The Pathways of Knowledge in Boiardo and Ariosto: The Case of Rodamonte

Cavallo, Jo Ann

How do we come to know? What can be known? How can true knowledge be distinguished from belief and opinion? What are the effects of knowledge? How does knowledge shape the course of our actions? These are some of the questions that philosophers were asking in fifteenth and
sixteenth-century Italy.The answers would have differed depending on whether one adhered to scholastic Aristotelianism, Neoplatonism, "nature philosophies," or Skepticism, but all schools of thought were engaged in discussions about the nature of knowledge. Philosophers, moreover, were not the only ones interested in the process of knowledge acquisition and the relation of knowledge to action. In this essay I focus on how the poets Matteo Maria Boiardo and Lodovico Ariosto develop their thoughts on the subject in their romance epics, Orlando innamorato and Orlando furioso. My intention is not to fit them into any particular philosophical movement (although correspondences will be noted when relevant), but rather to show that both poets were deeply aware of the questions surrounding the issue of knowledge and that they provided their own answers through their fiction.



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American Association of Teachers of Italian
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April 24, 2014