Short summary - The Mandrake or La Mandragola - Nicholas Machiavel

Italy literature summaries - 2023

Short summary - The Mandrake or La Mandragola
Nicholas Machiavel

The action takes place in Florence. The tie is Kallimako's conversation with his servant Shiro, addressed, in fact, to the audience. The young man explains why he returned to his hometown from Paris, where he was taken away at the age of ten. In a friendly company, the French and Italians started a dispute over whose women are more beautiful. And one Florentine declared that the Madonna Lucrezia, the wife of Messer Nic Calfucci, overshadows all the ladies with her charm. Wanting to check this, Callimaco went to Florence and found that the fellow countryman did not cheat at all - Lucrezia turned out to be even more beautiful than he expected. But now Kallimako is experiencing unheard-of torments: having fallen in love to the point of madness, he is doomed to languish with unquenched passion, since it is impossible to seduce the virtuous Lucretia. There is only one hope left: the cunning Ligurio, the one who always comes to dinner and constantly begs for money, has taken up the matter.

Ligurio is eager to please Callimaco. After talking with Lucretia's husband, he is convinced of two things: firstly, Messer Nicha is unusually stupid, and secondly, he really wants to have children, whom God still does not give. Nicha has already consulted with many doctors - everyone unanimously recommends going to the waters with his wife, which Nicha's homebody doesn't like at all. Lucretia herself made a vow to defend forty early dinners, but she only survived twenty - some fat priest began to pester her, and since then her character has deteriorated greatly. Ligurio promises to introduce Nich to the most famous doctor who has recently arrived in Florence from Paris - under the patronage of Ligurio, he may agree to help.

Kallimako, as a doctor, makes an indelible impression on Messer Nitsch: he speaks excellently in Latin and, unlike other doctors, demonstrates a professional approach to business: he demands to bring the urine of a woman in order to find out if she is able to have children. To Nich's great joy, the verdict is favorable: his wife will certainly suffer if she drinks mandrake tincture. This is the surest remedy used by the French kings and dukes, but it has one drawback - the first night is deadly for a man. Ligurio offers a way out:

you need to grab some tramp in the street and put it in bed with Lucrezia - then the harmful effect of the mandrake will affect him. Nicha sighs sadly: no, the wife will never agree, because this pious fool had to be persuaded even in order to get urine. However, Ligurio is sure of success: Lucrezia Sostrata's mother and her confessor Fra Timoteo are simply obliged to help in this holy cause. Sostrata enthusiastically persuades her daughter - for the sake of the child, you can endure, and we are talking about a mere trifle. Lucrezia is horrified: to spend the night with an unfamiliar man who will have to pay for this with his life - how can you decide on this? In any case, she will not agree to this without the consent of the holy father.

Then Nicha and Ligurio go to Fra Timoteo. To begin with, Ligurio launches a trial balloon: a nun, a relative of Messer Calfucci, became pregnant by chance - is it possible to give the poor thing such a decoction that she will throw it away? Fra Timoteo willingly agrees to help a rich man - according to him, the Lord approves of everything that benefits people. Having gone away for a minute, Ligurio returns with the news that the need for the decoction has disappeared, because the girl threw it out herself - however, there is an opportunity to commit

another good deed, making Messer Nitsch and his wife happy. Fra Timoteo quickly figures out what the idea promises him, thanks to which one can expect a generous reward from both her lover and her husband - and both will be grateful to him for the coffin of life. It remains only to persuade Lucretia. And Fra Timoteo copes with his task without much difficulty. Lucretia is kind and simple-hearted: the monk assures her that the tramp may not die, but since such a danger exists, you need to take care of your husband. And this “sacrament” cannot be called adultery, for it will be performed for the good of the family and at the order of the spouse, whom one must obey. It is not the flesh that sins, but the will - in the name of procreation, the daughters of Lot once copulated with their own father, and no one condemned them for this. Lucrezia is not too willing to agree with the arguments of the confessor, and Sostrata promises her son-in-law that she herself will put her daughter to bed.

Ligurio hurries with joyful news to Callimaco, and he orders Ciro to take to Messer Nicha the notorious mandrake tincture - sweet wine with spices. But here a difficulty arises: Kallimako is obliged to grab the first ragamuffin that comes across in front of the eyes of her stupid husband - there is no way to evade, because Nicha may suspect something was amiss. The cunning parasite instantly finds a way out: Fra Timoteo will act as Callimaco, and the young man himself, putting on a false nose and twisting his mouth to the side, will walk near the house of Lucrezia. Everything happens in full accordance with the plan: when he sees a disguised monk, Nicha admires Kallimako's ability to change his appearance and voice - Ligurio advises putting a wax ball in his mouth, but first he gives dung. While Nicha is spitting, Kallimako comes out into the street in a torn cloak and with a lute in his hands - the conspirators, armed with the password “Holy Horn”, pounce on him and drag him into the house to the joyful exclamations of her husband.

The next day, Fra Timoteo, who is eager to know how the case ended, learns that everyone is happy. Nicha proudly narrates his foresight: he personally undressed and examined the ugly tramp, who turned out to be perfectly healthy and surprisingly well built. After making sure that his wife and "deputy" did not shirk their duties, he talked all night with Sostrata about the future child - of course, it would be a boy. And the ragamuffin almost had to be kicked out of bed; but, in

in general, the doomed young man is somewhat sorry. For her part, Callimaco tells Ligurio that Lucrezia understood perfectly the difference between an old husband and a young lover. He confessed everything to her, and she saw God's sign in this - such a thing could happen only by the permission of heaven, therefore, what had been started should certainly be continued. The conversation is interrupted by the appearance of Messer Nitsch: he is scattered in gratitude to the great doctor, and then both of them, together with Lucrezia and Sostrata, go to Fra Timoteo, the benefactor of the family. The husband "acquaints" his half with Kallimako and orders to surround this person with all kinds of attention as the best friend of the house. Submissive to the will of her husband, Lucretia declares that Kallimako will be their godfather, because without his help she would never have carried a child. And the satisfied monk invites the whole honest company to pray for the successful completion of a good deed.