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It is said that the main plot of this play is derived from the story of Ariodante and Ginevra, in the fifth book of Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso. Something similar may also be found in the fourth canto of the second book of Spenser's Faerie Queene; but a novel of Bandello's, copied by Belleforest in his Tragical Histories, seems to have furnished Shakspeare with the fable. It approaches nearer to the play in all particulars than any other performance hitherto discovered. No translation of it into English has, however, yet been met with.

This play is supposed to have been written in 1600, in which year it was first published.

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Don Pedro, Prince of Arragon.
Don John, his bastard Brother.
Claudio, a young Lord of Florence, favorite to Don

BENEDICK, a young Lord of Padua, favorite likewise of

Don Pedro.
LEONATO, Governor of Messina.
ANTONIO, his Brother.
BALTHAZAR, Servant to Don Pedro.
BORACHIO, I Followers of Don John.

two foolish Officers.
A Sexton.
A Friar.
A Boy.

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SCENE I. Before Leonato's House. Enter Leonato, Hero, BEATRICE, and others, with a

Messenger. Leonato. I LEARN in this letter, that don Pedrol of Arragon comes this night to Messina.

Mess. He is very near by this; he was not three leagues off when I left him.

Leon. How many gentlemen have you lost in this action ?

Mess. But few of any sort, and none of name.

Leon. A victory is twice itself, when the achiever brings home full numbers. I find here, that don Pedro hath bestowed much honor on a young Florentine, called Claudio.

Mess. Much deserved on his part, and equally remembered by don Pedro: he hath borne himself beyond the promise of his age; doing, in the figure of a lamb, the feats of a lion: he hath, indeed, better bettered expectation, than you must expect of me to tell you how.

Leon. He hath an uncle here in Messina will be very much glad of it.

Mess. I have already delivered him letters, and there appears much joy in him; even so much, that joy could not show itself modest enough, without a badge of bitterness.

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