Monday, May 10, 2010

The Devil Takes a Wife by Niccolo Machiavelli

The princes of Hell plan to send Belfagor, an archdevil to earth to find why all men state women as the cause of their damnation. Belfagor takes the human name Roderigo and weds Onesta, who he actually falls in love with. But his wife brings misfortunes and dept and Roderigo is chased from town by a mob, only to be saved by Gianmatteo, who Roderigo promises great riches. Roderigo says he will possess a woman and Gianmatteo will pretend to exorcise her. Gianmatteo learns of a girl possessed and exorcises Roderigo from her, but Roderigo says that the payment will not make him rich enough, so he possess the daughter of King Charles. Gianmatteo is called upon to take the demon from the daughter of King Charles. He leans over to whisper in her hear and tells Roderigo to leave. Roderigo agrees, but says he is no longer bound to Gianmatteo and for him to stay out of his way from now on. Gianmatteo is rewarded and before long he is called upon to help the daughter of the King of France, who shows signs of being possessed. Gianmatteo reluctantly goes to perform the exorcism. Roderigo is stubborn and will not leave the girl and Gianmatteo tells the King that he will try one last ceremony on Sunday. That Sunday, crowds, the clergy, and instrumentalist gather in the town with the possessed girl high on a scaffold above them. Gianmatteo asks for Roderigo to leave one last time and Roderigo mocks him. Gianmatteo cues the band to play and Roderigo asks what the horrible sound is. Gianmatteo tells him it is his wife, coming to fetch him back. Roderigo panics and flees at the mention of his wife and returns to Hell to report the “troubles, humiliations, and hazards of the matrimonial yoke.”

Crafty story. Satire that doesn’t lose a inch of cleverness throughout thousands of years.

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