’S Orlando Furioso Essay, Research Paper
Even in the classics, an author must have something outrageous to keep his reader’s attention. Ariosto, in his Orlando Furioso, does so with winged horses and curses placed upon high ranking officials. The main character in cantos 33-35 is Astolfo, and he starts his journey by riding upon a hippogryph. A hippogryph, in mythology, is a flying animal having the wings, claws, and head of a griffin and the body and hindquarters of a horse. Astolfo rides this winged horse for quite awhile, journey through many different lands. During this time, the hippogryph has control over where Astolfo goes, and they end at Ethiopia.
In Ethiopia, it is said “that fire is used in baptism (canto 33: 102)” which proves the Emperor Senapo’s influence. The land is covered in gold, and everything Astolfo would use iron for was gold. There were gems and precious jewels everywhere, and the lines describe how the Emperor of Ethiopia has absolute power over even the Sultan of Egypt, because the Emperor controls the flow of the Nile. There was never an Emperor more powerful or rich, but Senapo was afflicted with lost eyesight and a horrible curse that wouldn’t allow him to eat any meal in peace.
These hardships occurred when Senapo was a young man and very arrogant. He decided to battle against God Himself, and climbed the very mountain that the fabled Adam and Eve lived upon. God became very angry with Senapo, and blinded him and opened the gate of hell to little harpy demons that would come and eat any food placed before him. A prophecy told that Senapo would have these afflictions until a man upon a winged horse came flying in to save him, and when Astolfo flew in on his hippogryph, the Emperor thought he at last would be saved.
Emperor Senapo invites Astolfo to his dinner table, but the demons still come and eat all the food. Astolfo drew his sword and tried to kill the harpies, but it was no use. They were brought from hell and therefore could not be killed by conventional means. Eventually, Astolfo follows the harpies with his magical horn and finds the tree that leads to hell, goes down a flight of stairs, talks to a woman who is in eternal damnation, follows the steps back up, and seals the entrance.
After trapping the harpy demons back into the hell from whence they came, Astolfo flies up to the peak of a mountain and meets a clergyman. The clergyman tells him that Orlando’s mind is lost and can only be found on the moon. They travel to the moon, find Orlando’s wits in a jar labeled “The wits of Orlando” and return the wits to their owner.
The plot itself ends here, and the rest of canto 34 and 35 are about Ariosto’s views of humanity and poetry. He uses the lost and found place on the moon to tell the readers that folly, or foolishness, is never lost, and is always found on Earth. Ariosto goes on to say that poetry is God’s gift to men, and any lord that denies the beauty of poetry and turns a genuine poet away risks being forgotten forever. If one is a lord and wants to be remembered for the good deeds he did during his life, he ought to have a sincere and talented poet in his house and included in his staff. Otherwise, he will go to hell and be forgotten forever.
This story is basically for entertainment purposes, although it has sentimental meaning to the author. He wrote this is response to another man’s writing where Orlando is also the man character and included in the title. Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso is considered a classic piece of literature, and even Shakespeare has read this work. This story was interesting in that it explored aspects of humanity and the arts while keeping the plot alight with mythical images and intense characters.