by Machiavelli

Niccolò Machiavelli - Mandragola

BBC Third Programme

Broadcast: Friday 27th October 1967 @ 8:20 p.m.

"The Mandrake" (Italian: La Mandragola; written in 1518 and first printed in 1524) is a satirical play by Niccolò Machiavelli. Its tale of the corruption of Italian society was written while Machiavelli was in exile, allegedly having plotted against the Medici. Written between 1504 and 1518 and first performed in 1518, the play dramatises the principles from "The Prince"; Callimaco is La Mandragola's prince, his actions are in the pursuit of happiness at the expense of others. Historically scholars connect him to Bernardo Rucellai, a Florentine aristocrat and opponent of Soderini. Lucrezia is the state, Nicia is the "hereditary prince", Father Timeteo is the 'ecclesiastical prince', and Ligurio is the prince's philosopher advisor, or Machiavelli himself.

The plot centres around a wealthy old merchant Nicia and his beautiful young wife Lucrezia. Callimaco, a young man, hears of the beautiful wife and wishes to become her lover. He learns of the couple's unfruitful attempts to produce a child and, masquerading as a doctor, convinces Nicia to drug Lucrezia with a potion from the mandrake plant, claiming it will increase her fertility. He adds the dire warning that the Mandrake will undoubtedly kill the first man to have intercourse with her so Nicia must not do this, lest he die. Callimaco helpfully suggests to Nicia that an unwitting-fool be found for this purpose, to which Nicia consents.

Lucrezia is eventually convinced to comply with her husband's wishes and finally allows the unwitting-fool (a disguised Callimaco) into her bed. This will be Callimaco's only chance to have Lucrezia accept him as her lover on a more permanent basis. ... Can he do it?

Niccolò Machiavelli's 1518 stage play, "La Mandragola", was adapted for radio from the 1957 English translation by J. R. (John Rigby) Hale, Professor of History, Warwick University.

Elizabeth Poston has set the songs which are sung by the Welsh tenor, Robert Tear.

With John Rye [Callimaco, a Young Florentine], Anthony Jackson [Siro, Servant to Callimaco], Douglas Wilmer [Messer. Nicia, a Lawyer], Willoughby Goddard [Fra Timoteo], David March [Ligurio, a Parasite], Hilda Schroeder [A Young Widow], Hilary Hardiman [Lucrezia, Nicia's Wife], and Betty Hardy [Sostrata, Lucrezia's Mother].

Produced by Charles Lefeaux

75 min.



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