The Song of Roland

by

Anonymous

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Oliver is Roland’s most faithful friend and a fellow knight. He is among those appointed to the rear-guard at the Roncevaux Pass alongside Roland. He is prudent and wise, advising Roland to blow his horn for help when the Saracens first attack. Though he and Roland argue over the latter’s foolishness, they reconcile before Oliver’s death in battle. He receives his death-blow from Marganice.

Oliver Quotes in The Song of Roland

The The Song of Roland quotes below are all either spoken by Oliver or refer to Oliver. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Christianity vs. Paganism Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of The Song of Roland published in 1957.
Laisses 79–103 Quotes

“Companion Roland, your Olifant now blow;
Charles in the passes will hear it as he goes,
Trust me, the French will all return right so.”
“Now God forbid”, Roland makes answer wroth,
“That living man should say he saw me go
Blowing of horns for any Paynim foe!
Ne’er shall my kindred be put to such reproach.
When I shall stand in this great clash of hosts
I’ll strike a thousand and then sev’n hundred strokes,
Blood-red the steel of Durendal shall flow.
Stout are the French, they will do battle bold,
These men of Spain shall die and have no hope.”

Related Characters: Count Roland (speaker), Oliver (speaker), Emperor Charlemayn / Carlon / Charles
Related Symbols: Swords
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:

Roland is fierce and Oliver is wise
And both for valour may bear away the prize.
Once horsed and armed the quarrel to decide,
For dread of death the field they’ll never fly.
The counts are brave, their words are stern and high.
Now the false Paynims with wondrous fury ride.
Quoth Oliver: “Look, Roland, they’re in sight.
Charles is far off, and these are very nigh;
You would not sound your Olifant for pride;
Had we the Emperor we should have been all right.
To Gate of Spain turn now and lift your eyes,
See for yourself the rear-guard’s woeful plight.
Who fights this day will never more see fight.”
Roland replies: “Speak no such foul despite!
Curst be the breast whose heart knows cowardise!
Here in our place we’ll stand and here abide:
Buffets and blows be ours to take and strike!”

Related Characters: Count Roland (speaker), Oliver (speaker), Emperor Charlemayn / Carlon / Charles
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:
Laisses 128–137 Quotes

Quoth Roland: “Why so angry with me, friend?”
And he: “Companion, you got us in this mess.
There is wise valour, and there is recklessness:
Prudence is worth more than foolhardiness.
Through your o’erweening you have destroyed the French;
Ne’er shall we do service to Charles again. […]
Your prowess, Roland, is a curse on our heads.
No more from us will Charlemayn have help,
Whose like till Doomsday shall not be seen of men.
Now you will die, and fair France will be shent;
Our loyal friendship is here brought to an end;
A bitter parting we’ll have ere this sun set.”

Related Characters: Count Roland (speaker), Oliver (speaker), Emperor Charlemayn / Carlon / Charles
Page Number: 118
Explanation and Analysis:
Laisses 138–167 Quotes

Then Roland, stricken, lifts his eyes to his face,
Asking him low and mildly as he may:
“Sir, my companion, did you mean it that way?
Look, I am Roland, that loved you all my days;
You never sent me challenge or battle-gage.”
Quoth Oliver: “I cannot see you plain;
I know your voice; may God see you and save.
And I have struck you; pardon it me, I pray.”
Roland replies: “I have taken no scathe;
I pardon you, myself and in God’s name.”
Then each to other bows courteous in his place.
With such great love thus is their parting made.”

Related Characters: Count Roland (speaker), Oliver (speaker)
Page Number: 128
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Song of Roland LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Song of Roland PDF

Oliver Character Timeline in The Song of Roland

The timeline below shows where the character Oliver appears in The Song of Roland. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Laisses 1–15
Christianity vs. Paganism Theme Icon
The Ideal King Theme Icon
...have been killed or converted to Christianity. He sits in an orchard surrounded by Roland, Oliver, and 15,000 of his men, who play chess or engage in sport while Charlemayn looks... (full context)
The Ideal King Theme Icon
Treachery vs. Chivalry Theme Icon
Charlemayn, Roland, Oliver, and Ganelon, “that wrought the treachery,” are among those gathered beneath a pine tree. Charlemayn... (full context)
Laisses 16–31
Treachery vs. Chivalry Theme Icon
...envoy, but Charlemayn refuses to spare his wisest vassal. He also declines to send Roland, Oliver, or any of his Twelve Peers (his favored barons). Then Roland suggests sending Ganelon, who... (full context)
Laisses 32–52
The Ideal King Theme Icon
...years old—will tire of war. Ganelon explains that this will never happen; supported by Roland, Oliver, and his beloved Twelve Peers, Charlemayn is fearless, and his courage and appetite for battle... (full context)
Treachery vs. Chivalry Theme Icon
...20 hostages to persuade Charlemayn to turn back to France; Charlemayn will leave Roland and Oliver in his rear-guard. If these knights are killed, Ganelon explains, Charlemayn will have no heart... (full context)
Laisses 53–78
Christianity vs. Paganism Theme Icon
The Ideal King Theme Icon
Treachery vs. Chivalry Theme Icon
Meanwhile, Emperor Charlemayn waits for Ganelon’s return. After attending Mass, he stands with Roland, Oliver, and many dukes, while Ganelon addresses him “with cunning false pretence.” Ganelon hands him the... (full context)
Loyalty, Honor, and Chivalry Theme Icon
Treachery vs. Chivalry Theme Icon
...support, but Roland refuses to keep more than 20,000 men with him. Among these are Oliver, Archbishop Turpin, Count Walter Hum, and their knights. (full context)
Laisses 79–103
Christianity vs. Paganism Theme Icon
Loyalty, Honor, and Chivalry Theme Icon
In the French rear-guard, Roland and Oliver hear the Saracen trumpets blaring. Roland urges his men to be courageous, reminding them, “Paynims... (full context)
Loyalty, Honor, and Chivalry Theme Icon
Oliver presses Roland to sound his Olifant, but Roland swears again that he won’t bring shame... (full context)
Loyalty, Honor, and Chivalry Theme Icon
Roland and Oliver are both brave, but “Roland is fierce and Oliver is wise.” Oliver tells Roland that... (full context)
Loyalty, Honor, and Chivalry Theme Icon
As the French prepare for battle, Roland admits that Oliver was right—Ganelon has betrayed them and must be avenged by Charlemayn. Roland rides through the... (full context)
Christianity vs. Paganism Theme Icon
Loyalty, Honor, and Chivalry Theme Icon
...deliver mocking insults over each corpse. Franks Gerin and Gerier slay pagans as well, prompting Oliver to boast, “We’re doing well with this!” Other knights, like Engelier and Berenger, also kill... (full context)
Laisses 104–127
Loyalty, Honor, and Chivalry Theme Icon
...even killing his horse. Soon both Roland and his horse are bloody from the fray. Oliver kills freely as well, so busy striking with his broken spear that he doesn’t have... (full context)
Christianity vs. Paganism Theme Icon
Loyalty, Honor, and Chivalry Theme Icon
...his men. The whole country fills with the mighty sound of their trumpets. Roland tells Oliver that Ganelon’s treason is plain, and it will be repaid by Charlemayn, but for now,... (full context)
Christianity vs. Paganism Theme Icon
Loyalty, Honor, and Chivalry Theme Icon
Some of the French urge Roland, Oliver, and the Peers to flee for their lives, but Archbishop Turpin tells them to be... (full context)
Laisses 128–137
Loyalty, Honor, and Chivalry Theme Icon
...them. He decides to sound his Olifant, summoning Charlemayn and his troops to turn around. Oliver, however, discourages him, saying it would be cowardly to do this now, especially after Roland... (full context)
Loyalty, Honor, and Chivalry Theme Icon
When Roland asks why Oliver is angry, Oliver says that the current predicament is all Roland’s fault—he’s been reckless and... (full context)
Laisses 138–167
Loyalty, Honor, and Chivalry Theme Icon
Marganice stabs Oliver through the back with his spear. Feeling that he’s about to die, Oliver promptly chops... (full context)
Christianity vs. Paganism Theme Icon
Loyalty, Honor, and Chivalry Theme Icon
After Roland finds Oliver’s body, he weeps tenderly and swoons once more. Turpin picks up Roland’s olifant and tries... (full context)
Laisses 168–186
Christianity vs. Paganism Theme Icon
The Ideal King Theme Icon
Loyalty, Honor, and Chivalry Theme Icon
...Christ on the cross. Charlemayn weeps until he falls asleep, thinking of the fallen Roland, Oliver, and Twelve Peers. (full context)
Laisses 203–226
Christianity vs. Paganism Theme Icon
The Ideal King Theme Icon
Loyalty, Honor, and Chivalry Theme Icon
...bishops, monks, and priests among the crowd conduct a funeral service. Only Roland, Turpin, and Oliver are not buried here; Charlemayn oversees the washing and wrapping of their bodies to be... (full context)
The Ideal King Theme Icon
Loyalty, Honor, and Chivalry Theme Icon
...avenge Roland. He appoints two knights named Rabel and Guinemant in place of Roland and Oliver. (full context)
Laisses 265–291
Christianity vs. Paganism Theme Icon
The Ideal King Theme Icon
...the Olifant on a saint’s altar, as a relic for pilgrims. The bodies of Roland, Oliver, and Archbishop Turpin are laid to rest in St. Romayne’s at Blaye. Charlemayn continues on... (full context)