History of Western Theatre: Greeks to Elizabethans/Italian Renaissance comedies
Main figures in Italian Renaissance comedy are Ruzante (Angelo Beolco, 1502-1542) and Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527). Ruzante wrote "La Fiorina" (Fiorina, 1531) and "La Piovana" (Rainwater, 1532) and Machiavelli "Mandragola" (The mandrake, 1518).
"Fiorina". Time: 1530s. Place: Italy.
"Rainwater". Time: 1530s. Place: Italy.
"The mandrake". Time: 1510s. Place: Florence, Italy.
Callimacus has an eye on Nicia's wife. He pretends to be a doctor with a potion containing mandrake, a plant-substance able to make her fertile, provided a man copulates with her, though he dies from it. Nicia first protests but then agrees to kidnap a passing stranger for the deed. To convince the religious-minded Lucretia, Nicia's wife, to cooperate, Ligurio, Callimacus' parasite friend, proposes to use her confessor, Timoteo. To sound the priest's morals, Ligurio first invents a tale whereby the wife of Nicia's nephew is said to be pregnant in a convent and must be made to swallow with his help a potion to abort the foetus, in exchange for money. Timoteo hesitates but then agrees. He is then told the tale Nicia already heard, and agrees to participate in it. To Lucrecia's objections, Timoteo counters that this is a case of possible versus certain good. Whether the copulator dies is uncertain, whereas the goodness of a birth offered to the Lord is certain. Ligurio, Timoteo, Nicia, and Callimacus' servant grab Callimacus disguised as a musician and force him inside Nicia's house, where he is conveyed in Lucretia's bed. The next day, Nicia explains to Ligurio the success of the operation, how he first examined Callimacus' body to detect any type of disease, and, satisfied on this and other matters, is now joyfully certain to be a father. To Callimacus he is so thankful that he hands over to him a key to one of his rooms whereby he can enter as he pleases.