Il Cinthio



  • Popular name for the Italian novelist, poet, and playwrightGiovanni Battista Giraldi (1504 - 73), derived from his academicname of Cynthius. His moralistic works supplied plots for at leasttwo of Shakespeare's plays, while his habit of adding happy endingsto his tragedies virtually created the genre of tragicomedy.A native of Ferrara, Giraldi assumed the chair of rhetoric there in1541, later moving to Turin and Pavia.

    Giraldi's first play was the Senecan horror tragedy Orbecche(1541), premiered in his own home before the Duke of Ferrara and hiscourt. He later moved towards a more romantic style of tragedy inDidone (1542), L'Altile (1543), Cleopatra (1543),and Epizia (1547), the last supplying Shakespeare with theplot for Measure for Measure. The Bard also took the storyof Othello from Giraldi's Disdemona and the Moor. Shakespeare'scontemporaries Robert Greene and James Shirley similarly borrowedideas, as did playwrights in France and Spain.

    The plots of Giraldi's plays were among the 112 short storiesthat he collected in his Hecatommithi (1565), a work in thetradition of Boccaccio's Decameron.