a Roland for an Oliver

a Roland for an Oliver

An exchange, especially in battle, in which that which is given is equal in measure and might to that which is received. Named for the two legendary medieval knights Roland and Oliver, who fought for the emperor Charlemagne. Their feats and powers were so equally matched that they were considered to be equal measures of military prowess. The rebels might have scored a victory against us earlier, but we'll be sure to give them a Roland for an Oliver in our next offensive.
See also: Roland

a Roland for an Oliver

an effective or appropriate retort or response; tit for tat. archaic
The phrase alludes to the evenly matched single combat between Roland, the legendary nephew of Charlemagne, and Oliver, another of Charlemagne's knights (paladins). Neither man was victorious and a strong friendship subsequently developed between them. According to the French medieval epic the Chanson de Roland, Roland was in command of the rearguard of Charlemagne's army when it was ambushed at Roncesvalles (now Roncevaux) in the Pyrenees in 778 ; despite the urging of Oliver that he should blow his horn to summon aid, Roland refused to do so until too late, and they were slain along with the rest of the rearguard.
See also: Roland