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Example research essay topic: Ariosto – 1,181 words Essay

Italian poet, remembered primarily for his ORLANDO
FURIOSO, published in its final version in 1532.
Ariosto’s work was the most celebrated narrative
poem of the Italian high Renaissance, and the
first example of modern poetry to provoke
widespread critical controvesy. Ariosto was born
in Reggio Emilia, as the son of Count Niccol
Ariosto. At the age of then his family moved to
Ferrera, where he studied law from 1489 to1494.
There he also started to study Latin and Greek
language and literature. When his father died in
1500, Ariosto assumed for some years the
management of family estates as the eldest of 10
children. In 1502 he became commander of the fort
of Canossa, and the next year he entered the
service of Cardidal Ippolito d’Este. In 1513
Ariosto met Alessandra Benucci.

After the death of
her husband, Tito Strozzi, she became Ariosto’s
mistress. Because the family had settled
comfortably in Ferrara, Ariosto refused to
accompany Cardinal d’Este to Hungary, and entered
the service of Alfonso I, Duke of Ferrara,
Cardinal’s brother. In 1522 he was sent to govern
the Garfagnana region in the wildest part of the
Apuan Alps. He returned after three years from the
bandit-ridden post to Ferrara. In about 1505
Arisoto began writing Orlando Furioso. The poem
was a continuation of Matteo Maria Boiardo’s
Orlando innamorato.

Its first edition appeared in
Venice in 1516 and was later revised in 1521 and
1532. The main character, Orlando, goes mad
(furioso) because his love for the beautiful
Angelica is not returned. Other themes are the war
between Christians and Saracens, and the secondary
love story of Ruggiero and Bradamante. Orlando
Furioso presented a rich variety of characters,
mixed romance, epic, and lyrical poetry, and made
fun of outmoded chivalric manners. Later the poem
had a profound influence on such poets as Tasso,
Spenser, and Lope de Vega. It also fascinated
artists, and in the mid-1700s G.B.

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Tiepolo painted
in Villa Valmarana in Vicenza frescoes
illustrating its scenes. Ariosto also wrote seven
satires, begining in 1514, and five comedies. As a
member of a group organized to produce plays by
Plautus and Terrence at the Este court of Ferrara,
he became especially familiar with their
approaches to comedy, and their work later became
the model for his own dramas. In LA CASSARIA (The
Coffer, prose version in 1508, verse version in
1531) two servants succeed in arranging desirable
marriages for their masters. IL SUPPOSITI (The
Pretenders, prose version 1509, verse version
1528/31) 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.
Around 1527 Ariosto secretly married the widow
Alessandra Benucci, and spent the last part of his
life revising and enlarging Orlando Furioso.
Ariosto died in Ferrara on July 6, 1533. a chi
piace la chierca a chi la spada, a chi la patria,
a chi gli strani liti. Che vuole andare a torno, a
torno vada; vegga Inghilterra, Ongheria, Francia e
Spagna; (from Mal pu dirar il rosignuolo in
gabbia) Orlando Furioso (“Orlando Enraged”) This
work is a continuation of the “Orlando Innamorato”
of Matteo Maria Boiardo, which was left unfinished
upon the author’s death in 1494. It begins more or
less at the point where Boiardo left it. This is a
brief synopsis of Boiardo’s work, omitting most of
the numerous digressions and incidental episodes
associated with these events: To the court of King
Charlemagne comes Angelica (daughter to the king
of Cathay, or India) and her brother Argalia.
Angelica is the most beautiful woman any of the
Peers have ever seen, and all want her. However,
in order to take her as wife they must first
defeat Argalia in combat.

The two most stricken by
her are Orlando and Ranaldo (“Rinaldo” in Rose).
When Argalia falls to the heathen knight Ferrau,
Angelica flees — with Orlando and Ranaldo in hot
pursuit. Along the way, both Angelica and Ranaldo
drink magic waters — Angelica is filled with a
burning love for Ranaldo, but Ranaldo is now
indifferent. Eventually, Orlando and Ranaldo
arrive at Angelica’s castle. Others also gather at
Angelica’s castle, including Agricane, King of
Tartary; Sacripant, King of Circassia; Agramante,
King of Africa and Marfisa (“Marphisa” in Rose),
an Asian warrior-Queen. Except for Orlando and
Ranaldo, all are heathen Meanwhile, France is
threatened by heathen invaders. Led by King
Gradasso of Sericana (whose principal reason for
going to war is to obtain Orlando’s sword,
Durindana) and King Rodomonte of Sarzia, a Holy
War between Pagans and Christians ensues.

Ranaldo
leaves Angelica’s castle, and Angelica and a very
love-sick (but very chaste and proper) Orlando,
set out for France in search of him. Again the
same waters as before are drunk from, but this
time in reverse — Ranaldo now burns for Angelica,
but Angelica is now indifferent. Ranaldo and
Orlando now begin to fight over her, but King
Charlemagne (fearing the consequences if his two
best knights kill each other in combat) intervenes
and promises Angelica to whichever of the two
fights the best against the heathen; he leaves her
in the care of Duke Namus. Orlando and Ranaldo
arrive in Paris just in time to repulse an attack
by Agramante. Namus’ camp is overrun by the
heathen. Angelica escapes, with Ranaldo in
pursuit.

Also in pursuit is Ferrau, who (because
he had defeated Argalia) considers Angelica his.
It is at this point that the poem breaks off.
While the Orlando-Ranaldo-Angelica triangle is
going on, the stories of other knights and their
loves are mixed in. Most important of these is
that of the female knight Bradamante (sister of
Ranaldo), who falls in love with a very noble
heathen knight named Ruggiero (“Rogero” in Rose).
Ruggiero, who is said to be a descendent of
Alexander the Great and Hector, also falls in love
with Bradamante, but because they are fighting on
opposite sides it is felt that their love is
hopeless. Nevertheless, it is prophecised that
they shall wed and found the famous Este line, who
shall rise to become one of the major families of
Medieval and Renaissance Italy (it is worth noting
that the Estes where the patrons of both Boiardo
and Ariosto). Opposed to this prophecy is
Atlantes, an African wizard who seeks to derail
fate and keep Ruggiero from becoming a Christian.
By the end of the poem, Ruggiero is imprisoned in
Atlantes’ castle. However, Bradamante (who has
decided to follow her heart) is in pursuit of her
love, and is not too far away. It is the
Bradamante-Ruggiero story that eventually takes
center stage in Ariosto’s work.

Other characters
of importance: Astolfo, a Peer and friend of
Orlando, who is kidnaped by the evil witch Morgana
and her sister Alcina; Mandricardo, a fierce but
hot-headed heathen; and a young knight named
Brandimarte, who falls in love with (and wins the
heart of) the beautiful Fiordelisa (“Flordelice”
in Rose). Allplay major or semi-major roles in the
events of Ariosto’s poem. Bibliography:.

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