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Tales from Buzzard Point - Chapter 13: Renaissance Epic Foretells Orlando’s Doom

The latest in our completely not-fabricated series of well documented historical research into D.C. United’s new home.

This entry was researched by Tales from Buzzard Point Series Editor David Rusk.

The fame of Buzzard Point reaches back in time at least a century and a half before 1673 when “Turkey Buzzard Point” appeared on one of the earliest maps of the future Washington, D.C. area. A remarkable discovery has located a clearly prophetic reference to Buzzard Point in the Renaissance epic poem Orlando furioso (1516) by Lodovico Ariosto (1474-1533).

This revelation found within one of the Renaissance’s great classics has been brought to my attention by Prof. Lorenza Cortabarria Spinosa, the noted Argentine-Basque scholar of Italian literature. Recently, she was startled to find a prophetic reference to Lionel Messi as “Angel di Dio, Messi novello” or “God’s angel, the novel Messi” (Canto XXXIII, stanza 114, line 5 – check it out).

Knowing of my love for soccer, D.C. United, and Buzzard Point, Prof. Cortabarria Spinosa began to look for other hidden foreshadowing of the modern world’s most popular sport. She realized that the whole saga of the famed English knight errant Astolfo (Cantos XXXIII-XXXV) was an early printer’s misprint and actually refers to the Magic Headband, Chris Rolfe, beloved D.C. United forward (2014-17). The saga unfolds as follows:

Astolfo (Chris Rolfe) astride Talon
Etching by Gustave Dore (via Wikimedia Commons)

Astolfo hears reports of Orlando’s unseemly arrogance. He decides to travel to “the terrestrial paradise” to take away Orlando’s soccer skills. He mounts a giant bird to fly him there. (Since early 16th Century Italians had never seen nor even heard of North America’s bald eagles, Ariosto characterized the giant bird as a mythical hippogriffin, but Astolfo’s mount was clearly Talon, as four centuries later famed illustrator Gustave Dore recognized.)

On arrival, Astolfo impounds all of Orlando’s skills, seals them in a large clay pot, and aboard Talon returns to Buzzard Point.

Here’s the crucial passage (Canto XXXIV, stanza 87), in Ariosto’s 16th century Italian:

La più capace e piena ampolla, ov’era
il senno che solea far savio Orlando,
Astolfo tolle; e non è sì leggiera,
come stimò, con l’altre a MLS essendo.
Prima che ‘l paladin da quella sfera
piena di luce alle più Bozzagro Capo
menato fu da l’apostolo santo
in un palagio ov’era un fiume a canto.


The fullest vessel and of amplest round
Which held the skill Orlando erst possessed,
Chris Rolfe took; nor this so light he found,
As it appeared, when plied within the MLS.
Before, from those bright spheres, now earthward bound,
His course is to our Buzzard Point addressed,
Him to a spacious palace, by whose side
A river ran, conducts his feathered guide.

Thus, since five centuries ago, Orlando City SC, bereft of its soccer skills, has been doomed to never come away from Buzzard Point with a result.

Note from Series Editor David Rusk: “Tales from Buzzard Point” includes historical fiction and should be considered a work of homage or parody.

All members of the B&RU Commentariat are invited to submit manuscripts of their own researches into the history and traditions of Buzzard Point to davidrusk [at] verizon [dot] net. All must a) involve Buzzard Point, b) have some relationship to soccer, and c) demonstrate that Buzzard Point is hallowed ground for D.C. United, and our MLS opponents are doomed to never come away from Buzzard Point with a result.