Resaerch Paper on Ludovico Ariosto

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

This is my own essay. Some of the material was pasted from other sources and I will cite them when I finish the essay.

Veronica Johnson

Mr. Lochrie

English 12

28 April 2014

Ludovico Ariosto

The Renaissance is looked at as an enlightenment movement-which is true, considering that the perception of the human race itself was changed. Along with viewing the human race differently, the style of most literature was changed as well. One of the most overlooked Renaissance poets is Ludovico Ariosto, even though he wrote Orlando furioso, maintained order in the Garfagnana, and wrote five cantos and seven satires. Ariosto's Orlando Furioso is considered the great poem of the Italian Renaissance and for four centuries was admired and imitated.

The title Orlando furioso literally translates to “mad Roland” in Italian. The poem was a continuation of Matteo Maria Boiardo's Orlando innamorato, which was left unfinished upon the author's death in 1494. Riddled with subplots throughout the entirety of this epic, the main conflict consists of Orlando being driven mad with love for the beautiful Angelica, and having to be restored to sanity in time to save Paris from the Moslem armies. The final version was published in 1532 and was the most celebrated narrative of the Italian high Renaissance. Many artists have used the characters and incidents for musical works and paintings. Ariosto began writing Orlando Furioso in about 1505. Its plot revolves around the conflict of Christian versus Moor, the war between Charles, the Holy Roman Emperor, and Agramante, King of North Africa, and Marsilio, King of Spain. The first edition of the work appeared in Venice in 1516 and was later revised in 1521 and 1532. One stanza of the poem goes as follows:


“What bit, what iron curb is to be found,
Or (could it be) what adamantine rein,
That can make wrath keep order and due bound,
And within lawful limits him contain?
When one, to whom the constant heart is bound
And linked by Love with solid bolt and chain,
We see, through violence or through foul deceit,
With mortal damage or dishonour meet.”
(in Orlando Furioso)

Ludovico was born in Reggio, Emilia, as the son of Count Niccolò Ariosto. His family-which consisted of his four brothers, five sisters, mother and father-moved to Ferrara when he was ten years old settled in Ferrara. There, he studied law from about 1489 to 1499 and also started to study the Latin and Greek languages and literature under the tutelage of the humanistic scholar, Gregorio da Spoleto. When his father died in 1500, Ariosto took care of family estates for a number of years as the oldest of ten children. In 1502, he became commander of the fort of Canossa, and, in the following year, entered the service of Cardinal Ippolito d'Este. As his familiare, he was present when he ate, welcomed him when he came home, helped him undress, and gave him drinks made of medical plants. Gradually Ariosto received higher duties. In 1513, Ariosto met Alessandra Benucci and when her husband, Tito Strozzi, died, she became Ariosto's mistress.

In 1517, Ariosto refused to go to Hungary with Cardinal d'Este because his family was comfortably settled in Ferrara-he told the Cardinal that he had a type of flu. He was dismissed from the court and in the following year, entered the service of Alfonso I, Duke of Ferrara, and the Cardinal's brother. In 1522, he was sent to govern the Garfagnana region in the wildest part of Aouana Alps. He was NOT happy with his duties and returned after three from the bandit ridden post to Ferrara. Upon his return, he married the widow Alessandra Benucci in secret and spent the last part of his life revising and enlarging Orlando furioso. When he finished revising, he had started writing the sequel, Cinque canti (Five Cantos), but never finished because he died on July 6, 1533.

Beginning in 1514, Ariosto also wrote seven satires and five comedies. As a member of a group organized to make plays by Plautus and Terrence at the Este court of Ferrara, he became especially familiar with their style of writing comedy, and their work later became the model for his own dramas. In LA CASSARIA, two servants succeed in arranging desirable marriages for their masters. IL SUPPOSITI, was based on Terence's The Eunuch and Plautus's The Captives. Shakespeare used parts of the work in his play The Taming of the Shrew. IL NEGROMANTE (The Necromancer, 1520), centered on a marriage kept secret, GLI STUDENTI (The Students, 1519), was an unfinished comedy of frustrated love, and LA LENA (Lena, 1528) was based on the story of Peronella in Boccaccio's Decameron.

“In any case, as a poet, Ariosto was boundless in invention and, therefore, prone to imperfections; was extravagant; as perhaps unheroic. But as man he was tender, good-humored, and patient. And so a great deal of his tenderness seeps through into his poems and makes it really more epic than that of the formally heroic Tasso.” (Ford Madox Ford in The March of Literature, 1938) He is just one of the people who have reviewed this revolutionary poet. More reviews follow:


I sing of knights and ladies, of love and arms, of courtly chivalry, of courageous deeds.’” So begins Ariosto's Orlando Furioso (1532), the culmination of the chivalric legends of Charlemagne and the Saracen invasion of France. It is a brilliantly witty parody of the medieval romances, and a fitting monument to the court society of the Italian Renaissance which gave them birth. This unabridged prose translation faithfully captures the narrative entire and is a kaleidoscope of scenes and emotions of fact and fantasy. "Orlando Furioso." Goodreads. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2014.

It may not seem like a big deal to most, but this man and some others, changed the style that most literature is written in. Ludovico Ariosto wrote an epic about love, loss, and war. Not only that, he married his mistress (which most men in that time period would not have done), and edited and revised Orlando furioso until it was perfected. Among everything else, what some may consider his greatest feat, he governed a province that was bandit-ridden and made it better. Ludovico Ariosto was over looked but accomplished much in his life time.









Works Cited


"Encyclopedia Britannica (32 Book Set) [Hardcover]." Encyclopedia Britannica (32 Book Set): Inc. Encyclopaedia Britannica: 9780852299616: Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2014.


PoemHunter.Com - Thousands of Poems and Poets. Poetry Search Engine. "PoemHunter.Com - Thousands of Poems and Poets. Poetry Search Engine." N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2014.

MLA citation. Dunn, Joseph. "Ludovico Ariosto." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 28 Apr. 2014 .


Liukkonen, Petri. "Ludovico Ariosto." N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2014.

"Orlando Furioso." Goodreads. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2014.















Submitted: April 24, 2014

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