The Mandrake
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Written while Machiavelli was in exile for allegedly plotting against the Medici clan, "The Mandrake" or "Mandragola" details the corruption of Italian society in a series of increasingly comical scenes that culminate in the cuckolding of a powerful Florentine aristocrat. The author depicts human nature just as he has come to know it, and the sinister fruits of his studies have delighted audiences to this day, for we recognize our own failures in Machiavelli's creations--characters too quick to compromise personal ethics in order to accommodate a corrupt and demeaning world, too easily persuaded to lie, cheat, swindle, and deceive, or close their eyes to deception, in order to ensure some small improvement in their miserable lives, always espousing the mantra that "the end justifies the means." "The Mandrake" is a powerful comic treatise on immorality, a diagnosis of cultural disease, and perhaps the finest surviving example of the Italian Renaissance comedy of intrigue.
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