Welcome to the third installment of a new feature here at Balladeer’s Blog. This segment will feature some forgotten early ventures into the form of story- telling that we now call science fiction. ”Ancient” is being said with poetic license in some cases, such as with this week’s subject – Orlando Furioso, written by Ludovico Ariosto in 1532.
ORLANDO FURIOSO – Only part of Ariosto’s satirical epic falls under the category of Ancient Science Fiction, so that’s the only part I’ll deal with. The hero Orlando has gone mad, and his ally Astolfo is trying to recover “Orlando’s Lost Wits”. This endeavor becomes an “epic within an epic” as his journey takes him to Hell and the Earthly Paradise (in a wry nod to Dante’s Divine Comedy) and now onward to the moon. Astolfo’s guide is St John the Evangelist and their mode of transportation is Elijah’s chariot.
Ariosto presents the moon as being the exact same size as the Earth and a place of fields, towns, lakes and rivers. In addition, the moon is home to The Valley Of Lost Things, where everything lost on Earth winds up. Not just any and every tangible object that people have lost, but intangible concepts like lost ideals, unkept vows, etc. In a more satirical vein, some items become odd parodies of themselves – lost crowns become tumid bladders on the moon and flattery becomes rancid garlands. At last, Astolfo finds Orlando’s Lost Wits in this lunar junkyard of Earthly vanities and returns to Earth to restore the sanity of the epic’s main character and leaves readers for centuries smiling at St John’s observation that “all writers are nothing but paid liars.”
FOR MORE ENTRIES UNDER ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/category/ancient-science-fiction/