On September 8, 1474, Ludovico Ariosto was born in Reggio Emilia, duchy of Modena, the first child of Count Niccolò Ariosto, captain of the city’s fortress, and Daria Malaguzzi Valeri. When Ludovico was about ten years old, his family moved to Ferrara. There, his father accepted the position as the general financial administrator of the dukedom. From 1489 to 1494, the younger Ariosto studied civil law, but only reluctantly and at his father’s behest. During this same period, he began to manifest a pronounced preference for literary studies. In 1494, he obtained paternal permission to study Latin and Greek with the Humanist Gregorio da Spoleto and, later, with Sebastiano dell’Aquila. In the meantime, between 1494 and 1500, Ludovico began to frequent the court of the duke of Este, Ercole I d’Este. He could not help but be greatly influenced by the Ferrarese court culture, where Boiardo’s works were often read and discussed and where frequent dramatic spectacles were enacted with the help and participation of the youth from the Ferrarese court.
In 1500, however, the serenity of Ariosto’s studies was abruptly terminated by the unexpected death of his father. As the oldest of ten children, Ludovico had to assume the responsibility for providing for his younger brothers and sisters. From that moment, there began a period of intense preoccupation with family affairs that made him long to return to his previous, relatively indolent life of literary pursuits—a wish that he realized only in his last years. In 1502, he received a commission as captain of the fortress at Canossa, but he remained there for only a short time. In 1508, he entered the service of Cardinal Ippolito d’Este, the duke’s brother,...
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