Ariosto, Ludovico

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Ariosto, Ludovico

Ludovico Ariosto (lōōdōvē´kō äryôs´tō), 1474–1533, Italian epic and lyric poet. As a youth he was a favorite at the court of Ferrara; later he was in the service of Ippolito I, Cardinal d'Este, and from 1517 until his death served Alfonso, duke of Ferrara. He was never properly rewarded by his patrons. While in the service of the cardinal, he began writing his masterpiece, the Orlando Furioso, published in its final form in 1532. This epic treatment of the Roland story, theoretically a sequel to the unfinished poem of Boiardo, greatly influenced Shakespeare, Milton, and Byron. It was intended to glorify the Este family as Vergil had glorified the Julians. Ariosto also wrote lyric verse of unequal merit, but he was among the first to write comedies in the vernacular (based loosely on Roman models), among them I Suppositi [the pretenders] and Il Negromante [the necromancer].

See the famous 16th-century translation of Orlando Furioso by Sir John Harington, ed. by R. McNulty (1972), as well as the verse translations by B. Reynolds (2 vol., 1975) and by D. R. Slavitt (2010); studies by B. Croce (tr. 1920, repr. 1966), R. Griffin (1974), and A. R. Ascoli (1987).

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