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The Greek Merchant – Giovanbattista Giraldi Cinthio (1504-1573)
Cinthio is another of the famous Italian story-tellers to whom Shakespeare is indebted for a good plot: the story of Othello was lifted from the collection called the Hecatommithi. Cinthio is best known for his gruesome subjects and the violence of his methods of treatment. Of noble birth, he spent the greater part of his life in a secretarial position at the court of Ferrara. As critic, dramatist and novelist, he is one of the important figures in the literature of his country.

Original plots are rare, and The Greek Merchant can claim no other originality than that of treatment. But is that not enough? Like most of the Italian tales we have included, it is gracefully turned, and maintains its interest up to the last moment.

The Greek Merchant – The present version is translated by Thomas Roscoe, and reprinted from his Italian Novelists, London, no date. The story has no title in the original.
The Greek Merchant
(.Hecatommithi, 1st Decade, Novel 9)

There was a Greek merchant from Corfu, who having trafficked in various parts of Italy, at length settled in Mantua. His name was Filargiro, one of the most avaricious characters in the world; for though he had realized a handsome property, all his thoughts were bent upon amassing more and more, his avarice still increasing with the increase of his wealth.

It happened that on returning one day from a sale of some of his goods, with a purse of four hundred gold crowns, while engaged in transacting other business, he was unlucky enough to lose the whole sum, nor was he aware of his loss until he reached home. Arriving there, he opened an immense chest containing many thousand crowns, and on preparing to add the four hundred to the number, he was struck dumb with astonishment to find that they were gone.

The Greek Merchant part 4

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The Marquis then turned towards the old woman, observing, “Since it is clear that the money is none of his, but mine, and you have had the good luck to find it, pray keep...

The Greek Merchant part 3

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The old lady appeared extremely confused at this accusation, exclaiming in a distressed tone to the Marquis, “Oh, signor, can that be possible? Is it likely I should have stolen thirty- four ducats, when...

The Greek Merchant part 2

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With great courtesy the Marquis acceded to this request, expressing himself at the same time concerned to witness the excessive affliction under which the unfortunate Filargiro seemed to labor. The reward was accordingly proclaimed,...

The Greek Merchant part 1

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Giovanbattista Giraldi Cinthio (1504-1573)Cinthio is another of the famous Italian story-tellers to whom Shakespeare is indebted for a good plot: the story of Othello was lifted from the collection called the Hecatommithi. Cinthio is...

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