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Banking in Shakespeare’s Florence 04/10/2011

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Taming of the Shrew IV, II: The Pedant Speaks

Alas, sir, it is worse for me than so!
For I have bills for money by exchange
From Florence, and must here deliver them.

Lucentio’s Education in Florence 06/09/2011

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Taming of the Shrew, I, I: Lucentio speaks

Tranio, since for the great desire I had
To see fair Padua, nursery of arts,
I am arriv’d for fruitful Lombardy,
The pleasant garden of great Italy,
And by my father’s love and leave am arm’d
With his good will and thy good company,
My trusty servant well approv’d in all,
Here let us breathe, and haply institute
A course of learning and ingenious studies.
Pisa, renowned for grave citizens,
Gave me my being and my father first,
A merchant of great traffic through the world,
Vincentio, come of the Bentivolii;
Vincentio’s son, brought up in Florence
It shall become to serve all hopes conceiv’d,
To deck his fortune with his virtuous deeds.
And therefore, Tranio, for the time I study,
Virtue and that part of philosophy
Will I apply that treats of happiness
By virtue specially to be achiev’d.
Tell me thy mind; for I have Pisa left
And am to Padua come as he that leaves
A shallow plash to plunge him in the deep,
And with satiety seeks to quench his thirst.

Lucentio’s Transformation 02/08/2011

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Taming of the Shrew, I, I

Basta, content thee, for I have it full.
We have not yet been seen in any house,
Nor can we be distinguish’d by our faces
For man or master. Then it follows thus:
Thou shalt be master, Tranio, in my stead,
Keep house and port and servants, as I should;
I will some other be; some Florentine
Some Neapolitan, or meaner man of Pisa.
’Tis hatch’d, and shall be so. Tranio, at once
Uncase thee; take my colour’d hat and cloak.
When Biondello comes, he waits on thee;
But I will charm him first to keep his tongue.

Iago on the Florentine Michael Cassio 05/07/2011

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Othello I, I: Iago speaks

Despise me, if I do not. Three great ones of the city,
In personal suit to make me his lieutenant,
Off-capp’d to him: and, by the faith of man,
I know my price, I am worth no worse a place:
But he; as loving his own pride and purposes,
Evades them, with a bombast circumstance
Horribly stuff’d with epithets of war;
And, in conclusion,
Nonsuits my mediators; for, ‘Certes’, says he,
’I have already chose my officer.’
And what was he?
Forsooth, a great arithmetician,
One Michael Cassio, a Florentine,
A fellow almost damn’d in a fair wife;
That never set a squadron in the field,
Nor the division of a battle knows
More than a spinster; unless the bookish theoric,
Wherein the toged consuls can propose
As masterly as he: mere prattle, without practise,
Is all his soldiership. But he, sir, had the election:
And I, of whom his eyes had seen the proof
At Rhodes, at Cyprus and on other grounds
Christian and heathen, must be be-lee’d and calm’d
By debitor and creditor: this counter-caster,
He, in good time, must his lieutenant be,
And I – God bless the mark! – his worship’s ancient.

In III, I Cassio comments:

I humbly thank you for’t.
[Exit IAGO]
I never knew
A Florentine more kind and honest.

Luigi Pulci, Michaelangelo’s Favourite Singer 21/03/2011

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The following memory of Florence appears in Cellini’s Memoirs relating to the years c 1520, though the concerts had taken place some years before.

Here I must tell that a young man called Luigi Pulci came to Rome about this time. He was the son of the Pulci who was beheaded for incest with his daughter. Now this young man had a marvellous poetic talent, with a knowledge of good Latin letters, and he wrote well. In person he was extraordinarily handsome and graceful; he had left the service of I do not know which bishop, and was stricken with the French evil. When he was a boy in Florence, it was the custom on summer nights to assemble in certain places out of doors; and on such occasions he would sing with the best of the improvisatori. His voice was so beautiful that the divine Michel Angelo Buonarroti, prince of sculptors and painters, would go and hear him with the greatest eagerness and pleasure whenever he knew where he could be found. And a certain man called Piloto, a very clever goldsmith, and myself used to go along with him. It was so I had got acquainted with Luigi Pulci (32).