The Poem as a Prophecy: Gendered Gifts in the <i>Orlando furioso</i>

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:
The Poem as a Prophecy: Gendered Gifts in the Orlando furioso

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Genealogy as transmitted through prophetic knowledge is the subject of this chapter, at the center of which are Melissa the sorceress and the prophecy as a gift. By analyzing the most important dynastic passages of the Furioso (cantos III, XLVI) in relation to the classical topos of the prophecy and to the medieval figure of Merlin, it is possible to uncover a narrative model that structures the circulation of prophecies in the poem: the model of gift giving. The figure of Melissa, read against the medieval literary figures of the sorceress and of the sibyl, embodies the altruistic yet ambiguously unstable economy of the gift. The close reading of literary parallels such as Giovanni Gherardi da Prato's Paradiso degli Alberti integrates a reflection on the possible connections between the utopian model of the gift and the emblem of the bees that adorns the first two editions of the poem.

Keywords: gift; Melissa; Furioso character; Merlin; prophecy; sorceress

Chapter.  10693 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literature

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