1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Cossa, Pietro
COSSA, PIETRO (1830–1880), Italian dramatist, was born at Rome in 1830, and claimed descent from the family of Pope John XXIII., deposed by the council of Constance. He manifested an independent spirit from his youth, and was expelled from a Jesuit school on the double charge of in docility and patriotism. After fighting for the Roman republic in 1849, he emigrated to South America, but failing to establish himself returned to Italy, and lived precariously as a literary man until 1870, when his reputation was established by the unexpected success of his first acted tragedy, Nero. From this time to his death in 1880 Cossa continued to produce a play a year, usually upon some classical subject. Cleopatra, Messalina, Julian, enjoyed great popularity, and his dramas on subjects derived from Italian history, Rienzi and The Borgias, were also successful. Plautus, a comedy, was preferred by the author himself, and is more original. Cossa had neither the divination which would have enabled him to reconstruct the ancient world, nor the imagination which would have enabled him to idealize it. But he was an energetic writer, never tame or languid, and at the same time able to command the attention of an audience without recourse to melodramatic artifice; while his sonorous verse, if scarcely able to support the ordeal of the closet, is sufficiently near to poetry for the purposes of the stage.