Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Michael Cassio: A Cinthian Character of Falsely Tragic Proportions

I'm sure you're all rearing and ready to start reading my latest 4,000-word paper. But really, if you're interested, feel free to drop a comment. I'm not turning it in for a week, so I'll probably have plenty of time to improve on it. In fact, the paper's interesting if you have the time to read it, because I'm arguing that Othello isn't the perfect tragedy it's often said to be. I'm looking at poor Michael Cassio, who ends up getting the short shrift in commentary, but really does the best of just about anyone in the play -- at that's the crux of the issue: nobody's supposed to do well in a tragedy, let alone someone that I argue is a minor tragic hero who doesn't meet his fate!


Franz Klein
Winona State University: English 517
Professor Jane Carducci
21 November 2007

Michael Cassio: A Cinthian Character of Falsely Tragic Proportions

Embracing the common practice of his age, William Shakespeare made frequent use of source material for the basis for his plays. The primary source for Shakespeare’s play, Othello, the Moor of Venice, is Giovambattista Giraldi Cinthio’s short story, “Il Moro di Venezia,” which first appeared in the Italian author’s 1565 compilation of 113 moralistic tales called De Gli Hecatommithi. One fruitful avenue of Shakespearean studies traditionally involves examining source texts like the Hecatommithi to see how the Bard crafted them into new works of art that fit his purposes in winning over an Elizabethan audience. In the case of Othello, though, the meaning of many of Shakespeare’s alterations has long puzzled the academic world. While a good deal of scholarly effort has gone into comparing and contrasting Cinthio’s Moro and Shakespeare’s Othello, or Cinthio’s Alfieri and Shakespeare’s Iago, little attention has been paid to the mysteries surrounding Shakespeare’s transformation of Cinthio’s Capo di Squadra into Othello’s lieutenant, Michael Cassio.
Given this lack of attention, an analysis of the Capo’s Shakespearean transformation into Cassio could open a previously unopened window into the Bard’s views of tragedy, which, in the case of Cassio, seem to bear a surprising similarity to Cinthio’s own disdain for the purist Aristotelian view. After providing the necessary background to Cinthio-Shakespeare studies, this paper will explore though a careful character analysis exactly how the English playwright molds the Italian author’s Capo. Although Cassio is properly plagued by a hamartic character flaw, in the end he becomes the governor of Cyprus and seemingly spoils what should be Shakespeare’s perfect tragedy. Could this be the effect of Cinthio’s literary influence, or does Shakespeare merely, that is, tragically, stumble?

The Cinthio-Shakespeare Connection:
The superabundance of Italian influence on Elizabethan writers and playwrights was mainly due to the Counter Reformation that followed the Council of Trent (1545-63), which resulted in a diaspora of freethinking Italians to protestantized countries where their radical theories were more generally tolerated. Among those countries at the dawn of the seventeenth century was newly Anglican England, where John Florio served at the court of King James I (d. 1625) and tutored Queen Anne in Italian language and culture. According to Italian-English literature studies scholar Sergio Rossi of Milan’s Università degli Studi, Florio was a familiar figure for many English writers, including Shakespeare. Rossi adds that Florio and other expatriates sought “to make England more aware of the dignity of the Italian language, and to inform Englishmen about the importance of Italian poetry, especially as represented by such poets as Petrarch, Ariosto, Tasso, Guarini” (15). While the question of whether Shakespeare was aware of Cinthio’s literary theories remains unanswered and likely – for the most part – unanswerable, the fact that he uses the Italian author’s tales for two plays (Othello and Much Ado About Nothing) leaves the Bard’s familiarity with Cinthio’s short stories beyond question.
“Cinthio”[1] was the penname of a Ferrarese professor named Giovambattista[2] Giraldi (d. 1573). In addition to literary commentary, Cinthio published an epic and nine tragedies. His major prose work, De Gli Hecatommithi, was written in imitation of his countryman Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron, but with the decidedly moralistic emphasis that marked him as a Counter Reformation-era writer. Although missing completely from Shakespeare’s Othello, a dialogue on the various types of love prefaces Cinthio’s tales, the thirty-seventh of which is “Il Moro di Venezia.” Only after the discussion turns to rational love[3] are tales exemplifying the opposite presented for the reader. Such moralizing, or addition of commentary, was not only characteristic of Cinthio’s writing but of most Italian writing of that period. And just as Shakespeare would borrow from Cinthio, so, too, did the Italian author borrow from historical traditions popular in his time. According to Italian Shakespeare scholar Maria Cavalchini, it is likely that Cinthio’s own source for “Il Moro di Venezia” was the story of Cristoforo Moro, a Venetian nobleman who lost his wife at the turn of the sixteenth century while returning to Venice from Cyprus (cf. 36).[4] But the late Eugenio Musatti, an Italian expert on popular legends including Cinthio’s, cautions that the Italian author’s tales most often “derive from preceding novelists or from the writer’s imagination or invention” (47).[5]
Whatever the origins of Cinthio’s story, its presence is unmistakably discernable in Shakespeare’s Othello, which was first performed in 1604 and first published in 1622. Although there was no known English-language version of the Hecatommithi, scholars debate whether Florio or some other expatriate produced one that is no longer extant; whether Shakespeare’s source was the original Italian; or, more likely, whether Shakespeare made use of the 1583 French translation of Gabriel Chappuys published in Paris. Demonstrating the literal nature of Chappuys’ translation and the linguistic preference of Elizabethan playwrights for French versions of Italian stories, Cavalchini notes: “[W]e have few elements that could indicate for us whether Shakespeare knew the original Italian, the French version, or a derived English version” (39).[6] Drawing a similar conclusion as editor of the pertinent volume of Columbia University’s Narrative and Dramatic Sources of Shakespeare, Geoffrey Bullough makes his translation from the original Italian, “since there is no certainty” (194). However Shakespeare managed to read the Hecatommithi, he clearly knew Cinthio’s fiction intimately, and the changes he made were deliberate and purposeful, not the result of relying on a poor summary or second-hand rehashing.

The Capo di Sqadra and Michael Cassio:
Both Cinthio and Shakespeare’s works have as their central protagonist a Moor, although only Shakespeare gives him a name: “Othello.” In fact, with the exception of Disdemona (Desdemona for Shakespeare), none of Cinthio’s characters have names. As the rehasher of a straightforward, uncomplicated narrative tale, Cinthio presents broad character sketches early on. Following the Moor and Disdemona, the third character readers encounter is the Alfieri, or Ensign, whose wickedness is immediately exposed by the story’s omniscient narrator. Only then does Cinthio introduce his readers to the character on which this paper focuses: the Capo di Squadra, or Corporal:
In the same company there was also a Capo di Squadra who was dear to the Moor. He would very often go to the Moor’s house, and eat with him and his wife. There, since the Lady knew him to be well liked by her husband, she gave him many signs of the greatest kindness. This was much appreciated by the Moor.[7]
Painted in such general terms, Cinthio’s Capo di Squadra presents few complexities. The Capo’s friendship with the Moor is presupposed. And from Cinthio’s first paragraph about the Corporal, it is clear both that he and Disdimona have their own close friendship, and that their friendship has the Moor’s approval.
Shakespeare reformulates Cinthio’s Capo di Squadra both by choice and also – given the transition from narrative story telling to theatre – by necessity. The Bard lacks the voice of an omniscient narrator, and, for this reason, readers or viewers of Othello first encounter Michael Cassio through his own words and the words of others. Shakespeare’s first dramatic choice in molding Cassio’s character is, in fact, a choice that leads to the tragedy that is Othello: The placement of the initial words about Casio in the mouth of his nemesis, Iago. Predictably, Cassio seen through Iago’s eyes seems at first to be a far less desirable character than Cinthio’s Capo. “And what is he?” Iago asks Roderigo rhetorically:
Forsooth, a great arithmetician,
One Michael Cassio, a Florentine
(A fellow almost damn’d in fair wife),
That never set a squadron in the field,
Nor the division of a battle knows
More than a spinster – unless bookish theoric,
Wherein the [togged] consuls can propose
As masterly as he. (I.,i.,18-26)

While Cinthio’s Alfieri is wicked and his Capo good, things aren’t always so clear-cut in his tale as they quickly begin to appear in Shakespeare’s play. For example, Cinthio’s Alfieri wounds the Capo, who has a woman at home, as he exits the house of a prostitute[9] – clearly a rather complicated situation for an upstanding married soldier. But here, through Iago’s own words, Shakespeare’s introduction of Cassio places him dramatically as an innocent victim standing between the inexplicable hatred of Othello’s Ancient and Othello himself, who is the play’s major tragic hero. Thus does Shakespeare establish Othello as a play with polar extremes of moral good and evil. And thus, while Iago is morally evil, the moral goodness of both Cassio and Othello become gradually clearer.
While the Lieutenant’s friendship with Othello remains unmentioned at this point in Shakespeare’s play, the Moor’s trust in Cassio should be evident by now from what we already know. For instance, we already know from Iago’s own words that Othello passed him over for the lieutenancy. We also know from the Ancient’s words that, even if Iago doesn’t appreciate Cassio’s military prowess, Othello undoubtedly does. What we don’t know yet is whether Othello’s judgment regarding Cassio is justifiable. But surely, even from Iago’s first words, the broad hint at his self-proclaimed jealously is bound to create in viewers and readers an innate dislike for the Ancient. And just as surely, an innate like for the jealous man’s foil, Cassio, could be nascent as well. Such a like for the Capo and dislike for the Alfieri are present in Cinthio’s story; but there they are plainly stated, while Shakespeare’s skill transforms this mere statement of fact into a work of art. This allows him to gradually inculcate in readers a sense of the characters’ moral evil or goodness.
As a character, Cassio himself first enters the stage in the second scene of Act I as he searches for Othello at the Duke’s request. Othello’s respect for Cassio is immediately demonstrated upon their encounter. When Cassio reports that the Duke is seeking his presence at a meeting of the Signoria, Othello asks his Lieutenant’s opinion: “What is the matter, think you?” (I.,ii.,38). Othello does not question Cassio’s conjecture that the Duke’s business is “of some heat” (40), but immediately says he will follow the Lieutenant to the Duke. And just as Othello’s trust and care for Cassio are found in the way he interacts with him, so too is Cassio’s reciprocal trust for his Captain evident. This trust is further demonstrated as the “Veronesa” ship arrives in Cyprus at the beginning of Act II, where three gentlemen discuss the Lieutenant. As a premonition of things to come, the third gentleman observes that Cassio “looks sadly” (II.,i.,32); and he adds that Cassio prays his master arrive safely after the violent tempest that separated them in their Adriatic crossing. By the beginning of Act II, therefore, Shakespeare has established a strong bond of friendship and trust between the two men.
A problem Shakespeare encounters that wasn’t present for Cinthio arises in establishing the subsequent bond of friendship between Cassio and Desdemona. While Cinthio’s story includes no explicit or implicit time constraints, Shakespeare’s action-packed drama shuttles the characters directly from the Signoria to ships bound for Cyprus. It is to his Ancient, Iago, a man “of honesty and trust,” and not his Lieutenant that Othello assigns the conveyance of Desdemona (I.,iii.,284 et cf. 295). And it seems from the fact that all three arrive separately (cf. II.,i,25-200) that Cassio and Desdemona have had no contact in the interim. Still, Cassio clearly expresses his quickly developed affection for his Captain’s wife to Montano, then-governor of Cyprus, as they together await Othello’s arrival:
She that I spake of, our great captain’s captain,
Left in the conduct of the bold Iago,
Whose footing here anticipates our thoughts
A se’nnight’s speed. Great Jove, Othello guard,
And swell his sail with thine own pow’rful breath,
That he may bless this bay with his tall ship,
Make love’s quick pants in Desdemona’s arms,
Give renew’d fire to our extincted spirits,
[And bring all Cyprus comfort!] (II.,i.,74-82)

Even if Cassio has not had the time to develop a friendship with Desdemona, therefore, he sill holds her in the highest regard given her position as the wife of his master. This is in complete contradistinction to Iago’s hatred and bitter conniving.
Not only does Cassio appear to have a proper affection for Desdemona as the wife of another man, but Desdemona’s own affection for the Lieutenant also seems quite proper. Gradually leading his readers toward the inevitable tragic conclusion of their fated friendship, though, Shakespeare makes Iago serve as the impetus for both Cassio’s hamartic fall from Othello’s favor and even for bringing Desdemona into the play’s tangled web of adulterous implication. Shakespeare takes Cassio’s hamartic drinking problem directly from Cinthio’s tale, as he does the Alfieri’s conniving to create in the Moor suspicion of Disdemona and the Capo’s relationship with her. Then Shakespeare’s Ancient similarly points Cassio to Desdemona as his ticket back to his post after the latter’s fall from favor: “Our general’s wife is now the general,” Iago says. “…Confess yourself freely to her;/ importune her help to put you in your place again” (II.,iii.,315 et 317). Despite Iago’s poisoning of Othello’s mind, Desdemona’s affection for the Lieutenent is properly expressed in her concern for his repentance. After Cassio exits, she entreats on his behalf with her husband: “For if he be not one that truly loves you,/ That errs in ignorance and not in cunning,/ I have no judgment in an honest face” (III.,iii.,48-50).
According to Cinthio’s tale, on account of the Moor’s blackness, the Alfieri cannot believe Disdemona could really be in love with her husband. So, instead, the Alfieri reasons that Disdemona is ignoring him because “she had opened herself to the Head of the Squadron.”[10] This is the driving force behind the Alfieri’s hatred, certainly more potent than Iago’s confused “Now I do love her too…” (II.,i.,292). Cinthio then adds that the Alfieri:
…decided that he wished him [the Capo di Squadra] to be lifted from her eyes, and not only did he occupy his mind with this, but the love he carried for the Lady turned into the bitterest hate, and he gave himself in study and thought to how it might come to be that the Capo di Squadra be killed, for if he would not be able to rejoice in the Lady, neither would the Moor rejoice [in her].[11] (326)
It is worth noting, however, that Cinthio’s Alfieri is inconsistent in his hatred, since he believes Disdemona to be in love with the Capo di Squadra but seeks to keep the Moor, not the Capo, from “rejoic[ing]” in the Lady. Inconsistencies aside, the Alfieri’s scheming has little to do with the Moor and more to do with the downfall of the Capo. This becomes even more evident as he and the Moor plot together not only to kill the Capo but Disdemona as well. In fact, it is the Alfieri, not the Moor, who deals Disdemona her fatal blow in Cinthio’s story (cf. 332).
Iago’s hatred in Shakespeare’s play, on the other hand, proves to be directed at both men, but ultimately at Othello. Certainly Iago hates Cassio, as his early scheming makes clear:
Cassio’s a proper man. Let me see now:
To get his place and to plum up my will
In double knaver – How? how? – Let’s see –
After some time, to abuse Othello’s [ear]
That he [Cassio] is too familiar with his wife. (I.,iii.,392-96)

But Iago’s hatred is especially directed toward Othello, whose hamartic gullibility he next lists: “He hath a person and a smooth dispose/ To be suspected – fram’d to make women false” (397-98). In this hatred, Shakespeare’s Iago proves irredeemable and unrepentant to the end – the perfect villain. In Othello, Iago alone represents wickedness. For even though Othello plots Desdemona’s death with his Ancient, he is redeemed in the end by equaling her fate with his own: “I kiss’d thee ere I kill’d thee. No way but this:/ Killing myself, to die upon a kiss” (V.,ii.,358-59).
Cinthio’s Alfieri, on the other hand, shares his vileness as if it were a communicable disease. Together, he and the Moor plot Disdemona’s death, with the Alfieri convincing his master that they ought to beat his wife with fatal blows and then make the ceiling collapse over her to conceal their crime (cf. 331). With the Alfieri in the closet, the Moor casts the first blow; he then stands by and watches as his Alfieri delivers two more blows and his wife “falling upon the floor, remained there, killed by the impious Alfieri” (Ibid.).[12] In Cinthio’s version, both men meet their just reward, as, in independent circumstances, they are tortured brutally and die. And Cinthio concludes: “Thus did God revenge the innocence of Disdemona” (334).[13] Certainly neither the Moor nor any other character in Cinthio’s story proves to be a tragic hero. Cinthio’s tale is not a tragedy.

From Cinthio to Shakespeare:
Shakespeare, on the other hand, clearly intends to produce Othello as a tragedy. But being the third part of a perverted triangle of love and suspicion surrounding an unsuspecting Desdemona, Michael Cassio stands in essential contradistinction to Iago’s hatred, even if in a lesser role than that of Othello. Without him, the triangle would be incomplete, and without his katharsis as well as that of Othello, Shakespeare’s tragedy would seem to include a character who doesn’t inspire pity or fear. After all, since he fell through his hamartia of a weakness for drinking, Cassio seems to be just as necessary a tragic hero – albeit lesser – as Othello for the play in toto. But unlike Othello, who kathartically dies, Cassio ultimately rises higher than he ever imagined when Lodovico entrusts Cyprus to him at the end of the play (cf. V.,ii.,332). So where is Cassio’s katharsis? He seems to be a “winner.” But can a tragedy have winners?
Florida State University’s Leon Golden, in fact, seems to ignore Cassio completely when he argues that, after Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus, only Othello “conform [s] to the essential nature of tragedy” (142). Following the interplay between Iago’s evil and Othello’s spoudaios, or noble character, that leads to the Moor’s kathartic downfall, Golden concludes: ”The entire action of the play attests to the fact that Othello is a spoudaios hero of the type required by the Aristotelian definition of tragedy” (149). But Shakespeare’s play is more complicated than the interplay between Iago, Othello and Desdemona. The Bard has inherited from Cinthio another character, the Capo di Squadra, whose tragic hamartia he glaringly leaves unredeemed. Unlike the other characters, Shakespeare does not refashion the Capo to fit his tragic mold. True, the Capo’s end is different in “Il Moro di Venezia,” where he never learns that it was the Alfieri cut off his leg; subsequently follows the villain back to Venice; and exits the story towards the end after accusing the Moor – through the Alfieri’s devious persuasion – of cutting off his leg (cf. 330). But in neither story does the Capo, or Cassio, fulfill Aristotle’s requirement of inspiring pity or fear.
Caroline Patey of Milan’s Università degli Studi posits that Shakespeare borrowed more than Cinthio’s characters: Perhaps, even unwittingly, he imbibed through Cinthio’s stories a bit of the disregard for Aristotle that is most clearly expressed in the Italian author’s literary criticism. Patey elaborates:
The tale of Giraldi’s [Cinthio’s] tragedies or ‘novelle’ and of their impact on Shakespeare’s plays has been told on various occasions and often with great authority. But the bizarre quality of the author’s theoretical contribution to the fervid literary debate of his time, and its possible influence on Elizabethan drama, have drawn little scholarly attention. (167)
Patey acknowledges that Cinthio’s own literary criticism does not appear to have been among that translated into English by Florio and other expatriates. But she adds that others of a similar mind, including Cinthio’s protégé, Ludovico Dolce were almost the sole voice of Italian commentary on Aristotelian tragedy in the English language: “If the Italian cultural attaché in England [Florio] may be taken as a reliable source of information, it becomes evident that the seed of anti-Aristotelian ideas had traveled safely from Padua to London…” (168). Key to Cinthio’s disregard for Aristotle was his abandonment of Katharsis, or the purging of the emotions. Patey explains: “A Giraldian play is to represent life as it is and not, Aristotle wise, as it should be” (181). In life, loose ends sometimes fail to be tied up. In stories that represent life, such as Cinthio’s, characters drop out and cease to be important. Such was the case for the Capo in Cinthio’s “Il Moro di Venezia,” where he disappears shortly before the end. Such was also the case for Cassio, at least in regard to tying up all of the tragic loose ends of Shakespeare’s play.
It would certainly be too far fetched to argue that Shakespeare, too, intentionally sought to represent life merely as it is, for clearly his characters in Othello are shaped – in fact, Iago, Othello and Desdemona are undoubtedly molded tragically in a way completely absent from Cinthio’s story. But Cassio remains unaccounted for; he is, in the simplest of terms, a tragic loose end that Gorden Lee seems to ignore in praising the perfection of Othello as a tragedy. Perhaps a more tentative premise could be offered: That Shakespeare borrowedfrom Cinthio – even unintentionally – a disregard for purist Aristotelian tragedy. Surely Shakespeare intended for his play to contain kathartic elements, but a purist would tie up all the loose ends, including Cassio. Shakespeare doesn’t do this.

Cinthio-Shakespeare studies have long focused the Italian author’s stories as source material for at least two of Shakespeare’s plays. As the undisputed primary source for Shakespeare’s Othello, Cinthio’s “Il Moro di Venezia” provided the Bard not only with Othello, Iago and Desdemona but also Michael Cassio. This paper’s character analysis showed Cassio to be intrinsically tied to Othello in the position of a minor tragic character, who, like Othello, suffers from a harmartic – albeit lesser – character flaw. While Shakespeare correctly modifies Othello to fit the Aristotelian definition of tragedy, the Cassio-Capo character analysis shows that Cassio, like Cinthio’s Capo, ceases at a certain point to be important – at least tragically speaking.
At the beginning of this paper a question was raised: Could Cassio’s failure as a tragic hero be the effect of Cinthio’s literary influence, or has Shakespeare stumbled? Always the master, it seems highly unlikely that Shakespeare has stumbled, at least in the absolute sense. More likely, Shakespeare achieved his intended katharsis with the events surrounding Iago, Desdemona, and the play’s major tragic hero, Othello. In this sense, Florida State’s Golden was correct: Othello’s spoudaios does lead to his downfall, perhaps even as dramatically as did Oedipus’. But only if Cassio’s hamartia has ceased to be important could Othello be considered a perfect tragedy in toto. But unlike Cinthio’s Capo, Shakespeare’s Cassio doesn’t drop out of the picture. Rather, he seems to retain his importance – in fact, as the governor of Cyprus, he finishes the play in a better place than when it began. Whether consciously or unconsciously, it seems safe to conclude that Shakespeare didn’t feel it was important to tie up the loose end of Cassio’s hamartia. But in the end, one must admit that only the Bard can truly say whether this was the result of Cinthio’s anti-Aristotelian influence. And he isn’t talking.

Works Cited:

Bullough, Geoffrey. ”Othello.” Narrative and Dramatic Sources of Shakespeare. Vol. 7. Ed. Geoffrey Bullough. New York: Columbia, 1973. 193-238.

Cavalchini, Mariella. “Intorno alle fonti dell’Othello.” Revista di letterature moderne e comparate. 20 (1967). 35-44.

Cinthio, Giraldi. “The Moor of Venice.” Trans. Geoffrey Bullough. Narrative and Dramatic Sources of Shakespeare. Vol. 7. Ed. Geoffrey Bullough. New York: Columbia, 1973. 239-52.

Cynthio, Giovambattista Giraldi. “Il Moro di Venezia.” De Gli Hecatommithi. Vol. 1. Vinegia: Girolamo Scotto, 1566. 324-34.

Golden, Leon. “Othello, Hamlet, and Aristotelian Tragedy.” Shakespeare Quarterly. 35:2 (Summer 1984). 142-156.

Musatti, Eugenio. Leggende Popolari. Milano: Ulrico Hoepli, 1904.

Patey, Caroline. “Beyond Aristotle: Giraldi Cinzio and Shakespeare.” Italy and the English Renaissance. Ed. Sergio Rossi. Milano: Unicopli, 1989. 167-85.

Rossi, Sergio. “Italy and the English Renaissance: An Introduction.” Italy and the English Renaissance. Ed. Sergio Rossi. Milano: Unicopli, 1989. 9-24.

Shakespeare, William. “Othello, the Moor of Venice.” The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Eds. G. Blakemore Evans et al. Boston: Houghton, 1997.

[1] Or “Cynthio” in contemporary Italian, and “Cinzio” in current, Italian-language commentary.
[2] “Giovambattista” (John the Baptist) is a conflation of “Giovanni Battista,” as it appears in some sources.
[3] “Amore razionale” (10).
[4] Cavalchini adds that others suggest that Francesco da Sessa, called “Il Capitano Moro,” possibly of mixed ethnicity, and imprisoned on Cyprus for a “crime of passion,” served as the basis for Cinthio’s story (cf. 36).
[5] “…derivano da novellieri precedenti o dall’imaginazione e dall’invenzione dello scrittore” (47). All translations, unless otherwise noted, are my own.
[6] [A]bbiamo pochi elementi che ci possano indicare se Shakespeare conobbe l’originale italiano, la traduzione francese o una copia inglese da essa derivate” (39).
[7] “Nella medesima compagnia era anco un Capo di Squadra, carissimo al Moro. Andava spessissime volte questi a casa del Moro, et spesso mangiava con lui et con la moglie. Là onde la donna che lo conosceva così grato al suo marito, gli dava segni di grandissima benivolenza. La qual cosa era molto cara al Moro” (326).
[8] Despite this, it becomes clear later on, because of Bianca, that Cassio is unmarried.
[9] In one paragraph, Cinthio records that the Capo has a woman at home – “Haveva una donna in casa…” (331) – but, in the next, he is wounded by the Alfieri while leaving the house of a prostitute – “…uscendo … di casa di una meretrice” (Ibid.).
[10] “ella fosse accesa del Capo di Squadra” (324).
[11] “...[P]ensò volerlosi levar dinanzi a gli occhi, et pure a ciò piegò la mente, ma mutò l’amore ch’egli portava alla donna in acerbissimo odio, et si diè con ogni studio a pensare come gli potesse venir fatto, che ucciso il Capo di Squadra, se non potesse goder della donna, il Moro anco non ne godesse” (Ibid.).
[12] “…sopragiugendo la terza percossa, rimase uccisa dall’empio Alfieri” (331).
[13] “Tal fece Iddio vendetta dell’innocenza di Disdemona” (334).

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