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Genealogies of FictionWomen Warriors and the Dynastic Imagination in the Orlando Furioso$
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Eleonora Stoppino

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780823240371

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823240371.001.0001

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An Amazonian Past: Female Rule and the Threat of Illegitimacy

An Amazonian Past: Female Rule and the Threat of Illegitimacy

(p.58) Chapter Two An Amazonian Past: Female Rule and the Threat of Illegitimacy
Genealogies of Fiction

Eleonora Stoppino

Fordham University Press

This chapter surveys the descriptions of Amazonian societies in the Italian epic tradition preceding Ariosto. It analyzes the figure of the Amazon and its Ariostean incarnation, Marfisa. Looking at Virgil, Pulci, and Boiardo, but also at anonymous epic poems and travel narratives such as Marco Polo's Devisement du monde, the chapter posits Amazonian societies as necessary narrative and ideological preludes to the construction of the female warrior in Ariosto's poem. This section contextualizes within the culture of Herculean Ferrara the revival of the Amazon imagery, and shows it to be the product of a society obsessed with illegitimacy. The analysis of these imagined Amazonian communities moves between a broad overview of the chivalric genres in Italy and the close textual analysis of specific episodes. In the Furioso, the crucial episode is the adventure of the woman warrior Marfisa in the land of the “femine omicide” (canto XX).

Keywords:   Amazons, Femine omicide, foundation, generation, illegitimacy, Marfisa, Furioso character, states of exception, violence

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