« What's So 'Great' About Fitzgerald's _Gatsby_? | Main | Farming out the Animalistic Truth in Orwell's Fairy Story »

August 04, 2012

Niccolò Machiavelli's _La Mandragola [The Mandrake Root]_


Image Source: http://www.theateronline.com/headshot/12674_A.JPG

Machiavelli, Niccolò (1469-1527). La Mandragola [The Mandrake Root]. 1518. Italian. Drama.

HON 250 Students,

Below, please . . .

. . . enter your work on this text as prescribed in class.

----------------------------------------

For more English-Blog entries on the topic of Critical Theory, please click HERE.

Posted by lhobbs at August 4, 2012 10:11 PM

Readers' Comments:

Stacey Bigge
Dr. Hobbs
HON 250 CA02 The Humanistic Tradition
14 September 2012

Question:
In Theodore Sumberg’s article (see the list of secondary readings – subtab under Readings – for Machiavelli on the course libguides page), there is a comparison of the use of numbers in Dante’s “Inferno” and the use of numbers (numerology) in Machiavelli’s La Mandragola. Discuss that difference. What other unique things does Machiavelli do with numbers in this play?

Answer:
In Machiavelli’s La Mandragola, numerology is ever-present. Numbers are also play a factor in Dante’s Inferno. In both works numbers seem to reference to odd numbers. For example, in the Inferno there are 33 cantos, three animals stopping Dante from reaching the light at the top of the hill, three heads on the devil in the final ring of the Inferno, and three parts to the Commedia as a whole – hell, purgatory, and heaven. Furthermore, “The numbers three and nine frequently recur throughout the narrative, recalling the holy trinity.” (“Dante’s Inferno”). The overwhelming amount of odd numbers points towards religion. As Sumberg states in his piece, “It is known that the ancients held odd numbers sacred and reserved them for diving things” (Sumberg, 22).

Consequently, Machiavelli makes great use of even numbers. “There are 38 even numbers and 13 odd numbers” (Sumberg 22). Ten is the most used number in La Mandragola and pops up everywhere. For instance, “the play has 37 scenes, which are two independent meaningful numbers that equal ten” (Sumberg 22). As evens are the opposite of odds, Machiavelli’s use of even numbers may suggest that he is taking a stab at scholasticism thought, rebelling against religious prescriptions. “Do even numbers stand for the new path of political science that he is opening up?” (Sumberg 22). Also, in what is Machiavelli’s most recognized work, The Prince, he makes the point that a prince should only appear to be pious, instead of actually being pious. “…He [the Prince] should appear to be all mercy, all faith, all honesty, all humanity, all religion. And nothing is more necessary to appear to have than this last quality” (Machiavelli 70). This further suggests that Machiavelli was against scholasticism and was, indeed, a humanist.

"Dante's Inferno." Online University. Online University, n.d.
Web. 14 Sept. 2012.

Machiavelli, Niccolo. The Prince. Trans. Harvey C. Mansfield.
2nd ed. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1998. Print.

Sumberg, Theodore A. "La Mandragola: An Interpretation." The
Journal of Politics 23.2 (1961): 320-40. Print.

Posted by: Stacey Bigge at September 14, 2012 09:14 PM

Great job Stacey! Exactly what I was looking for. HON 250 students, please use Stacey's response as a model.

Posted by: Dr. Hobbs at September 16, 2012 03:29 PM

William Berry
Dr. Hobbs
Hon 250 Humanistic Traditions CA02
16, September, 2012

Question: While the expression “anti-hero” really didn’t get into circulation until the 1700s, it doesn’t mean that they didn’t exist in literature until then. Research the concept of the “anti-hero,” duly explain what it is and then make the case that a character (or characters) in Machiavelli’s La Mandragola fit thebill of the so-called anti-hero. Who is the real protagonist of the play? Does s/he have the traditionally heroic qualities that a typical reader/audience might expect in a main character? If the objective is for good to triumph over evil, then how does one “root for” a character with less than stellar qualities? Is the point of La Mandragola for good to win out over evil?

Answer: Anti-hero is defined as the principal character/s of a literary work, who lacks the attributes of the traditional protagonist or hero. The anti-hero’s lack of traditional qualities such as courage, honesty and grace, create a relationship with common man. They share the shortcomings and confusion, making the work more personable. (Encyclopedia.com)

Of the characters within La Mandragola, there are two anti-heroes, Callimaco and Lucrezia. They both lack honesty, and do not have the courage to openly confront the judge of the passion between the two of them. However, there is only one person who has the qualities of the traditional hero, the manservant Siro. He listens to his master faithfully, has the courage to follow everything to the end, is honest since no one asks him a question that would disclose the truth. The real protagonist is Callimaco, he is not the stellar representative of chivalry, but he is following his heart in hopes that a love will flourish from this deceit. As a reader, there is no way to stop rooting for Callimaco to succeed after the struggle in which he went through, the games he had to play to be able to see her, much less lay with her.

Yes, Callimaco does not have the qualities of a hero of old, instead he is a romantic. That ideal, at the time it was being written, was becoming more prevalent. Callimaco does not have the qualities of a hero, but he does have the qualities of a romantic, crossing all bounds to be with the one who sets his heart aflutter. The purpose of the play is for good to triumph, however, what is good in society is not necessarily what the heart wants.

http://www.encyclopedia.com/searchresults.aspx?q=anti-hero

Posted by: William Berry at September 17, 2012 07:49 AM

William, nice job but let's please aim for a source with a tad more credibility than "encyclopedia.com." This URL merely takes the reader to the site's search engine page. Find us a better source for the "anti-hero" reference and please re-post it.

~Dr. Hobbs

Posted by: Dr. Hobbs at September 17, 2012 08:34 AM

Zach Brasseur

Dr. Lee Hobbs

Hon 250

17 September 2012

Question: In Sergio Bertelli’s article, the proposition is made that the traditional dates given for the date La Mandragola was written may be incorrect. Discuss the crux of Bertelli’s article. What is the controversy? What might the actual date be and why might the one normally proposed be incorrect, according to Sergio?


Answer: The traditionally accepted date for the composition is the one proposed by Roberto Ridolfi, January or February of 1518 for the wedding of Lorenzo de’ Medici. However, Bertelli presents as evidence a letter written to Machiavelli in 1520 concerning the play and a diary entry by Marin Sanudo, also in 1520 (317). Giovanni Manetti also references a performance of the play in a letter to Machiavelli in 1526 or 1525. All of these resources, says Bertelli, are after 1520 and Ridolfi’s argument for 1518 are not convincing (318). Bertelli, towards the end of the article uses textual references to point to a possible date of 1504 or 1519. The 1504 date is based on Callimico’s arrival from France in Act 1 Scene 1, and the 1509 date is based on a manuscript.

Posted by: Zach Brasseur at September 17, 2012 02:02 PM

Anna McEntee
Dr. Hobbs
Hon250 CA02 The Humanistic Tradition
September 17, 2012

Question:


In Edwin Webber’s article (see the list of secondary readings - subtab under readings – for Machiavelli on the course libguides page), the ideas of “dramatic unities” in La Mangragola is discussed. What are the “dramatic unities” and which ones, if any, exist in Machiavelli’s play? How/why is this relevant/significant?

Answer:


Edwin Webber outlines in his article, the uses of dramatic unity in La Mandragola (Webber 1956). There are three types of dramatic unity used in literature; unity of time, unity of space , and unity of action. The unity of time is the limit of time in a tragedy, specifically how a tragedy usually occurs in the time span of not much more than 24 hours (Webber 1956). The unity of space is when a story or play takes place in a single location (Wheeler 2012). Finally, the unity of action is defined as “realistic events following a single plotline and a limited number of characters,” (Wheeler 2012).


Of these three kinds of unity, two are used in Machiavelli’s play, La Mandragola. These two are the unity of time and the unity of space (Webber 1956). The time span of La Mandragola starts in the early morning of one day, and goes on until the early hours of the next morning, exhibiting the use of the unity of space in the play. This is significant in that the use of this literary device identifies the play as a tragedy, and simplifies the plot, making it easier for the reader/audience to follow.

Webber, Edwin J. "The Dramatic Unities in the 'Mandragola.' " _Italica_. 33.1 (March 1956): 20-21.


Wheeler, K . "Literary Terms and Definitions: U." web.cn.edu. 10 Sep. 2012. 17 Sep. 2012. .

Posted by: Anna McEntee at September 17, 2012 02:04 PM

Rhett Pringle
Dr. Hobbs
HON 250 CA02
17 September 2012

Question: “Research the legend of the “Rape of the Sabine Women”. It is depicted frequently in art and would have been well-known to Italians living in Machiavelli’s time. Then read Tylus’s article and discuss, briefly, why she thinks this story is important/relevant to La Mandragola.

Answer: Tylus believes that the story of the “Rape of the Sabine Women” is important when beginning to think about Renaissance theater. “While Ronald Martinez has argued that Machiavelli's play ironically reverses Lucretia's rape and its effects by giving us a Madonna Lucrezia who succumbs willingly to her lover, I propose that we see that other, earlier rape as an equally formative if less obvious subtext.”(657)

Tylus extends the comparison by looking past the ulterior motives and into the symbolism of the actions of Callimaco as compared to the sabine women. “But the use of which Ligurio speaks in the play's fourth act, as he and his lovesick client are making final plans for the disguised Callimaco's midnight venture into Lucrezia's bedroom …seems to extend beyond these immediate "communal" needs into a sphere of extended and subtle control.”(657) The needs of the romans was to perpetuate their civilization, just as Nico tries to use someone else to impregnate his wife, so as not to let his family line end. But Callimaco deceived him, just as the Romans used deception to bring the Sabine women to a party, before claiming them as wives. The relevance is also present in the way that men view women in both cases. They are nothing more than something for which a man to pick, and use however he pleases. “…they can seize the women they desire” (659)

Posted by: M. Rhett Pringle at September 17, 2012 03:06 PM

Sarah Nobles
Dr. Hobbs
HON 250 CA02 The Humanistic Tradition
17 September 2012


Question:
What, exactly, is a “mandrake root”? Research what it is and what its properties are. In light of this information, and in clues from the text, discuss why this information is important to the narrative of the play.

Answer:
The “mandrake root” is the root of the plant commonly known as the mandrake (referring to members of the mandragora plant family). The plant contains hallucinogenic properties (deliriant hallucinogenic tropane alkaloids such as atropine, scopolamine, apoatropine, and hyoscyamine) and is often used as a
narcotic or even medicinally. The entire mandrake plant and all of its parts are poisonous, but the toxin is isolated in the root alone (the root is the most poisonous part of the mandrake).

In La Mandragola, Callimaco poses as a doctor in order to aid Messer Nicia and his beautiful wife Madonna Lucrezia in the procurement of an heir. At his advice, Lucrezia is told to ingest the mandrake root in order to stimulate her reproductive system, but the poison would kill the first man she slept with and would require intercourse with a man before sleeping with her husband, “. . . there’s nothing more certain to make a woman pregnant than to give her a potion made from mandragola to drink.” (Machiavelli 25). This was Callimaco’s plan to sleep with Lucrezia, as he would disguise himself once again as a stranger on the street in order to place himself in bed with Lucrezia. The mandrake root serves as a metaphor for the actions of the characters in the play; Callimaco uses a poison to commit fraud, which could easily be thought of as poisonous. The poison of his fraud poisons his morals and the morals of the other characters that use this predicament at their own advantage, whether it’s for money, an heir, a home, etc. In this play, fraud prevails over intelligence and religion, emphasized by Machiavelli in the use of a poison for Callimaco to commit this trickery.

Loria , A. (n.d.). Mandrake root. Retrieved from http://mason.gmu.edu/~aloria/projects/Plant/plant.htm. 16 Sept. 2012.


A, M. (n.d.). Summary of machiavelli's la mandragola. Retrieved from http://www.emachiavelli.com/Mandrasum.htm. 16 Sept. 2012.

Posted by: s33 at September 17, 2012 03:16 PM

Zach and Rhett, be sure to reference where you got your answers. Zach, just list the MLA citation for that article. Rhett, let us know where you got your information on "The Rape of the Sabine Women." You don't have to repost your answer but please post an addendum remark letting us know the missing information.

Posted by: Dr. Hobbs at September 17, 2012 03:29 PM

Jordan Bailey
Dr. Hobbs
Hon250 CA02 Humanistic Tradition
17 September 2012

1. Even though many scholars consider the first real examples of "Commedia dell'Arte" are ones dated AFTER the first productions of Machiavelli's Mandragola, some scholars, and production companies, apparently, disagree. Research what the Commedia dell'Arte is and discuss how this play may or may not be considered an example of this theatrical style.


Commedia dell'Arte is a type of theater in which the actors use improvisation in their scenes. The performances were unscripted, but usually based around a plot of jealousy, murder and love (Reference 1).

Machiavelli's play, La Mandragola, could be an example of this style of theater for a few reasons. While the play is in fact scripted, its characters are portrayed to improvise in their scenes. For example, at the end of Act Three Scene Two, Ligurio tells Messer that he has to pretend to be deaf because they are trying to trick the Frate. Legurio claims, "Don't worry if I say anything that seems to you different from what we want."(Mandragola) This is because he just came up with the plan to pretend that Messer is deaf, and he is going to test how gullible and willing to be coaxed that the Frate is. The conversation that follows will be improvised.
Another reason is that these types of plays were centered around basic themes of adultery, love and jealousy. The entire story of the Mandrake Root is based on jealousy, because Callimaco is jealous of Messer Nicia's wife and he wants her to commit adultery on her husband and be with him. Her and her husband love each other so much and want to have a child together so badly that they are willing to forego their initial thoughts and take part in this harebrained scheme to get the wife to conceive.
Commedia dell'Arte is also characterized by having masked characters improvising skits. This could be interpreted in this play, not literally as masks, but the people in the play pretend to be other people and they have hidden motivations which I feel is like a mask, in a sense.

Reference 1: http://www.reference.com/browse/commedia+dell'arte
Reference 2: La Mandragola

Posted by: Jordan Bailey at September 17, 2012 03:33 PM

Stacey Bigge
Dr. Hobbs
HON 250 CA02 The Humanistic Tradition
18 September 2012

1. Why does Machiavelli have all of the characters within La Mandragola commit fraud? (Even Friar Timoteo, a member of the church, is guilty of fraud) What does this say about Machiavelli’s personal view on the nature of human beings?

2. As briefly discussed in class, Machiavelli’s The Prince is a sort of how-to on effective leadership (or how to be an effective prince). Do you think any of the characters in La Mandragola represent a “Machiavellian Prince”? Why or why not?

Posted by: Stacey Bigge at September 18, 2012 08:38 PM

Here is the reference used for my answer:

Tylus, Jane. "Theater and Its Social Uses: Machiavelli's Mandragola and the Spectacle of Infamy." Renaissance Quarterly Vol. 53.3 (2000): 656-686.

Posted by: M. Rhett Pringle at September 18, 2012 10:45 PM

Sarah Nobles
Dr. Hobbs
HON 250 CA02 The Humanistic Tradition
18 September 2012


1. In La Mandragola, Machiavelli chooses to use the mandrake root for the remedy to fool Nicia and Lucrezia, leading to several sins committed by the characters in the play. Do you think that there’s significance in his choice of ingredients? How do you think the mandrake root relates to the play as a whole? Discuss the possible symbolism of the mandrake root.


2. For this question, you will need to refer back to Dante’s Inferno. Timoteo, a man of the church, aids Callimaco in committing fraud and adultery for the sake of money. Theorize which circle of Hell Dante would place Timoteo’s soul in. Remember to take into account Dante’s criteria for the condemnation of sinners’ souls.

Posted by: Sarah Nobles at September 18, 2012 11:21 PM

1.) In Machiavelli’s La Mandragola, the character of Fra Timoteo is corrupt; an imperfect image of what a priest should be like. However, was Machiavelli’s characterization of Timoteo that much of an exaggeration? Was his depiction contrasting to how many of the clergy behaved in the 1500’s? Were any priests during that time as corrupt as Timoteo? Was Machiavelli simply using theatre to point out the flaws in the Church and therefore society as well? How would La Mandragola affect the social view on plays and on accepted traditions?


2.) From your understanding of Machiavelli’s La Mandragola, discuss how the impact of Lucrezia’s mother Sostrata helping deceive her (Scene 10&11) had an impact on the perception of Lucrezia’s character as a whole. Was she a victim or did she become part of the deception? How does the lack of a father figure and her mother’s lifestyle choices play into the development of her character? How does this contrast from the traditional family structure that would be prevalent at the time?

Posted by: M. Rhett Pringle at September 18, 2012 11:36 PM

William Berry
Dr. Hobbs
Hon 250 Humanistic Traditions CA02
19, September, 2012

1. In La Mandragola, and referencing Dante’s Inferno, what sins were the greater sins committed by Callimaco? How would he be punished in hell?

2. From your reading of La Mandragola, can it be perceived as a romantic play, instead of a sinful action? Explain your reasoning, with references to the text.

Posted by: William Berry at September 19, 2012 07:07 AM

Citation for research question:
Sergio Bertelli. "When Did Machiavelli Write Mandragola?" Renaissance Quarterly 24.3 (1971):317-326. JSTOR. Web.

Posted by: Zach Brasseur at September 19, 2012 11:18 AM

Zach Brasseur

Dr. Lee Hobbs

Hon 250

19 September 2012

Question 1: Obviously, the events that take place in La Mandragola are somewhat scandalous even by today's standards. But in light of the humanist movement, how did audiences react to the play? What kind of criticism did Machiavelli receive, if any?

Question 2: What type of character is Nicia? Does he fit the role of hero or anti-hero? Can any of his actions be justified?

Posted by: Zach Brasseur at September 19, 2012 11:25 AM

Anna McEntee
Dr. Hobbs
HON250 CA02
09.19.12


Question #1: Some critics refer to La Mandragola as a satirical work of literature. What is satire and how is it used in the context of the play?

Question #2: Machiavelli's play uses the unity of space to confine the plot of La Mandragola to a singular location. Why is this important in the performance and communication of the play? Explain how information about the plot outside of the setting is conveyed.

Posted by: Anna McEntee at September 19, 2012 02:13 PM

Jordan Bailey
Dr. Hobbs
Hon250 CA02 Humanistic Tradition
19 September 2012

1. What is the role of Siro? How is he used to help achieve Callimaco's plan? Is he a trustworthy character? Does he always tell the truth, or does he lie?

2. Does the fact that Frate Timoteo is corrupt and persuadable in the church relate to problems in the church during that time period? How does Lucrezia react to Frate Timoteo when they meet?

Posted by: Jordan Bailey at September 19, 2012 02:57 PM

Jordan, please answer the first question for your homework. That is, your own first question about Siro. Try to get that done by Sunday so that your fellow classmates will have a chance to look at your answer to help them study for the quiz. The quiz questions will be based on the self-designed question you and your classmates devised.

Posted by: Dr. Hobbs at September 19, 2012 05:03 PM

Ok, HON 250 students. The purpose of the exercise of allowing you to design your own questions was to give you some agency into the design of the upcoming test (Monday). As I said in class, you had to get these done earlier enough to allow me to design your test. It's 2:45pm on Sunday afternoon. My day begins on Monday morning just like everyone else, so the time to design the test is now. Since I have no data to draw from, I will simply design my own test. Please follow the advice given to you for studying for the first test. I'll still expect to see the modified/improved questions that were critiqued in our last meeting to be reposted with the answers on this blog by classtime, Monday. See you then.

Dr. Hobbs

Posted by: Dr. Hobbs at September 23, 2012 02:47 PM

Stacey Bigge
Dr. Hobbs
HON 250 CA02 The Humanistic Tradition
23 September 2012

Question:
Why does Machiavelli have all of the characters within La Mandragola commit fraud (Even Friar Timoteo, a member of the church, is guilty of fraud) What does this say about Machiavelli’s personal view on the nature of human beings?

Answer:
Machiavelli has all the characters commit fraud because he generally thought that human beings were evil by nature. This idea is illuminated in one of Machiavelli’s other works, The Prince. “…He will always have, in uncertain times, a shortage of those one can trust. For such a prince cannot found himself on what he sees in quiet times…and each wants to die for him when death is at a distance; but in adverse times when the state has need of citizens, then few of them are to be found” (The Prince 42). Machiavelli believed in the idea that human beings are generally selfish and self-motivated. In his opinion, people are driven by their own desires. The characters’ fraudulence reflects this standpoint.
Furthermore, the reason that all of the characters commit fraud is for their own self-interests, but in the end everyone gets what they want. This also says something very significant about Machiavelli’s personal views. In Machiavelli’s mind it is the ends that need to justify the means, not the other way around. In La Mandragola, the fourth song after the third act states, “So mellow is deceit when carried through to its desired end, that it relieves all anguish and makes all taste of bitterness now sweet” (La Mandragola 36). This exemplifies the Machiavellian idea that even though you must use deceit to get what is wanted or needed, it is how things end up that matters.

Machiavelli, Niccolo. The Prince. Trans. Harvey C. Mansfield.
2nd ed. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1998. Print.

Posted by: Stacey Bigge at September 23, 2012 05:15 PM

Sarah Nobles
Dr. Hobbs
HON 250 CA02 The Humanistic Tradition
23 September 2012


Question: The mandrake root is the part of the mandrake plant that holds the poisonous plant's toxins; it's the only part of the plant where the toxins can be extracted. Many find the mandrake root to be quite amazing, the roots being abnormally shaped like human beings. In La Mandragola, Machiavelli chooses to use the mandrake root for the remedy to fool Nicia and Lucrezia, leading to several sins committed by the characters in the play. Do you think that there’s significance in his choice of ingredients? How do you think the mandrake root relates to the play as a whole? Discuss the possible symbolism of the mandrake root.


Answer: The symbolism of the mandrake root is the shape of it. Though the plant is not abnormally shaped, the roots are and that's where the toxins can be extracted. The roots are said to be shaped like human beings, i.e. the poison resides in the human-shaped roots. I believe that this symbolically represents the idea that humans are the source of moral poison. In La Mandragola, the characters all have ulterior motives; whether it's for money, an heir, a night of passion, etc., nobody is true about their real motives. In essence, each character is by their own means poisoning the other characters' morals, it isn't the root that is the real source of poison in this play. Humans poisoning humans, a humanistic belief.

Posted by: Sarah Nobles at September 23, 2012 07:39 PM

Zach Brasseur

Dr. Lee Hobbs

Hon 250

23 September 2012

Question: Obviously, the events that take place in La Mandragola are somewhat scandalous even by today's standards. But in light of the humanist movement, how might audiences have reacted to the play?


Answer: Given some of the attitudes of the Renaissance and the associated Humanist movement, general audiences of would have likely been very scandalized. The traditional views of marriage were being challenged and the Church is challenged as well. Timoteo is portrayed as a corrupt parish priest, something that the average person at the time may have had trouble accepting.


On the other hand, the sophisticated and educated society that embraced humanism would have greatly enjoyed the play. It puts an emphasis on the human and human desires and rather than using the Church as a source of truth and knowledge as it had been considered throughout the Middle Ages, it was instead used as a means for Callimico to fulfill his selfish ambitions.

Posted by: Zach Brasseur at September 23, 2012 09:39 PM

Question: From your understanding of Machiavelli’s La Mandragola, discuss how the impact of Lucrezia’s mother Sostrata helping deceive her own daughter (Act 3, Scenes 10 and 11) had an impact on the perception of Sostrata’s character as a whole. Was she victim of trickery or did she become part of the deception? What effect did her mother’s deception have on Lucrezia?

Answer: Sostrata knows of Frate Timoteo’s corruption, yet she still advises her daughter that his word is all she needs to listen to. “talk to the Frate…you’ll do what your advised by him…”(35) This shows that Sostrata must have motives for lying to her own daughter, in this case she wants grandchildren. She is able to justify her behavior by saying “I’ve always heard it said that it’s the duty of a prudent person to take the best among bad courses.”(28) Because Sostrata does not know about Callimaco’s true intentions she is being deceived. However, she is also a deceiver for she does not tell her daughter of Timoteo’s role in the plan, even though she knows of it. Sostrata’s character appears only briefly in the play, but she is necessary to help convince Lucrezia to partake in Callimaco’s plan. Lucrezia, after hearing of the fraudulent behavior of her husband, mother, and confessor, decides to engage in some questionable behavior herself by agreeing to meet with Callimaco and have him as secret lover. The shock of learning everything and everyone in her life is not as it seems is enough to make Lucrezia do things she never would have done before.

Machiavelli, Niccolo. Madragola. Trans. Mera J. Flaumenhaft. 1981.

Posted by: M. Rhett Pringle at September 23, 2012 10:02 PM

William Berry
Dr. Hobbs
Hon 250 Humanistic Traditions CA02
23, September, 2012


Question: A romance is defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary as to try and curry favor with someone with personal attention or to carry on a love affair with.

From your reading of La Mandragola, can it be perceived as a romantic play, if not then what is it? Explain your reasoning.

Answer: La Mandragola does have qualities that could be related to romance. However I do not think that it is strictly a romance in itself. Yes, Callimaco does go through a great deal to meet the woman, to show her his love and then carry on a farce to be together. Yet, the play does not fully hinge on him seeking the woman. If he, in every scene he was in, called for her, the case for it to be a romance would be stronger. Instead they is more emphasis on the journey on which Callimaco must go to achieve his desires.

In the standards in which the play was written, I would say that it is a comedy with romantic qualities, but not as a major theme of the work.

Posted by: William Berry at September 24, 2012 07:09 AM

Anna McEntee
Dr. Hobbs
HON250 CA02 The Humanistic Tradition
9.22.12

Question:
Machiavelli’s play, La Mandragola is set in a singular location for the entire course of the play. Why is lack of variation in the location of the plot important in the performance and communication of the play? Explain how information about the plot outside of the play is conveyed.

Answer:
In the plot of La Mandragola, the use of a single, non-changing setting is very important to the performance of the play. It takes place in a courtyard, surrounded by buildings, and throughout the play, characters appear and reappear with the purpose of letting the audience know about what has happened “off-stage”. In act four Scene II, Callimaco asks Ligurio whether Lucrezia has agreed to taking the mandrake root and sleep with another man, and as he explains her agreement, he also gives information about what has happened off stage with Lucrezia’s mother, “as soon as she learned that her daughter could have this good night without sin, she never rested from praying, commanding comforting Lucrezia, so much that she led her to the Frate, and there worked it in such a way that she consented,” (Act 4 Scene II, lines 29-32). This singular setting of the play is important because it allows the play to flow and continue without breaks for scene changes. It also adds simplicity to the plot, which allows the audience to get more out of what is being said, rather than where the characters are in what point in time.

Posted by: Anna McEntee at September 24, 2012 11:42 AM

Jordan Bailey
Dr. Hobbs
Hon250 CA02 Humanistic Tradition
24 September 2012

1. What is the role of Siro? How is he used to help achieve Callimaco's plan? Is he a trustworthy character? Does he always tell the truth, or does he lie?

Siro serves the role of Callimaco's servant. He is used by Callimaco in his plan to help deceive others into thinking Ligurio and Nicia have different motives so that the plan will work. He helps convince Nicia that Callimaco is a doctor, and is of valid credentials, and Ligurio helps with this too. Siro is probably the most trustworthy character throughout this story, although he does help deceive others. He is only performing his duties as Callimaco's servant, he is not participating for his own ulterior motives, he is simply following command. For example, on page 44 Callimaco says, "Whatever you see, feel, or hear, you must keep absolutely secret, in so far as you esteem my property, my honor, my life and your own good." Siro agrees to his. Siro does not outright lie through this play, he dodges answering questions directly, he beats around the bush when answering and gives only vague details so that he does not ever actually tell a lie. Such as on page 47 when he tells them he found someone to lay with Lucrezia, he says, " He's the finest young fellow you ever sa! He's twenty five years old and he's coming alone in a little jacket playing a lute." Siro does not mention that this is actually Callimaco diguised, but he never says that it is not. He is deceitful, for his master, but he does not lie outright.

Posted by: Jordan Bailey at September 24, 2012 02:16 PM

-----------------


*NOTE* The deadline for this particular assignment has now passed. Any comments listed below are *ONLY* for the reposting of comments that I specifically asked to be revised or are ones from non-student posters. Any 'student' posts below that missed the assignment deadline will not get credit for the assignment.


~ Dr. Hobbs

Posted by: Dr. Hobbs at September 28, 2012 08:43 AM

Joe Radigan
Dr. Hobbs
Honors 250 Humanistic Tradition CA02
22 September 2013

Question: In Edwin Webber’s article, the idea of “dramatic unities” in La Mandragola is discussed. What are the “dramatic unities” and which ones, if any, exist in Machiavelli’s play? How or why is this relevant/significant?

Answer: There are three parts to dramatic unity. The first is the unity of action which states a play should have one main action it follows. Next, the unity of place followed by the unity of time. The unity of place states that a play should take place in one physical place, while the unity of time states that a play should be no longer than 24 hours.
The unity of time is present in La Mandragola as it happens in under 24 hours. The unities of place and action are also present. This is relevant because at the time that La Mandragola was written, all plays were expected to follow the three dramatic unities.

Posted by: Joe Radigan at September 22, 2013 09:35 PM

Allison Sheftall
Dr. Hobbs
HON 250 Humanistic Tradition CA02
23 September 2013

Question: Even though many scholars consider the first real exapmles of COmmedia deee'arte are the ones dated AFTER the first productions of Machiavelli's La Mandragola, some scholars and production companies apparently disagree. Research what the "commedia dell'arte" is and discuss how this play may (or may not) be considered an exapmle of thos theatrical style. Later in the course, we will study Moliere's Tartuffe, which also pays homage to commedia dell'arte.

Answer:Commedia dell’Arte is a “theatrical form characterized by improvised dialogue and a cast of colorful stock characters that emerged in Northern Italy in the fifteenth century” (Meagher). Commedia dell’arte works mainly had plots of illegal love affairs, get rich quick schemes or just to outwit another character. Machiavelli’s The Mandrake Root, can be considered a work of commedia dell’arte based on the plot and how it was performed. The Mandrake Root is a story about a man, Callimaco, that loves a married woman, Licrezia, who lives in Tuscany and his plan to make her his. This play also has multiple comedic parts making it qualify as a piece of commedia dell’arte. Although there are still aspects of this play that make it not a commedia dell’arte work. First off it isn’t improvised; there is a script for the play. Works of commedia dell’arte don’t have distinct scripts. The plot, characters, and their relationships were determined beforehand but the rest was up to the actors. They chose the words and actions of the characters to portray the correct emotion so the audience would know what was going on. Even though there is script of the play, I would classify Machiavelli’s The Mandrake Root, a commedia dell’arte work. The manuscript could be used as a work that helps the actors know the relationships of their characters and as a way to keep the story having the same plot for centuries.

Meagher, Jennifer. "Commedia dell'arte ". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/comm/hd_comm.htm (July 2007)

Posted by: Allison Sheftall at September 23, 2013 12:26 PM

Mallorie Shawe
Dr. Hobbs
HON 250 The Humanistic Tradition CA02
22 September 2013

Question: While the expression “anti-hero” really didn’t get into circulation until the 1700s, it doesn’t mean that they didn’t exist in literature until then. Research the concept of the “anti-hero,” duly explain what it is, and then make the case that a character (or characters) in Machiavelli’s La Mandragola fit the bill of the so-called anti-hero. Who is the real protagonist of the play? Does she/he have traditionally heroic qualities that a typical reader/audience might expect in a main character? If the objective is for good to triumph over evil, then how does one “root for” a character with less than stellar qualities? Is the point of La Mandragola for good to win out over evil?

Answer: The conventional definition of an anti-hero is a central character in a story or drama that lacks heroic attributes. In La Mandragola both Callimaco and Ligurio fit the definition of the anti-hero perfectly. They may both be main characters but there is not one heroic thing about them! They lie and deceive Judge Nicia into letting his wife sleep with Callimaco. They play on his weakness, which is his desperate desire to have a child. Not only do they deceive Nicia but they also deceive the Friar, a man of God. Ligurio says, “another plan I have in mind, one which would be quicker, more certain, and more likely to succeed” (Machiavelli 442). Callimaco and Ligurio’s deceitful schemes show that they are extremely selfish individuals, and only care about their own gain not the well-being of others. The one true protagonist of the play is Callimaco who does not have the traditional heroic qualities of a main character, for he is deceitful and tricky. The objective of La Mandragola is not for good to triumph over evil, but instead for evil to triumph over good. You can’t help but hope that Callimaco and Ligurio’s tricky schemes work, and that Madonna Lucrezia in the end falls for Callimaco. Though they are the anti-hero’s, because the point of La Mandragola is for the liars and schemers to win out over those who are honest and trusting, you end up rooting for them. While at the same time you feel pain for Judge Nicia who has been terribly deceived.

Posted by: Mallorie Shawe at September 23, 2013 12:56 PM

Jennifer Doyle
Dr. Hobbs
HON250 The Humanistic Tradition CA02
23 September 2013

Question: What, exactly, is a “mandrake root”? Research what it is and what its properties are. In light of this information, and in clues from the text, discuss why this information is important to the narrative of the play.

Translated by Nerida Newbigin
Answer: A mandrake root is a root used in the old days as an anesthetic for operations. It is classified as an anthropomorphism, which is a non-human thing which projects human qualities. The plant is used in the play by Callimaco to deceive Nicia into thinking it will impregnate his wife. But, the next man to sleep with his wife, Lucrezia, will die the next day. Thus, Callimaco ends up sleeping with Lucrezia and confessing his love to her, which she returns. The mandrake root is important because it allows Callimaco to speak to Lucrezia in privacy and confess his feelings to her. Lucrezia says to Callimaco, "And what my husband desired for one evening, I want him to have forever. You will become his best friend, and you will come to church this morning. From there you will come here to dine with us; and you’ll come and go at will; and we will be able to come together at any time of the day, and without arousing suspicion" (Machiavelli, 32).

Posted by: Jennifer Doyle at September 23, 2013 02:14 PM

Burke F Tomaselli
HON250 The Humanistic Tradtoin CA02
Dr. Hobbs

A Mandrake root is a plant which is normally found growing underground, much like a carrot. Because of their shape, often resembling human bodies or having person-looking appendages, they are often associated with witchcraft and rituals. The chemical properties of a mandrake root differ from many other types of plants, classifying it as a “nightshade,” often giving off hallucinogenic effects. I’m not entirely sure how this has to do with the text exactly. In Machiavelli’s “La Mandragola,” Callimaco claims that the mandrake root will increase Lucrezia’s fertility because of her husband’s desire to produce a son. Callimaco offers the Mandrake as a ploy, knowing that the first man to sleep with her will die. Perhaps the tie to witchcraft had given Machiavelli the thought that Mandrake roots have a sort of ambiguous and unknown property.

Posted by: Burke Tomaselli at September 23, 2013 03:13 PM

Shayvonne “Shay” Renaud
Dr. Hobbs
Hon 250 CA02 Humanistic Tradition
18 September 2013

Question: in Theodore Sumberg’s article, there is a comparison of the use of numbers in Dante’s Inferno and the use of numbers (numerology) in Machiavelli’s La Madrogola. Discuss that difference, what other unique things does Machiavelli do with numbers in this play?

Answer: Both Dante’s Inferno and Machiavelli’s La Madrogola have been considered by critics as Opposers or doubters of typical Christian practices/dogmas; however, in Theodore Sumberg’s article, Machiavelli uses numerology to quarrel the ancient teachings, while Dante’s has a softer approach. “; the play swims in numbers. They certainly point to something beyond a silly little comedy. Most numbers are even… It is known that the ancients held odd numbers sacred and reserved them for divine things…” (Sumberg 22) Sumberg notes that Machiavelli is known as a political outsider during his era, and that this “light-weight” comedy may have a hidden agenda. Sumberg goes so far as to suggest that Machiavelli’s numerology is his way of branching out his own path in political science, “ Does Machiavelli choose even numbers in revolt from the
wisdom of the ancient gods? Do even numbers, stand for the new path of political science that he is opening up?” (Sumberg 22) The unique use of numbers in Machiavelli’s play is the “work of political science” in his comedy.

Posted by: Shayvonne "Shay" Renaud at September 23, 2013 03:16 PM

Shayvonne “Shay” Renaud
Dr. Hobbs
Hon 250 CA02 Humanistic Tradition
18 September 2013

Question: in Theodore Sumberg’s article, there is a comparison of the use of numbers in Dante’s Inferno and the use of numbers (numerology) in Machiavelli’s La Madrogola. Discuss that difference, what other unique things does Machiavelli do with numbers in this play?

Answer: Both Dante’s Inferno and Machiavelli’s La Madrogola have been considered by critics as Opposers or doubters of typical Christian practices/dogmas; however, in Theodore Sumberg’s article, Machiavelli uses numerology to quarrel the ancient teachings, while Dante’s has a softer approach. “; the play swims in numbers. They certainly point to something beyond a silly little comedy. Most numbers are even… It is known that the ancients held odd numbers sacred and reserved them for divine things…” (Sumberg 22) Sumberg notes that Machiavelli is known as a political outsider during his era, and that this “light-weight” comedy may have a hidden agenda. Sumberg goes so far as to suggest that Machiavelli’s numerology is his way of branching out his own path in political science, “ Does Machiavelli choose even numbers in revolt from the
wisdom of the ancient gods? Do even numbers, stand for the new path of political science that he is opening up?” (Sumberg 22) The unique use of numbers in Machiavelli’s play is the “work of political science” in his comedy.

Posted by: Shayvonne "Shay" Renaud at September 23, 2013 03:16 PM

Jacob Gates
Dr. Hobbs
HON 250 CA02 The Humanistic Tradition
23 September 2013

Question: “Even though many scholars consider the first real examples of ‘Commedia dell’Arte’ are ones dated AFTER the first productions of Machiavelli’s La Mandragola, Some scholars, and production companies, apparently, disagree. Research what the “Commedia dell’Arte” is and discuss how this play may (or, May not) be considered an example of this theatrical style. Later In this course, we will study Moliere’s Tartuffe, Which also pays homage to Commedia dell’Arte.”

Answer: The question of whether or not La Mandragola is an early example of “Commedia dell’Arte” is an interesting question. Several websites such as “emachiavelli.com” and “commedia-del-arte.com” take it as an established fact that La Mandragola is one of the earliest examples of this specific form of Drama. One of the most specific features in the Commedia dell’Arte is the use of various archetypes to portray stories that were traditionally seen as comedic in nature. This can certainly be seen in Machiavelli’s La Mandragola, where the archetypes of the beautiful princess, the foolish old man, the clever prince and the mischievous plot to (of course) bed the beautiful princess would have all been familiar themes to Italians at the time, as well as veterans of Commedia del’Arte. The nature of this form of Drama has very strong ties to the ancient Greek tradition of theater. In Classical Greek Theater, masks were exceptionally common, as were the ludicrous archetypes, particularly in comedies of the period. However, despite the very strong semblance to Commedia del’Arte, no Greek comedies are seen as being part of this newer form. So this begs the question: If La Mandragola has some of the various aspects found in Comedia del’Arte, does this still mean it falls into that category? The play was not originally performed in the style, so does the way a play is performed determine what category of Drama it falls under? Or does the playwright determine the genre? So the question of if the play falls under the style of Commedia del’Arte is determined by how one defines something’s genre; whether the Author determines it, or the way it’s performed, or the way it’s interpreted when it was first released, or the way it’s interpreted later, or simply the way the reader or viewer sees it. The question is difficult to answer definitively because one’s definition of a play’s genre can be determined a number of ways. Just because La Mandragola was performed in the style of Commedia del’Arte does not mean it should be defined as being an example of the style.

Posted by: Jacob Gates at September 23, 2013 03:24 PM

Joe Radigan
Dr. Hobbs
Honors 250 Humanistic Tradition CA02
24 September 2013

Question: Desire plays a major role in The Mandrake. Do you believe that Callimaco's plan to sleep with Lucrezia would have worked if Nicia was not so desperate to have a child. Also, would any plan Callimaco made work? Explain.

Posted by: Joe Radigan at September 24, 2013 03:56 PM

Joe Radigan
Dr. Hobbs
Honors 250 Humanistic Tradition CA02
24 September 2013

Question: Callimaco had to set up a plan to sleep with the lovely Lucrezia and convince many people to follow his plan. He also needed to overcome certain obstacles. Knowing this do you believe that Machiavelli's, "The Mandrake Root", could have truly followed the unity of time?

Posted by: Joe Radigan at September 24, 2013 04:03 PM

Dafne Jacobs
Dr. Hobbs
HON 250 CA02 The Humanistic Tradition
24 September 2013

Question 1: How does Lucrezia appear to have power by the end of the play? Does Machiavelli do this on purpose? What does this say about Machiavelli's views on gender-roles and power?

Question 2: How does Ligurio's advice to Callimaco speak to the politics of the time and what is Machiavelli trying to portray through Ligurio's steady decrease of direct activity in the play?

Posted by: Dafne Jacobs at September 24, 2013 10:24 PM

Shayvonne “Shay” Renaud
Dr. Hobbs
Hon 250 CA02 Humanistic Tradition
25 September 2013

Question: In Machiavelli’s La Mandragola, Lucrezia is portrayed throughout as a woman of “high virtue,” by almost every other character. Yet Lucrezia agrees to be Callimaco’s permanent lover in the end. How does/ doesn’t Lucrezia’s lack of remorse/indignation impact her reputation as virtuous to the reader? Using examples from the text substantiate your stance.

Question: Nicia takes the role as the “fool” in Machiavelli’s La Mandragola, similar to his wife this opinion is widespread. Is this description accurate? Why or why not? Use the text to strengthen your claim.

Posted by: Shayvonne "Shay" Renaud at September 25, 2013 01:08 PM

Glen Pringle
HON250
Dr. Hobbs
9/25/13
Discussion Question

Question:Is La Mandragola a traditional “happy ending”? Do the results of Callimaco’s actions justify his lies? Machiavelli writes in Chapter 18 of The Prince “si gargde al fine”, which is translated to “The end justifies the means”. How is the concept of humanism illustrated in this quote?

Answer:La Mandragola is not a traditional happy ending, but it is still nonetheless a happy ending. Callimaco is with his desire, Nicia will receive an heir, Ligurio is given a place to live, Lucrezia has found new love, and Timoteo is a recipient of money. A rather overarching theme of Machiavelli states that fraud is acceptable when it attains positive ends. As the friar remarks, "…in all things one must look to the result." ( Machiavelli, 460) Machiavelli chooses these words carefully to make a political statement about what was going in in Florence at the time. It shows that one must look towards the greater good instead of the minorities.

Posted by: Glen Pringle at September 25, 2013 03:41 PM

Mallorie Shawe
Dr. Hobbs
HON 250 The Humanistic Tradition CA02
22 September 2013

Analytical Discussion Questions

1.Though Callimaco is in love with Madonna Lucrezia’s beauty, and wants nothing but to be with her, do his actions show that he truly cares for her well-being? Through all his trickery and lies does Callimaco love Lucrezia for all the right reasons, or all the wrong? Does the author make you “root for” Callimaco to win Lucrezia’s hand, or does he make you feel for Judge Nicia?

2.What is Ligurio’s plan convince the Friar to support them in their plan to help Lucrezia conceive? Does their plan workout in their favor, if so why? Do you find the outcome to be realistic, explain?

Posted by: Mallorie Shawe at September 25, 2013 03:43 PM

Jennifer Doyle
Dr. Hobbs
HON250 The Humanistic Tradition CA02
9 September 2013

Question: Why is the judge so easily persuaded by Callimaco’s lies of being a doctor? Do you think Ligurio had an important role in coaxing Nicia? Explain the pair’s tactics.

Question: Why does Callimaco go through such drastic measures, even risking his life, for a woman who hes never met? At one point he states that if his plan doesn't work, he’d find a way to kill himself. Why does he obsess so greatly over Lucrezia, and even feel that he loves her? Is this a paradigm of the work from Machiavelli’s time period?

Posted by: Jennifer Doyle at September 25, 2013 03:43 PM

Jennifer Doyle
Dr. Hobbs
HON250 The Humanistic Tradition CA02
25 September 2013

Question: Why is the judge so easily persuaded by Callimaco’s lies of being a doctor? Do you think Ligurio had an important role in coaxing Nicia? Explain the pair’s tactics.

Question: Why does Callimaco go through such drastic measures, even risking his life, for a woman who hes never met? At one point he states that if his plan doesn't work, he’d find a way to kill himself. Why does he obsess so greatly over Lucrezia, and even feel that he loves her? Is this a paradigm of the work from Machiavelli’s time period?

Posted by: Jennifer Doyle at September 25, 2013 03:43 PM

Jacob Gates
Dr. Hobbs
HON 250 CA02 The Humanistic Tradition
25 September 2013

Question 1: Should the Prince in La Mandragola be considered an anti-hero? Should anyone else in the story be considered an anti-hero? Explain.

Question 2: Why is La Mandragola considered an example of Comeddia del’Arte by some scholars? Should it be?

Posted by: Jacob Gates at September 25, 2013 03:48 PM

Mallorie Shawe
Dr. Hobbs
HON 250 The Humanistic Tradition CA02
22 September 2013

Question: From your reading of La Mandragola, can it be perceived as a romantic play, instead of a sinful action? Explain your reasoning, with references to the text.

Answer: Though the events of La Mandragola can be seen as scandalous and sinful it can also be perceived as a romantic play. Callimaco is so in love with Madonna Lucrezia that he is willing to do anything to be with her. He feels so strongly for Lucrezia saying, “I want her so badly that I am nearly out of my mind” (Machiavelli 437). He also says, “It’s better to die than to live like this” (Machiavelli 441) referring to how he feels about living without Lucrezia. He is just a man in love, so in love that he is literally out of his mind. He may scheme and plot bribing Ligurio for his assistance, but it is for love. He cheats and lies with hope that in the end he will be with the woman he loves, or at least that she will love him back. Though the way he goes about it is sick and twisted this play can be perceived as a typical paradigm of the time. A man so in love he is willing to do anything, and everything, to be with the woman that he desires.

Posted by: Mallorie Shawe at September 25, 2013 10:10 PM

Glen W Pringle
HON250
9/25/13
Dr. Hobbs
Question: What is Callimaco’s reasoning to sleep with Lucrezia? How does he learn about her beauty in the first place?

Question: Machiavelli’s name has been attached to his school of thought. What is Machiavellianism? How is it applicable to La Mandragola? Are there any characters that can be described as “Machiavellian”?

Posted by: Glen Pringle at September 26, 2013 03:23 PM


Shayvonne “Shay” Renaud
Dr. Hobbs
Hon 250 CA02 Humanistic Tradition
29 September 2013


Question: From your understanding of Machiavelli’s La Mandragola, discuss how the impact of Lucrezia’s mother Sostrata helping deceive her (scenes 10 and 11) had an impact on the perception of Lucrezia’s character as a whole. Was she a victim or did she become part of the deception? How does the lack of a father figure and her mother’s lifestyle choices play into the development of her character? How does this contrast from the traditional family structure that would be prevalent at the time?
Answer: From my understanding of Machiavelli’s La Mandragola, Lucrezia is considered to be not only a beautiful woman, but a woman of worth. Characters across the board praise her (and manipulate her) for her virtuous nature. Most notably is the relative of Lucrezia’s husband Cammillo Calfucci. “…[H]e heaped such praise her on her beauty and her manners that he amazed every last one of us, and in me he aroused such desire to her that I abandoned all previous intentions…” (Machiavelli 6). In this scene Cammillo “heaped such praise” of Lucrezia that Callimaco felt compelled to drop everything to see her for himself. Therefore Lucrezia’s mothers’ deception heightened Lucrezias’ portrayal as a woman of worth. Lucrezia was a victim who was played the fool by the authority figures in her life: A Friar, and her Mother. La Mandragola takes place during the Florentine Renaissance when men made the decisions and were somewhat superior. During this time, a woman without a man was nothing. “…Can’t you see that a woman without children has no home? When her husband dies, she is left like an animal, abandoned by everybody” (Machiavelli 22). In this scene, Sostrata attempts to convince Lucrezia to commit to this unspeakable act by using her own lifestyle as a cautionary tale, for she has no husband in a society where family structure is everything. As a result of Sostrata’s lifestyle and Lucrezia’s lack of a father figure, Lucrezia’s was shaped into a very religious and moral person. Where society would look onto you as an outcast or social leper, the church (ideally) would not. In my opinion, Lucrezia turned to the church because of her “broken” home. As a result of her faith in both of her authority figures, the crooked Friar and her Mother were able to coerce her into their deception.


Shayvonne "Shay" Renaud, Mallorie Shawe, Glenn Pringle

Posted by: Shayvonne "Shay" Renaud at September 29, 2013 11:06 AM

Joe Radigan
Dr. Hobbs
Honors 250 Humanistic Tradition CA02
29 September 2013

Question: Why does Machiavelli have all of the characters within "La Mandragola" commit fraud? What does this say about Machiavelli's personal view on the nature of human beings?

Answer: Machiavelli is trying to show that all humans are naturally wrong and deceitful. If given the chance, they will harm others if it will benefit themselves. Also, by having everyone commit fraud, it should that all humans, regardless of class or rank, are naturally bad.

Posted by: Joe Radigan at September 30, 2013 01:23 AM

Jennifer Doyle
HON250 The Humanistic Tradition CA02
Dr. Hobbs
30 September 2013

Question: In Machiavelli's La Mandragola, the character of Fra Timoteo is corrupt; an imperfect image of what a priest should be like. However, was Machiavelli's characterization of Timoteo that much of an exaggeration? Was his depiction contrasting to how many of the clergy behaved in the 1500s? Were any priests during that time as corrupt as Timoteo? Was Machiavelli simply using theatre to point out the flaws in the Church and therefore society as well? How would La Mandragola affect the social view on plays and on accepted traditions?

Answer: No, Machiavelli's image of the priest was not an exaggeration because that's how many of the clergy was during that time period. It was easy to become a priest and almost anyone could become one. Priests could be easily bribed and usually were. Machiavelli felt that priests should be strong politically and morally. I think he was trying to point out the flaws of the church in his work. La Mandragola can be used to portray the weakness of the church during Machiavelli's time period compared to it's moral strength today.

Posted by: Jennifer Doyle at September 30, 2013 11:44 AM

Jennifer Doyle
HON250 The Humanistic Tradition CA02
Dr. Hobbs
30 September 2013

Question: In Machiavelli's La Mandragola, the character of Fra Timoteo is corrupt; an imperfect image of what a priest should be like. However, was Machiavelli's characterization of Timoteo that much of an exaggeration? Was his depiction contrasting to how many of the clergy behaved in the 1500s? Were any priests during that time as corrupt as Timoteo? Was Machiavelli simply using theatre to point out the flaws in the Church and therefore society as well? How would La Mandragola affect the social view on plays and on accepted traditions?

Answer: No, Machiavelli's image of the priest was not an exaggeration because that's how many of the clergy was during that time period. It was easy to become a priest and almost anyone could become one. Priests could be easily bribed and usually were. Machiavelli felt that priests should be strong politically and morally. I think he was trying to point out the flaws of the church in his work. La Mandragola can be used to portray the weakness of the church during Machiavelli's time period compared to it's moral strength today.
Callimaco assured Fra Timoteo, in the play, "you should dispose of me and my fortune as if it was your own" (Machiavelli 27).

Posted by: Jennifer Doyle at September 30, 2013 11:47 AM

Dafne Jacobs
Dr. Hobbs
HON 250 The Humanistic Tradition
30 September 2013
Question: What type of character is Nicia? Does he fit the role of hero or anti-hero? Can
any of his actions be justified?

Nicia is not very brave or courageous and does not possess qualities of a hero nor a villain. He is deceived by Callimaco and Fra Timoteo and used as part of the ploy to get Callimaco to sleep with Lucrezia. Although he is in on the plan, he isn't aware of Callimaco's true intentions. However, he chooses to trick his wife in order to get an heir. He is willing to sacrifice anything in order to get what he wants and is portrayed as a fool from the beginning of the play. He does not stand up for what is right, but he does not fully know the extent of the plan he is a part of, so he is simply confused and indifferent towards everything as long as he gets what he wants. Selfishness is the one quality that he strongly possesses which does not make him a villain nor a hero. Thus, he does, indeed, fit the role of an anti-hero.

Posted by: Dafne Jacobs at September 30, 2013 01:50 PM

Burke Tomaselli
HON250 Humanistic Tradition CA02
Dr. Hobbs

Question 1: How important is the name of the play to its plot? Is it symbolic?

Question 2: Why would Machiavelli choose a Mandrake root of all plants? Why was it important/known during the time period?

Posted by: Burke Tomaselli at September 30, 2013 01:59 PM

Burke Tomaselli
HON250 Humanistic Tradition CA02
Dr. Hobbs

I believe Machiavelli chose the Mandrake root because of its ambiguity during the time period, and its human-esque appearance. The Mandrake root has always had a mystical reputation and its properties were not entire sure at the time. due to its chemical composition, it produced hallucinations when boiled or cooked, so for the most part, was deemed a tool for witchcraft. The man-like appearance is ironic because Callimaco proclaims that the Mandrake root will help Nicia to become more fertile, but it will really poison and kill the next man to sleep with her. Italians were notorious for their mastery in poisons, so it's not coincidence that Callimaco chose a (fictional) poison that would not be suspected.

Posted by: Burke Tomaselli at September 30, 2013 02:10 PM

Allison Sheftall
Dr Hobbs
HON 250 Humanistic Tradition CA02
30 September 2013

Question: For this question you will need to refer back to Dante's Inferno. Timoteo, a man of the church, aids Callimaco in committing fraud and adultery for the sake of money. Theorize which circle of Hell Dante would place Timoteo's soul in. Remember to take into account Dante's criteria for the condemnation of sinners' souls.

Answer: We believe that Timoteo would be placed in the 4th circle of Hell for his greedyness but also in the 8th circle because he assisted in the act of adultry. Inside the 8th circle of Dante's Hell are other sub-circles that Timoteo would fit into. He qualifies to be apart of the 10th circle, the fraudulent counselor layer, and circle 5 which is for hypocrites. We believe that Timoteo belongs in those sub circles because he used his title in the church to trick Lucrezia into commiting adultery. He is considered a hypocrite because he telling people to sin and taking money to do so. He is a man of the church and should be leading others into the direction of least sin.

Posted by: Allison Sheftall at September 30, 2013 02:37 PM

-----------------


HON 250 Students of Fall 2013: Please post your answers to part II of test II below. Do not forget that the assignment is ALSO due on turnitin.com by the next meeting.


~ Dr. Hobbs


-----------------

Allison Sheftall
Dr. Hobbs
HON 250 Humanistic Tradition CA02
1 September 2013


In La Mandragola, Machiavelli incorporates religion multiple times. Religion is portrayed as a corrupt entity throughout the play. There are three notable places in the plot of La Mandragola where Machiavelli demonstrates the role of religion; these include Act 3 scene 3 where Frair Timeto speaks to a woman during a mini confessional, Act 3 scene 9, where Friar Timoteo expresses that he was aware that Ligurio had fooled him but has made plans to make a profit by going along with the idea, and lastly act 3 scene 11 where Friar Timoteo convinces Lucrezia to commit adultery.

In Act 3 scene 3, Friar Timeto is speaking to a woman in the church. They engage in casual conversation so she can get a few things off her chest without having to go to confessional. She asks “Do you think the Turks will invade Italy this year?” and he replies “They will if you do not say your prayers” (Act 3, scene 3, page 453). Machiavelli is demonstrating the amount of power the people of the period believed that the Church had. Machiavelli is mocking the church; one woman praying would not influence the thoughts of the Turks. If Italy was going to be invaded,it would not matter if the woman prayed or not. The woman is being given false hope that the Turks will not invade.

Another notable place that Machiavelli demonstrated the role of religion on La Mangragola is in scene nine of the third act. This scene is Friar Timoteo talking to him; he states that he knew he was being deceived by Nicia and Callimaco. He decided “Messer Nicia and Callimaco are rich, and I should be able to get quite a bit out of both of them for different reasons” (act 3, scene 9, page 458). Machiavelli is showing how corrupt the church is. Timoteo, a man of the church, is not only involving himself in fraud but also taking a bribe to be a member of the devious plan.

Lastly, in act 3 scene 11, religion is being abused the most. In this scene, Lucrezia is tricked into believing that committing adultery is not a sin because it would create a greater good. She is told by Timoteo, “I swear to you, Madonna Lucrezia, by this holy cloth I wear, that humoring your husband in this matter will cause you no more spiritual grief than would eating meat on Wednesday and that is a sin that can be removed with holy water” (act 3, scene 11, page 460). Timoteo is abusing his power as a churchman, to deceive Lucrezia into committing a sin. Timoteo knows how important his opinion on the topic is to Lucrezia he will do anything possible to convince her that committing adultery is the best possible option so he will be able to gain from both Nicia and Callimaco. He is advising Lucrezia purely for selfish, corrupt reasons.

Machiavelli portrayed religion and the church as corrupt throughout the entirety of La Mangragola by first showing how much faith the citizens had in the powers of religion then he had Timoteo confess his corrupt plans to benefit from both Nicia and Callimaco while deceiving Lucrezia, lastly Machiavelli shows the church deceiving Lucrezia. During the period that La Mandragola was written society was straying away from the church and going more towards humanism. Timoteo exemplifies the shift from a focus on the church to a focus on humanism. All of his actions are to benefit him instead of based on the ideals of the church.

Posted by: Allison Sheftall at October 1, 2013 09:10 PM

Dafne Jacobs
Dr. Hobbs
HON 250 - CA02 The Humanistic Tradition
02 October 2013
The Role of Religion in Machiavelli's La Mandragola
Niccolo Machiavelli's La Mandragola is a play about deceit, manipulation and the evil nature of human beings. Written in the early 1500s, the play displays many humanistic ideas and strays from the medieval paradigm of the world. The story in which Friar Timoteo helps Callimaco trick King Nicia and his wife Lucrezia into getting her to take a drug and sleep with Callimaco challenges the traditional ideas of morals and religion. Through the use of a Friar as a pawn in Callimaco's plan, the mandrake as the weapon of choice, and the alleged purpose of the mandrake itself, to make Lucrezia more fertile, Machiavelli demonstrates his defiance of the conventional role of religion and the switch from a “religio-centric” world to a more “human-centric” one.
Using Friar Timoteo as a key player in the ploy to make Lucrezia sleep with Callimaco is a clear contradiction to the medieval view of the Roman Catholic Church. In a monologue, Friar Timoteo reveals his full knowledge of the fraudulent nature of Callimaco's plan and also reveals his reasons for following through with it. He says that the “deception is to [his] advantage” and that although Lucrezia is “wise and good,” he will “get at her through her goodness” and use her mother to help convince her to follow his instructions (III.IX). The friar recognizes the power he has as a representative of the Church and uses it to sway Lucrezia into consenting to her own rape. While in medieval times no one would question the morality and purity of a representative of the Church, Machiavelli depicts a wicked, deceitful, selfish frair, perhaps bringing to the people a public domain in which to openly discuss a problem that had previously been taboo. Friar Timoteo uses Lucrezia's good qualities as well as family to convince her of this, showing the extent of the deceit and the lack of importance that he holds for these sacred values.
Not only does the use of a friar display Machiavelli's humanistic view of the church, but the use of the root of the mandrake to drug Lucrezia also shows this. The mandrake root is a plant that was widely used in witchcraft, causes hallucinations, and at the time had mysterious properties. While during medieval times any artifacts and tools related to witchcraft were never to be used by anyone who did not want to be prosecuted by the church, the friar, Nicia, as well as the other players in the deal have no problem using it. They are no longer afraid of what was banned by the church or what seemed unknown, but rather they seem supportive of the idea. This plant, being the focal point and title of the play, symbolizes the evil in humans, the decreasing fear of dogmatic principles, and the lack of morality in people.
Furthermore, the alleged purpose of the plant, as well as its true purpose, aim to change nature and the order of things as ordained by the Church, showing again Machiavelli's disapproval of typical views of the church. Callimaco tells Nicia that “there's no way more certain to get a woman pregnant than making her drink a potion made from mandragola” (II.VI). The real purpose of the plant, however is to get Lucrezia to sleep with Callimaco, which would be adultery. Both of these purposes are unnatural and sinful according to the Roman Catholic Church. Anything that would alter the natural way of things was seen as going against the will of God, so using a potion to make Lucrezia more fertile in order for Nicia to get an heir would also be seen as trying to change the will of God. In the same way, using a potion to make Lucrezia commit adultery, even when Nicia is aware of it, would not follow the beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church, since adultery is a very serious sin. Thus, through both stated purposes of the mandrake in the play, Machiavelli objects to the “religio-centric” way of the medieval times.
In conclusion, Machiavelli uses the mandrake, the purposes of the mandrake, and the friar to challenge the position of the church and suggest that the Roman Catholic Church is not perfect and should not be the center of daily life and decision making. He alludes to the imperfections of the church since the friar is portrayed as a corrupt character who disregards the very core of the Christian beliefs in order to fulfill his own wishes. Furthermore, the use of the plant to deceive Lucrezia would have been controversial at the time because of its ties to witchcraft as well as its malevolent and unnatural purposes. Machiavelli uses the play to bring these issues to light in a society in which it was still taboo to do so.

Work Cited
Machiavelli, Niccolo. Mandragola. Trans. Nerida Newbigin., 2009.

Posted by: Dafne Jacobs at October 2, 2013 01:12 PM

Jennifer Doyle
Dr. Hobbs
HON250 The Humanistic Tradition CA02
2 September 2013

The Role of Religion in La Mandragola

Machiavelli wrote his La Mandragola in the midst of the Italian Renaissance, which contributed heavily to one of the work’s underlying messages: the Church is flawed. At this time, there were many wars of greed between Popes and city-state, which would be disastrous. There are many locations within the play where Machiavelli mentions the role of religion, but the three most prominent are Act 3, Scene 3 and 4, in which Friar Timoteo advices a woman and then speaks ill of her shortly after, Act 3, Scene 9, in which the friar speaks to himself concerning Callimaco’s plan of deceit, and finally, Act 5, Scene 5 and 6, in which Friar Timoteo, Nicia, Lucrezia, Callimaco, Ligurio, and Sostrato go to church together. Machiavelli wishes to portray an important message to his audience, about religion and society at the time.
In Act 3, Scene 3 and 4, Friar Timoteo is seen counseling a church-going woman on her deceased husband as well as the possibility of the Turks invading Italy. When she asks, “Do you think the Turk will invade Italy”, Friar Timoteo replies, “If you don’t say your prayers, yes” (Machiavelli, 17). In the next scene, Ligurio and Nicia approach the friar, and before they can even address him, he begins insulting the previously mentioned woman, saying that woman are the most annoying people in the world but that their charity is advantageous. In this, it can be concurred that Friar Timoteo places money above his sacred duties and morals. Machiavelli strategically places this conversation so that it’s the audience’s introduction to the character and their first impression to the church as a whole. The author uses Friar Timoteo as a representation of the church in Florence during the time period when the work was written.
Once the men have left the friar and the church, the friar speaks to himself alone about the plan that the 3 of them have just formulated. Friar Timoteo confesses that he knows he has been deceived, but will deceive them in that he will gain significantly from the men’s riches, just as they are gaining from him. He then says, “Whatever happens, I’m not sorry. And in the end, women don’t have much of a brain” (Machiavelli 20). Once again, Friar Timoteo prioritizes wealth over the morally right thing to do. He repeatedly insults women and displays the lack of respect that women held during that time period.
The ultimate betrayal is displayed in the last few scenes, with the majority of the characters going to church together the morning after Lucrezia and Callimaco make love. They have all deceived someone else in some way and now they’re united in a holy place, with the scent of sin fresh on their skin. It is an ironic scene because when they’re entering the church, Nicia instructs Callimaco to take Lucrezia’s hand, such as in marriage. Lucrezia then says, “I am indebted to him: he must be our dear friend”, to which Nicia replies, “God bless you” (Machiavelli 33). Machiavelli places the setting in the church to show the amount of corruption and sin that it was composed of. Even after all the sinning and when they’re in the church, there were no signs of repentance; only happiness and rebirth.
Machiavelli’s ultimate argument is against the lack of righteousness in the church, where it should be the strongest. The church’s morals were weak at this point due to the unnecessary struggles for power and wealth they were undergoing. The church was distracted by greed and Machiavelli took full advantage. He wanted to show the world the flaws of the church, and with good reason; something drastic had to be done to restore virtue. Voltaire’s Les Lettres d’Amabed (1769) stated that the piece (La Mandragola) mocks the religion which Europe preaches, of which Rome is the centre, and the throne of which is Papal see. However, was Machiavelli mocking Europe’s religion, or portraying it justly to the audience which could then form their own opinion of it?

Posted by: Jennifer Doyle at October 2, 2013 01:57 PM

Joe Radigan
Dr. Hobbs
Honors 250 Humanistic Tradition CA02
1 October 2013
La Mandragola
La Mandragola can be considered to be a very controversial work of literature for many reasons. One of the many reasons is the use of religion and how it affects the characters. There are three aspects of religion that are presented by Machiavelli in La Mandragola; these are religion being used to persuade someone, seen in Act III scene 10 and 11, the concept of adultery seen throughout Act V, and the corruption of priests seen throughout most of the play. All three of these aspects of religion play a crucial role in the success of Callimaco, who desires the lovely wife of Messer Nicia. Without even one of these, he may not have been successful.
Religion can be a powerful tool if used the right way and can easily to persuade people to do something they normally would not. This is seen in La Mandragola when Lucrezia is convinced to go against her morals and sleep with a stranger. Brother Timoteo tells Lucrezia that that she would be sinning if she did not please her husband, “As for the/ act itself, whether or not it is a sin is foolish to discuss, for/ it is the will that sins, not the body; the true sin is to displease your husband” (Machiavelli 460). Brother Timoteo is lying to Lucrezia about the only sin being displeasing her husband in order to convince her to do wrong. He also subliminally tells Lucrezia it is a sin to sleep with the man when he tells her it is “foolish to discuss” the sin itself.
Adultery plays the most important role in the play because without it, Callimaco would never be successful. Adultery can be considered one of the worst sins, and knowing this Lucrezia is very hesitant to sleep with another man. In Act V, Scene 2, Messer Nicia himself made sure his wife was committing the sin of adultery, “When I had touched and felt everything, I left the/ room and locked the door” (Machiavelli 475). Messer Nicia is okay with what his wife is doing and even forces it upon her. He makes sure that the act of adultery is already committed before he leaves his wife and Callimaco to finish their business.
The priest in La Mandragola is easily corrupted when he will benefit or gain money. Brother Timoteo being easily corrupted plays a major role in the completion of Callimaco’s plan because without him, Lucrezia may not have been convinced. When Ligurio mentions that he has money to give to Brother Timoteo, he happily accepts to take it. He also mentions to Ligurio the money he is told he will receive when he accepts to help them, “Give me the convent’s address, the potion, and/ if you want, the money” (Machiavelli 455). Brother Timoteo also uses people’s belief in the church to benefit himself, “Women are the most charitable creatures in the/ world- and also the most troublesome” (Machiavelli 453). Both of these occurrences mock the church and show how the church is about making a profit instead of truly helping people. Without this mentality of the church, it would have been nearly impossible for Lucrezia to be convinced to sleep with Callimaco.
There were many obstacles that Callimaco was able to overcome in order to sleep with the lovely Lucrezia. He did this by using many tools to his advantage, one of which being religion. Machiavelli uses religion in order to allow Callimaco to be successful by having him use these aspects of religion. Callimaco uses the corruptness of church figures, adultery and the use of religion to trick Messer Nicia into letting him sleep with his wife, Lucrezia.

Works Cited
Machiavelli, Niccolò, Peter Bondanella, and Mark Musa. The Portable Machiavelli: Newly Translated and Edited and with a Critical Introduction by Peter Bondanella and Mark Musa. New York: Viking, 1979. Print.

Posted by: Joe Radigan at October 2, 2013 02:21 PM

Burke F Tomaselli
HON250 The Humanistic Tradition CA02
Dr. Hobbs

In Machiavelli’s dark comedy “La Mandragola,” he crudely criticizes the Catholic church, which at the time was a major force around the world. His humanistic view drastically differs from the literal and more scholastic interpretation of the church’s values of the Dark ages. This satire of the lessening grip the church had on the public was among the first to address the issues of the clergy.
In “La Mandragola” our protagonist, Callimaco, falls madly in love with a married woman named Lucrezia. Lucrezia’s one goal is give birth to an heir while she and her foolish husband, Nicia, have been unable to produce a child. Callimaco sees this fault as an opportunity for him to make advances towards Lucrezia, and begins to plan to take her. This concept alone of ruining another’s marriage for your personal gain is an unholy act, literally “coveting thy neighbor’s wife.” Not only is this the primary plot of the play, it is also a major folly of the church at the time. No clergymen of the time saw an issue with Callimaco plotting to divide Lucrezia and her spouse just for his own desires.
Callimaco explains to her that he is a physician and has medical experience pertaining to the field of fertility. To validate his claim, he brings along a priest who proclaims the Callimaco is a great physician and can be trust with his medication. The idea of a priest lying to an honest woman for a crude attempt at a one-night-stand is without a doubt unholy. This symbolized the potential and inevitable corruption of the church at the time. Most priests prior to this time period acted as true men of god, having men come to them for guidance, not for acting as a wingman. The priest knew at the time of the medicine’s true catch, that although it make increase fertility in whoever ingests it, it would also kill the first man to lay with Lucrezia. Ultimately, Lucrezia believes both Callimaco (as the physician) and the clergyman, and trusts Callimaco’s medication, which happens to be a Mandrake root.
The Mandrake root is notoriously known for its mysticism and ties to witchcraft. At the time, the chemical properties of the Mandrake root were unknown, but we know now how hallucinogenic it can be when boiled or cooked. The root true utility of the root at the time was a mystery, so the idea of a tool of fertility makes perfect sense for the time. Along with the ambiguous use, the Mandrake root also has an interesting shape. It is grown often in the shape of a man, having appendages and phalluses. These appendages give a symbolic reasoning for Callimaco’s claim of their ability to make someone more fertile. Classified as a “nightshade” of a plant, the Mandrake root is associated with other dangerous types of plants. The Italians were masters of poisons and poisonous objects. It is no coincidence that Machiavelli chose a plant as his poison of choice. Despite the ambiguous uses of the Mandrake root, it is also the least suspecting of any poison at the time, considering it was a plant. This demonstrates how the use of witchcraft to the catholic church was justified as long as it was either for a just cause, or not used against the church by any means
Ultimately these follies of the church slowly grew over time, to the point where it was no longer even comical to address them. Machiavelli’s play shows that not only do all humans have a sense of fraud and wickedness within them, but that even holy men do, and it is unavoidable.

Posted by: Burke Tomaselli at October 2, 2013 03:10 PM

Glen Pringle
HON250
Dr. Hobbs
10/2/13
The Renaissance ushered in some of the most talented artists, thinkers, leaders, and musicians to ever walk the face of Earth. Among these was Niccolo Machiavelli. As a Renaissance humanist, he extensively studied Roman and Greek schools of thought in order to further his own, incorporating his ideas into plays and stories. La Mandragola is an example of one of his works. One of the ideas that Machiavelli looks at in this play is the role of religion in a humanist society. The role of religion in La Mandragola is to put forth the idea that, perhaps, religion is not all that it is cracked up to be. The people are corrupt, the system is corrupt, and it holds power over many things.
Father Timoteo is representative of the religious body in the play. He is a man motivated by greed, and more so by money. He is easily convinced to become part of Callimaco’s plan by way of a few ducats “you’ll do as many good works with these three hundred ducats as you can” (Act 3, line 64). Contrary to the spirit of Christian morals, the old Padre is willing to manipulate the theology of goodwill in order to further his own ends. Machiavelli chooses to include a character like this in order to caricaturize the priests and religious that are engaging in such activities in Florence at the time.
When Lucrezia visits Father Timoteo to speak with him about the moral dilemma of sleeping with another man, Father Timoteo states that it is alright, as long as one achieves the end result. “Besides this, you have to consider the purpose in all these things. And your purpose is to fill a seat in paradise and make your husband happy.” (Act 3, line 105) While the intentions of Father Timoteo may be well, it only serves to show that he is willing to do anything to further the plan, ensuring him money and a good name.
When Callimaco originally comes up with his plan, he must include the Timoteo because of the latter’s influence. When Father Timoteo is introduced, he is giving advice to another woman in the church. “If you wanted to confess, I’ll do what you want.” (Act 3, line 25). The priest in La Mandragola, as well as the real world, carried much influence over the general population due the vast holding of the Roman Catholic Church.
La Mandragola was written during a strange time in the history of Florence and Italy. The house of Medici had taken over the government of Florence, and Machiavelli was bitter at their meddling. The entire work is a critique of their actions and beliefs, and a jab at the reach and influence of the Holy See as a whole.


Posted by: Glen Pringle at October 2, 2013 03:23 PM

Jacob Gates
Dr. Hobbs
HON 250 CA02 The Humanistic Tradition
10 October 2013

In Machiavelli’s La Mandragola there exists a character by the name of Father Timoteo. Timoteo plays an integral part in the scheme for Callimaco in the story; he is the character who convinces Lucrezia that it would not be a sin to lay with Callimaco, because it would be for the benefit of her husband. Machiavelli’s penchant for cynicism shines through most brightly in the character of Timoteo, the priest represents the corruption and deliberate misreading that was obviously quite prevalent during Machiavelli’s lifetime. It appears that Religion is almost an afterthought in La Mandragola, but it still plays an important role in the story, it’s shown by Machiavelli that religion convinces otherwise moral individuals to compromise and commit immoral acts. Religion is seen as a tool in La Mandragola, in this case as a tool for evil, but Machiavelli obviously does not view all use of religion as evil, because in his previous work, The Prince, religion is seen as necessary to creating stability in a society.
Father Timoteo’s use of religion in La Mandragola is obviously corrupt in its purposes, and is used by him and the other characters as a means to an end. The question of if the end a character is working towards has any bearing on whether or not the act to reach that end was moral, is thoroughly answered in the play. Whether any of the characters realize it or not, they are all working to the same end, and that is for Callimaco to sleep with Lucrezia. Despite Nicea’s ignorance, he is still working to the same end as Callimaco, because he still desires a son no matter what it should cost. This idea of “the ends justify the means,” otherwise known as consequentialism, is criticized by Machiavelli in La Mandragola, mainly because one cannot always determine what ends may come from an individual’s intentions, and when a group is laboring under the pretense of a just end, there is no way to determine if any of the other members of that group have ulterior motives.
Christianity is not the only religion being examined in La Mandragola, there are also the pagan beliefs that are strangely so widely accepted by the characters in the play. It appears that not only does Machiavelli view religion as a tool, so do the characters in the story. Even the characters who know that the Mandrake solution to Nicia’s infertility is a load of hogwash are still very quick to use its beliefs against the ignorant. This reveals that none of the characters truly believe the religions that they say they believe in. Nicia is not truly a Christian because he uses the Mandrake, Timoteo is not truly a man of God because he accepts bribery, Callimaco is most certainly not faithful because he wants to betray the bond of marriage, and even the seemingly pious Lucrezia is quite ready to continue her affair with Callimaco. It seems this is used by Machiavelli to show that hypocrisy is far more damaging than religion could ever be.
The idea of using religion as a tool is seen in Machiavelli’s other works such as The Prince, where it is necessary to control a population of people with the calming nature of religion. This is what Machiavelli considers a “good” use of religion, and it seems clear La Mandragola is what he considers a “bad” use of religion. However the idea of good and bad seems to be criticized by Machiavelli with his obvious cynicism towards religious individuals, and of consequentialism. But it appears that Machiavelli’s greatest criticism is toward hypocrisy and not to religion itself. Machiavelli has distaste not with religious rhetoric, but with rhetoric that excuses morally reprehensible actions and actively encourages hypocrisy in its proponents. Timoteo is arguably the most morally corrupt character in La Mandragola not because of his own hypocrisy or his betrayal of his own religious principles, but because he facilitates the hypocrisy of other characters throughout the story. Without Timoteo’s encouragement, Lucrezia would have never been corrupted and Callimaco’s deception would not have been possible.
Much like Machiavelli’s own beliefs, La Madragola approaches Religion as a tool. Callimaco put no thought into whether or not his actions would offend religious sensibilities, but this was not his sin, it was his disregard for his own promises, and for the promises of others i.e. the marriage of Nicia and Lucrezia. Timoteo sin was not his greed or his betrayal of the cloth, it was because he facilitated the sins of the others. Machiavelli’s cynicism towards religion in La Mandragola is not because of the religion’s principles, but because of the actions of those that claim to follow that particular faith. It is not faith against which Machiavelli directs his derision but against hypocrisy itself.

Bibliography
Machiavelli. The Portable Machiavelli, La Mandragola. Trans. Peter Bondanella and Mark Musa. New York City, New York: Penguin, 1979. Print.

Posted by: Jacob Gates at October 2, 2013 03:24 PM

-----------------


*NOTE* ENG 250 Students of Fall 2013: The deadline for part II of test II has now passed. As of 10 October 2013, I did not receive an entry from Mallorie or Shayvonne. Any comments listed below are *ONLY* for the reposting of comments that I specifically asked to be revised or are ones from non-student posters. Any 'student' posts below that missed the assignment deadline will not get credit for the assignment.


~ Dr. Hobbs

Posted by: Dr. Hobbs at October 10, 2013 12:33 PM

Google
My Blog

Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Some rights reserved. 2006.