Groto, Lewis

, an Italian poet, commonly called, from his misfortune, Cieco DAdria, was born Sept. 7, 1541, in the ancient town of Adria, which gives name to the gulph called the Adriatic. His parents were of a noble but decayed family. He lost his sight a few days after his birth, and never recovered it. Yet this did not check his proficiency in learning; able masters were provided, under whom he made astonishing progress, although we may conceive with considerable difficulty to his instructors. He lays, indeed, in one of his orations, that when a new master visited him, he used to say, *’ you must teach me how I am to teach you." His talents and acquirements, however, procured him very early fame, and such was his natural eloquence, that at the age of fourteen he was chosen on two very solemn occasions, the one when the queen of Poland visited Venice, and the other on the election of the Doge Lorenzo Priuli, to give a public harangue in that city, where Casa and other orators had been so much celebrated, and acquitted himself with the greatest credit. His youth and his blindness might probably procure him favour, but according to his biographer, he was received with equal applause at other times and places, and under other circumstances. Having an early turn for poetry as well as oratory, he attempted to write for the stage, and although inferior to the other dramatic poets who then flourished at Ferrara, Rome, and Florence, he became a favourite with the people of Adria. In other cities to which he was invited as a public speaker, at Ferrara, Bologna, and Rovigo, he was received with every mark of distinction. Several princesses, as Laura of Este, and Laura Gonzaga, who patronized genius, frequently visited him, and made | him rich presents. Yet he remained poor, fortune being in general more liberal of honours than of riches. Although blind, he appears to have felt the tender passion, which he has often introduced in his lyric poetry and in his dramas; in the latter, indeed, he treats of love matters in a style which gives but an unfavourable idea of his delicacy. In 1585 he acquired much reputation at Vincenza by playing the part of CEdipus when represented by the academicians in the famous Olympic theatre of Palladio. He did not, however, appear on this occasion, until the last act, when CEdipus appears blind. He was at this time in full health, but was suddenly attacked with a disorder at Venice, which proved fatal Dec. 13 of that year. His remains were carried to his own country, and interred with great funeral honours. His works consist of orations, published at Venice 1598, 4to, and tragedies, two pastorals, and other pieces of poetry, printed separately. They are distinguished rather by genius than judgment, and abound in that play of words, and those extravagant metaphors which were so much the taste of the subsequent age, and which appear most out of place in his pastorals. 1


Tiraboscbi. Ginguene Hist. Lit D’Italie, vol VI. —Moreri.