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Strongbox


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AT: The Chest; The Coffer A: Ludovico Ariosto Pf: 1508, Ferrara (prose); 1531 (verse) Pb: 1509 (prose); 1546 (verse) Tr: 1975 G: Commedia erudita in 5 acts; Italian prose, later verse S: A square in the city of Metellino (Mitylene), Lesbos, c.2nd c. bc C: 14m, 2fTwo young men Erofilo and Caridoro are in love with Eulalia and Corisca, who are virgin slaves of the pimp Lucrano. Erofilo's father Crisobolo has been given a chest of rich cloth for safekeeping, but has left on a journey. Erofilo plots with his servant Volpino that an accomplice, disguised as a merchant, will take the chest to Lucrano to buy the freedom of Eulalia. Erofilo will then report the chest missing, accusing Lucrano of having stolen it. Since Caridoro's father is Captain of Justice, Lucrano will then curry favour with Caridoro by giving him Corisca. Things go wrong when five other servants kidnap Eulalia to save her from the ‘merchant’, and Crisobolo unexpectedly returns home. Discovering the chest missing, Crisobolo raids Lucrano's home to retrieve it. Soon learning the truth, however, Crisobolo orders Volpino to be punished. Another servant comes to the rescue by convincing Lucrano that he must flee the city and by persuading Crisobolo to pay for his flight. Finally, Erofilo is forgiven, Volpino is freed, and the four young lovers join in celebration.

AT: The Chest; The Coffer A: Ludovico Ariosto Pf: 1508, Ferrara (prose); 1531 (verse) Pb: 1509 (prose); 1546 (verse) Tr: 1975 G: Commedia erudita in 5 acts; Italian prose, later verse S: A square in the city of Metellino (Mitylene), Lesbos, c.2nd c. bc C: 14m, 2f

Best known for his epic poetry, Ariosto wrote five plays, The Strongbox being the first. Although it reveals strong elements of Plautus (e.g. The Rope) and Terence (e.g. The Girl from Andros) in its plotting, and is notionally set in the ancient world, Ariosto was the first major European playwright to write in the vernacular instead of Latin. Indeed, much of the perceptive characterization and comic fun derives more from Boccaccio's Decameron than from Roman models and reflects the people and interests of his own age. This helped to set the style for the successful and influential ‘erudite comedy’ of Renaissance Italy.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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