Franco, Nicolas

, an Italian poet of the infamous class which disgraced the sixteenth century, was born at Benevento, in 1510, and under his father, who was a schoolmaster, acquired a knowledge of the learned languages. In his youth he became acquainted with Peter Aretino, and from being his assistant in his various works, became his rival, and whilst he at least equalled him in virulence and licentiousness, greatly surpassed him in learning and abilities. His first attempt at rivalship | was his “Pistole Vulgari,” in 1539. A fierce war was commenced between them, and sustained on each side with the greatest rancour and malignity. Franco left Venice, and took up his abode at Montserrat, where he published a dialogue, entitled “Delle Belleze;” and a collection of sonnets against Aretino with a “Priapeia Italiana,” which contained the grossest obscenity, the most unqualified abuse, and the boldest satire against princes, popes, the fathers of the council of Trent, and other eminent persons. Yet all this did not injure his literary reputation; he was a principal member of the academy of Argonauti at Montserrat, and in this capacity wrote his “Rime Maritime,” printed at Mantua in 1549. At Mantua he followed the profession of a schoolmaster thence he removed to Rome, where he published commentaries on the “Priapeia,” attributed to Virgil, the copies of which were suppressed and burned by order of pope Paul IV, Under Pius IV. he continued to indulge his virulence, and found a protector in cardinal Morone. His imprudence, however, in writing a Latin epigram against Pius V. with other defamatory libels, brought upon him the punishment which he amply deserved. He was taken from his study in his furred robe, and hanged on the common gallows without trial or ceremony. He was author of several other works besides those already enumerated, and he left behind him in ms. a translation of Homer’s Iliad. 1

1 Tiraboschi. Roscoe’s Leo. —Moreri.