OF THE BABY NAME ANGELICA
Angelica is the object of desire for love-smitten Orlando in Matteo Maria Boiardo’s “Orlando Inamorato” first published in 1495. In case you’re wondering "innamorato” means ‘in love’ in Italian which is exactly Orlando’s problem (in fact, Angelica ends up driving him mad but you’ll have to wait for Orlando furioso for that part of the story). In his epic poem, Boiardo breathed new life into ideals of chivalry by borrowing from both Arthurian legend as well as early medieval Frankish (French) traditions (Orlando is the Italian form of Roland, i.e., from “The Song of Roland”). The action centers on the 8th century, at the time of Charlemagne (King of the Franks and Emperor of the Romans). Angelica is the beautiful pagan princess, daughter of the King of Cathay (referring to present day India/China). She comes to Charlemagne’s court offering herself as a prize to whoever can defeat her brother. Her brother is eventually killed but Angelica wastes no time hightailing it out of there. Hot on her trail are Charlemagne’s chief warriors, Orlando and Rinaldo (both smitten with her). Enter medieval magical love potion (every legend has to have one of those!). Angelica drinks from the Stream of Love, causing her to fall head-over-heels for Rinaldo. Just to jazz up the story some, Rinaldo drinks from the Fountain of Hate and develops a deep revulsion for Angelica. So while Angelica is chasing Rinaldo, Orlando is chasing Angelica. Enter love potion #2. Angelica and Rinaldo end up drinking from opposite fountains, and then Rinaldo and Orlando duel for her. In the meantime, France is besieged and Charlemagne takes Angelica into custody, offering her to the one who fights most valiantly against the infidels. The poem is never finished. Italy herself was amidst a war, and Boiardo’s final two lines are: “Mentre ch'io canto, Iddio Redentore / vedo l'Italia tutta a fiamma e foco.” (Translation: “While I sing, God the Redeemer / I see all Italy in flame and fire.” If you’re on the edge of your seat, don’t worry – the Italian poet Ludovico Ariosto will pick up where Boiardo left off a couple decades later (see below).
Orlando furioso is an epic poem written by the Italian Ludovico Ariosto (1516) and basically translates to “Mad Orlando” (mad meaning crazy-mad about Angelica). It is a continuation of Boiardo’s unfinished work Orlando Immamorato (Orlando in Love). In “furioso”, the action picks up during the war taking place with Charlemagne and his Christian warriors against the Saracens (basically Arab Muslims) attempting to invade Europe. Ariosto’s poem is a lot more fantastical than his predecessor's, but the story’s central focus is still on Christian Orlando’s unrequited love for the pagan princess Angelica. This is one of the most “epic” (i.e., long) poems in European literature, so we’ll have to water it down some and get to the good stuff. The poem begins with Angelica escaping from the custody of Charlemagne and Orlando is quickly in pursuit (neglecting his duty to Charlemagne). Orlando and Angelica meet, have some adventures of their own, and then Angelica tends to a wounded Arab knight, falls in love and elopes with him back to the Far East. When Orlando learns of this latest development, he is in a frenzy of despair and runs amok throughout Europe and Africa. His good sense is finally restored when a fellow knight finds Orlando’s “sanity” on the moon (yes, a little sci-fi action for you), bottles it up and brings it back to Orlando. Orlando goes on to kill the King of the Saracen Army and redeems his heroic warrior status. Nevertheless, Angelica certainly gave him a run for his money!