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Introduction to the Interactive Atlas
The Orlando Furioso Atlas is designed as a cartographic representation of Ludovico Ariosto’s sprawling romance epic. We have sought to plot the plot (or really, plots) of the book as a translation of the text into visual and geographic form, in order to help readers follow the interwoven narratives of the story, and to bring to light patterns and trajectories that may not be apparent in the written text.
In its final form Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso consists of almost 40,000 verses, grouped into eight-line stanzas (ottave), and organized into 46 chapters (canti). We have maintained the 46-canto organization of the 1532-edition, and provided a map for each canto. As we finish each canto-map, we will put it online below.
We have charted the trajectories of the characters onto Martin Waldseemüller’s Universalis Cosmographia map of 1507, in an effort to reimagine the world as humanists of the time were conceiving of it. It is a worldview-in-flux, from a moment in history when scholars were attempting to synthesize classical ideas of the size and scope of the Earth with the modern narratives of discovery from Africa, Asia and the Americas. This map also helps to remind us that all maps, even purportedly scientific satellite-generated renderings, are always imperfect representations of the world, informed by conventions, the limitations of two-dimensional media, and our imaginations.
Instructions for Use
Below are links to the canto maps. Each canto of the poem has two maps: one linked to the original Italian text of the canto, another linked to an English translation. By clicking on either "Italiano" or "English" under a canto image, you will be taken to the corresponding canto map.
Each canto map consists of a chart of the characters' journeys and the hyperlinked text of the canto. By clicking on any point on the map, you will be brought to the the corresponding text in the poem. Conversely, if you click on highlighted text in the poem, the map will focus in on the corresponding point.
Please be patient. The background map sometimes takes a little while to load (up to 30 seconds). If you see colored lines on a blank background when you click on a canto, just give it a few seconds to load. We are working on this problem. Thank you.
The journeys of each character are represented by lines and dots. Each character’s lines and dots are assigned a distinct color which matches the corresponding highlighted text.
Each dot represents a character's point of arrival or departure. Lines represent the approximae path that the character took to arrive at a given point. When selected, the path and the destination become red and the text becomes white.
Hollow dots represent a point of departure or arrival for two or more characters who are traveling together.
The above images are digitally manipulated copies of Gustave Doré's engravings, which were first published in Roland furieux: Poème héroïque. Traduit par A.-J. du Pays et illustré par Gustave Doré (Paris: Librairie Hachette et C.ie, 1879).