Chapter

An Amazonian Past: Female Rule and the Threat of Illegitimacy

Eleonora Stoppino

in Genealogies of Fiction

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780823240371
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780823240418 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fordham/9780823240371.003.0003
An Amazonian Past: Female Rule and the Threat of Illegitimacy

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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

Chapter.  9475 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literature

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