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Fiesco's Conspiracy at Genoa

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Friedrich Schiller

The Conspiracy of Fiesco at Genoa

The Conspiracy of Fiesco at Genoa

Traduction de Flora Kimmich

Texte intégral

1A Republican Tragedy

  • 1 Nam id facinus… ‘For I consider this deed memorable primarily on account of the newness of the crim (...)

2Nam id facinus inprimis ego memorabile existimo sceleris atque periculi novitate. Sallust, said of Catiline1

  • 2 Retz: See Introduction.
  • 3 Robertson: See Introduction.
  • 4 The Hamburg dramaturg: G. E. Lessing (1729-1781). The Hamburg Dramaturgy, a collection of reviews o (...)

3I have drawn the history of the conspiracy primarily from Cardinal Retz’s2 Conjuration du Comte Jean Louis de Fièsque, from L’Histoire des Conjurations, L’Histoire de Gênes, and from Robertson’s3 History of Charles V, part 3. The Hamburg dramaturg4 will forgive me the liberties I have taken with events if these liberties have succeeded. If they have not, I would rather have spoiled my fantasies than the facts. The actual catastrophe of the complot, where the Count is undone by unhappy chance just as he realizes his desires, necessarily had to be changed, for drama, by its very nature, can tolerate neither a random event nor the direct intervention of Providence. I would wonder why no tragic poet has ever worked with this material, did I not find sufficient grounds in just this undramatic turn of events. Higher spirits see the fragile spider webs of a deed run through the entire space of the universe and perhaps attach themselves to the remotest boundaries of the future and the past, while man sees only the free-floating fact. But the artist elects the short view of humanity, whom he wants to instruct, not sharp-sighted omnipotence, from which he learns.

  • 5 Robbers: Schiller’s first play, Die Räuber, 1781. The hero Karl Moor rebels against his father and (...)

4In my Robbers5 I took as my subject the victim of an excessive sensibility. Here I attempt the opposite: a victim of artifice and cabal. Yet, however notable Fiesco’s ill-fated project became in history, it can just as easily fail of this effect on the stage. If it is true that only feeling stirs feeling, then, it seems to me, the political hero would be no subject for the stage to the extent that he must subordinate his human self in order to be a political hero. It was therefore not my task to breathe into my story the living fire that prevails in a pure product of enthusiasm, but rather to spin a cold, sterile political drama from the materials of the human heart and in just this way to reattach it to the human heart--to compose the man from his politically canny intellect--and to gather from an inventive intrigue situations for all humanity: that was my task. My relations with a bourgeois world have also made me better acquainted with the heart than with the privy council, and perhaps just this political weakness has become a poetical strength.

Dramatis personae6

  • 6 This is the only play by Schiller which has a list of dramatis personae containing details of their (...)
  • 7 ANDREA DORIA: Doria was not in fact Doge, or a Duke, of Genoa, though he had considerable prestige (...)

51. ANDREA DORIA, DOGE OF GENOA.7
Honourable elder, eighty years of age. Traces of fieriness. A principal characteristic: weightiness and rigorous, commanding terseness.

  • 8 GIANETTINO DORIA: Gianettino was not in fact the nephew, but the grandson of Andrea Doria.

62. GIANETTINO DORIA. ANDREA’S NEPHEW.8 PRETENDER.
Twenty-six-year-old man. Coarse and offensive in speech, gait, and manners. A peasant’s pride. Physically repellent.
Both Dorias wear scarlet.

  • 9 FIESCO: Gian Lugi Fieschi, b. 1523. See Introduction.
  • 10 old German style: Plain and simple in contrast to the courtly attire of the Dorias.

73. FIESCO, COUNT OF LAVAGNA.9 HEAD OF THE CONSPIRACY.
Slender, very handsome young man of twenty-three. Proud but dignified, friendly yet majestic, courtly and accommodating, and thus cunning. All noblemen wear black. The costume is consistently old German style.10

84. VERRINA. REPUBLICAN CONSPIRATOR.
Sixty-year-old man. Ponderous, grave, and somber. Deeply marked.

95. BOURGOGNINO. CONSPIRATOR.
Twenty-year-old youth. Noble and attractive. Proud, impulsive, and natural.

106. CALCAGNO. CONSPIRATOR.
Gaunt voluptuary. Thirty years old. Pleasant, enterprising appearance.

117. SACCO. CONSPIRATOR.
Forty-five-year-old man. Ordinary human being.

128. LOMELLINO. GIANETTINO’S CONFIDANT.
Hardened courtier.

139. CENTURIONE.

1410. CIBO. MALCONTENTS.

1511. ASSERATO.

1612. ROMANO. PAINTER.
Unconstrained, candid, and proud.

  • 11 MULEY HASSAN: The figure of the Moor is entirely Schiller’s invention, though a similar name was to (...)

1713. MULEY HASSAN. MOOR FROM TUNIS.11
Convicted Moorish type. In physiognomy an original mixture of knavery and caprice.

1814. GERMAN SOLDIERS OF THE DUCAL BODYGUARD.
Honest simplicity. Reliable bravery.

1915. THREE REBELLIOUS CITIZENS.

  • 12 LEONORA: Leonore Cibo married Duke Fieschi in 1542, was dispossessed and banished from Genoa with h (...)

2016. LEONORA. FIESCO’S WIFE.12
Eighteen-year-old noblewoman. Pale and thin. Fragile and sensitive. Very attractive but not dazzling. Her face expresses fantasizing melancholy. Dressed in black.

2117. JULIA, DOWAGER COUNTESS IMPERIALI. DORIA’S SISTER.
Twenty-five-year-old noblewoman. Tall and ample. Proud coquette. Her beauty spoiled by bizarre touches. Dazzling but not pleasing. Her face expresses an unkind, mocking nature. Dressed in black.

2218. BERTA. VERRINA’S DAUGHTER.
Innocent girl.

2319. ROSA.

2420. ARABELLA. LEONORA’S CHAMBERMAIDS.

25NOBLEMEN. CITIZENS. GERMAN BODYGUARDS. SOLDIERS. SERVANTS. THIEVES.

26THE PLACE IS GENOA, THE TIME 1547.

Notes

1 Nam id facinus… ‘For I consider this deed memorable primarily on account of the newness of the crime and of the peril.’ The Roman historian Sallust writing of the conspiracy in 63 BC of L. Sergius Catilina.

2 Retz: See Introduction.

3 Robertson: See Introduction.

4 The Hamburg dramaturg: G. E. Lessing (1729-1781). The Hamburg Dramaturgy, a collection of reviews of plays performed on the German stage and containing discussions of general principles of drama, appeared between 1767 and 1769. Lessing argued that the dramatist should remain true to the essential features of characters as known from historical sources.

5 Robbers: Schiller’s first play, Die Räuber, 1781. The hero Karl Moor rebels against his father and expresses his opposition to society through the formation of a band of robbers.

6 This is the only play by Schiller which has a list of dramatis personae containing details of their character and appearance. Schiller no doubt intended this to be helpful to a theatre director and actors.

7 ANDREA DORIA: Doria was not in fact Doge, or a Duke, of Genoa, though he had considerable prestige and power. French dominance of Genoa ended in 1522 with the defeat of Francis I of France at the hands of imperial troops, with Doria, who had previously been loyal to the French, taking Genoa by land and sea. From an old noble Genoese family, Doria had distinguished himself in naval service. The government of the Repulic of Genoa was elected from and by members of the noble families.

8 GIANETTINO DORIA: Gianettino was not in fact the nephew, but the grandson of Andrea Doria.

9 FIESCO: Gian Lugi Fieschi, b. 1523. See Introduction.

10 old German style: Plain and simple in contrast to the courtly attire of the Dorias.

11 MULEY HASSAN: The figure of the Moor is entirely Schiller’s invention, though a similar name was to be found in his sources.

12 LEONORA: Leonore Cibo married Duke Fieschi in 1542, was dispossessed and banished from Genoa with her three-year-old son after the conspiracy.

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