The New Student's Reference Work/Romola
Rom′ola, one of the best of the novels of George Eliot, first published in serial form in the Cornhill Magazine, 1862–3, deals with Italian life in the period of the famous Savonarola. It was a period of political as well as religious crisis, for the French were intriguing against the power of the Medici. Savonarola threw his whole weight on the side of Christian simplicity in the reaction against the artistic paganism which the Medici had encouraged. The most notable character in the book is Tito Melema, the handsome but false Greek. Tito wins the hand of Romola, who is the daughter of a blind scholar named Bardi. He plays her false and dies. Meantime Romola’s better self, that which is swayed by the spirit of Savonarola (q. v.) and not the Medici, comes to the front; and she devotes her life to love and charity.