Lucrezia di Borgia

daughter of Pope Alexander VI., was thrice married, her last husband being Alfonso, Duke of Ferrara. Before her marriage with the duke she had a natural son named Gennaro, who was sent to be brought up by a Neapolitan fisherman. When arrived at man's estate he received a letter informing him that he was nobly born, and offering him a commission in the army. In the battle of Rimini he saved the life of Orsini, and they became sworn friends. In Venice he is introduced to the young nobles, who tell him of the ill deeds of Lucrezia Borgia. Each of them has had some relative put to death by her agency. Gennaro, in his indignation, mutilates the duke's escutcheon with his dagger, knocking off the “B” of his name, and changing Borgia into Orgia (orgies). Lucrezia, not knowing who has offered the insult, requests the duke that the perpetrator may be put to death, but when she discovers it to be her own son gives him an antidote to neutralise the poison he has drunk, and releases him from his confinement. Scarcely is he liberated when he and his companions are invited by the Princess Negroni to a banquet, where they are all poisoned, Lucrezia tells Gennaro he is her son, and dies herself as soon as her son expires. (Donizetti's opera.)

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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