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Ariosto and the "Fier Pastor": Form and History in Orlando Furioso.

This essay explores the formal means (a variant of the medieval romance technique of entrelacement) by which Ludovico Ariosto's Orlando Furioso represents and comments on contemporary events, particularly the threats posed by French and Spanish invasions and by the interventionist politics of Popes Julius II and Leo X. Ariosto's treatment of the latter figure exemplifies both the specificity of the interplay between form and history in the Furioso Innamorato and its innovative character with respect to precursors, notably Boiardo's Orlando Innamorato. A final section considers the changing significance of such topical material between the first edition of 1516 (when Leo was alive) and the final edition of 1532 (long after Leo's death, and under very different historical circumstances).


It has now been almost two decades since a wave of historical and cultural criticism and theory reversed the dominant "textualist" trend in North American literary studies that had led us from the New Criticism through Structuralism and into the theoretical arcana of post-Structuralism. This shift, true to its own historical character, has never been absolute or "pure." At its best, in fact, the imperative to "always historicize" has been complemented by a lingering textualist awareness of the complex and pervasive mediations that language and other forms of signifying representation must be accorded in any attempt to reestablish the bonds -- referential, ideological, or other -- between world and literary work. And as the genealogical and methodological links that still join the New Historicism and cultural critique to their formalist precursors and ancestors (New Criticism and Structuralism) have become more apparent over time, the need to understand the relationship between the form of a literary work and its multiple historicities has become more and more pressing, though no less difficult to satisfy.

In this essay I will consider a text, Ariosto's Orlando furioso, that benefited immensely from the proliferation of sophisticated methods of formal analysis in the 1960s and 1970s, precisely because its structure is so extremely complex -- its mode of signification so elaborate and, often enough, so oblique. At the same time, the Furioso displays its author's keen awareness of the forms of cultural and political crisis that he individually, the Ferrarese society of which he was a part specifically, and the Italian peninsula generally were each undergoing in the first third of the sixteenth century. The poem offers anachronistic fictions of chivalric heroism and errant desire as a means of at least temporarily eluding and even forgetting imminent threats not only to particular regimes (like that of the Este family that ruled Ferrara and patronized Ariosto, however inadequately), but also to an entire way of life (the aristocratic humanism that had flourished under the political equilibrium that persisted duri ng much of the Quattrocento among the several autonomous states dotting the Italian peninsula). [1] The Furioso, then, presents an especially challenging test case for exploring the intricate relations between linguistic-poetic structure and historical circumstance, in a way that -- I will argue -- can take account of both textualist and historicist concerns, while qualifying the claims of both to methodological superiority.

This essay will further elaborate my earlier account of the Furioso as a poem of "crisis and evasion," now with a special focus on questions of historical, political, and military crisis. [2] It begins with a synoptic review of important recent work on the immense poem's hybrid form, then offers a general description of the Furioso's basic signifying structures and procedures, emphasizing the ways in which historical materials are incorporated side by side with "intertextual" literary references and "intratextual" connections linking one part of the poem with another. This is accomplished -- we will see -- in a uniquely Ariostan adaptation of the romance compositional technique of entrelacement, or interlace that he had inherited from a long and well established tradition, and especially from his great Ferrarese precursor, Matteo Maria Boiardo, whose unfinished Orlando innamorato the Furioso sets out to complete. I will then suggest (via a close reading of a single, exemplary canto) how those structures and procedures can be seen nor only as the means of representing and containing (containing by representing, apotropaically) cultural crisis, [3] but also as a response to and a product of extreme historical pressures -- above all the threat to Italy generally from the violent incursions of European nation-states and from its own foolish and ambitious leaders, and the threat to Ferrara specifically from the imperial papacy that had emerged in the early Cinquecento. [4]

Important work on the form of the Furioso has recently been done on at least three fronts. The first is the "intertextual" question of Ariosto's borrow ings -- of episode, character, image, phrase, and narrative technique -- from a variety of literary precursors. [5] Notable, for my purposes, are the debts to Boiardo's long chivalric poem, Orlando innamorato; [6] to Virgil's imperial epic, which furnishes the model for the dynastic fable of Bradamante and Ruggiero, and which competes formally with Boiardan romance for generic dominance throughout the poem; [7] and to Dante's Commedia, [8] which, despite its prominent role as a target of Ariostan irony against theological solutions to human problems, also functions as a highly productive model of a poem that confronts and absorbs historical crisis. The second, and perhaps most highly developed, critical tendency focuses attention on the "intratextual" question of narrative structure, and specifically the poem's deployment of a variant of the practice of narra tive entrelacement developed in the tradition of medieval romance, that is, the simultaneous unfolding and juxtaposition of multiple characters and plots, interspersed with autonomous or semi-autonomous "episodes." [9] The last trend, to which I will turn briefly at the essay's end, is reflected by a growing body of criticism exploring the significance of the changes introduced between the first and last editions of the Furioso, typically correlating those changes to dramatic shifts in socio-political conditions between 1516 and 1532. [10]

Much of the best recent criticism on the Furioso has in fact focused on its problematic relationship to the category of romance in either an "intertextual" or an "intratextual" sense, or both, with special attention to the way that narrative structures generate and complicate the process of poetic signification. The problem has typically been explored through two related topics: first, the tension between what is called the romance tendency to an inconclusive openness and evasiveness of structure, on the one hand, and, on the other, the epic drive to dosure; [11] and second, the technique of narrative interlace itself. [12]

Though both topics can be understood as "intratextual" features of the Furioso, they have most often been explored in the "intertextual," literary-historical terms of Ariosto's relationship to his precursor Boiardo, whose Innamorato was left unfinished at its author's death in 1494, and which the Furioso ostensibly completes (although Ariosto -- invidiously -- never makes explicit reference to his predecessor). [13] Seen from the point of view of romance entrelacement, Ariosto clearly imitates and even considerably elaborates Boiardo's already derivative narrative praxis, a praxis which seems to be most responsible for the effects of openness and endlessness that indeed characterize the Innamorato as it has come down to us. [14] On the other hand, Riccardo Bruscagli has shown that while in Boiardo the knights move across the landscape driven by an open-ended ventura (chance, happenstance), in Ariosto, by contrast, they are motivated by goal-oriented inchieste (quests) that tend toward closure. Quint has subs equently extended this point by arguing that in the Furioso, Ariosto, especially over the last twelve cantos of the poem, acts to impose an epic, neo-Virgilian conclusion on the romance structure he took over from Boiardo.

In the drive to characterize the connections and discontinuities between the two poemi in narrative and generic terms, however, critics have tended to overlook some of the most substantive ways in which both the form and the content of the Furioso depart from the Innamorato. The first major claim of this essay is that the attempt to make narrative -- romance, epic, or both -- definitional for the poetics of the Furioso, for all its usefulness, has not fully and adequately described the formal specificity and novelty of the Furioso, or its basic modes of signification, and in particular has not understood the degree to which that specificity is both historically produced and linked tightly to historical content. In fact, notwithstanding the foregrounding of the Virgilian genealogical plot in the Furioso, especially at the beginning (canto 3) and the end (cantos 44-46), and the historical accident of the Innamorato's unfinishedness, the later poem is more similar to the earlier poem in its use of narrative int erlace than it is different from it. Indeed, it has been recognized at least since Pio Rajna's classic 1900 study of the Furioso's "fonti" that Boiardo clearly excelled Ariosto in sheer narrative inventiveness. Instead, I argue, the most cogent differences, both formal and semantic, between the two are not primarily narratological. In fact, the issue of narrative structure might best be placed under the larger rubric of figure and trope, specifically the master trope of perspectival irony with which the poem has been consistently associated, at least since DeSanctis and Croce. [15]

In formal terms, the Furioso is significantly more complex than the Innamorato, largely because, in addition to the interweaving of narrative strands and free standing episodes, Ariosto's interlace extends to include, as integrally constitutive elements, a number of non-narrative structures, most notably: 1) the authorial proems that invariably precede each canto and comment on what has gone before and what comes after; [16] 2) the numerous other aurhorial digressions and interventions so well discussed by Durling; 3) the major encomiastic and ekphrasric interludes in cantos 3, 26, 33, 42, 46; [17] 4) the principal allegorical episodes (of Alcina's island -- cantos 6-8, 10 -- and the lunar surface -- cantos 34-35), which participate in but also gloss the surrounding narrative lines. [18] These features are either entirely absent from Boiardo's poem or not a continuous and integral part of it -- in particular, the use of proems for ethical, political, and/or social commentary only emerges in the latter part o f the Innamorato. At the same time, the intertextual pattern of allusions to prior works in the Furioso is also more complicated and more systematic than it is in Boiardo. [19] As we shall see, Ariosto foregrounds verbal and thematic repetitions between all these interlaced elements, intratextual and intertextual alike, to challenge and even to arrest the forward movement of plot and character.

The result is that one can legitimately trace interpretive paths through the poem in any of several ways: intratextually, by focusing on individual characters, [20] or narrative episodes, [21] or Images, [22] or themes; [23] intertextually, by focusing on the poem's citations/transformations of any one of several major precursors; [24] historically and culturally, by focusing on Ariosto's encomia of his Estense patrons, his accounts of the Italian wars, [25] his variations on any one of several cultural discourses (the "querelle des femmes" for example). [26] Unfortunately, each structurally-sponsored shift in focus also drastically shifts the interpretive results obtained, and the attempt to construct an interpretive calculus that could account for all possibilities, reducing multiplicity to unified significance, falters before the excessive number of signifying variables. Nonetheless, it is clear that isolating one structure or interpretive focal point to the exclusion of others obscures the essentially in terlaced character of the poem, which incessantly juxtaposes its constitutive elements with one another and with the literary texts and cultural discourses to which they refer in a volatile game of ironic perspectives. At the same time, it is also clear that the prominent historical-culture materials and their intricate positioning with respect to literary narrative and themes are in some ways among the most distinctively innovative aspects of Ariosto's textual practice.

In this ceaseless play between one piece of writing and another, as between Ariosto's poem and the "social texts" that surround it, both the text/ context distinction and the literature/history opposition lose much of their clarity. Within the Furioso, pieces of poem take turns as text and context for one another, While the numerous historical-cultural contexts evoked by Ariosto's text, literary and historical alike, both determine its meaning and are recontextualized and reinterpreted by it. In short, neither a formalist, textual, approach that strives to reduce the poem to a closed system of self-generating significances or anti-significances, nor a historical, contextual, analysis that attempts to find the work's meaning by submitting it to the determinations of external formations (literary, political, generally cultural, as may be), is sufficient to account for the Furioso's signifying practices. In order to approximate the incessant dynamic of reciprocal appropriation and ironizarion within the Furioso and between the Furioso and its external interlocutors and circumstances, we should recognize that Ariosto's adaptation of romance interlace has explicitly broadened beyond narrative and theme to encompass both literary "intertextuality" and cultural "discursivity." [27] In other words, Ariosto both allusively interweaves macro- and micro-textual elements of the romance-epic tradition [28] and, far more explicitly, incorporates social and historical references and discourses within the internal structures of his poem.

My second major point, then, is that the emergence of a new, complex and dynamic mode of interlace in the Furioso is closely correlated with equally striking shifts in semantic content with respect to the Innamorato. Zatti, building on the work of Durling, has recently suggested that the primary innovations of Ariosto with respect to Boiardo are moments of poetic self-reflexivity, particularly at the points of suture and transition from one narrative segment to another. [29] He is, of course, right -- a point my own work on the multiple and contradictory figurations of poetry, poet, and reader in the poem tends to support. [30] On the other hand, I would like to stress here that the Furioso is equally innovative in the way that it systematically introduces historical and cultural materials that link the world of the poem to the circumstances of Estense Ferrara and of Italy in the throes of a dramatic crisis motivated by the foreign interventions (beginning with that of Charles VIII in 1494) and internecine v iolence (with particular attention to the role of the papacy under Julius II [1503-1512] and then Leo X [1512-1521]). [31]

Although the two kinds of new material might seem to be antithetical -- the one pointing toward poetic ficticity, the other toward historical reality -- they are instead mutually conditioning and determining. The presence of historical materials points up, by contrast, the fictions of poetic narrative. [32] But the more we notice the poem qua poem, the more we will consider the reality of poetry itself as a historically situated mode of discourse. Furthermore, and this point is crucial to my argument, both kinds of semantic novelties, poetic and historical, are closely intertwined with the formal innovations of the poem, since they make their appearances primarily in the proems, digressions, and ekphrases. The last step to be taken, and my third major claim here, is to suggest that the emergence of important new structural and semantic elements in the Furioso, brought together in Ariosto's expanded use of traditional romance interlace techniques, can be understood at least in part as an effect of and/or a re sponse to the pressure of historical crises.


To illustrate these three central points (the innovative structure and semantics of the Furioso and their function as response to historical crisis), I will focus on canto 17, which offers a particularly interesting example of interlacing several different formal elements. Among these are two major narrative segments (the tale of Rodomonte's devastating, Turnus-like foray into Paris and the story of Grifone's ill-fated love for Orrigille and its unhappy denouement at the tournament of Norandino); the semi-autonomous episode of Norandino, Lucina, and the Orco; a moralizing proem on the plight of Italy subjected to tyrants and scourged by foreign invaders; and a digressive authorial apostrophe to the Christian European princes, concluding with Giovanni de' Medici, that is, Pope Leo X. [33] As the last two items suggest, this is a canto with a strong topical, historical-political interest, in addition to a complex narrative structure.

Canto 17 is also, and very much to my purposes, one of the most richly Boiardan of all the Furioso. The tournament of Norandino recalls the tournament of the King of Cyprus at which he, Norandino, battled for the love of Lucina (Orlando innamorato 2.19.52-55); the story of Grifone and Orrigille continues a narrative begun in the earlier poem (2.3.62-65); the story of the Orco gives both the prequel and the sequel to the Boiardan story of Lucina chained, Andromeda-like, to a seaside cliff and rescued by Gradasso and Mandricardo (3.3.24-60) [34] Most intriguing, from the perspective of this study, is that while the narrative interlace of the stories of the Orco, Lucina, and Norandino with those of Grifone and Orrigille, as well as of the monstrous Orrilo, is already in place in the Innamorato, what we do not find there are the topically historical interpolations, nor the further juxtaposition of these tales with the siege of Paris. This last addition also tends to "historicize" the material of romance by bringing it into contact with an epic world (on the one hand the Carolingian "matter of France," and on the other, the Virgilian poetry of imperial Rome) that embraces the great sweep of military and political history.

Let me begin a specific illustration of the differences between the Furioso and the Innamorato by juxtaposing two passages whose content is analogous, but which, as we shall see, occupy very different positions structurally in their respective poems, and consequently establish very different relations to the historical world:

But while I sing, redeemer God [Iddio redentore], I see all Italy on fire, because these French -- so valiant! -- come to lay waste who knows what land, so I will leave this hopeless love of simmering Fiordespina. Some other time, if God permits, I'll tell you all there is to this. [35]

The stanza is the very last of the Innamorato. The pathos of this passage that signals the poem's premature end derives from the clear sense that historical events -- the opening of the so-called "Italian crisis" with the invasion of the peninsula by the French King, Charles VIII, in 1494 -- have overtaken Boiardo and his poem in ways he did not anticipate and which he clearly found unbearable. Such events have no coherent relation with the world of the poem, from which they have, until this decisive point of rupture, largely been excluded. [36] That is not to say that the Innamorato does not have a cultural role and hence a fundamentally political, or at least ideological, meaning, but rather that that role and that meaning reflect the relative stability and compactness of Ferrarese and Italian culture in the later Quattrocento. [37]

Consider by contrast the proem of Furioso, canto 17:

When our sins have passed beyond the limits of remission, God the just often gives reign to atrocious tyrants and to monsters -- endowing them with the force and the wit to do evil -- in order to show that his justice is equal to his mercy. [38]

A lengthy list of classical tyrants is then presented, followed by the observation that God also punished late-antique Italy in this way, but with barbarian invaders rather than with home-grown monsters, invaders who "made the earth fat with blood -- [thus God] gave Italy in distant days in prey to the Huns and Lombards and Goths" (2.6-8). Finally, the poet observes that the situation has not changed much in his own day, when the Italian peninsula is afflicted both by tyrants and by foreigners:

Of this we have not only in ancient times but in our own clear proof, when to us, useless and ill-born flocks, he gives as guardians enraged wolves:

to whom it seems that their hunger is not great enough nor their bellies capacious enough for such meat -- and so they call wolves with even more ravenous appetites from beyond the mountains to devour. ...

Now God permits that we should be punished by peoples perhaps worse than ourselves on account of our multiple, endless, nefarious, damnable errors.

A time will come when to despoil their shores we will go, if ever we become better and if their sins should reach those limits which move the eternal Good to wrath. (Emphasis added) [39]

Though more obvious literary precursors than Boiardo for these lines are Petrarch and Dante, [40] Ariosto does clearly refer to the series of devastating historical events, the Italian wars, set in motion by Charles's invasion, which by his time had far exceeded in horror anything Boiardo could have imagined twenty years earlier. Again like Boiardo, he invokes divine causality ("Iddio redentore" matched by "Il giusto Dio") to explain and, perhaps, to remedy those events.

Despite the similarities in content, however, what are most striking are the very different formal positions that this material has in the two poems. The terminal outburst of Boiardo has only one precedent in the Innamorato, which also comes at the end of a large textual unit and presents itself as a formal rupture (2.31.49). [41] By contrast, a relatively large number of Ariostan proems treat analogous topics, usually linking them very closely to the specific circumstances of Ferrara and the Este (e.g., 14.1-10; 15.1-2; 34.1-3).

In short, Ariosto introduces structural means for representing within his poem -- in continuity with its fictions -- the historical violence that threatens him, his city, his patrons. Such means are, by contrast, virtually absent from the Innamorato. In the particular case under consideration, the poet's reflections on his own time grow out of the character Rodomonte's destructive rampage inside the walls of Carolingian Paris. Along with the adoption of a formal mechanism to facilitate the textualization of violent historical events goes an "intertextual" recourse to literary topoi and to specific textual models for representing such material. The phenomenon of

internal tyranny and external invasion is made familiar by placing it in a sequence of historical examples well known from much humanist literature; the attempt to explain God's apparently incomprehensible toleration of evil as a "divine scourge" is equally commonplace. More specifically, as just noted, the plea for divine mercy on behalf of ravaged I taly goes back to Petrarch's "Italia mia, benche il parlar sia indarno" (Rime Sparse 128), the canzone also cited by Machiavelli at the end of the Principe in exhortation of the Medici princes (chapter 26). We will soon see that the subsequent apostrophe to Leo X and company blends elements from two Petrarchan canzoni and his Trionfo della fama, as well as invoking a complex network of Dantean intertexts.

The degree to which the proem draws upon prior textual sources in the representation of historical material already suggests that Ariosto's confrontation with history is heavily mediated and qualified, in a way that buffers him and his poem from the shock of direct, violent encounter that resonates in the last stanza of the Innamorato. In the proem alone we find indications of a strong parodic motive, characteristic of what Pocock has called the Machiavellian moment, that undercuts the theological politics of both Dante and Petrarch. Rather than imagining a divinely inspired political redeemer who will restore Italy to virtue and political stability, Ariosto simply foresees a day when Italians will get to take their historical turn as vicious scourges to the foreign peoples who now devastate the Italic peninsula -- violence begets reciprocal violence in an endless spiral of unredeemable devastation, in a vision far more cynical than Machiavelli's. [42]

I now want to suggest how this complex process of acknowledging, textualizing, and ironizing historical-political crisis is subsequently played out in the interlaced structure of the canto, thus subordinating the movement of Ariostan narrative to an allusive political critique that gives specific shape -- as it were, a local habitation and a name -- to what the proem to canto 17 states in the most general terms. Already the transition from narrative strand to narrative strand is suggestive. At stanza 17, the narrator says that he wants to exchange the rage and death of the pagan Christian battles for something more pleasant, a tale set in the Edenic city-garden of Damascus, which at first seems to be the anti-type of besieged Paris:

For God's sake, my Lord, let us cease to speak of wrath and to sing of death... because the time has come to return to where I left Grifone, having arrived at the gates of Damascus with Orrigille and...her lover [Martano].

Damascus is said to be among the richest cities of the Levant, and among the most populous and most ornate. Seven days distance from Jerusalem it lies, in a fruitful and abundant plane, no less jocund in the winter than in the summer.

Through the city two crystalline rivers run, watering an infinite number of gardens, which never lack either flowers or fronds. [43]

Before we know it, however, Grifone and company are listening to the story-within-the-story of the Orco's savage cannibalism. Shortly thereafter the festive tournament of Norandino dissolves into a slaughter virtually indistinguishable from that taking place inside Paris, [44] when the Syrian king mistakenly attempts to punish Grifone for the pusillanimous behavior of the treacherous Martano (Orrigille's latest lover, whom she has passed off as her brother to her feckless suitor), who had recently disgraced himself in Damascus while disguised in armor stolen from Grifone (17.116.8). Already at the end of canto 16 the Ariostan narrator had focused the reader's attention on the paradoxical process by which the representation of inhuman destruction gives rise to the pleasures of poetic verse: "He hears the din, views the horrible signs of cruelty, the human members scattered. No more now -- come back another time, you who gladly listen to this lovely tale [istoria]." [45] In fact, the "bella istoria" -- which in the proem to canto 17 comes to mean both story and history -- does not depart for long from a violence that overtly mimics the invasiveness of foreign armies mixed with the failure of leadership that we have just been told characterizes the contemporary Italian scene.

The structural crux of canto 17, however, is the placement of the episode of Norandino, Lucina, and the Orco between the proem and the narrators long digression on the evils of warfare among Christians that has led to Italy's present subjection. In this tale, Ariosto elaborates on his Boiardan inrertext to create a knowing conflation of the Homeric Polyphemus with Jack-and-the-Beanstalk and the pastoral tradition. [46] The ostensible purposes of the story are, at one level, to justify the celebratory tournament of Norandino by recounting how he and Lucina were finally reunited and, at another, to complete one more of Boiardo's unfinished narratives as part of the project of continuing and bringing to closure the Innamorato. But the episode has a thoroughly overdetermined place in the Furioso's economy of interlace, bearing significant relationship to several different narrative and thematic strands of the poem. For instance, it clearly constitutes a diptych with the earlier episode of the monstrous female Or ca devouring a series of naked female victims tied to a cliff. Furthermore, by making the Orco a shepherd who plays pastoral ditties on his "sambuca," or "zampogna," Ariosto locates him in a long line of peculiar poet-figures who traverse the poem. [47]

What I will highlight now, however, is the calculating way that the episode echoes the political imagery of the proem and also anticipates the later authorial digression, forming a kind of fictional bridge between the two moments when contemporary history intrudes into the canto. The Orco as "blind monster [mostro cieco]" (33) recalls the "atrocious tyrants and ... monsters" (1) to whom God periodically gives reign. Moreover, since this monster is also a shepherd, a "pastor" (32.8, 34.6, 47.8, 54.6), he enters into the metaphorics of pastoral care that were used to characterize the failed leadership of contemporary Italy (3.5-8). In other words, the political violence which Ariosto sees ravaging the historical world, and which he repeatedly describes as a cannibalistic devouring of human flesh and blood (2, 4), is surprisingly echoed by the Orco who feasts on the flesh of Norandino's men (35).

The political significance of the Orco's cannibalism is given further stress by a verbal echo from one of Dante's most terrifying depictions of the spiritual consequences of the civil wars ravaging the Italian peninsula and the individual cities within it in his own day: the vision of the deposed Pisan leader, Count Ugolino, gnawing away at the skull of his arch-enemy Ruggieri, Archbishop of Pisa, in Inferno cantos 32 and 33. Emilio Bigi, in his excellent commentary on the Furioso, notes that the verse which describes Norandino returning to the cave to be near the hapless Lucina after his own Odysseus-like escape is a transformation of a famous line which hints that Ugolino may have devoured his own children: Ariosto's "Pote la pieta piu che 'l timore" (devotion did more than fear; 48.5) clearly echoes Dante's "piu die 'l dolor, pote il digiuno" (hunger did more than sorrow; Inferno 33.75). Taken together with the proem, these echoes could be said to constitute nothing more than a lingering memory of historic al violence in the poem, with the additional, and non-trivial, irony that the Orco, whose solicitousness toward his flock is what permits Norandino's escape, and who "mai femina ... non divora" (never eats women; 40.8), is considerably more discriminating and civilized than the monsters and "enraged wolves" running amok in Italy. That the episode has a more precise, and scandalous, political meaning, however, becomes apparent in the next formal segment of the canto.

As the narrator closes this episode and turns back to Norandino reestablished in Damascus, he almost immediately enters into a lengthy topical digression, occasioned by the observation that the Syrian Moslems were armed like the European Christians:

The Syrians in those days had the custom of arming themselves in the fashion of the West. Perhaps they were led to it by the continuous proximity of the French, who then ruled the holy place where omnipotent God lived in the flesh -- and which now the proud and miserable Christians, to their everlasting discredit, leave in the hands of [pagan] dogs. [48]

This indictment then gives way to a tirade against internecine Christian conflicts and particularly the wars, led by the Spanish and French, which have subjugated and humiliated Italy:

If you want to be called "Most Christian" and you others "Most Catholic," why do you kill the men of Christ? why are they despoiled of their goods? Why do you not take back Jerusalem, which was taken from you by renegades?

Are you, Spain, not near to Africa, which has offended you far more than this Italy? And yet, to increase the poor wretch's travail, you abandon your first, so lovely, enterprise. O stinking bilge, full of every vice, you sleep, drunkard Italy -- and does it not weigh on you that, once served by this people and by that, you are now their handmaiden? [49]

This attack on the internecine warfare of European Christians, with its call for a reconciling Crusade against the pagan Other, has, again, an obvious Petrarchan precedent, and perhaps a Dantean intertext as well. [50]

The digression culminates in an apostrophe, both monitory and hortatory, to Pope Leo X, during whose papacy both the first (1516) and second (1521) editions of the Furioso appeared, and whose imprimatur authorized its publication. [51] The narrator addresses Leo as the one leader who could both protect the Italian peninsula against her neighbors and, presumably, redirect European energies into a new Crusade:

You, great Leo [gran Leone=Lion], on whom presses the heavy burden of the keys to heaven -- do not allow Italy to be swallowed up in sleep, if you have your hands in her hair. You are Shepherd; and God has given you that staff to carry and has chosen that fierce name, so that you might roar, and raise up your arms, in order to defend your flock from wolves. [52]

Leo is explicitly treated as a potential force for good, a pastoral protector of sheep from ravening beasts, a presumed antidote to the "enraged wolves" who now guard the "useless and ill-born flocks" of Italy. Curiously, however, this apostrophe is immediately preceded by a reference to the Donation of Constantine, the spurious document by which the Emperor Constantine had allegedly ceded political jurisdiction over the Western Empire to the bishop of Rome (78.3-4). The point explicitly made is that the Germans and other ravagers of Italy should seek Roman wealth in the East, where Constantine moved it at the transfer of imperial wealth from Rome to the Eastern Empire. Nonetheless, we can hardly miss the allusive reference to the long-standing critique of the papal usurpation and abuse of secular authority, which was developed by Dante (especially Inferno 19.90-117 and 27.85-111; Paradiso 27.40-66), Petrarch (Liber sine nomine), Valla (De falsa et ementita donatione Constantini), and even Ariosto, elsewhere in the Furioso (34.80). Such a critique, it need hardly be said, was now more pressing than ever, in the immediate aftermath of Alexander VI's nepotistic imperialism (1492-1503) and Julius II's adventurism, and on the eve of the Lutheran Reform.

What we may also notice, simply from reading through the passage just cited, is that it contains a subterranean yet distinctive thematic, and even verbal, connection to the Orco episode with which it is so closely juxtaposed by the magic of Ariostan interlace. That juxtaposition brings with it an irony that reverses the basically hopeful thrust of the passage, turning Leo from potential solution into part of the problem delineated both in the digression and in the proem before it: "You are Shepherd; and God has given you that staff to carry and has chosen that fierce name." Like the Orco, Leo is a shepherd with a capacity for bestial ferocity. In retrospect, the reference to the Pope's role as keeper of the "keys of heaven" connects with the pastoral Orco who "opened and closed [apriva e tenea chiuso]" the sheepfold (34.7). Both images derive from the passage in Matthew in which Jesus was traditionally said to have conferred papal powers on Peter: "thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church. An d the gates of Hell will not prevail against it. And I will give thee the keys of ... heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on the earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven" (16: 18-19). The two principal tropes of the passage (of the keys and of loosing and binding) were often conflated in a composite figure of locking and opening, as in this passage from Dante's Purgatorio (the speaker is an angel): "I hold these [two keys] from Peter, who told me that I should err rather in opening [the gate] than in keeping it locked." [53] Even more to our point, the passage was regularly invoked to suggest the abuse by popes of their sacred office, particularly for purposes of simonistic profiteering (e.g., Inferno 19.97-105) and, notably, of waging war against fellow Christians: "It was not our intention that on the right hand of our successor a part of the Christian people should sit, while the others sit on the other side, nor that the keys which were given to me should become the device on a battle-standard raised against baptized souls." [54]

All of these potentially subversive elements were in place in the first, 1516, edition of the Furioso, when what we are calling canto 17 was in fact canto 15. For the 1521 edition, Ariosto made a small but crucial revision to his text, which brought out the full force of the equation between the Orco and the Pope. To the first allusive reference linking the Orco to Dante's Ugolino and Ruggieri, he added a second (not noted by Bigi) in the preceding stanza. In 1516, stanza 47, line 8, reads: "the horrible shepherd [orribile pastor] who follows behind them" (1960, 508). In 1521 it has become: "the fierce shepherd [fier pastor] who came along behind them." The phrase "fier pastor" recalls Ugolino's first, explicitly cannibalistic, appearance: "la bocca sollevo dal fiero pasto" (he raised his mouth from the fierce meal; Inferno 33.1; emphasis added). The change renders plain the thematic connection that motivated the original allusion by restoring the motif of bestial hunger excised in the shift from Dante's "ph i che 'I dolor, pote il digiuno" to Ariosto's "pote la pieta phu che 'l timore." The shift from "pasto" to "pastor" brings with it a calculated comic irony, at once focussing attention on the Orco's cannibalism and on the fact that the monster actually is -- as far as his sheep are concerned -- a "good shepherd."

The force of the added phrase, however, is not confined to its significance within the confines of the Orco episode proper: it has a broader intratextual resonance as well, one which will become obvious if we consider again the apostrophe to Leo: "You are Shepherd [Tu sei Pastore]; and God has given you that staff to carry and has chosen that fierce name [fiero nome], so that you might roar [perche tu ruggi], and raise up your arms, in order to defend your flock from wolves." Separated by a single line we find the two constituent elements of the Orcan epithet, "fier pastor [fierce shep herd]." [55] The further element of a roaring ("perche tu ruggi" [so that you may roar; 79.7]) may evoke Dante's treacherous ecclesiastic, Ruggieri -- now cast as Leo's spiritual ancestor. [56] The Pope with an animal's name is thus grotesquely metamorphosed into an alter-ego of the monstrous Orco. In his case, however, the irony of the allusion is single and devastating: where the Orco is both shepherd ("pastor") and cannibal ("pasto"), Leo, it would seem," is a "pastor" turned cannibal, a ravening wolf in shepherd's clothing.

This procedure of ironic qualification through Ariosto's amplified, historicizing adaptation of romance interlace is then comically confirmed later in the canto when, in the narrative of Norandino's disastrous error, Orrigille's lover, Martano, encased in the armor from Grifone, is described from the first edition on as "he who put on a pelt not his own, like the jackass once did that of the lion." [57] The image not only takes us back to Norandino and company escaping from the Orco, a la Homer, wrapped in goat skins ("il non suo cuoio") and slathered in ovine grease, but also, evidently, conjures the leonine, that is asinine, Leo as well. [58]

Dante's nightmare-made-real of eucharistic community turned to cannibalistic, neo-Theban civil war, in Pisa, Florence, and the Italian peninsula generally, is characteristically focused in the Commedia on the struggle between Guelf and Ghibelline, ecclesiastical and secular powers, as it clearly is in Inferno 27, 32, and 33. It is indeed out of this tradition that both the proem and the Ariostan digression of canto 17 emerge, with the additional pathos of their prescient prolepsis of the conflicts between the Catholic church and Protestant sects. The fantastic narrative of the Furioso, as filtered through the complex evolutions of Ariostan interlace, thus become the vehicle of an indirect, sheltered commentary not only on the general political crisis of the day, but also on the specific complicity of the papacy in that crisis. Along with the public crises in Italy and Ferrara, of course, these passages may reflect a motive of personal revenge against the Pope, from whom Ariosto had expected but not received patronage, a point to which I will return shortly. [59]

In political and military terms, Leo could become for Ariosto, and his Estense masters, a convenient focal point for a collection of problems in which he was complicitous, even though he could rarely be given exclusive blame for them. In the years leading from 1494 to the publication of the first Furioso in 1516 the parade of foreign intruders -- French, Spanish, and imperial -- had continued unabated. The years of Julius II's papacy had been especially dangerous for Ferrara. The Estense state was set precariously near the point of encounter between the shifting macro-forces of France, Spain, the Emperor, Venice, Milan, and the papacy, and its territories were divided between those with traditional feudal attachments to the papacy (Ferrara itself) and to the Empire (Reggio and Modena). This season of the Italian wars culminated in the bloody battle of Ravenna in 1512, which pitted France and Ferrara against Julius, the Venetians, and the Spanish and which, despite victory, left the Estense shaken. [60] In ad dition, Julius had been responsible for depriving the Este of two of their most cherished territorial holdings, Reggio and Modena, in 1510, and had repeatedly threatened to depose them from their rule over the papal fiefdom of Ferrara, as he had earlier done to the Montefeltro in Urbino. In the years leading up to 1516, the memory of these losses and threats, with which Giovanni de' Medici had been associated as papal legate in Bologna during the last years of Julius's reign, were still fresh. They were made more vivid still by Leo's bad faith in failing to restore Modena and Reggio to Este control despite promises to do so. The Medici Pope's own direct attempts to unseat the Este would not come until 1519. [61] It may well be that the outbreak of open hostilities at that point at least partly accounts for the insertion of the key locution "fier pastor" in the 1521 edition.

Though the proem and digression avoid local Ferrarese and Estense concerns (which are taken up elsewhere, at a safe remove from references to Leo), they certainly constitute an overt recognition that what for Boiardo had appeared to be an apocalyptic disruption of social and political normalcy in the Italian peninsula, for Ariosto and his generation had itself become the norm, a fact that Ariosto is able to confront in representable, and hence tolerable, form within the body of his text, as his predecessor apparently could not. [62] But Ariosto's politically charged use of interlace takes the poem's relation to its historical circumstances a step further -- allowing a corrosive, structurally determined irony to play over the poet's apparently pious celebration of patrons and potentates, creating at least the illusion that the poem afforded a refuge and a point of vantage from which history could be viewed, interpreted, and contingently mastered. At the same time, the very evasiveness and indirectness of Ario sto's political critique -- which he willingly offers under cover of its opposite, namely a courtly encomium of those most to blame for Italy's ills -- suggests just how precarious, inefficacious, and fundamentally illusory such mastery really is.

This point might be less compelling if the viciously ironic textualization of Leo X through his symbolic name in canto 17 should somehow prove to be an isolated incident in both the Furioso and the period as a whole. It is clearly not, however. Charles Stinger, among others, has shown the positive typological-symbolic valences that were attached to papal names in official documents and through public displays of the iconography of power. [63] In the Satires, Ariosto explicitly vents his feelings about Leo and the Church in terms close to those of canto 17, though far more explicit, [64] and in the Furioso itself the ekphrastic allegory of Avarice and Liberality in canto 26 clearly draws on the motifs of canto 17 to turn an apparent encomium of Leo into another allusive, structurally implied, indictment, directed specifically against the decidedly illiberal Pope, who failed to provide the poet Ariosto with patronage at a time when he desperately felt the need for it. [65]

The issue of patronage brings us to the crucial point that Leo is not the only historical figure textualized in this way, nor likely the most important from Ariosto's perspective. Leo's patronage had seemed especially crucial to Ariosto in 1513 because his patron of record at that time was Cardinal Ippolito d'Este, in whose service he remained until the Cardinal's departure for Hungary in 1517. Ippolito is the man to whom the Furioso is ostensibly addressed and the object of its most fulsome and central encomia, most notably in cantos 3 and 46. However, Ippolito's failings as a patron, and in particular his inability to appreciate or adequately reward Ariosto's artistic talents are the explicit subject of Satire 1 and of at least one embittered letter, [66] as well as of biographical legend. In Ariosto's Bitter Harmony, I argued that Ariosto's treatment of Ippolito is subject to systematic subversion throughout the Furioso, [67] and in particular that the etymological, and mythological, resonances of his cla ssicizing name are, like Leo's, made into a key structuring principle of the poem. [68] I hope that the strong evidence that analogous procedures are at work in canto 17 via-a-vis Leo will lend further credence to a case -- Ippolito's -- that was at the center of Ariosto's world at the time of the poem's first publication, and hence was even more carefully relegated to the occulted byways of ironic interlace, than the one that concerns me here.

Let us now return to the question of narrative structure with which I began. If Orlando furioso does indeed make a turn away from the openness of romance to the closure of epic -- and in so doing identify itself and its author closely with the ideological values and political interests of the Este court -- nonetheless, the voice of resistance and of critique, oscillating between personal ressentiment and acute political analysis, still persists. We can locate it specifically at the points of juncture and fracture between the disparate elements of history and fiction, narrative and commentary, story and figure, that the poet weaves together into a mobile web of shifting and reciprocally qualifying perspectives. Though it is easy enough to say that such an enterprise ultimately serves the master discourse of courtly ideology, it is also worth noting that no more direct criticism was possible, at least not in a form that commanded a significant readership. Ariosto could not have openly attacked the man upon who m he, and through him a large number of brothers and sisters, depended for their livelihood, a man who was known for his impetuous recourse to violent methods -- no more than he could indict Leo openly in a poem destined for wide circulation in the Italian courts and which, as noted earlier, required and bore Leo's imprimarur for publication. In other words, for Ariosto and his contemporaries it was a choice between an occulted, and perhaps therefore unhearable irony, and "the silence of the lambs," to take our poet's pastoral motif one, unpleasant, step further.


As suggested near the beginning of this essay, Ariosto extends the Boiardan practice of narrative entrelacement to include and to foreground non-narrative formal elements. Among other things, this technique permits the suggestive juxtaposition of Ariosto's chivalric fictions with the world of contemporary history, whose materials enter the poem through poems, ekphrases, prophecies, and other "asides." These juxtapositions are often not simply formal. That is, the proems often make explicit a moralizing analogy between the narratives of the poem and some contemporary issue of note. Usually, however, what is made explicit is culturally normative or positive, in the sense that the views expressed are compatible with those of a dominant culture, not that they are always or even mostly couched in the affirmative mode. Culturally negative or subversive outcomes are, on the whole, left implicit -- at the level of structure. Attacks on patrons, or on figures of unassailable prestige, such as the Pope, can only be ded uced by an active interpretation of ostentatious formal features -- such as those discussed above. Ariosto in this way can have his cake (the patronage and cultural prestige that a poem celebrating chivalric values and Estense genealogy affords) and consume it too (in its implied critique of those values and that regime).

Because the activity of critique is largely present in the form of structural possibility, and not as explicit utterance, it is always possible to doubt its existence as a product of authorial intention. And yet many of the formal features of the Furioso, including those just mentioned, seem gratuitous if such a critical counter-narrative is not being deployed through them. Nonetheless, though I would insist that these features do, in effect, insistendy invite the sort of speculative reading that I have given to them, I would also argue that they cannot be treated as keys to a straightforward political allegory. Their interpretation is very much open to the judgment of an individual reader -- whether of Ariosto's time or our own -- and is thus ambiguous by nature. For example, the limited framework of this analysis offers two sets of polar oppositions through which to evaluate significance that would allow different interpreters to arrive at very different conclusions. One might stress the status of canto 17 as a serious interrogation of the causes and cures of political crisis, or one might insist on the personal and venal vendetta of Ariosto against the Pope who failed to make good on promised patronage. We might see ariosto's recourse to oblique and allusive techniques of political-social criticism as a cunningly subversive strategy, calculated to undermine the powers that be -- or we could see it instead as a failure of nerve, as an unwillingness to stand up for what one believes, combined with a courtier's readiness to be appropriated by a power structure whose vices he knows all too well (cf. Castiglione, Libro del Cortegiano, esp. 4.6-10). The reading offered here suggests that we should not be too quick to opt for either pole in either of the two oppositions just sketched. We might even go so far as to imagine that Ariosto, among other things, is dramatizing the conflicting motives that operate in a work such as his, making it at once petty and public-spirited, bold and pusillanimous. But even this "open" reading is guided by personal preferences rather than by any ultimate certainty as to the poet's intentions.

Moreover, I should like to stress, it is not only a question of what Ariosto did or did not wish to express. The formal innovations of the Furioso were not only a response to historical circumstances; they were also a response made available and even necessary by such circumstances. If Ariosto went beyond Boiardo, it was because Boiardo had taught him the basics and refinements of intratextual narrative interlace to which he could add the intertextual and historical dimensions that I have pointed to here. And if he was able to face historical crisis by textualizing it, this was because Virgil, among others, had already found a vehicle for doing so, a vehicle unavailable to Boiardo, but one which Ariosto's culture -- where the Latin humanist tradition was able to find more direct expression in Italian vernacular texts than it typically had in the previous century -- made available to him. [69] If he was able to explore the breakdown of the ideological givens of the Quattrocento and before -- such as a theolog ically grounded politics, the secure differentiation between Christian and pagan, and so on -- it was at least partly because external events had made the arbitrary nature of such assumptions all too apparent, as it had also made evident the need to recuperate, reform, and/or revolutionize them.

I hope it is clear by now that the formal innovations of the Furioso are freighted with ideological significance, that fundamental historically-determined ruptures in cultural meaning are making themselves felt at the level of form. Machiavelli, one might posit heuristically, faced much the same crisis as Ariosto, but tackled it directly at the semantic level, while Ariosto's response was preponderantly syntactic and formal. [70] But such an opposition falsifies both the complex rhetoricity of Machiavelli and the high political content of the Furioso. The theoretical claim of this essay, then, is that the opposition -- common equally to "textualist" and "historicist" scholarship -- between structure and history, form and content, is both false and pernicious. Historical understanding moves through formal analysis; form is bound inextricably to history.

As a final consideration, let me suggest that a historical analysis of the Furioso's form that is also a formal analysis of the poem's representations of history will necessarily do for the transition from its first and second, forty canto, editions (1516 and 1521) to the final, forty-six canto, version of 1532 what I have already done for the shift from the Innamorato to the first Furioso. While I do not have space to include extended reflections on this topic here, my sharp focus on the figures of Leo and Ippolito invites speculation on the crucial fact that by 1532 the former had been dead for eleven years and the latter for twelve. When the final edition appeared, of course, references to these two, and to many other people and events, had lost most of the topical, historical force they had had in 1516 or even 1521. [71] Yet Leo and Ippolito retain, and even expand, their decisive structural-thematic roles in 1532, suggesting how basic they had been to the internal structure of the poem from its inceptio n. Defunct or not, Leo still remains the focus of cantos 17 and 26, while the late Ippolito continues as the poem's explicit dedicatee and the focal point of the principal Este encomia, especially in cantos 3 and 46. [72] This is so notwithstanding increased references to Ariosto's second patron, Duke Alfonso d'Este, and to the Emperor Charles V, the figure who dominated Italian and European politics in the 1520s and 1530s, as Julius and Leo had during the first twenty years of the century.

The tendency of the final Furioso to include figures from different historical moments side by side, referring to them in a newly generalized present tense that belies historical chronology and "actuality," has been aptly dubbed "synchronization" by Alberto Casadei. [73] Against Casadei's insistence on the full historical engagement of the 1532 edition, however, I would argue that this process furthers the larger process of the textualization of history at work in the first Furioso by reinforcing the reader's sense of a poetic temporality increasingly distinct from historical chronology. This point then leads us toward the distinctly unfashionable notion that the 1516 edition was more immediately a response to historical crisis than the final version. [74]

It has been a topos of Ariosto criticism that the 1532 poem is more aware of crisis than its precursor, [75] but, as we have seen, that is only partially true. Historically, in fact, the 1520s and early 1530s were less immediately threatening to Ferrara and to Ariosto personally than the earlier period. [76] Furthermore, by 1532 the outlines of a new order, social and political, were emerging that tended to guarantee stability for the Italian peninsula, even if at the cost of the loss of political autonomy and of a certain openness of cultural possibilities that had been an important condition sine qua non for the achievements of such as Machiavelli and Ariosto. [77] The underlying point is that the crisis that dominated the first two decades of the sixteenth century was such because it was not only a time of military-political upheaval -- in this sense, it is hard to find a time in human history not in crisis -- but also one of a radical destabilization in ideological assumptions, in naturalized cultural bo undaries (Bourdieu's doxa). [78] By the time of the appearance of the third and last Furioso, the project of ideological recuperation and reinstantiation was well under way -- brilliantly represented by such transitional works as Castiglione's Cortegiano and Bembo's Prose della volgar lingua. [79]

Nonetheless, although the 1532 edition is a far less direct product and representation of historical crisis than the 1516 edition, it is, for this very reason, more able to thematize crisis and to transform it from a series of ad hominem attacks and cris de coeur into an analysis of ideology in more general and reflective terms. [80] Returning to our example, it can be shown that even as Leo and Ippolito tend to lose their historical specificity and to function exclusively within the intratextual dynamics of the Furioso, [81] they are being redeployed within complex explorations of the problematic relationship of poetry and power, poet and patron, in general.

In fact, one of the main principles of revision visibly at work in 1532 is the extension and transformation of key episodes from 1516, including episodes with significant topical content, in a process that hovers between the intertextual and intratextual. [82] For example, language and imagery that is closely linked to Ippolito and Leo becomes a primary building block of the one major addition to the genealogical narrative, the story of Ruggiero, Bradamante, and Leone told in cantos 44-46.

Though this point could be made in a variety of ways, one example must here stand for all -- the fate of the intratextual echoes of Inferno 32-33 on which the critique of Leo hinges. In particular, the prominent stylistic device of "piu che ... pote" that marks derivation from Inferno 33.75, in 1532 also becomes an intratextual link between apparently unrelated episodes. [83] In 1516, there is a single use of this stylistic device, confined (as we have seen) to what was then canto 15 (17 in 1532), whose allusive force was then sharpened in 1521 by the introduction of the reference to the Orco as "fier pastor" (Ariosto, 1960, 508). In 1532, this stylistic device was introduced at two crucial junctures in canto 21. The canto offers a displaced version of the Hippolytus/Phaedra story in the tale of the faithful Filandro and the faithless Gabrina, and thus, like canto 17, constituted a crucial nexus between historical personage and literary narrative, as it also offers a variant on the Orrigille/Grifone story. T he echoes appear in stanza 54 (lines 7-8), which signals Filandro's descent from exemplar of "fede" into willing pawn of Gabrina's lust, and in stanza 3 (lines 7-8), which implicates Zerbino in the same foolish adherence to a rigid and self-destructive ethos of "fede" as Filandro. [84] Canto 21, in turn, became in 1532 the primary verbal and thematic source for the episode of Ruggiero, Bradamante, and Leone, and especially of its complex exploration of the ideology of faith. [85] Prominently featured are two additional echoes of Inferno 33.75, which are, within the intratexual economy of the poem, equally echoes of Furioso 17.48 and 21.3 and 54, at stanzas 34 and 56 of canto 45. [86]

Once the intricate verbal/thematic concatenation that leads from canto 17 through canto 21 to cantos 44-46 has been identified, one might then speculate that Ruggiero's misrepresentation of his identity when he wears Leone's armor into combat with Bradamante (45.55, 69) is indebted to the early episode of Grifone and Martano's exchange of armor and identity which had similarly near tragic consequences. And one might wonder whether the character Leone's name is not derived from Leo's, thus constituting the most fitting emblem for the sublimation of a historical personage into the narrative economy of the poem. [87]

Here a crucial question arises. The addition of the materials in cantos 44 and 45 clearly gives the genealogical narrative, whose purpose is to imagine an historical line leading from the time of the poem into the contemporary world of Estense Ferrara, greater prominence and centrality in the 1532 edition, reinforcing the sense of epic closure. [88] How is it then possible to argue that the 1532 edition is less historical in orientation than that of 1516? My point, however, is that history has a different place in 1532 than 1516, not at all that it is absent (how could it be?). The difference is between a relatively direct experience of disruptive historical crisis, as well as an immediate sense of connection to the political-social world, on the one hand, and, on the other, the fantasy of cultural continuity and stability embodied in the marriage of Bradamante and Ruggiero. [89] The Ruggiero-Bradamante-Leone episode, then, sets the myth of Estense genealogy in sharp relief, but also tends to fold it increas ingly into the plot of the poem, to make it part and parcel of the Furioso's chivalric fictions. [90]

At the beginning of this essay I argued that the essence of Ariosto's strategy for confronting and absorbing historical crisis was the deployment of a combined intertextual and intratextual entrelacement that pitted non-narrative formal and thematic elements against narrative. By 1532, however, the non-narrative elements of historical crisis were being increasingly, though not completely, reabsorbed into the primary narrative of the Furioso and specifically into the story that promotes the illusion of an unbroken and relatively untroubled link between the chivalric past and the present-day Ferrara of Ariosto and the Este family. This turn to the representation of history as narrative, which stabilizes the relationship between past and present, fiction and history, is the antithesis of the representation of history as crisis and in crisis. Curiously enough, although the neo-Virgilian model of genealogy is what turns the Furioso away from romance and toward epic, and thus, in Quint's terms, constitutes the fun damental rupture between Ariosto and Boiardo, this development also and equally constitutes a return to the Innamorato and a move away from the most radical innovations of the first Furioso. Not long after the episode of the Orco, Boiardo inaugurates the genealogical narrative in which Ruggiero and Bradamante become the founders of the Este dynasty (3.5). And the encomia of the Este line and their connections comprise the oniy historical materials that are integrated into Boiardo's poem (e.g., 2.21.55-60, 25.42-56, 27.50-59; 3.5.5-28). [91]

By 1532, then, Ariosto had begun to do what later readers almost always do to a text -- reduce the undigested signs of its own and its author's historicity into the self-contained forms of narrative and into a generalizable, non-local, thematics of temporal existence. In the world of the 1532 Furioso, Leo X is no longer himself, or even the caricatured object of Ariosto's ressentiment -- he is a figuration of the bestial abuse of power and the monstrous ingratitude of patrons. How great the difference between those two editions and those two moments in Ariosto's poetic career actually is may be seen in the very different treatment of the two historical figures who dominated the 20s and 30s and who were the protagonists of the Sack of Rome, the symbolic culmination of the crisis that had opened with the French invasion of 1494: Emperor Charles V and Pope Clement VII. Charles is given, in 1532, a glowing encomium (15.23-36) that reflects the increasing Ferrarese attachment to him as well as his apparent patron age of Ariosto. [92] In a distinctly Biblical and prophetic language with which we are quite familiar, the Ariostan narrator imagines a new and greater imperium: "solo un ovile sia, solo un pastore" (let there be one sheepfold, one shepherd only; 26.8, echoing John 10:16). [93] But here, as I understand it, there is no subverting interlace at work, notwithstanding the convenient textual proximity of two Ariostan monsters, Caligoranre and Orrilo. On the other hand is Leo's cousin and eventual successor in the papacy, Clement, who in his reign certainly represented just as significant an historical problem for Ferrara as Leo had earlier, but who is never mentioned by name in the poem, and who receives only a single, glancing reference to his imprisonment after the Sack (33.55-56). The older Ariosto, one might speculate, has retreated to the safety of a relatively uncritical position vis-a-vis contemporary history (again, much closer to Boiardo's stance) -- where the powerful are praised when advantageous to the author and ignored when they create problems. Still, the figure of Leo, the "Pastor... [col] fiero nome," lingers on in the background -- a subtle reminder that neither literary texts nor historical contexts are quite what they seem and that the crisis out of which the Furioso first grew has left an indelible mark on Ariosto's pages.


(1.) See Bigi, 10 and passim.

(2.) In Ariosto's Bitter Harmony I argued that there are "three versions of crisis to which the Furioso may be referred: crises of an historical epoch (whether political, cultural, or religious), crises of the self caught in its temporal predicament, and crises of the process of reference itself" (Ascoli, 1987, 15). I took as a methodological premise, in polemic with deconstruction, the claim that "it will not do to privilege the 'crisis of reference' in Ariosto over possible reference to various crises -- historical, psychological, or literary, as may be" (42). I would add, in this context, that neither will it do to privilege "historical crisis" over questions of form.

(3.) Cf. Fortini, 14; Cane-Ross, 1976, 153.

(4.) Stinger, esp. 235-54.

(5.) Rajna; Parker; Javitch, 1984 and 1985; Ascoli, 1987; Looney 1996; Martinez, 1999.

(6.) Rajna; Bruscagli, 1983; Quint, 1979; Marinelli; Baldan; Ross, 1989; Sangirardi; Cavallo, 1998.

(7.) Fichter; Sitterson.

(8.) Blasucci; Ossola; Parker; Segre; Johnson-Haddad; Ascoli, 1987 and 2000a; Biow; Martinez 1999.

(9.) On romance entrelacement generally, see Lot and Vinaver. For Ariosto's relationship to the tradition, see Delcorno-Branca, Bigi, and Beer, as well as Rajna's catalogue of romance sources. For influential discussions of Ariosto's narrative technique in related terms, see Cane-Ross, 1966 and 1976 (esp. 164, 201) and Donato. Javitch, 1984, has rightly stressed that Ovid also offers a model for Ariostan interlace.

(10.) Caretti; Moretti, 1977 and 1984; Saccone, 1983; Casadei, 1988b.

(11.) Quint, 1979; Parker; Ceserani; Zatti, 1990; Casadei, 1992.

(12.) Weaver; Javitch, 1980 and 1988; Dalla Palma.

(13.) Few critics have taken the Furioso's character as "sequel" quite as literally as Torquato Tasso who, in his Discorsi dell'Arte Poetica (111, 115-17, 120-21), insists that the two Orlandos must be considered formally as a single entity.

(14.) Quint, 1979; cf. Game-Ross, 1976,205; Sitterson. Cavallo, 1998, argues with conviction and good evidence that Ariosto's rewriting (and suppression) of various Boiardan episodes is designed to efface the signs that the third book of the Innamorato was tending toward closure. But Cavallo's point, though an important corrective to dismissive treatments of Boiardo's artistry, does not cancel two basic facts: 1) that the Innamorato was never finished and thus is necessarily experienced as "open"; and 2) that whatever conclusions the poem might have reached if its author had lived, they are not foreseen from the outset, nor integrated into its structure throughout, as they are in the Furioso. Here Ariosto's recourse to the form of genealogical epic (see Fichter), as against imitation of and/or allusion to Virgil, dearly separates the Furioso from its precursor. It is perhaps relevant to note that just as Ariosto rends to make us forget the very real advances in the integration of epic and romance carried out by Boiardo, so Tasso's later and much more rigid use of epic form -- which he specifically opposes to the hybrid monster of Boiardo plus Ariosto -- has tended to conceal the fact that, up to its own day, Furioso was perhaps the closest thing to Virgilian epic ever written in the vernacular. On Tasso's invidious treatment of Ariosto, see Ferguson; Zatti, 1996.

(15.) "Cf. Zatti, 1990, 10-11 and n.

(16.) Durling, 152-50; Ascoli, 1987, 97-98.

(17.) See for example, Hoffman 1992 and 1999.

(18.) Ascoli, 1987, 123-24 and 264-65.

(19.) "That is not to deny a significant intertextual dimension to the Innamorato, however. On this score see, for example, Cavallo, 1993; Bruscagli, 1995; Looney, 1996; Nohrnberg, 1998; Micocci; Gragnolati.

(20.) See Wiggins.

(21.) See Dalla Palma.

(22.) See Giamatti.

(23.) See Saccone, 1974.

(24.) See Javitch, 1984 and 1985.

(25.) See Pampaloni; Murrin.

(26.) See Durling; Shemek; Finucci; Benson; Ascoli, 1998.

(27.) I use "intertextuality" here in a specifically literary-historical sense. My notion of "discursivity" derives from the work of Michel Foucault, esp. The Archeology of Knowledge, with an assist from Stephen Greenblatt's notion of Shakespearean "negotiations" within social discourses. The phenomenon I am describing is related to what I have previously dubbed "contextuality" (Ascoli, 1987, 45).

{28.) Javitch, 1985, convincingly shows how Ariosto's imitative practice typically and deliberately brings together at least two earlier variants of a given episode. Nohrnberg, 1976; Quint, 1979; Parker; Ascoli, 1987; Zatti, 1990; Looney, 1996; Javitch, 1999--among others -- discuss how, from the first line forward, the poem intentionally interweaves romance and epic elements. Cf. note 14 above

(29.) Zatti, 1990, esp. chap. 1.

(30.) Ascoli, 1987, 37-39 er passim.

(31.) On the presence of historical materials, see Durling; Pampaloni; Bigi; Moretti, 1984; Marsh; Baillet; Looney, 1990-1991; La Monica, 1992; Hoffman, 1992 and 1999; Murrin; Biow; Henderson. In many ways, Carlo Dionisotti, 1961 and 1967, is the patron saint of contemporary interest in historicizing Ariosto and his poem. Casadei, 1988b, offers an excellent review of the literature to that date in his careful accounting of the additions and revisions of the material between 1516 and 1532. On the historical circumstances in Ferrara at the time of Ariosto, see Catalano; Bacchelli; Chiappini; Gundersheimer; Sestan; Beer; Casadei, 1988b; La Monica, 1992.

(32.) Cf. Durling, 133-34; Bigi, 43.

(33.) Quint, 1997, discusses the question of interlace in this canto and those around it in terms different from mine, though complementary to them.

(34.) Citations of the Innamorato are to the 1995 Bruscagli edition; English translations of the poem are from the 1989 Ross edition. Ariosto, in fact, is both borrowing and transforming multiple elements from Boiardo (cf. Rajna, 266-88). The amorous treachery of the lovely and fraudulent Orrigille remains the same, but where in the Boiardan story Orlando was the betrayed lover and Grifone the object of Orrigille's desire, now Grifone has become the victim. The way in which Ariosto's Grifone is made by Orrigille's trickery to assume the disgraced armor of Martano and thus put his life at risk in fact echoes precisely the episode that introduces Orrigille in the Innamorato (2.19, esp. 17 and 31). In Bolardo, Norandino is a participant in a tournament; in Ariosto, he is the host (Rajna, 281) -- in both Grifone is present. See Ross, 1998, for a detailed reading of the Boiardan episode. As for the Orco episode, the focal point of the Boiardan original, the exposure of a naked woman to the dangers of the sea in lo ose imitation of the myth of Andromeda recurs in Ariosto, but it is displaced into the episode of Angelica exposed to a (feminine) Orca and rescued by Ruggiero and Orlando. (That episode is, in turn, doubled by the addition of the parallel Olimpia episode in 1532.) Ariosto rakes up hints from Boiardo to write the antefact of Lucina's danger as a variation on Odysseus's encounter with Polyphemus: Boiardo's Orco has no eyes, as against one (3.3.28), and he throws a mountain after his tormentors/victims as they escape by sea (55-58). See Rajna, 282; cf. Baldan. Micocci, 48-54, demonstrates that Boiardo already had the Homeric model clearly in mind.

(35.) "Mentre che io canto, o Iddio redentore, / vedo la Italia tutta a fiama e a foco / per questi Galli, che con gran valore / vengon per disertar non so che loco; / pero vi lascio in questo vano amore / de Fiordespina ardente a poco a poco; / un'altra fiata, se mi fia concesso / racontarovi il tutto per espresso" (3.9.26).

(36.) Cf. Bigi, 26 and 40; Casadei, 1988b, 9-10.

(37.) On the cultural politics of Boiardo's milieu, see Bertoni; Chiappini; Gundersheimer; Bruscagli, 1983 and 1995; Tuohy; Campbell; Rambaldi; Cranston.

(38.) "Il giusto Dio, quando i peccati nostri / hanno di remission passato il segno, / accio che la giustizia sua dimostri / uguale alla pieta, spesso da regno / a tiranni atrocissimi et a mostri e da lor forza e di mal fare ingegno" (1.1-6). Unless otherwise indicated, citations of the Furioso are to the third edition of 1532 (Ariosto 1982). Translations of the Furioso and other Ariostan writings are my own.

(39.) "Di questo abbian non pur al tempo antiquo; / ma ancora al nostro, chiaro esperimento, / quando a noi, greggi inutili e mal nati, / ha dato per guardian lupi arrabbiati: // a cui non par ch'abbi a bastar lor fame, / ch'abbi il lor ventre a capir tanra carne; / e chiaman lupi di piu ingorde brame / da boschi oltramontani a divorarne ... // Or Dia consente che noi sian puniti / da populi da noi forse peggiori, / per li multiplicati et infiniti / nostri nefandi, obbrobriosi errori. / Tempo verra ch'a depredar lor liti / andremo noi, se mai saren migliori, / e che peccati lor giungano al segno, / che l'eterna Bonta muovano a sdegno" (3.5-8; 4.1-4; 5.1-8).

(40.) For example: Petrarch, Rime Sparse, canzone 128, "Italia mia, benche il parlar sia indarno" (see esp. lines 39-41: "Or dentro a una gabbia / fiere selvagge et mansuete gregge / s'annidan si che sempre il miglior geme," as well as the iterated motif of foreign invasion met by the inepitude of Italian princes); and Dante, Paradiso 27 (see esp. lines 55-59: "In veste di pastor lupi rapaci / si veggion di qua su per tutti i paschi: / a difesa di Dio, perche pur giaci? / Del sangue nostro Caorsini e Guaschi / s'apparecchian di bere." Behind Dante, of course, is Christ's indictment in the Sermon on the Mount of false prophets as "wolves in sheep's clothing" (Matthew 7:15; cf. Jeremiah 23:1). The relevance of the anti-clerical strain in these precursor texts will become apparent as we proceed.

(41.) This is the penultimate stanza of book 2 and apparently refers to the war with Venice in 1482. The first edition of the poem was published in 1482 or 1483 (cf. Ross, 1989, 14), and the third book was nor added until significantly later and was only published after the author's death. In any case, this earlier interruption of poetic narrative by military crisis simply confirms Boiardo's reluctance to textualize historical violence. On the importance of the Venetian materials for Ariosto, see Sestan; Casadei, 1988b; and Looney, 1990-1991.

(42.) This is not the only historical proem with a subversive agenda. A suggestive example, as Durling (140-44) noted some time ago, is the proem to canto 14 (stanzas 1-10).

(43.) "Ma lasciam, per Dio, Signore, ormai / di parlar d'ira e di cantar di morte;/... / che tempo e ritornar dov'io lasciai / Grifon, giunto a Damasco in su le porte / con Orrigille perfida, e con quello / ch'adulter era, e non di lei fratello. // De le piu ricche terre di Levante, / de le piu popolose e meglio ornate / si dice esser Damasco, che distante / siede a Ierusalem sette giornate, / in un piano fruttifero e abondante, / non men giocondo il verno, che l'estate ... //Per la citta duo fiumi ctistailini / vanno inafflando per diversi rivi / un numero infinito di giardini, / non mai di fior, non mai di fronde privi..." (17.1-2, 5-8; 18.1-6; 19.1-4).

(44.) Pampaloni, 644-49; La Monica, 1985, 330-31.

(45.) "Ode ii rumor, vede gil orribil segni / di crudelta, I'umane membra sparte. / Ora non piu: ritorni un'altra volta / chi voluntier la bella istoria ascolra" (89.5-8).

(46.) Rajna, 282-84; Baldan, 29 er passim; Micocci, 48-54.

(47.) 17.35.8 and 17.47.5-8. Cf. Ascoli, 1987, 392 and n. 228.

(48.) "Soriani in quel tempo aveano usanza / d'armarsi a questa guisa di Ponente. / Forse ye gli inducea la vicinanza / die de' Franceschi avean continuamente, / die quivi allor reggean la sacra stanza / dove in carne abito Dio onnipotente; / ch'ora i superbi e miseri cristiani, / con biasimi lor, lascian in man de' cani" (17.73.1-8).

(49.) "Se Cristianissimi esser voi volete, / e voi altri Catolici nomati, / perche di Cristo gli uomini uccidete? / perche de' beni lor son dispogliati? /Perche Ierusalem non riavete / che tolto e stato a voi da rinegati? ...// Non hai cu, Spagna, l'Africa vicina, / che t'ha via piu di questa Italia offesa? / E pur, per dar travaglio alla meschina, / lasci la prima tua si bella impresa. / O d'ogni vizio fetida sentina, / dormi, Italia imbriaca, e non ti pesa / ch'ora di questa gente, ora di quella / die gia serva ti fu, sei fatta ancella?" (75.1-6;76.1-8).

(50.) The last two lines of stanza 73, and first four of stanza 75, clearly derive from Petrarch's Trionfo della Fama, 2.137-44: "poi venia solo ii buon duce Goffrido / che fe' l'impresa santa e' passi giusti. / Questo (di ch'io mi sdegno e indarno grido) / fece in Jerusalem colle sue mani / il mal guardato e gia negletto nido; / gite superbi, o miseri Cristrani / consumando l'un l'altro, e non vi caglia / che 'l sepolcro di Cristo 'e in man dei cani." Note especially the cannabalistic motif in the Petrarchan original ("consumando l'un l'altro") that suggests an associative link to the Orco episode. The passage, incidentally, may well have been an inspiration for Tasso's magnum opus, Gerusalemme liberata. Also relevant, however, are these lines spoken by the false counselor, Guido da Montefeltro, in Dante's Inferno 27.85-90: "Lo principe d'i novi Farisei, / avendo preso guerra presso a Laterano, / e non con Saracin ne con Giudei, / che ciascun suo nemico era cristiano / e nessun era stato a vincer Acri / ne m ercatante in terra di Soldano." The Dantean connection becomes more evident when Ariosto brings the papacy into the picture at stanza 79, and with it additional echoes of the Commedia. See also note 40 above.

(51.) Leo's license to publish is given in a prefatory letter to the 1516 edition signed by the humanist Jacopo Sadoleto and dated 27 March 1516. That letter in turn was based on a version drafted by Ariosto's friend Pietro Bembo, dated 20 June 1515. The license was then renewed in 1521. The licenses are described in Agnelli and Ravegnani, 1:17-21. Catalano gives the background (1: 428) and reprints Bembo's letter (document 256, in 2: 149-50). I am indebted to Dennis Looney for bringing this information to my attention and for a number of other useful suggestions that have made a significant impact on this essay.

(52.) "Tu, gran Leone, a cui premon le terga / de le chiavi del ciel le gravi some, / non lasciar che nel sonno si sommerga / Italia, se la man l'hai ne le chiome. / Tu sei Pastore; e Dio t'ha quella verga / data a portare, e scelto il fiero name, / perche tu ruggi, e che le braccia stenda, / si che dai lupi il gregge tuo difenda" (79.1-8). There is another Petrarchan echo here, this time from Rime Sparse 53.10-14, 19-23: "Che s'aspetti non so, ne che s'agogni / Italia, che suoi guai non par che senta, / vecchia oziosa e lenta; / dormira sempre et non fia chi la svegli? / Le man l'avess'io avolto entro' capegli / ... / ma non senza destino a le tue braccia / che scuoter forte et sollevar la ponno / or commesso nostro capo Roma. / Pon man in quella venerabil chioma / securamente, et ne le trecce sparte, si che la neghittosa esca dal fango." As we shall see, however, Dante is a Far stronger presence -- note the echoes of the passages cited previously in notes 40 and 50 above, both of which specifically link It aly's predicament to the failures of the papacy as the Petrarch does not, at least in the two canzoni echoed by Ariosto.

(53.) Da Pier le tegno; e dissemi ch'i'erri / anzi ad aprir ch'a tenerla serrata" (9.127-28).

(54.) "Non fu nostra intenzione ch'a destra mano / di nostri successori parte sedesse, / parte dall'altra del popol cristiano; / ne che le chiavi che mi fuor concesse, / divenisser signaculo in vessillo / che contra battezzati combattesse" (Paradiso 27.46-51; cf. Inferno 27.100-5).

(55.) The description of Leo in these terms was present from the first edition, raising the question of whether Ariosto was already at that stage obliquely echoing, consciously or not, Inferno 33.1. The question, of course, cannot be answered definitively. But the insertion of the locution "fier pastor" in 1521, with its evident connection both to the Dantean echo in stanza 48 and to the description of Leo in stanza 79, surely means chat by 1521 the poet had recognized not only the possible allusion, but its full, violently anti-papal, implications.

(56.) In an earlier martial proem, Ariosto speaks of Ippolito's defeat of another roaring lion, Venice: "quando al Leone, in mar tanto feroce / ... / faceste s), ch'ancor ruggier l'oda" (15.2; emphasis added). As is often noted, the papacy and the Venetians were the primary threats to Ferrarese security in both Ariosto's time and Boiardo's, the two joining forces at the battle of Ravenna. See note 41 above.

(57.) "Colui ch'indosso il non suo cuoio, / come l'asino gia quel del leone" (1.1-2; emphasis added).

(58.) "The later episode is dotted with images that reinforce a connection to the earlier part of the canto -- for example, Martano is twice linked with "lupi" (88.8; 91.3), while two of the "extras" in the tournament have names pointedly derived from the pastoral tradition: "Tirse e Corimbo" (96.3).

(59.) Catalano discusses Ariosto's relationship with Leo at length (vol. 1, esp. pages 352-87) and gives particular prominence to the Pope's failure to provide patronage (354-57, 385-87, 476). Ariosto discusses his disappointment in Satire 3, esp. lines 82-105, 151-206, and 7 lines 55-69 and 88-114, while Satire 2, esp. lines 1-9, 58-96, 196-234, and Satire 4, esp. lines 79-102, contain anti-clerical and anti-Medicean diatribes. See also note 64 below. On Ariosto's attitude toward the clergy in general, see Dionisotti, 1967; and Mayer.

(60.) Ariosto makes repeated reference to this battle, notably in the proem to canto 15 (1-10), as well as at 3.55 and 33.40-41. The battle and its effects on the peninsula as a whole are memorably recounted by Francesco Guicciardini in books 10 and 11 of the Storia d'Italia.

(61.) For the impact of the Modena/Reggio question on Ariosto's relationship to Leo, see Catalano, vol. 1, pages 387, 478, 490, 501, 533-34.

(62.)Cf. Durling, 134.

(63.) Stinger, 91-92. Machiavelli's fox-lion symbolism derived from Dante and Cicero in The Prince, chapter 18, also conceals a veiled and highly ambivalent reference to Leo, from whom he, too, vainly sought liberating patronage (Ascoli, 1993, esp. 242-45). Ariosto would later pick up the Machiavellian image in attacking the tyrannical rule of Leo's nephew, Lorenzo, Duke of Urbino, the dedicatee of The Prince (Satire 4.94-102, cf. 7-12). For additional discussion of Ariosto and Machiavelli, see Ascoli, 2000b.

(64.) Satire 2 indicts all prelates, from priest to pope, of ambition and avarice, simony and nepotism. Lines 205 and following depict a genetic pope who will "triumph, filthy with Christian blood" (222) and is prepared to "give Italy in prey to France or Spain" (223) recalling Furioso 17.3-5, 73-79. For pastoral metaphorics linked to Leo in one way or another, see 3.115-12; 4.7-12. For comparable animal imagery, see 2.2-3; 5.25;7.49-54, 93. For plays on Leo's name, see 3.97; 4.9, 154-56: 7.88-93. See also note 59 above. The Satires were not intended for immediate publication and hence were flanker in their criticisms than the Furioso. See Portner for the idea (not entirely persuasive) that Ariosto's Negromante was not performed in Rome because Leo saw in it an unflattering allusion to himself. On Leo's positive reaction to a Roman performance of Ariosto's Suppositi and to the Negromante episode, see Garalano, vol. 1, 376-85.

(65.) In the allegorical intaglio of canto 26, Avarice, personified as a chimerical beast combining features of ass, wolf, lion, and fox, is depicted ravaging the world. Also depicted are European rulers from the early Cinquecento, including Leo, who slay the monster with their liberality (34.6; 36.1). The language in which Leo is presented, however, identifies him with the beast he ostensibly opposes. The worst depredations of the beast are among "cardinali e papi" and have "contaminated the lovely seat of Peter" (32.6-8). In language like that associated with Pope and Ore in canto 17, the beast arrogates "the keys... of heaven and of the abyss" (33.7-8). The beast is part lion, while Leo appears depicted allegorically as his bestial namesake. Two of the other three animals that constitute Avarice, the wolf and the ass, also appear in canto 17. The intaglio depicts Leo in the curious act of biting the ass-eats of the monster (36.2). In the first, 1516, redaction the image is made even more curious by the amb iguous language in which it is described: "avea attaccate l'asinine orecchie" (1960, 878). Since "attaccate" can mean "attached" as well as "attacked," we are free to see the ass-ears on Leo as much as on Avarice (cf. 17.112.2: "come l'asino gia quel del leone"), with a possible allusion to the Ovidian Midas, the mythical paradigm of avarice with ill-concealed ass-ears who, incidearally, is a very poor judge of art (Metamorphoses 11.146-93). For a reading of the allegorical intaglio in light of its "entrelacement" with the rest of canto 26, see Hoffman, 1999. For other examples of such bivalent grammatical constructions in the poem, see Ascoli, 1987, 355-56 and n., 359-60 and n. 172.

(66.) Letter no. 26 in Ariosto 1965. Catalano documents Ariosto's relationship to Ippolito extensively; see esp. vol. 1, pp. 434-54.

(67.) Cf. Quint, 1983, 88-89; Zatti, 1990, 147-49; Looney 1990-1991. Durling (135-50) argues for the seriousness of the encomia, though with important qualifications; Baillet makes a less subtle case for this position.

(68.) The symbolically charged imagery of "cavelleria" and horsemanship (Giamatti; Dalla Palma) is subtended by the classical myth of Hippolytus, with its thematics of blind desire and mad violence (Ascoli, 1987, 382-89). Ariosto's procedure of fusing classical myths and contemporary persons with the poem's characters is described in Ceserani (485).

(69.) Due exception made for Poliziano's Stanze per la Giostra and Favola d'Orfeo, Recent work by Fumagalli, Cavallo (1993), Looney (1996 and 1998), Micocci, and Richard Tristano (in progress) has stressed the significant humanistic dimension in Boiardo's career. As noted earlier, recent criticism has shown consistent engagement in the Innamorato with not only Ovid but also Virgil and other classical poets (note 19 above). Still, there is a world of difference between, say, Boiardo's translation of a Latin translation of Herodotus and Machiavelli's detailed, if idiosyncratic, commentary on Livy, or between Boiardo's occasional Virgilian allusions, and Ariosto's adaptation of a Virgilian model (on the last point see note 14 above). Bruscagli, 1995, xx-xxvi, argues convincingly that Boiardo deliberately subordinates his use of classical and canonical vernacular materials (e.g., Boccaccio) to the world of Carolingian romance, which may account for the differences from Ariosto, who ostentatiously imitates the cl assics.

(70.) See also Ascoli, 2000b.

(71.) Casadei, 1988b, 17 n. 20, astutely observes that the changed context of the 1532 edition changes the significance of segments that are nor changed in themselves -- the notion deserves considerable attention and development.

(72.) The changes in the treatment noted by Casadei, 1988b, 24-27, 55, 75-76 are significant but do not alter Ippolito's fundamental place in the poem.

(73.) Casadei, 1988b, 50-56 and 153.

(74.) See Henderson for an interesting attempt to demonstrate Ariosto's hypersensitivity to his immediate historical context during various phases of composition of the first Furioso.

(75.) See Caretti; Saccone, 1983; cf. Bigi, 33, and Ascoli, 1987, 9-10 contra.

(76.) To this extent I agree with Casadei (1988b, 154), who distinguishes between the local Ferrarese concerns in the 1516 edition and the national, Italian concerns of the 1532 edition. However, in doing so he trivializes the presence of 17.73-79 in the 1516 edition (Ariosto, 1960, 517-19; cf. Casadei, 1988b, 41) and understates the international character of the battles that were being fought in and around Este territory, thus misunderstanding the significance of a crisis of the local (nothing less than the end of a way of life in the peninsula based on small, local states -- Ferrara, Urbino, Florence, to name just a few).

(77.) In 1532 the long term negative outcome of the epoch of crisis in Italy was clearly visible: Italy was at the mercy of foreign invaders and especially the Emperor Charles V; the papacy's authority was under attack by Lutheran reforms and subject to the violent indignity of the Sack of Rome; and so on. Yet, Ariosto and Ferrara were rather better off than they had been in 1516, not to mention the late teens when the dark Cinque Canti were apparently composed (see Casadei, 1988a; Quint, 1996; Zatti, 1996, chap. 2). Having sided with Charles against Clement and the League of Cognac in 1527, Alfonso had finally recovered Reggio and Modena. While the reconciliation of the Pope and the Emperor in 1529-1530 may have been worrisome, it had created no serious problems for the Ferrarese by 1532. Moreover, Ariosto personally was shown particular favors by the Emperor -- and in general had begun to enjoy more of the fruits of fame that his immensely successful poem, as well as his various plays, now afforded him (cf. Bigi, 34-35).

(78.) Bourdieu, 164-71.

(79.) Cf. Bigi, 66.

(80.) The major narrative additions to the poem address central ideological concerns -- the politics of tyranny; the ethics of "fede;" the cultural construction of gender identity -- which, although present in 1516, are far more explicitly treated in 1532 (Dalla Palma, 219-25).

(81.) Cf. Ascoli, 1987, 388.

(82.) This phenomenon is more obvious in the ease of two of the four major narrative additions: the Olimpia episode clearly doubles the earlier episode of Angelica and the Orca and the Marganorre episode is clearly a palinodic rewriting of the episode of the "femine omicide" (cantos 19-20 in the 1532 edition). The "Rocca di Tristano" episode is less specifically linked to a single 1516 episode (though it does provide an oblique commentary on Bradamante's jealous despair), but it too has a function of rewriting - most especially in the ekphrastic-historical passage which recants the pro-French bias (however qualified) of 1516. Of the Ruggiero-Leone-Bradamante addition, I shall speak below.

(83.) Cabani has recently given us a lengthy catalogue of various ways in which Ariosto uses verbal repetition to connect disparate episodes, though she does not discuss this particular example.

(84.) For a detailed reading of canto 21, see Ascoli, 2000b.

(85.) For additional elaboration of this argument see Ascoli, 1987, 330-31 and n122; and Ascoli, 2000b. For debate concerning the value of (ethical) "faith" in the Furioso, see also Durling, 167-76; Saccone, 1974 and 1983; Wiggins; Bonifazi; and Zatti, 1990, esp. 91-111.

(86.) Furthermore, key terms that appear in the earlier Ariostan echoings are found throughout the two cantos reinforcing thematic connections: "timor" 45.34-37 (5 times); "ostinazione" 44.37.7, 44.45.1, 45.86.6, 45.107.6; "promesso" 44.35.4, 44.47.8, 44.53.3, 44.58.6, 44.69.2, 44.75.4, 45.6.1, 45.22.1, 45.60.1, 45.108.3, 45.109.3, 45.116.2.

(87.) Possible further support for this hypothesis comes from 1) the ostentatious linking of a nominal lion with a "roarer" (Ruggiero) which perhaps recalls Ariosto's earlier exegesis of the papal name ("scelto il fiero nome / perche tu ruggi"); 2) the fact that Leone is the son of an emperor named after the original Costantino (both because of the earlier allusion to Constantine's donation in close proximity to Leo's name and because the memory of Constantine always evokes problems of papal authority); and, more tenuously, 3) a series of locutions using the crucial adjective "fiero," one of which conflates the two Dantean passages echoed in canto 17 -- "fiero dolore" (45.57.1; cf. 44.81.3; 85.7).

(88.) Marsh; Bigi, 53; Casadei, 1992; cf. Quint, 1979.

(89.) In 1516, the poem's penultimate episode (what became cantos 42 and 43 in 1532) was the futile journey of Rinaldo down through the Italian peninsula in order to join Orlando and co. at the battle of Lipadusa (Ariosto, 1960). The foci of the episode are an ekphrasric description of a castle near Mantua and two interpolated, neo-Boccaccian novelle. All of these materials evoke the origins and the culture of Ferrara and her sister city, Mantua (where Isabella d'Este reigned as Duchess). Cf. Casadei, 1992; Martinez, 1994 and 1999.

(90.) Pampaloni (644) and Marsh both take the Eastern locale of the Ruggiero-Leone encounter, and especially the city of Belgrade, as topically allusive to the Turkish threat of 1529. Even if this is so, its oblique approach is a far cry from the explicit presentation of such topics exemplified by the proem and digression of canto 17, perhaps because, however large in the abstract the pagan menace might seem, it did not have the scandalous immediacy that the Italian wars did (remember that in 17.73-79 Ariosto, like Dante, sees such extramural conflicts as normal and a desirable alternative to warfare among Christians). A much more horrifying (and transparently allegorical) "eastern adventure" is the civil war of the Cinque Canti enacted in the heretical precincts of Prague. I would tend in any case to think that the emphasis should fall on the appearance of an imperial heir, the son of a namesake of Constantine, in an era of renewed imperialism.

(91.) Cf. Casadei, 1988b, 22.

(92.) Bigi, ed., 1:609-10 n. 18; Caralano, 1:608.

(93.) On the tendency to make Charles the object of apocalyptic prophecies previously applied almost exclusively to popes, see Stinger, 120-21 and 324 n. 11. See also Casadei, 1988b, 44-45; Yates, chap. 1.


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Date:Jun 22, 2001
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