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Orlando Furioso (1516) - Ludovico Ariosto

Related: madness - 1500s - Italian literature - epic poetry

Orlando Furioso (1877) - Gustave Doré

Ruggiero Rescuing Angelica (1819) - Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres


Orlando Furioso ("Mad Orlando" or "The Madness of Orlando") is an epic poem written by Ludovico Ariosto in 1516. It is a "gionta", a sequel, to Matteo Maria Boiardo's Orlando Innamorato (Orlando in Love), but it is quite distant from the other work in that it does not preserve the humanistic concepts of knight errantry. Entering the Cinquecento, the 16th century, it treats those themes only superficially. A work of its time, Orlando shows more clearly the so-called "culture of contradiction" which also characterized some contemporary works by Erasmus and Rabelais. Some three centuries later, Hegel considered that the work's many allegories and metaphors did not serve merely to refute the myth of chivalry, but also to demonstrate the fallacy of human senses and judgement.

Orlando Furioso begins with an account of the defeat of Duke Namo in Charlemagne's war. Angelica escapes to meet Rinaldo searching for his horse, Bayardo. Angelica evades Rinaldo, and meets the Saracen Ferrau. Rinaldo and Ferrau fight, then make a truce and share a horse to seek Angelica. Ferrau seeks his helmet and encounters the ghost of Angelica. Angelica flees, and falls asleep in a grove until awakened by a lamenting knight, Sacripante. Angelica manipulates Sacripante and he plans to deflower her. Angelica and the embarrassed Sacripante share her horse and encounter Bayardo.

In the Baroque era, the poem was the base of many operas, among which Antonio Vivaldi's opera of the same name and Handel's Alcina, Ariodante and Orlando are the most prominent. The works of John Milton and Cervantes also refer to the epic. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orlando_Furioso [Oct 2006]

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