1#La Mandragola by Machiavelli:Write a brief response to the Primary Source Reading attached: Machia


1#La Mandragola by Machiavelli:Write a brief response to the Primary Source Reading attached: Machiavelli’s play La Madrogola (The Mandrake Root). What did you think of the play? about the characters involved? What do you think it tells us about the Renaissance.Length: 1-2 paragraphs.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5CFl4uHbcE42#The Lives of Artists by Vasari (selections)Please read the following chapters:Preface to the Lives (pp. 3-6)Giotto (pp. 15 – 36)Leonardo Da Vinci (pp. 284 – 298)Write a brief response to the Primary Source Reading attached: The Lives of Artists (selections – see Assignments tab). What are the characteristics of some of the great artists of the Renaissance? What do these biographies tell us about the importance of Art in the Renaissance?Length: 1-2 paragraphs.


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Niccolò Machiavelli
translated by
Nerida Newbigin
Based on the 1519 manuscript published in La «Mandragola»: storia e filologia. Con l’edizione critica
del testo secondo il Laurenziano Redi 129, ed. Pasquale Stoppelli (Rome: Bulzoni, 2005), with
reference also to Niccolò Machiavelli, Mandragola, ed. Pasquale Stoppelli (Milan: Mondadori, 2006)
Translation © Nerida Newbigin 2009
I have enjoyed reading this text with students for many years, but have usually found
that they need assistance in reading it in Italian. I hope that this translation will be
used principally as an adjunct to a close reading of the Italian text, and perhaps as a
point of reference for the preparation of a performance text.
I have based my translation on the edition prepared by Pasquale Stoppelli from the
1519 manuscript: La «Mandragola»: storia e filologia. Con l’edizione critica del
testo secondo il Laurenziano Redi 129, ed. Pasquale Stoppelli (Rome: Bulzoni, 2005).
I have also made use of the notes in Niccolò Machiavelli, Mandragola, ed. Pasquale
Stoppelli (Milan: Mondadori, 2006).
Some of my thoughts on the play are published in “Machiavelli, Pirandello, and
Their donne di virtù,” Pirandello Studies, 28 (2008): 48–67.
God save you all, benevolent spectators!
And since it seems your kindness
depends upon this play being pleasing to you,
if you continue to keep quiet and still
we’ll tell you all about
a recent case that happened in this city.
You see this set, erected
upon the stage before you:
it represents your Florence;
some other time it will be Rome or Pisa,
and hugely entertaining, not a teaser.
Behind the door on my right hand there lives
a judge so bovine that
he must have learned law from Boëfius.
That alley round the corner there is called
the Via dello Amore:
and he who falls there rises not again.
You’ll recognize with ease
from his conventual habit
what kind of prior or abbot
lives in the church located opposite,
provided that you stay until the end.
A young man called Callimaco Guadagno,
who’s just come back from Paris,
lives at this other door upon my left.
A boon companion, he above all others
displays the badge and colours
of honourable nobility and worth.
A young woman of wit
was much beloved by him
and for this was deceived,
as you will hear, and I would wish that you,
just as she was, might be deceivèd too.
The play is called Mandragola. You’ll see
the reason for its title
as we perform it, if my guess is right.
Its author’s not a man of any fame,
but if you do not laugh
he’ll gladly buy you all a jug of wine.
A wretched man in love,
a judge devoid of craft,
a friar of sinful life,
a parasite beloved of nought but guile
will be your entertainment now awhile.
And if this subject’s judged to be unworthy,
because it’s frivolous,
of one who’d wish to seem both grave and wise,
forgive him for this reason: he’s just trying
with these vain thoughts
to make his wretched days a little sweeter,
because there’s nowhere else
that he can turn his face
since he has been prevented
from finding other ways to show his talents
and all his labours go without reward.
All he expects from you now in return
is that you’ll stand and smirk,
and criticise all that you see and hear.
This is, without a doubt, the reason why
the present world retreats
from all the ancient virtues;
because people can see
that everybody blames
but no one makes an effort or tries hard
to summon up his strength to make a work
the wind will blow away or fog envelop.
Yet, if you think by criticising him
you’ll seize him by the scruff
and scare him first then drag him to the side,
then let me warn you all and tell you this:
that he can do it too,
the rhetoric of blame was his first art,
and nowhere does he stand
in awe of any man
who speaks his mother tongue,
although he might be forced to bend the knee
to one who wears a better cloak than he.
But if you want to criticise, feel free.
We’ll get back to our play
so that time doesn’t get away from us.
There is no point in paying heed to words
nor to some monster, when
we don’t know if he’s living now or dead.
But here’s Callimaco
coming out with Siro
his servant, and he’ll tell us
how everything will go, so pay attention
and don’t expect for now more explanation.
Act One
Scene 1
[1] CALLIMACO Siro, don’t go away. I need you a moment.
[2] SIRO I’m right here.
[3] CALLIMACO I think you were wondering about my sudden departure from Paris,
and now you’re wondering why I’ve been here for a month without achieving
[4] SIRO Indeed, I am.
[5] CALLIMACO If I haven’t told you before what I’m going to tell you now, it wasn’t
because I didn’t trust you. Rather it’s because I judged that if there are things that you
don’t want to be known, then it’s better not to talk about them unless you have to.
And now, seeing that I need your assistance, I want to tell you everything.
[6] SIRO I’m at your service, and servants must never question their masters in
anything, or enquire about anything they do. Rather, when they themselves ask, they
must serve them faithfully: and that’s what I’ve always done and always will.
[7] CALLIMACO I know you will. I think you’ve heard me relate a thousand times,
but it doesn’t matter if you hear it a thousand and one times, how I was ten years old
when my guardians – because my father and mother were dead – sent me to Paris,
where I lived for twenty years. And because ten years later, with the descent of
Charles [VIII of France], the Italian wars began,2 bringing the destruction of this land,
I decided to settle in Paris and never return to my native land, in the belief that I could
make a more secure living there than here.
[8] SIRO And that’s the case.
[9] CALLIMACO I arranged that all my property here should be sold except our house,
and I decided to stay there, where I lived most happily for another ten years.
[10] SIRO As well I know.
[11] CALLIMACO Dividing my time between study, pleasure and business, I laboured
enough in each of these so that no one of them impeded the progress of the other. And
in this way, as you know, I lived most peacefully, assisting everyone and endeavouring to offend no one; so that I felt I was friend to burghers and nobles, expatriates and
Parisians, rich and poor.
[12] SIRO Indeed, it’s the truth.
[13] CALLIMACO But Fortune, in the belief that I was having too good a time,
brought a certain Cammillo Calfucci to visit Paris.
[14] SIRO I’m beginning to guess what your problem is.
[15] CALLIMACO He, like other Florentines, was often invited to dinner at my house,
and as we talked together it happened one day that we started arguing about which
country had more beautiful women, Italy or France. And because I couldn’t talk about
Italian women, seeing that I was so young when I left, some other Florentine who was
present took the side of the French, and Cammillo the Italian side, and after many
arguments were put forward on each side Cammillo said, almost angrily, that even if
all Italian women were monsters, one of his relatives would redeem their honour.
[16] SIRO Now I know what you are trying to say.
The winter of 1494–5. The play is thus set in Carnival ten years later, 1504 by the Florentine calendar (the new year did not
begin until 25 March), and 1505 by the modern calendar.
Act One
[17] CALLIMACO And he named Madonna Lucrezia, wife of Messer Nicia Calfucci,
and he heaped such praise on her beauty and her manners that he amazed every last
one of us, and in me he aroused such desire to see her that I abandoned all previous
intentions, thought no more about the wars or the peace of Italy, and set out for here.
And when I arrived I found that Madonna Lucrezia’s reputation fell far short of the
truth, which is a very rare occurrence, and I am so aroused by desire to be by her side
that I find no peace.
[18] SIRO If you had told me about this in Paris, I’d know how to advise you; but
now I don’t know what to say.
[19] CALLIMACO I haven’t told you this to get your advice, but partly to vent my
frustration and also so that you get yourself ready to help me as the need arises.
[20] SIRO For that I’m always ready. But what hope have you got?
[21] CALLIMACO Alas! None.
[22] SIRO Why is that?
[23] CALLIMACO I’ll tell you. First of all, what’s most against me is her character:
she is completely virtuous and quite against anything to do with love. And the fact
that she has a very rich husband and that he allows himself to be controlled by her,
and even if he isn’t young, he’s not at all as old as he seems. And that she has no
relatives or neighbours who might require her presence at some party or reception, or
at some other entertainment that young women usually enjoy. She never has
tradesmen in the house; she hasn’t a maidservant or a manservant that doesn’t tremble
in her presence, with the result that there is no opportunity for any corruption.
[24] SIRO So what do you think you can do?
[25] CALLIMACO Nothing is ever so desperate that there’s no room for hope; and
even if it is a vain and slender hope, a man’s longing and desire to move things
forward make it seem not so.
[26] SIRO Well, what gives you hope?
[27] CALLIMACO Two things. The first is Messer Nicia’s simple-mindedness: even
though he is a judge, he is the most simple-minded, the most foolish man in Florence.
The other is the desire that they both nurture to have children, and being married for
six years, and not having had any yet, seeing that they are seriously rich, they’re
dying to have them. And there’s one more: her mother was a good-time girl in her
youth; but she is rich, so that I don’t know how to take advantage of her.
[28] SIRO Have you tried anything else at all, apart from this?
[29] CALLIMACO Yes, I have, but not much.
[30] SIRO Like what?
[31] CALLIMACO You know Liguro? The fellow who’s forever coming to dinner
with me. He started out as a marriage broker. Then he took up scrounging for lunch
and dinner. And because he’s an pleasant enough chap, Messer Nicia has struck up a
close friendship with him and Ligurio is taking him for a ride; and even though he
doesn’t invite him to lunch, he does lend him money sometimes. I’ve made friends
with him, and I’ve told him about my love. He’s promised to help me, boots and all.
[32] SIRO Be careful he doesn’t cheat you: these scroungers tend not to be trustworthy.
[33] CALLIMACO That’s true. Even so, when something is in your interests, you have
to believe, once you’ve entrusted it to someone else, that he’s going to serve you
loyally. I’ve promised him that if it turns out well, I’ll give him a goodly sum of
money. And if it doesn’t turn out, then he’ll earn himself a lunch and a dinner, so that
whatever happens I won’t be eating alone.
[34] SIRO What has he promised to do so far?
Act One
[35] CALLIMACO He’s promised to persuade Messer Nicia to go to the spa with his
wife next May.
[36] SIRO What’s in this for you?
[37] CALLIMACO What’s in it for me? The spa might transform her into a different
woman, because all they do in such places is party. I’d take myself there and I’d
sample all the pleasures I could, and I’d put on the very best display possible: I’d
make friends with her, with her husband. How do I know? One thing leads to another,
and time takes care of the rest.
[38] SIRO I like it.
[39] CALLIMACO Ligurio left me this morning saying that he would see Messer Nicia
about this and he would get back to me.
[40] SIRO Here they come together.
[41]CALLIMACO I’m going to move aside so that I can have word with Ligurio as
soon as he gets away from the judge. In the meantime, you go home and get things
done and if I need you to do anything, I’ll let you know.
[42] SIRO I’m off.
Scene 2
[43] NICIA I believe this is good advice you’ve given me, and I discussed it last night
with the wife and she said that she’d give me an answer today. But to tell you the
truth, I’m not keen on going.
[44] LIGURIO Why not?
[45] NICIA Because I don’t like poking my head out the door. And then having to
decant the wife, the maid, the household, it’s just not worth it. Besides, I talked to a
number of doctors yesterday. One of them said I should go to San Filippo, another
said to Porretta and the other said to Villa.3 In my opinion they’re all quacks. And to
tell you the truth, these medical doctors wouldn’t know a spa from a spade.
[46] LIGURIO What you said before, about moving, that must really bother you,
because you’re not used to letting the Cupola out of your sight.
[47] NICIA That’s not true. When I was younger, I was a great gadabout. They never
held the fair at Prato without me going there; and there isn’t a town around about
where I haven’t been. And I’ll tell you something else: I’ve been to Pisa and Livorno.
So there!
[48] LIGURIO You must have seen the Wart in Pisa.
[49] NICIA You mean the Verrucola Fortress.
[50] LIGURIO Of course, the Verrucola.4 When you were in Livorno, did you see the
[51] NICIA You know I saw the sea.
[52] LIGURIO How much bigger is it than the Arno?
[53] NICIA Than the Arno? It’s four times… more than six times… more than seven
times bigger, you’ll make me say. You can’t see anything except water, water,
Bagno alla Villa, now Bagni di Lucca (Stoppelli 2006: 26).
Sergio Bertelli, “When Did Machiavelli Write Mandragola?,” Renaissance Quarterly 24 (1971): 317-326 (326–327); and Carlo
Pedretti, “La Verruca,” Renaissance Quarterly 25 (1972): 417-425. The fortress at La Verruca was captured from the Pisans in
June 1503, but soon fell into ruin. More usefully, on the word play, see Stoppelli 2005: 123–126.
Act One
[54] LIGURIO You’ve pissed in so many places that I’m amazed you make such a
fuss about taking the waters at the spa.
[55] NICIA You’re wet behind the ears. You think it’s a breeze to uproot the whole
household? Even so, I so want to have children that I’m prepared to do anything. So
have a talk to these baboons and find out where they advise me to go. In the meantime
I’ll be with my wife and we’ll meet again later.
[56] LIGURIO Well said.
Scene 3
[57] LIGURIO I don’t think there’s a sillier man in the world than him. And look how
Fortune has favoured him! He’s got money, he’s got a beautiful woman who’s smart
and clever and fit to rule a kingdom. I think it’s rare to see proof of the proverb that
says: Marriages are made in heaven. Because you often see a man with all the right
attributes draw a monster for a wife, and conversely a good woman get a lunatic. But
from his lunacy brings one good thing: that Callimaco has something to hope for. But
here he comes now. What are you up to, Callimaco?
[58] CALLIMACO I saw you with the judge and I was waiting for you to get away
from him so I could find out what you’d done.
[59] LIGURIO You know what he’s like: not very smart and even less brave. He’s
unwilling to leave Florence. Even so, he’s warming to the idea and in the end he said
that he’ll do anything; and if he likes this plan I think we’ll get him to go along with
it. But I’m not sure that we’ll achieve what we need to.
[60] CALLIMACO Why’s that?
[61] LIGURIO How can I be sure? You know that these baths attract every kind of
person, and it could be that there are men there who find Madonna Lucrezia just as
pleasing as you do: and someone richer than you, more charming than you; so that we
run the risk of going to all this trouble for somebody else; and it may happen that the
rush of rivals just makes her more firm in her resolve, or that she makes the acquaintance of someone else and turns to him rather than to you.
[62] CALLIMACO I grant that you’re right: but how am I to go about it? What am I to
do? Where am I to turn? I have to try something: even if it is grandiose, or dangerous,
or harmful, or infamous. It’s better to die than to live like this. If I could sleep at
night, if I could eat, if I could hold a conversation, if I could take pleasure in anything,
I’d be more patient in biding my time. But there is nothing for it here. And if my
hopes aren’t buoyed by some plan, I’ll die anyway. And seeing that I’m going to die,
I’m not going to be afraid of anything, but rather I’m going to do something beastly,
cruel and wicked.
[63] LIGURIO Don’t talk that way. Pull yourself together.
[64] CALLIMACO You can see that the only way I can hold myself together is by
nurturing such thoughts as these. And that’s why either we have to keep on trying to
send him to the baths, or we have to choose some other way of giving me hope, a vain
one at least, if not a real one, so that I can cherish a thought that will bring some
comfort to my troubled breast.
[65] LIGURIO You’re right, and I’m ready to do it.
[66] CALLIMACO I believe you, even though I know that men of your kind make a
living out of deceiving people. Nonetheless, I don’t think I’m being deceived because
Act One
if you did and I noticed, I’d try pay you back; and you would at once lose the use of
my house and any hope you had of what I promised you for the future.
[67] LIGURIO Do not doubt my loyalty. Even if I didn’t stand to gain what I hear and
what I hope, the fact is that we share a blood bond, and I want you to fulfil your desire
almost as much as you do. But be that as it may. The judge has asked me to find a
doctor and discover which baths are best to go to. I want you to do what I tell you,
and that is, that you should say that you’ve studied medicine and you’ve practised a
bit in Paris. He’ll believe you easily, because he’s so simple, and because you’ve been
to school and you can say something to him in Latin.
[68] CALLIMACO What use will that be?
[69] LIGURIO We’ll use it to send him to whichever baths we want or to make him
accept another plan that I’ve thought up, which will be quicker, surer and more
feasible than the baths.
[70] CALLIMACO What are you saying?
[71] LIGURIO I’m saying that, if you have the courage and if you trust in me, I’ll
hand you this on a plate before this time tomorrow. And even if he were the kind of
man, which he isn’t, who would try to check up whether you are a doctor or not, the
short space of time and the matter itself will ensure either that he doesn’t talk about it
or that he isn’t in time to spoil the plan even if he did talk about.
[72] CALLIMACO You restore me to life: you’re promising too much, and you’re
giving me too much hope. What will you do?
[73] LIGURIO You’ll find out when the time comes, because for now I don’t need to
tell you. We’ll be short of time for action, not for talking. You go home and wait for
me there, and I’ll go and find the judge; and if I bring him to you, just follow my lead
and adapt yourself to that.
[74] CALLIMACO Indeed I will, even though you fill me with a hope that I fear will
go up in smoke.
Act Two
Scene 1
[1] LIGURIO As I told you, I believe that God sent us this man so that your wish will
be granted. He has had extensive experience in Paris, and don’t be surprised if he
hasn’t practised his profession in Florence, because the reason is first that he’s rich
and second because he’s returning to Paris at any moment.
[2] NICIA Well, my friend, that’s very important, because I wouldn’t want you to
lead me up the garden path and then leave me high and dry.
[3] LIGURIO Have no fear of that. The only thing to be frightened of is that he won’t
want to go to this trouble; but if he does, he won’t give up until he’s seen it through.
[4] NICIA As far as that …
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