Even for thy tomb a garland let it be—
The Forum's champion, and the people's chief—
Her new-born Numa thou—with reign, alas! too brief.
Egeria! sweet creation of some heartN27
Which found no mortal resting-place so fair
As thine ideal breast; whate'er thou art
Or wert,—a young Aurora of the air,
The nympholepsy of some fond despair—
- [The word "nympholepsy" may be paraphrased as "ecstatic vision." The Greeks feigned that one who had seen a nymph was henceforth possessed by her image, and
- The lovely madness of some fond despair.—[MS. M.]
imposing heavier taxes than the city could bear, roused popular discontent; and during a revolt (October 8, 1354), after a dastardly attempt to escape and conceal himself, he was recognized by the crowd and stabbed to death.
Petrarch first made his acquaintance in 1340, when he was summoned to Rome to be crowned as poet laureate. Afterwards, when Rienzi was imprisoned at Avignon, Petrarch interceded on his behalf with the pope, but, for a time, in vain. He believed in and shared his enthusiasms; and it is probable that the famous Canzone, "Spirto gentil, che quelle membra reggi," was addressed to the Last of the Tribunes.
Rienzi's story forms the subject of a tragedy by Gustave Drouineau, which was played at the Odéon, January 28, 1826; of Bulwer Lytton's novel The Last of the Tribunes, which was published in 1835; and of an opera (1842) by Richard Wagner.
(See Encyc. Met., art. "Rome," by Professor Villari; La Rousse, G. Dict. Univ., art. "Rienzi;" and a curious pamphlet by G. W. Meadley, London, 1821, entitled Two Pairs of Historical Portraits, in which an attempt is made to trace a minute resemblance between the characters and careers of Rienzi and the First Napoleon.)]