Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/348

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ALFIELD 308 ALFIERl tirst found in a hj-mn (canon) of the Greek liym- nographer Josephus (d. 883). It also occurs in a Syrian biograpliy of Alexius, written not lat«r than the nintli century, and which presupposes the exist- ence of a Greek "life of the Saint. The latter is in turn based on an earlier Syriac legend (referred to above), composed at Edessa between 450 and 475. Although in this latter document the name of Alexius is not mentioned, he is manifestly the same as the "Man of Ciod" of whom this earlier Syriac legend relates that he lived in Edessa during the episcopate of Bishop Rabula (412-435) as a poor beggar, and solicited alms at the church door. These he divided among the rest of the poor, after reserving barely enough for the absolute necessities of life. He died in the hospital and was buried in the common grave of the poor. Before his death, however, he revealed to one of the church servants that he was the only son of distinguished Roman parents. After the Saint's death, the servant told this to the Bishop. Thereupon the grave was opened, but only his pau- per's rags were now found therein. How far this account is based on historical tradition is hard to determine. Perhaps the only basis for the story is the fact that a certain pious ascetic at Edessa lived the life of a beggar and was later venerated as a saint. In addition to this earlier Syriac legend, the Greek author of the later biography of St. Alexius, which we have mentioned above as having been written before the ninth century, probably had in mind also the events related in the life of St. John Calybata, a young Roman patrician, concerning whom a similar story is told. In the West we find no trace of the name Alexius in any martyrology or other liturgical book previous to the end of the tenth century; he seems to have been completely unknown. He first appears in connection with St. Boniface as titular saint of a church on the Aventine at Rome. On the site now occupied by the church of Sant' Alessio there was at one time a diaconia, i. e. an establishment for the care of the poor of the Roman Church. Connected with this was a church which by the eighth century had been in ex- istence for some time and was dedicated to St. Boni- face. In 972 Pope Benedict VII transferred the almost abandoned church to the exiled Greek met- ropolitan, Sergius of Damascus. The latter erected beside the church a monastery for Greek and Latin monks, soon made famous for the austere life of its inmates. To the name of St. Boniface was now added that of St. Alexius as titular saint of the church and monastery. It is evidently Sergius and his monlvs who brought to Rome the veneration of St. Alexius. The Oriental Saint, according to his legend a native of Rome, was soon very popular with the folk of that city. Among the frescoes exe- cuted towards the end of the eleventh century in the Roman basilica of St. Clement (now the lower church of San Clemente) are very interesting rei> resentations of events in the life of St. Alexius. His feast is observed on the 17th of July, in the West; in the East, on the 17th of March. The church of Sts. Alexius and Boniface on the Aventine has lieen renovated in modern times but several medieval monuments are still preserved there. Among them the visitor is shown the alleged stairs of the house of Euphemianus under which Alexius is said to have lived. ArUi .S.S.. July, IV, 238 sqq.; Anolcctn Bollonilinnn, XIX, 241 iKiq. (1900); Duchesne. Leg Ugmdm chretitnnca dc I' Avenlin; Nottg «ur la topooraphi^ de Rome an moJ/en-d[tr, N. VII, in M^- lanoff d'lirrhi-ul. rt d'hitt., X, 234 sqci. (18901; Amiand, La Upiiule Si/riaqiu- de S. Aleiig, I'llomme de Ditu {Pari.«, 1899); KoNHAi) VON WinzniKG, Dat Lrhm dm hi. Alexius (Berlin, 189S); MAfNMANN, .S(. AtejriM Lebm (CJueillinlnirK an<l Leipzig, 1843); Neiiinii'h. De Irmplo el eanohio Scmrlnrum Bonifatii el AUiii (Home, 1752); Uutler, JMet. 17 July. J. P. KiRSCH. Alfleld, Thomas. See Thomas Ai-field, Ri-essed. Alfieri, Count Vittorio, the greatest tragic poet of Italy; b. at Asti (Piedmont), 17 January, 1749; d. at Florence, 8 October, 1803. He was the son of Count Antonio Alfieri and Monica Maillard de Tour- non. His training (1758-CG) at the Regia Academia of Turin, where, owing to his father's early death, he had been placed by his uncle. Count Benedetto Alfieri, bore no fruit. Recklessly plunging into the world at the age of sixteen, the uncontrolled master of a considerable fortune, after a short service in the Piedmontese army, he took to travelling all over Europe without any definite aim in view, urged on by an overwhelming spirit of unrest. Thus he spent his best years in disreputable intrigues, profitless roving, and the promiscuous reading of unworthy literature. French he knew well enough, but of his native tongue he had little more than a colloquial smattering. His real education was to begin soon after his twenty-ninth year, when his hitherto dor- mant genius suddenly kindled in him an indomitable literary ambition, whicli first caused him to delve into Italian, then into Latin, and, nineteen years later, into Greek with sturdy courage and unflagging per- severance. Italy lacked a tragic literature worthy of the name. Alfieri created it. Having settled at Florence in 1778, he contracted there an intimacy with Louisa von Stolberg-Gedern, Countess of Albany, the wife of Charles Edward Stuart, the Pretender. In 1792, when debauchery had brought the latter to his grave, the Countess began to share tlie poet's home. The criticisms of society were ignored and the lovers lived unwedded to the end. The poet's religious feelings, howeer, always appeared strong and sincere. He died after receiving the sacraments of the Church and was buried in Santa Croce, where a monument bj^ Canova marks his grave. Alfieri's literary production, begun in 1778, was laborious and voluminous. His fame rests mainly on twenty-two tragedies, viz.: " Filippo," "Polinice," — both based on an extremely weird plot and ex- hibiting at times the beginner's hand; "Antigone," "Virginia," "Agamennone," showing greater poetic finish and maturer artistic skill; "Oreste," "Ros- munda," "Ottavia," "Timoleone," "Merope," — in which the author is at his best; "Maria Stuarda," a little below the standard previously set; "La Con- giura dei Pazzi," full of vigour and poetic impetus; "Don Garzia," "Saul," this being his masterpiece; "Agide," "Sofonisba," "Bruto Primo," "Mirra," rich in striking effects; "Bruto Secondo," "Abele," "Alceste Seconda," and "Antonio e Cleopatra," which closed his repertoire. Alfieri's tragedies have been said to be cast in a form often constrained and pedantic. Even if this be true, the fault almost dis- appears when their forcefulness, freshness, sincerity of feeling, and inspiration are fully appreciatea. Nor is the poet's fame waning in the hearts of con- temporary Italy. His unrelenting hatred of tyranny, ringing through every word and line, is now more than ever acknowledged to have been tlie strongest literary factor in Italy's fight for political unity and independence. There is a complete edition of Al- fieri's works in twenty-two volumes, by Capurro (Pisa, 1805-15). It contains, besides the tragedies, the "Vita di Vittorio Alfieri, scritta da esso," the "Misogallo," and sundry minor writings. The standard work on Alfieri is by Centofanti (Florenre, 1842). Tedeschi, Studi sulle Traqcdie di V. A. (Turin. 1S7(>); Copping, Alfuri and Golloni: thtir Lives and Adnnlures (London, 1857); PunnnES, Lord Bwon, the Admirer and Imi- tator of Alfieri. in Engliache Studien. XXXIII, 40-83; Sii.n- VAN, The Centenary of Alfieri at Asti in Seribner's Mngazine, XXXV, 224-233; and Berti, La volontii ed il tintimtnto religioso netla vita e nrtle opere di V, A, in Sentti Vari (Turin, 1892), I, 13; Alfieri's AutohioKraphy ha.-' found two American translators in C. E. Lester (New York, 1845), and W. D. HoWELLs (Boston, 18901. Edoaudo San Giovanni. Alfieri, Pif.tho, a priest and at one time a Camal- dolcse monk, b. at Rome, June, 1801; d. there