Roland - Roland is only mentioned in passing in the historical records, as the prefect of the Breton Marches, among those who fell at Roncesvals. InThe Song of Roland,however, he is the hero. He is one of the twelve peers of France, Charlemagne's nephew and favorite, a skillful and extremely bold warrior and understands the Frankish campaign in Spain as a crusade, allowing no compromise with the Saracens. His sometimes showy boldness and his great popularity among the Franks and success on the battlefield arouse the venomous resentment of his stepfather, Ganelon, who arranges with the Saracens the ambush at Roncesvals. He dies a martyr's death at Roncesvals and is directly taken up to Paradise by saints and angels. The rest of the poem recounts how Charlemagne avenges his death.Olivier - A gallant warrior, one of the twelve peers of France, and Roland's best friend, Olivier is the protagonist's foil, setting off Roland's daring with his own prudence: "Roland is bold, Olivier is wise, and both of them are marvelously brave" (87.1093-1094). At Roncesvals, Olivier sees how the Franks will be overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of the Saracens and urges Roland to blow his oliphant and call back to Charlemagne for aid. Roland is too proud to do so, angering Olivier, but the two end their quarrel before dying, remaining the greatest and most tender of companions. Olivier, along with Roland and Turpin, is taken back to France for burial by Charlemagne's men.
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