- Ariosto, Ludovico
- (1474-1533)Italian Renaissance poet, productive in lyric poetry and in comedies inspired by classical drama, but known chiefly for his epic Orlando furioso / Roland Gone Mad (first published in 1516). It was a best seller in the author's lifetime and by 1600 had gone through more than a hundred editions. Although inspired by the work of an earlier poet, Matteo Boiardo, the poem reflects the author's reaction to the tension between two genres, the traditional medieval romance (still popular in Renaissance Italy) and the classical epic. The poem is structured as an epic and begins and ends with echoes of Vergil's Aeneid, but the insanity that overwhelms the hero Roland in the middle of the poem prevents the standard classical progression to an epic conclusion and expresses the poet's awareness of disharmony between the medieval and the classical literary heritage.Ariosto grew up at the court of the Este dukes of Ferrara, where his father was a military officer. The death of his father in 1500 forced him to support the family by entering the service of the ruling family, first in the household of the Cardinal d'Este and later in the service of the duke, who made him a provincial governor. His writings, including the Orlando, show that while he mastered Latin language and literature thoroughly, he was also somewhat critical of humanism as a fashionable court culture, regarding it as pretentious and sometimes morally dangerous.
Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. Charles G. Nauert. 2004.