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A comedy by Jonson, performed 1605–6, printed 1607.

Volpone, a rich Venetian without children, feigns that he is dying, in order to draw gifts from his would‐be heirs. Mosca, his parasite and confederate, persuades each of these in turn that he is to be the heir, and thus extracts costly presents from them. One of them, Corvino, even attempts to sacrifice his wife to Volpone in hope of the inheritance. Finally Volpone, to enjoy the discomfiture of the vultures who are awaiting his death, makes over his property by will to Mosca and pretends to be dead. Mosca takes advantage of the situation to blackmail Volpone, but rather than be thus defeated Volpone chooses to reveal all to the authorities. They direct that Volpone shall be cast in irons, Mosca whipped and confined to the galleys, Corvino made to parade in ass's ears, and his wife be returned to her family with a trebled dowry. A secondary plot involves Sir Politic Would‐be, an English traveller who has absurd schemes for improving trade and curing diseases, and his Lady. The names of the principal characters, Volpone (the Fox), Mosca (the fly), Voltore (the vulture), Corbaccio (the crow), Corvino (the raven), indicate their roles and natures.

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

Ben Jonson (1572—1637) poet and playwright

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