What is the plot of Machiaevelli's Mandrake?

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kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Published in 1524, the Mandrake is a comedy by Niccolo Machiavelli. The book takes places over a 24-hour period and focuses on Callimaco, a man from Florence who has lived in Paris for 20 years. One day, Callimaco hears a fellow Florentine talking about a beautiful woman called Lucrezia who lives in Tuscany and who he becomes determined to meet. Having returned to his homeland, Callimaco encounters a few problems in his quest to be with Lucrezia: she is already married (to an elderly man called Nicia) and is too virtuous to cheat on her husband.

Undeterred, Callimaco enlists the help of Ligurio, a marriage broker who is familiar with Lucrezia and her husband and, more importantly, knows that the couple are desperate to have a son. With this in mind, Callimaco disguises himself as a doctor and tells Nicia that he must drug his wife with a potion made from mandrake root in order for her to fall pregnant, though it will kill the first man that she sleeps with. Callimaco thus suggests that they find a man 'stupid' enough to sleep with Lucrezia. (This is, of course, completely false but all part of Callimaco's plan to be alone with Lucrezia.) After some persuasion from her mother and a friar, Lucrezia sleeps with Callimaco and the pair become lovers. 

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