Pagina:Baretti - Prefazioni e polemiche.djvu/139



and simple language, transcribe one of these beginnings, after having informed my reader that Boiardo, in the canto that preceeds this specimen, had described a set of human monsters, called anthropophagi and lestrigons, who were of gigantic stature, had larga noses, extended eye-brows, bushy beards, sharp talons instead of nails at their fíngers, and fed only on human flesh, which they were used to eat out of vessels of gold. Berni makes a moral and satirical application of their figures and manners to the courtiers of Rome, who in his time were a set of most corrupted people, as courtiers generally are every where in our days as well as in Berni ’s time. The canto begins thus:

Di questi antropofaghi e lestrigoni è gran dovizia ne’ nostri paesi, ecc. (i).

The poem of Orlando innamorato, though a very long one, is not finishetl, and the author probably was hindered by death from completing it. After having most strongly awakened and kept a long while in suspence the curiosity of the reader, Boiardo had left it unsatisfied by not bringing Orlando ’s warHke feats and desperate love to an end. Many poets therefore and amongst them Nicolò degli Agostini writ several continuations of it; but their productions were disregarded as none of them came up to Boiardo ’s performance. The honour of rivalling and even surpassing the count of Scandiano was reserved to Lodovico Ariosto, who, in the year 15 15, published for the first time his Orlando furioso.

But before I speak of Ariosto, I must return back to the fifteenth century and mention another of our poems of the epic kind, written before those of Pulci and Boiardo, by Federigo Prezzi, a native and bishop of Foligno, after the manner and style of Dante. This poem was published for the first time in Perugia with this uncouth title: Incomincia el libro intitulato quatriregio de decursu della vita hutnana de messer Federico

(1) XLVIII, st. 1-6 [Ed.]. G. Bi«RETTI, Prefazioni e polemiche.