Cecco D'Ascoli

, is the adopted name of Francis, or Francesco Stabili; a native of Ascoli, in the march of Ancona, in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, whg | acquired considerable reputation, unfortunately for himself, as a critic and poet. Among the many anachronisms and contradictions in the accounts given of his life, which Tirabotchi has endeavoured to correct, we find that when young, he was professor of astrology in the university of Bologna, that he published a book on that science, which being denounced to the Inquisition, he escaped by recanting what was offensive but that the same accusations being afterwards renewed at Florence, he was condemned to be burnt, and suffered that horrible deatb in 1327, in the seventieth year of his age. We have already seen, in former lives, that it was no uncommon thing for enraged authors to apply to the secular arm for that revenge which they could not otherwise have inflicted on one another. The pretence for putting this poor man to death, was his “Commentary on the Sphere of John de Sacrabosco,” in which, following the superstition of the times, he asserted that wonderful things might be done by the agency of certain demons who inhabited the first of the celestial spheres. This was foolish enough, but it was the prevalent folly of the times, and Cecco probably believed what he wrote. That he was not an impostor wiser than those whom he duped, appears from his conduct to Charles, duke of Calabria, who appointed him his astrologer, and who, having consulted him on the future conduct of his wife and daughter, Cecco, by his art, foretold that they would turn out very abandoned characters. Had he not persuaded himself into the truth of this, he surely would have conciliated so powerful a patron by a prediction of a more favourable kind; and this, as may be supposed, lost him the favour of the duke. But even the loss of his friend would not have brought him to the stake, if he had not rendered himself unpopular by attacking the literary merit of Dante and Guido Cavalcanti, in his poem entitled “Acerba.” This provoked the malice of a famous physician, named Dino del Garbo, who never desisted until he procured him to be capitally condemned. This poem “Acerba,” properly “Acerbo,” or “Acervo,” in Latin Acervus, is in the sesta rima divided into five books, and each of these into a number of chapters, treating of the heavens, the elements, virtues, vices, love, animals, minerals, religion, &c. The whole is written in a bad style, destitute of harmony, elegance, or grace; and, according to a late author, much of the plan, as well as the materials, are taken | from the “Tresor” of Brunetto Latini. It is, however, a work in demand with collectors, and although often printed, most of the editions are now very scarce. The first was printed at Venice in 1476, 4to, with the commentary of Nicolo Massetti, and was reprinted in 1478. Haym (in the edition of his Biblioteca, 1771) speaks of a first edition as early as 1458, which we apprehend no bibliographer has seen. 1


Tiraboscbi.—Moreri.—Ginguené Hist. Lit. d’Italie, vol. II.—Mosheim iin Asculanus.