Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Ariosto, Ludovico, the illustrious Italian poet, born at Reggio in Lombardy in 1474, his father being governor of that place. The family migrated to Ferrara, and the poet received some scanty patronage from Cardinal D'Este and Alfonso Duke of Ferrara, and was occasionally employed in diplomatic and other business, but his life was spent almost in poverty. His grand work, the Orlando Furioso, was published in its first shape in 1515-16, and was the result of ten years' labour. The plot professes to give the story of the madness of one of Charlemagne's paladins - Roland or Orlando - who, at the time that his liege lord was defeating Agramant the Moor, beneath the walls of Paris, fell in love with the fair but heathen princess of Cathay, Angelica, and was driven out of his senses by her marriage with Medoro. His wits were not absolutely lost, but merely shut up for three months in the moon. Astolpho visited that satellite in Elijah's chariot, and received from St. John the missing portion of Orlando's intellect securely stored in an urn. Orlando was then bound hand and foot, and, the urn being opened under his nose, his reason returned to its seat. The happier loves of Roger and Bradamante supply another long episode, and several minor actions are deftly interwoven with the main fabric of the poem. In felicity of language and perfect mastery of the octosyllabic metre, Ariosto is superior to Tasso. He did not complete his work until 1532, but in the meantime he composed several dramatic pieces, sonnets, canzonets, and Latin lyrics. His death occurred in 1533, and a monument was raised to his memory at Ferrara, in the new church of St. Benedetto, whither his body was removed forty years later. Titian preserved the poet's form and features in a remarkable portrait.