To this period likewise, if we are to believe the author, belongs a ’nova favola pastorale’ entitled Calisto, by Luigi Groto, the blind litterateur of Adria, whose preposterous pastoral, Il pentimento amoroso, was produced between the Aminta and the Pastor fido. According to a note in the original edition, the piece was first represented at Adria in 1561, revived and rewritten in 1582, and first printed the following year. It is founded on the well-known tale of the love of Zeus for Calisto, a nymph of Artemis, who by him became the mother of the Arcadians, as related by Ovid in the second book of the Metamorphoses (ll. 401, &c.). It may, therefore, so far as the subject is concerned, be classed among the mythological plays, but the author has mingled with his main theme much of the vulgar indecency of the Latin comedy as adopted in the cinquecento on to the Italian stage. The piece is composed in sdrucciolo blank verse.
With our next author, the orator Alberto Lollio, we return once more to Ferrara. In 1563 a play entitled Aretusa was presented before Alfonso II and his brother the cardinal, by the students of law at Ferrara, at the command, it is said, of Laura Eustoccia d’ Este. The verse is blank, diversified by a single sonnet, but the piece is again a hybrid of an earlier type—a love-knot solved by the discovery of consanguinity—with certain elements of Plautine comedy added. There is also extant in MS. the plot, or prose sketch, of another comedy by Lollio, entitled Galatea, on the same model as the Aretusa, but with somewhat greater complexity of construction.
It is evident that, though in the Sacrifizio the final form of the pastoral drama had been attained, the fact was not immediately recognized. Indeed, until the seal had been set upon that form by the genius of Tasso, it must have been difficult for any one to realize what had been achieved. The form had been discovered, but it remained to prove that it was the right form, and to show its capabilities. In 1567 a return was made to the tradition of Beccari in Agostino Argenti’s play Lo Sfortunato. With this piece also, composed in blank verse with a couple of lyric songs, we have already been sufficiently concerned (p. 175). I only wish to draw attention to one point here, namely, that if Guarini’s Silvio is a companion portrait to Tasso’s Silvia, she in her turn is but the feminine counterpart of Argenti’s Silvio. The Sfortunato stands on the threshold of the Aminta, and its performance may have suggested to Tasso the composition of his pastoral masterpiece, but it contributed little either to the evolution of the form, or to the poetic supremacy of its successor.
We have arrived at the end of the catalogue, and it is for the reader to decide whether or not I have succeeded in establishing a formal continuity between the eclogue and the pastoral drama, and so answering the most serious of Carducci’s objections.