Pantalone (French: Pantalon) is a stock character that is classified as one of the vecchi (old men) in Commedia dell'arte. He is a miserly and often libidinous character who is portrayed as a Venetian and often speaks in the Venetian dialect.
As with the names of many of the characters in Commedia dell'arte, the origins of Pantalone's name are puzzling . The source of the name that is most commonly cited is that it is from the phrase pianta leone or plant the lion. This is a reference to the lion on the crest of Venice and Venice's conquests around the globe where Venetians have literally "planted the lion" flag. Rebecca Blanchard in his Masks, Mimes and Miracles cites two additional Greek sources. Greek author Athenaeus mentions the existence of a clown named πανταλέων or Pantaleon in his Deipnosophistae. Additionally, there is a Greek phrase παντος έλεμων or pantos elemon which may also be a source. Nevertheless, the name Pantalone has provided a source for the English word pantaloons from the distinctive single-piece breeches worn by the character.
His knees are bent, pelvis forward and shoulders hunched over to "protect his money bag". He constantly fiddles with his money to make sure it is all there. He is very forgetful and so falls into tricks easily.
In his incipient times he was known as Magnificent (see Il Magnifico) which was the title for wealthy Italian merchants.
He is often cast as the father of one of the innamorati (see Innamorati) and is frequently shown to have some business or personal relationship with Dottore (see Il Dottore) or Capitano (see Il Capitano). Pantalone's plans to profit at the expense of his family and friends are guaranteed to be thwarted by his servants (see Zanni).
He is always old, sometimes a rich miser, sometimes a poor man, sometimes a bachelor, sometimes a father of a family. If he is rich, he is a slave to his money. If he is married, his wife is usually young, often deceiving him. He loves to give advice. Often he is the recipient of blows from his servant. He is always duped by someone.
See Angela Carter's 'The Bloody Chamber' (specific short story, Puss in Boots) for another representation of Pantalone. The interpretation renames him as the character 'Pantaloon', but he follows a very similar description and ends up dead.
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