Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Alfieri, Count Victor, a distinguished Italian poet, born at Asti, in Piedmont, in 1749. His family was noble and wealthy; but the loss of his father early in life left young Alfieri without control or guidance, and he spent his youth in restless wanderings and not very creditable adventures. He had as a boy revealed certain poetic tastes, which were suppressed for many years; but after his return to Turin, in 1772, he wrote a successful tragedy, Cleopatra, which was put upon the stage in 1775. In 1777 he met at Florence the wife of the Young Pretender and at once conceived for her a violent affection. They met again in Rome three years later, when the countess had left her husband. Alfieri wrote in Switzerland four tragedies; and in 1787 went to Paris, for the purpose of superintending the publication of his collected dramas by Didot. At this period he composed his two principal prose works, Del Principe et Delle Lettere and Delia Tiranide. Alfieri, though a revolutionary at heart, was disgusted by the excesses of the popular party in Paris, and after the taking of the Bastille he crossed over with the countess to England. They returned in 1791; but next year, on the imprisonment of Louis XVI., made their way out of France with some difficulty, and finally settled in Florence. Alfieri then wrote an apology for the French king and a satirical poem, Misogallo, inspired by intense hatred for the Republican Government. Henceforward his life was devoted to eager study, only interrupted for a short time by the French occupation of Italy. He abandoned the muse of tragedy for that of comedy, and produced six plays before the end of 1802, some of them being political satires. He died on October 8, 1803. His tomb in Santa Croce lies between those of Michael Angelo and Machiavelli. Though his literary efforts were somewhat marred by want of education and by possession of comparative wealth, Alfieri cannot be denied the praise of having revolutionised the Italian drama by bringing to bear on it the best influences of the Greek, the English, and the French stage.