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Get A Copy. Hardcover , pages. Published February 21st by Wentworth Press first published September 27th More Details Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Marino Faliero , please sign up. Lord Byron — poet. Algernon Charles Swinburne — poet and literary reviewer.
A drama in blank verse by Byron, published , produced in the same year at Drury Lane, against Byron's wishes. Marino Faliero was elected doge of Venice in and the events of the play, based on historical facts, and inspired by Byron's period in Venice during —17, occur in The conspiracy of the doge was also the subject of a tragedy by Swinburne. All Rights Reserved.
DONIZETTI Marino Faliero
In order to answer the questions raised by The Execution of the Doge Marino Faliero and its reviews, I will begin by discussing the history of Marino Faliero as it is told in the works of the Venetian chronicler Marin Sanuto. I shall then analyze the opinions of Faliero's rebellion and of Venetian culture in general held by French liberal historians during the Restoration, and contrast them with Byron's interpretation of the doge's acts. Moving to Delacroix's Execution of the Doge Marino Faliero , I'll relate it first to Byron's interpretation of the subject and then to the account of Marin Sanuto, which Byron attached to the end of his play.
After discussing the recent literature on The Execution of the Doge Marino Faliero , emphasizing features of the painting noted by other scholars that may help to interpret the painting and its reviews, I will analyze the reviews by Vitet and Jal. For this reason, he is the only doge not portrayed in the gallery of ducal portraits, which commemorates all doges, in the Ducal Palace. His place in the succession of portraits is covered with a painted black veil, bearing the text Hic est locus Marini Falieri decapitati pro criminibus This is the place of Marino Faliero, who was decapitated for his crimes.
His story is known to us through the writings of Venetian historians such as Andrea Navagero,  Lorenzo de Monacis,  and Vettor Sandi,  and through Petrarch's contemporary account. Faliero's protest went unheeded, and he swore to avenge himself. Sismondi in particular ascribes Faliero's wish for revenge to an old man's excessive, senile jealousy of his wife,  and not to his wish to enlarge his power, the motive that according to Sanuto was foremost in his mind.
The plot was leaked, and Faliero was arrested, tried, and finally beheaded on the grand staircase of the Ducal Palace, where he had also been inaugurated. After the custom of the Venetian nobility, Faliero's trial and execution took place behind the closed doors of the Ducal Palace, with the common people being allowed into the palace only to see the corpse after the execution. Liberals and Bonapartists preferred to judge the Venetian nobility as corrupt, tyrannical, and secretive, because this provided justification for Napoleon's occupation of Venice in , which had put an end to the Venetian Republic.
Precisely because personal feelings and beginning senility drove Faliero to undermine the Venetian Republic when it was already threatened from outside, Daru could use his conspiracy as a perfect example of the corruption and inequality of Venetian society, a society in which notions of citizenship and public spirit did not exist. According to Daru even conspirators were usually inspired by a common interest, or a shared sense of injustice, while Faliero simply went to people who were previously totally unknown to him to exterminate the whole of the Venetian nobility, on the first pretext that chance offered.
Byron's Interpretation Byron's play Marino Faliero , originally written as a reading drama, was performed on stage both in London and Paris shortly after its publication in Although the plot follows the outline of events given above, Byron explained, in the preface, that he had chosen to depict Faliero as a noble man, unfortunately of an ungovernable temper, who was not "actuated by jealousy of his wife; but rather by respect for her, and for his own honor, warranted by his past services and present dignity.
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Byron's choice of Faliero as his subject may thus be interpreted as his reaction to the post-Waterloo political climate in Europe, characterized by political oppression, corruption, state control of private lives, and restrictions on freedom of action. This political climate drove Byron, the rebellious aristocrat who understood that he had nothing to gain by revolution, almost to despair. After having given the signal for the rebellion in Act 4, Scene 2 he exclaims:.
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That we must work by crime to punish crime? Byron's interpretation of the doge as a noble man is undercut by Marin Sanuto's account of the history of Marino Faliero, which defends the stance of the Venetian government in the matter.
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Sanuto's text, printed both in Italian and in an English translation in the appendix of Byron's Marino Faliero , describes the doge as an evil, physically violent man, who was not above committing the sacrilegious act of striking a bishop for being late with the Host. In Sanuto's view, Heaven lured Faliero into the conspiracy so that, by committing this crime against the Venetian state, he would surely lose his life on the scaffold.
In Sanuto's words: "Heaven allowed Marino Faliero to go out of his senses in order that he might bring himself to an evil death. Sanuto's description proves that the sequence of events that led from Faliero's rage over the insult to his wife and himself to his decapitation for treason, took place in the course of only a few days, during which he hardly left the Ducal Palace.
This enabled Byron to choose the form of a French classical tragedy—demanding unity of time, place, and action, as well as decorum and a limited number of parts in order to please and edify the public—for a subject of rebellion and bloody suppression that was better suited for Romantic drama. Confining the history of Faliero's rebellion within the restraints of classical tragedy, although defended by Byron in his preface to the tragedy as an attempt to overcome the lack of classical unity that was "the reproach of the English theatrical compositions,"  may perhaps be better understood as a wry comment on the way in which conservative governments encroached on individual, intellectual, and artistic freedom.
Byron's imagination was fired not only by the doge's moral dilemma, but also by the ritual character of the doge's condemnation to death and eternal dishonor, "the black veil which is painted over the place of Marino Faliero amongst the Doges, and the Giant's Staircase where he was crowned, and discrowned, and decapitated.
The sheer visual attraction of Romantic drama caused it to be criticized as a form of theater devoid of seriousness and formal balance. In contrast to the elitism of classical tragedy, Romantic drama was seen as a response to an uneducated theater public's wish to see spectacle and melodramatic action. Stage props with huge dramatic possibilities, such as impressive staircases, were a stock element of Romantic drama.
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Staircases enabled authors to make the action take place on different levels, which sometimes symbolized changes in a person's fate, or different psychological states, just as did the choice of bright or dark colors in sets and costumes. In the first of the two execution scenes Byron shows the preparations for the execution inside the Ducal Palace, at the top of the Giant's Staircase. After having ended his final speech the doge turns away from the Council of Ten,  to whom he has just prophesied the downfall of Venice, and addresses the executioner with the words:.
Slave, do thine office. Strike as I struck the foe!
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Strike as I would Have struck those tyrants! Strike deep as my curse! Strike —and but once! The doge then throws himself on his knees, and as the executioner raises his sword the scene closes. In the last scene we see the Venetian people in front of the closed and barred doors of the Ducal Palace. However, those nearest to the doors can catch a glimpse of the execution inside, although they can't hear the doge's speech. One commoner reports on the execution itself:. Now-now-he kneels-and now they form a circle Round him, and all his hidden—but I see The lifted sword in air—Ah!
It falls! The commoners mourn the loss of the doge, whom they held to be their liberator and a friend of the common man. They regret that they did not know what would happen before they were summoned to the palace, or else they would have brought weapons and forced the doors. At the very end of the tragedy, one of the Council of Ten appears on the balcony of the Palace and holds up the execution sword to the people far below him, exclaiming:.
After this the doors are opened, and the people rush in toward the Giant's Staircase to see the corpse. The foremost exclaims:. Delacroix's Painting, its Composition, and its Use of the Venetian State's Symbolism In addition to the impressive execution scenes, Byron's Marino Faliero contains other scenes that could have inspired a painter to illustrate the doge's personal tragedy.
These included, for instance, the heroic, prophetic final speech in which the doge foretells the decline of corrupt Venice and its final downfall at the hands of Napoleon, the Dogaressa 's moving plea for her beloved husband's life, and the moment when the doge lays off his ducal robe and cap to be executed in the same spot in which he was inaugurated. However, Delacroix settled on the very end of Faliero's history, the moment after the execution, when the Venetian commoners were allowed into the palace to see the corpse of the executed doge. Delacroix's painting shows the interior of the Ducal Palace as the painter imagined it, with its marble columns, balustrades, and, at the center of the composition, the white staircase on which the doge was executed.
On the landing at the bottom of the staircase lies the corpse of Faliero, clad in a white undergarment. The head is covered by a dark cloth, a reference, no doubt, to the dark veil that was to cover Faliero's place in the row of doge portraits later on.