Ludovico Ariosto (1474-1533)
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
This is a brief synopsis of Boiardo's work, omitting most of the
numerous digressions and incidental episodes associated with
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
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). All
play major or semi-major roles in the events of Ariosto's poem.
Angelica, whom pressing danger frights,
Flies in disorder through the greenwood shade.
Rinaldo's horse escapes: he, following, fights
Ferrau, the Spaniard, in a forest glade.
A second oath the haughty paynim plights,
And keeps it better than the first he made.
King Sacripant regains his long-lost treasure;
But good Rinaldo mars his promised pleasure.
OF LOVES and LADIES, KNIGHTS and ARMS, I sing,
Of COURTESIES, and many a DARING FEAT;
And from those ancient days my story bring,
When Moors from Afric passed in hostile fleet,
And ravaged France, with Agramant their king,
Flushed with his youthful rage and furious heat,
Who on king Charles', the Roman emperor's head
Had vowed due vengeance for Troyano dead.
In the same strain of Roland will I tell
Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme,
On whom strange madness and rank fury fell,
A man esteemed so wise in former time;
If she, who to like cruel pass has well
Nigh brought my feeble wit which fain would climb
And hourly wastes my sense, concede me skill
And strength my daring promise to fulfil.
Good seed of Hercules, give ear and deign,
Thou that this age's grace and splendour art,
Hippolitus, to smile upon his pain
Who tenders what he has with humble heart.
For though all hope to quit the score were vain,
My pen and pages may pay the debt in part;
Then, with no jealous eye my offering scan,
Nor scorn my gifts who give thee all I can.
And me, amid the worthiest shalt thou hear,
Whom I with fitting praise prepare to grace,
Record the good Rogero, valiant peer,
The ancient root of thine illustrious race.
Of him, if thou wilt lend a willing ear,
The worth and warlike feats I shall retrace;
So thou thy graver cares some little time
Postponing, lend thy leisure to my rhyme.
Roland, who long the lady of Catay,
Angelica, had loved, and with his brand
Raised countless trophies to that damsel gay,
In India, Median, and Tartarian land,
Westward with her had measured back his way;
Where, nigh the Pyrenees, with many a band
Of Germany and France, King Charlemagne
Had camped his faithful host upon the plain.
To make King Agramant, for penance, smite
His cheek, and rash Marsilius rue the hour;
This, when all trained with lance and sword to fight,
He led from Africa to swell his power;
That other when he pushed, in fell despite,
Against the realm of France Spain's martial flower.
'Twas thus Orlando came where Charles was tented
In evil hour, and soon the deed repented.
For here was seized his dame of peerless charms,
(How often human judgment wanders wide)!
Whom in long warfare he had kept from harms,
From western climes to eastern shores her guide
In his own land, 'mid friends and kindred arms,
Now without contest severed from his side.
Fearing the mischief kindled by her eyes,
From him the prudent emperor reft the prize.
中的女主角Angelica (daughter to the king of Cathay），有点中
(c) 2010 Maya Chilam Foundation