Pico della Mirandola, Giovanni, Conte, 1463-94, Italian philosopher and humanist. To many in the age of the Renaissance, Pico was the ideal man, whose physical beauty reflected his inner harmony. He appears in Il Cortegiano of Baldassare Castiglione. In 1484 he went to Florence where he soon became one of the most active members of Lorenzo de'Medici's Platonic Academy and the chief exponent of Italian Neoplatonism. His studies in Hebrew led to the composition of his celebrated 900 theses on a reconciliation of Christianity with Platonic philosophy. In 1487 he was forced to recant 13 propositions, and his clash with Pope Innocent VIII led to his arrest (1488) at Lyons. Although attacked by the church, Pico's theses were an important symbol of the Renaissance blending of Christian and Greek ideas. Lorenzo invited him back to Florence, where he remained until his death, becoming a follower of Girolamo Savonarola. In his Oration on the Dignity of Man (c.1487) he proclaimed that individuals face no limits to their development except those that are self-imposed. His other works include Heptaplus, a mystical account of the creation; De ante et uno; and an unfinished attack on astrology. Sir Thomas More's Life of John Picus, Earl of Mirandula is a translation of the biography by Pico's nephew, Giovanni Francesco (1890).

See selections of his works, tr. by C. F. Wallis et al. (1965); and W. G. Craven, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1981).

Alfieri, Vittorio, Conte, 1749-1803, Italian tragic poet. A Piedmontese, born to wealth and social position, he spent his youth in dissipation and adventure. From 1767 to 1772 he traveled over much of Europe but returned to Italy fired by a sense of the greatness of his own country. He saw himself as a prophet called to revive the national spirit of Italy and chose tragic drama as his means. The first of his plays, Cleopatra, written in a vigorous, harsh, and individual style, was staged in Turin in 1775. From 1776 to 1786 he wrote 19 tragedies, among them Philip the Second, Saul, Antigone, Agamemnon, Orestes, Sophonisba, and Maria Stuart—all in the tradition of French classical tragedy. He also wrote comedies; a bitter satire against France, the Misogallo; and a revealing autobiography (1804, tr. by W. D. Howells, 1877). Alfieri's most productive period coincided with the beginning of his love for the countess of Albany, wife of Charles Edward Stuart, the Young Pretender. The rest of his life was spent with her; they may have married secretly after her husband's death. Alfieri's complete works, which figured in the rise of Italian nationalism, were posthumously edited and published (1805-15) by the countess. His tragedies were translated into English in 1815 and 1876. Della tirannia appeared as Of Tyranny (1961).

See biography by G. Megaro (1930, repr. 1971).

Rossi, Pellegrino Luigi Edoardo, Conte, 1787-1848, Italian political leader and jurist. As a supporter of Joachim Murat, Rossi was obliged to flee Italy (1815) when Murat fell. He went first to Geneva, where he became a noted professor of law and an active politician, then to Paris (1833), where he taught at the Collège de France, became a citizen, and was raised to the peerage. Louis Philippe sent him as ambassador to the Holy See, where he favored the election of Pope Pius IX. After the upheaval (1848) in France, Rossi became president of the council in the pope's first constitutional government. A moderate reformer, he was the target of both radicals and reactionaries. He was assassinated by radicals. Rossi wrote treatises on economics.
Volta, Alessandro, Conte, 1745-1827, Italian physicist. He was professor of physics at the Univ. of Pavia from 1779 and became famous for his work in electricity. Napoleon I made him a count and a senator of the kingdom of Lombardy. Volta invented the so-called Volta's pile (or voltaic pile); the electrophorus; an electric condenser; and the voltaic cell. The volt, a unit of electrical measurement, is named for Volta.
Cignani, Carlo, Conte, 1628-1719, Italian historical painter of the Bolognese school. He was a pupil of Francesco Albani. The influence of Guido Reni, Carracci, and particularly of Correggio is apparent in much of his fresco work. His notable paintings include The Entry of Paul III into Bologna (painted for the public palace at Bologna); Pera and Cimon (Vienna); The Power of Love (ducal palace, Parma); and his masterpiece, the colossal Assumption of the Virgin, in the dome of the cathedral at Forlì, on which he worked for 20 years.
Sforza, Carlo, Conte, 1872-1952, Italian foreign minister. He held high ministerial and diplomatic posts, became a senator, and as foreign minister (1920-21) negotiated the Treaty of Rapallo with Yugoslavia. Sforza opposed Mussolini and resigned as ambassador to Paris in 1922. He went (1927) into voluntary exile and in 1940 went to the United States, where he became a prominent Italian anti-Fascist and antimonarchist leader. In 1943, Sforza returned to Italy and played a major political role. As foreign minister (1947-51) he supported the European Recovery Program and the settlement of the Trieste question. His many writings include Fifty Years of War and Diplomacy in the Balkans (1940).
Castiglione, Baldassare, Conte, 1478-1529, Italian soldier, author, and statesman attached to the court of the duke of Milan and later in the service of the duke of Urbino. His famous Libro del cortegiano (1528, tr. The Courtier, 1561), a treatise on etiquette, social problems, and intellectual accomplishments, is one of the great books of its time. Written at a time when the author served as envoy to Pope Leo X, it gives a vivid and elegant picture of 15th- and 16th-century court life. His book had enormous influence on behavior at courts as far away as England, where it contributed to an ideal of aristocracy embodied in the person and accomplishments of Sir Philip Sidney. Castiglione's portrait was painted by Raphael (c.1515), his tomb designed by Giulio Romano, and his epitaph composed by Bembo.

See studies by W. A. Rebhorn (1978) and R. W. Hanning and D. Rosand (1983).

Gozzi, Carlo, Conte, 1720-1806, Italian dramatist. A defender of traditional Italian culture, he wrote comedies based on the old commedia dell'arte. To show the potential of the old forms and to ridicule Goldoni, their adversary, he conceived the idea of dramatizing the tales of Basile's Pentamerone. Thus he founded the fable play in Italy. His Fiaba dell'amore delle tre melarance (1761; set to music by Prokofiev as The Love for Three Oranges) was followed by more plays of the type, among them Re Turandot (1762), made into an opera by Puccini. Written in Venetian dialect, these were very popular in their day.

See Gozzi's memoirs (1797; tr. with a critical essay by J. A. Symonds, 1890).

Conte is a title of Italian nobility and in other Catholic European countries. In English, the title is count. The female form is contessa. In French, the title is "comte" and "comtesse".

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