 1 - 13 Chapter 14 - 23


* 1 - “Prologue” (Stanza 1 – 10) <toggledisplay>


The story begins with a description of a dark, dangerous, deserted forest that is inhabited by serpents, basilisks, hyenas, and tigers. The forest is filled with huge acacia tress with large leaves that covers the sun. In the middle of the forest, tied to a tree, is a man who is barely alive. He has blonde hair, fair smooth skin, and a face and body that is comparable to that of Narcissus and Adonis.</toggledisplay>
* 2 - “Suffering Kingdom” (Stanza 11 - 25) <toggledisplay>


The man tied to the tree questions the heavens for the suffering of the people of Albania. Here he describes the treachery and suffering that are happening inside and outside of the kingdom of Albania. Gone are the days of peace and and justice. Innocent people have become victims of those who are hungry for power and money. Those who fought to save the kingdom have suffered grievously. The man mentions that Count Adolfo was said to be behind the treachery with his plot to steal the crown from King Linceus and the wealth of Duke Briseus. The man begs heaven to save the kingdom of Albania.</toggledisplay>
* 3 - “A Lover's Woe” (Stanza 26 - 40) <toggledisplay>


The man tells the heavens that he can take whatever trial or challenge that may come his way as long as Laura will always remember him. Aside from all that is happening to Albania, he takes refuge in the memories of the times he shared with Laura. He mentions that he would be pleased to see Laura crying over his dead body if Laura would betray him. With this, he imagines Laura in the arms of Count Adolfo. This thought brings him to tears and devastation which make him tired and cause him to pass out.</toggledisplay>
* 4 - “The Memory of Laura” (Stanza 41 - 68) <toggledisplay>


The man cries for Laura to save him, but she does not come. With this, the man thinks that Count Adolfo has finally stolen Laura from him. He mentions that he will thank Count Adolfo for all the hardship as long as he doesn't take Laura from him. With too much to bear, the man cries in despair and faintes.</toggledisplay>
* 5 - “Overwhelming Love” (Stanza 69 – 83) <toggledisplay>


In another part of the forest comes a Muslim soldier. He sits on a stump and professes his love for a woman named Flerida. He talks about his overwhelming love for Flerida and vows to kill for the sake of love. He says that no one can stand in his way nor is there anyone who can take his love from him, not even his father. He also says that love can make a person blind to the truth and make him forget about reason and honor.</toggledisplay>
* 6 - “A Loving and Hopeful Father” (Stanza 84 – 104) <toggledisplay>


After professing his love for Flerida, the Muslim soldier hears a voice in the forest. This voice talks about the brutal death of his loving father. The man talks about how his father was beheaded and had his body thrown somewhere else. No one attempted to bury his father's remains for fear of Count Adolfo's wrath. Even without seeing his father, the man knew that the old man was thinking of him until the end of his life.</toggledisplay>
* 7 - “Farewell Albania! Farewell Laura!” (Stanza 105 – 125) <toggledisplay>


While tied to a tree, the man was approached by two lingering lions. But the lions did not seem to attack, thinking that the man might already be dead. Realizing the approach of death, the man says his farewell to Albania, the land he wished to serve since he was a child, and to Laura, whom he will forever love.</toggledisplay>
* 8 - “Aladdin... the Rescuer” (Stanza 126 – 135) <toggledisplay>


Upon hearing the man's cries, the Muslim soldier set off to find the man. His timing was impeccable because the lions were about to attack the man. With a swift motion of his weapon, the Muslim soldier killed the two lions. With his courage and precision in combat, he was compared to Ares, the god of war.</toggledisplay>
* 9 - “Heaven's Command” (Stanza 136 - 155) <toggledisplay>


After rescuing the man, the Muslim soldier frees him and lays him down. He caresses the man with care and admires the man's physique. The man wakes up delirious looking for Laura. The Muslim soldier does not respond and the man goes back to sleep. When the man finally wakes up, he is surprised to see an enemy taking care of him. The Muslim soldier told him that he wishes the man no harm and that the command of heaven to help is what's important. The man said that he did not want the soldier's pity, what he needs is death. The yelled at him for speaking such nonsense.</toggledisplay>
* 10 - “A Helping Hand” (Stanza 156 - 171) <toggledisplay>


Due to all that they have been through recently, the Muslim soldier and the man decide to become silent. When nightfall comes, the soldier carried the man and rests on a flat rock. The Muslim soldier feeds the man and has him sleep on his lap. He watches over the man because he is still delirious and he is devastated every time the latter wakes up. In the morning, the man thanks the soldier for what he has done for him. The soldier asked the man why he was so devastated, and the latter willingly narrated his story.</toggledisplay>
* 11 - “Only Child” (Stanza 172 – 187) <toggledisplay>


The man tells the Muslim soldier that his name is Florante. Florante tells him that he came from Albania and that he is the son of Duke Briseus, second in command of the kingdom, and Princess Floresca of Croton. He proudly talks about his father saying what a brave and kind man he was. He also emphasizes that there is no one who can outdo his father in loving a child and in teaching him good manners. Florante also spoke of two accounts when he almost died as a child. One was when he was almost caught by a vulture but was rescued by his cousin Menalipo. The other was when someone attempted to take the diamond that was on his chest.</toggledisplay>
* 12 - “Raising a Child Right” (Stanza 188 – 205) <toggledisplay>


Florante spoke about his happy childhood. When he was a child, he loved playing outdoors and hunting. He realized that a child must not be raised with too much freedom and security because life is tougher when one grows older. He also says that a child will have difficulty in facing challenges if he is too pampered and safe as a child. Duke Briseus taught him how to stand alone by sending him to Athens to study under Antenor.</toggledisplay>
* 13 - “Pretension” (Stanza 206 - 223) <toggledisplay>


Florante studies in Athens under Antenor. He becomes homesick and longs to be with his parents again but he is comforted by Antenor. Adolfo, a boy from Albania and the son of Duke Sileno, becomes his classmate. Adolfo is two years older than him and is admired by everyone in school for his wisdom and kindness. Due to his intelligence, Florante was able to learn the lessons about philosophy, astrology and mathematics in no time at all which astonished his teachers. He even surpassed Adolfo in all aspect and became known all across Athens. Everyone distrusted the kindness that Adolfo is showing. In a sporting competition, Adolfo's true color began to show which aroused the people's suspicions.</toggledisplay>


* 14 - “Two Tragedies” (Stanza 224 – 257) <toggledisplay>


During a play performed by the students, Adolfo attempted to kill Florante but did not succeed due to his classmate Minandro's interference. After two months, Florante received a letter from his father bringing bad news and summoning him to come home. It was difficult for Florante to say his goodbyes to his classmates and his mentor, Antenor. Before leaving, Antenor advised Florante not to be too trusting because there are enemies all around us. Florante went home with his friend, Minandro. Upon arriving at Albania, Florante cried when he saw his father. After he calmed down, Duke Briseus told Florante about the death of Princess Floresca.</toggledisplay>
* 15 - “Saving Croton” (Stanza 258 – 273) <toggledisplay>


The emissary of Croton came to Albania with a letter asking for help in saving Croton from the Persian invaders headed by General Osmalick. Florante pauses to praise the Muslim soldier, saying that the general is only second to the soldier in combat skill. With this, the Muslim soldier smiles and says that rumors are not necessarily true. Returning to his story, Florante said that he and his father went to King Linceus to discuss how they could help Croton. King Linceus appointed Florante to lead the army that will help save Croton.</toggledisplay>
* 16 - “Laura, the Goddess” (Stanza 274 - 289) <toggledisplay>


During their visit to King Linceus, Florante saw Laura, the daughter of the king. He was mermerized by Laura's beauty. He became speechless and stuttered a lot in the presence of Laura. After talking about Laura, Florante's mind drifts toward horrible thoughts about Laura's unfaithfulness.</toggledisplay>
* 17 - “Preparing for War” (Stanza 290 - 304) <toggledisplay>


Before setting off to war, King Linceus threw a feast for Florante. The celebration lasted for three days and within this period, he did not get to see Laura. The day before he set of to war, Florante saw Laura and he professed his love. Laura did not give him a straight answer, instead she cried and Florante took this as a sign of Laura's reciprocation of his feelings.

General Osmalick and Florante finally meet and they battled for five hours until Florante was able to defeat the general.</toggledisplay>
* 18 - “First Battle” (Stanza 305 - 316) <toggledisplay>


Florante was able to save Croton from the hands of the enemy with the help of Minandro and his troupes. The people rejoiced their victory especially when they learned that Florante is the king's grandson. But Florante and the king did not rejoice with them for they remembered Princess Floresca and mourned for her death. Five months had passed when Florante decided to return to Albania to be with Laura again. On his journey back, Florante became weary when he saw the Muslim flag swaying in Albania.</toggledisplay>
* 19 - “Saving Albania” (Stanza 317 - 328) <toggledisplay>


Florante hid on the outskirts at the foot of the mountain to observe what is happening. He saw a woman tied and blindfolded who is about to be beheaded. He remembered Laura and hastily went to rescue the woman. He fought the Muslims and rescued the woman who happened to be Laura herself. Laura told Florante about that Albania had been conquered. They went back and redeemed the country from the invaders. Florante freed the captives including King Linceus, Duke Briseus, and Count Adolfo. The king honored Florante for his bravery and Florante won Laura's affection. With the victory of Florante, Adolfo's hatred and envy deepened and he planned to take revenge against Florante.</toggledisplay>
* 20 - “Adolfo's Treachery” (Stanza 329 – 346) <toggledisplay>


A few months have passed since Albania was last invaded when the Persian armada, headed by Miramolin disturbed its peace. But the Turkish invaders did not succeed because Florante had defeated him. After this, Florante successfully won many battles which earned him the respect of thirteen kings. One day, while Florante was in the middle of a war, he received a letter ordering him to return immediately to Albania. He left the war under the command of Minandro and set off to return to Albania. Upon arriving, he was surprised to be welcomed by 30,000 soldiers who abducted him. Here he learned that Adolfo had ordered for his father, Duke Briseus, and King Linceus to be beheaded. He also learned that Laura was engaged to Count Adolfo. Florante was imprisoned for 18 days then was transferred to the forest where he was tied to an acacia tree. He had been in the forest for two days when the Muslim soldier found and rescued him.</toggledisplay>
* 21 - “Setting Free” (Stanza 347 - 360) <toggledisplay>


After Florante narrated his story, the Muslim soldier introduces himself as Aladdin, son of Sultan Ali-Adab of Persia. Aladdin tells Florante that he will tell his own story in due time because he needs some time to collect himself.

After wandering around the forest for five months, Aladdin begins to narrate his story. He says that his father is the root of all his suffering. His father became his rival for his love, Flerida. In order to succeed, Sultan Ali-Adab plotted a scheme to behead Aladdin by framing him as the cause of the downfall of the Persian invaders that resulted to Florante's victory in Albania. On the night before Aladdin's execution, Sultan Ali-Adab forgave Aladdin on the condition that he would flee Persia and never return. Aladdin agreed but could not accept the idea of Flerida in the arms of another man. Since then, Aladdin has been a wanderer of the forest for six years. He suddenly stops his story when they heard voices in the forest.</toggledisplay>
* 22 - “Greatest Love” (Stanza 361 - 372) <toggledisplay>


The two men heard voices. One of the women narrated the story she heard about the danger that her lover was in. she begged the Sultan not to push through with his beheading in exchange for her agreement to marry him. The Sultan agreed and her lover was set free, leaving without saying goodbye. One night, while everyone was busy with the wedding preparations, the woman who happens to be Flerida, disguised herself as a soldier and escaped. She wandered the forest hoping to find her love. Here in the forest is where the two women met when Flerida saved Laura who was about to be assaulted by a man. They stop talking when they hear footsteps approaching and were surprised to see Florante and Aladdin.</toggledisplay>
* 23 - “Victory and Happiness” (Stanza 373 - 399) <toggledisplay>


Laura narrates her story. It began when Florante left to battle the Persian invaders. Adolfo ordered that the king and his loyal servants be beheaded. Adolfo took over the throne and forced Laura to marry him. It took five months for him to court Laura but she did not waver in her decision not to marry him. After Florante was sent to die in the forest, Minandro and his men returned to Albania and overthrew Adolfo from the throne. Adolfo would not accept defeat; instead he took Laura and his men to the forest. Here Adolfo saw no escape and decided to rape Laura right there. Upon hearing a woman's cry for help, Flerida came to the rescue and killed Adolfo with an arrow.

Their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of Menander and his troupe. Upon seeing Florante, he rejoices to see his friend.

The two couples return to Albania where they are warmly welcomed. Flerida and Aladdin agree to be baptized as Christians. Both couples are wed and Florante and Laura rule over Albania with justice, peace, and harmony. When Sultan Ali-Adab dies, Aladdin and Flerida return to Persia and they rule over the people happily.</toggledisplay>


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