Rhodomontade Expression

There I was, minding my own business on page 361 of Christopher Hibbert’s biography of the Prince of Wales, George IV, The Rebel Who Would Be King, when what to my wondering eyes did appear, but the following sentence:

“When it was hinted that only timidity and nervousness prevented him [Wales] from turning to the Whigs, he ‘launched out in his eloquent, rhodomontading manner,’ accusing them of treating him worse than his avowed enemies.”

Hibbert’s system of citations makes it difficult to know exactly to whom the internally quoted passage should be attributed, but this person has my eternal thanks, for never had I laid eyes on the word “rhodomontade” before.

The term originates in the name of a character from an Italian poem, Orlando innamoratro (1545)), by M.M. Boiardo. Rodomonte was a courageous, but hot-tempered and boastful Saracen leader. From Italian to English was a short hop, given that most well educated Englishmen were fluent in Latin. The word kept its meaning, of vainglorious, boastful, braggadocio, which is probably clear from the context (to everybody but me).

I’m off to practice my rhodomontading.

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