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Aretino's Marescalco: Marriage woes and the Duke of Mantua

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Pietro Aretino's 1533 play, Il Marescalco, is in some ways a thoroughly conventional example of Italian Renaissance theatre. Aretino's comedy recounts a practical joke played by the duke of Mantua on his stablemaster, who is led to believe that despite his own sexual orientation toward boys, he must take a wife in order to please his prince. This essay discusses a local historical subtext for the comedy's dark view of marriage and erotic self-determination, and suggests that Il Marescalco is as much about tensions between Pietro Aretino and Federico II Gonzaga as it is about marriage, courtiers, and princely power in the Italian courts of the sixteenth century.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University Of California, Santa Cruz

Publication date: September 1, 2002

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