By Samantha Hughes-Johnson

On this day (8 September) in 1474 the Italian poet, Ludovico Ariosto was born in Reggio Emilia in the Duchy of Modena. His father was Niccolo Ariosto and his mother was Daria Malaguzzi Valeri. In his youth, Ludovico had studied law and later took an interest in Classical literature, under the tutelage of Gregorio da Spoleto.

Following his father’s death in 1500, despite Ludovico taking on responsibility for his family and becoming captain of the fortress of Canossa, he was able to produce prose of a quality that attracted a powerful patron, Cardinal Ippolito d’Este. Ludovico was ingratiated into the d’Este household although, it is reported that the poet found his patron mean and ungrateful. In turn, the Cardinal became irritated with Ludovico’s refusal to accompany him to Hungary when he was given the bishopric of Buda and terminated this inequitable partnership.

Fortunately, Cardinal Ippolito’s brother, Alphonso Duke of Ferrara, stepped into the breach and utilised Ludovico on dangerous diplomatic missions. In time, Ariosto was appointed to govern the province of Garfagnana. He carried out these duties for three years and then returned to Ferrara until his death in 1533.

Best known as the creator of the chivalric epic poem, Orlando Furioso, Ludovico Ariosto also penned pieces such as Cassaria, Suppositi,  Necromancer, Lena  and The Students, some of which were completed by his brother and his son.  

Images: Titian, Man with a Quilted Sleeve (thought to be Ludovico Ariosto), 1510, oil on canvas, The National Gallery, London. Wikimedia Commons.

Riccardo Secchi, Statue of Ludovico Ariosto, Giardini Pubblici di Reggio nell’Emilia. Wikimedia Commons.

Vincenzo di Biagio Catena, Madonna with Saint, c.1512, oil on panel, Staatliche Museen, Berlin. Wikimedia Commons.

References: Ludovico Ariosto, Delphi Poetical Works of Ludovico Ariosto, Delphi Publishing Ltd: Hastings, 2015.

Ludovico Ariosto, Treccani Online Encyclopaedia.

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