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deeply engaged by the duke, but that he had sufficient leisure to pursue his studies; the service of Alphonso being far more easy than that of Hippolito. About this time he published his Satires, besides those he had formerly written; in the whole, to the number of seven; till being again involved in family difficulties, and harassed with law-suits, he was obliged, for some time, to lay aside his compositions. At last, having brought his affairs to a happy crisis, he purchased a piece of ground opposite the church of St. Benedict, where he built a pretty commodious dwelling; which, some say, he was enabled to do by the liberality of the duke. He had a garden adjoining to this house, the usual scene of his poetical meditations. Here he passed the remainder of his life, as much as possible secluded from all public cmployments.
Having attained the 59th year of his age, he was seized, on the last day but one of the year 1532, with a lingering illness, though some say his illness first came upon him in October or November, about which time the ducal palace took fire, which accident consumed the superb theatre that had been built for the exhibition of his comedies; in the same year he had sent his Furioso to the press with his last improvements, corrected and enlarged as we now have it.
Some physicians attributed the cause of his malady to the custom he had of eating fast, and chewing his victuals little, that occasioned an indigestion; the means they made use of to remove this complaint, brought on a consumption, which, in spite of all the assistance of me dicine, at last put a period to his life, at Ferrara, on the 6th of June, or, as others say, on the 8th of July, 1553.
Thus died Ludovico Ariosto, a man of uncommon eminence, whether we consider hiin as a member of the republic of society, or of the more extensive world of literature: as the first, he acquired the affection and esteem of persons of the highest consideration; he contracted the closest intimacy with the family of Medicis, and was beloved ly Leo X. the Augustus of that age: as the second, he was one of the few great poets who see that reputation attend their works, during their lifetime, which continues to be transmitted down to posterity; and perhaps few books have been so often printed as the Orlando, which has passed through upwards of eighty editions, and not only been rendered into all the European languages, but is said to have found its
way into every part of the world *. The uncommon popularity of this author may be further gathered from the numbers that have drawn their subjects from his original t.
Il Doni, an Italian writer, in a register of the manuscript works of severał poets, has attributed two pieces to Ariosto, one called RINALDO ARDITO ; and the other, IL TERMINE DEL Desider10; neither of which appears to have been printed 1. Besides the xlvi books of his ORLANDO FURIOSO, he left behind him five books on the same story, which were first printed in addition to the
* In the year 1756, a translation of the Orlando Furioso was made in Latin verse, by the Marquis Torquato Barbolani, a colonel of horse in the emperor's service.
+ See Quadrio, List of Romanzatori, continuators and imitators of Ariosto.
original poem in the year 1545, twelve years after Ariosto's death *.
An elegant sonnet was written by Nicolo Eugenico in his praise, which we shall here give the reader.
Porto gran tempo al mare altiero il corno
Il Mincio, e sparso le sue arene d'oro
Fece nel gremio suo dolce soggiorno.
Va'l Po, spargando il nuovo suo tesoro.
Ta risonar le ricche sponde intorno.
Que ch’i fatti d'Enea più che mortali
Con siil divino a tutto 'l mondo aprio.
Spiegò chi l'opre di Ruggier scoprio
Long time had Mincius o'er his golden sand,
Roll'd to the distant sea in kingiy pride ;
IIeld his fair dwelling near th’ exulting tide.
His treasure now triumphant Po can tell ;
Along the banks the notes sonorous swell,
Of great feneas, in his deathless lays:
And o'er the world diffus'd his lineal praise !
Several writers have affirmed, that he was solemnly crowned with laurel by the victorious Charles V. in the
* Among other productions that took their rise from the poem of Ariosto, Mazzuchelli tells us, that, in 1530, the whole poem was turned into a spiritual sense, and that Giulio Cesare Croce, in 1607, formed from it another work, on the Passion, Death, and Resur. rection of Christ.
city of Mantua, in the year 1532, for his ORLANDO FUR1049; and this circumstance has been as positively denied by others. Mazzuchelli, in his Life of Ariosto, has considered the arguments on both sides; and observes, that the silence of those authors on the subject> who certainly would not have passed over such an event, may justly render the whole suspected; that, among others, surely little attention can be paid to the authority of one writer*, who relates that Ariosto hud scarcely received the laurel crown, when, transported with joy, and inspired, as it were, with a poctical frenzy, he ran through the city apparently as mad as his own Orlando. Fornari speaks of the coronation; but Pigna and Garafolo make no mention of it. Il Signore Dottore Barotti thus examines the supposed fact. Many have doubted of the coronation hy Charles, and writers, who speak of it, do not agree upon the time or place: some say that the ceremony was performed at Mantua, and others at Bologna : some, that it happened in 1530, and others, in 1532; but, surely, it could not be in 1530, as the complete edition of the poem, with the praises of the emperor, was not published till 1532. In a manuscript book, delivered down for the hand-writing of his son Virginio, are these words : E unu baia che fosse coronato. But, in a public instrument between his son Virginio and his brother, in October 15:12, we read as follows: Cum annis decursis animam egerit inagnificus et LAUREATUS D. Ludovicus creosius, &c. both which, the manuscript book and instrument, are in my possession. In a letter of Galasso Ariosto it is said, that Ariosto had scarce
published the last edition of his work when he fell ill, and died after eight months. The publication was in October 1532, and it is difficult to suppose that he could be crowned in November, the time mentioned. Yet the epitaph, caused to be engraved by his nephew's son Ludovico, sets forth the coronation. If Pigna and Garafolo affirm that he fell ill in December, it may be understood that he then took to his bed; and as to the medal of Ariosto crown'd, nothing can be proved from that.”
To this Mazzuchelli adds, that we may refer to the declaration of Franco, who asserts that he was not crowned ; and concludes the argument, by opposing to all these, the authority of the exact Apostolo Zeno, who ohserves, that Franco petulantly denies that Ariosto was crowned poet, though, besides other testimonies, we have the exclusive privilege granted him by Charles V.
I have thus laid before the reader the chief arguments on the subject, that he may form his own opinion of a fact, which, upon the whole, appears to me at least extremely doubtful; and, indeed, the difficulty attending the proof of a matter, that must have been of such notoriety, and surely upon public record, is to me a forcible presumption against the fact itself, since we see that the account of this kind of honour, which was two bundred years before conferred on the poet Petrarch, has been brought down to us without any equivocal circircumstances.
“ The custom,” says Dr. Burney*, “ of crowning persons who had distinguished themselves in poetry and
* See History of Music, vol. ii. page 329.