Character Analysis
Character Name
Pantalone (Versace Provolone de Bisognosi) - Shane

Pantalone Di Bisognosi.  Pantalone's name has given a good deal of trouble to students; he was quite certainly not christend after St. Pantaleone... A modern derivant from the Greek, pantos-elemon seems still less likely...The name Pantalone was semi-proverbial by 1658, whatever its derivation.  -Smith

Sometimes he is Pantalone de Bisognosi, literally "of the needy", presumably meaning that you have to be pretty hard up to regard him as well-off.  - Rudlin

...even his name was a jibe.  It seems orginally to have come from the phrase pianta leone, "to plant the lion."  -Duchartre



Top of pecking order.  Money.  Controls finance in the character world of Commedia is therefore his orders are usually obeyed.  Employer, Father, Godfather. – Rudlin
Dark colors of black, grey and red.  Dynamic Pantaloons, red tights and yellow turkish slippers.  – Tim Shane

Always preserved the ancient Venetian costume; the black dress and woolen bonnet are still worn in Venice; and the red underwaist and breeches, cut out like drawers, with red stockings and slippers, are a most exact representation of the equipment of the first inhabitants of the Adriatic marshes.  – Goldoni

Tight-fitting long red trousers or red breeches and stockings, a short, tight-fitting jacket, a loose long black cloak with plain sleeves, red-woolen skull-cap and yellow turkish slippers.  Supposedly, he changed the colour of his tights and/or cloak tp black as a sign of mourning when Negroponte was captured by the Turks from the Venetians.  – Rudlin

Wore red breeches, a red vest, and a black ankle-length coat. - Gordon

Origin (History) God of the dying year at Carnival (The Lovers are spring to Pantalone’s Winter).  – Rudlin
Lean and Scrawny, often short in stature.  Early from often has a phallic codpiece.  – Rudlin

Tall and skinny, like a stork with a large penis.  – Tim Shane

Long, hooked nose with bushy eyebrows, sometimes also a moustache.  Pointed beard just forward as if to meet the nose coming down, thuse giving a very dynamic profile.  – Rudlin

Wore a dark brown mask with a hooked nose.  -Gordon

He wore a brown mask with a prominent hooked nose, and, occaisionally, round spectacles.  The moustache was greay and sparse.  A white beard stretched from ear to ear, and came to one or two points well in advance of the chin, so that the tufts shook ludicrously as soon as Pantalone began to talk.  -Duchartre



Gold chain around the neck with a large medallion and a dagger.  – Rudlin

Carried a ubiquitous handkerchief and a money pouch slung before his genitals.  -Gordon

During the 16th Century, Pantaloon almost always carried a huge dagger and purse at his belt, while underneath the shameless phallus, doubtless a survival from the theatre of antiquity, was quite visible. - Duchartre

Multi-functional cod piece, purse and a cane.  – Tim Shane



His back bends the other way to the zannis, giving him an old man’s stoop, protecting his purse and his penis and effectively restricting the motion of his legs.  The feet are together, toes apart, knees well bent and facing apart creating a focus on the crutch.  However, early illustrations show a much more vertical basic posture, complemented by an erect phallus nestling next to his dagger.  The legs are also much more muscled with the possibility of sustaining extreme forward positions of the torso or making large strides.  The Pantalone of the zannata.  A genuinely magnifigent figure, but there is no inheritance of how to play Pantalone in this way.  -  Rudlin

Bullying, aggressively, mean-minded, all trace of his forebears had vanished, leaving only a pauper who had squandered his diginity along with his cash.  Always on the prowl, he could be termed a Beelzebub of sex.  Any woman who happens to cross his path becaomes at once an object of winks, leers and nudges... Puts on the mask and parades up and down in a series of showily self-important struts, trips, trots and sudden halts. – Dario Fo

Was bent over from age. - Gordon

Crochity, supporting the upper body either in front or behind the legs with the cane.  Head learing upward, like the bird-like creatures (skeksis) from The Dark Crystal.  – Tim Shane

He is a crutch (upside down “U”) bow-legged, and toes pointing out and upper body leaning forward.  When he is talking to someone, he leans forward, when he is listening to something, or getting bad news, he leans back  – Danny Fletcher



The same as for little zanni, but smaller steps.  He can only walk at one pace:  whatever his feet do his legs cannot go any faster, whatever the motive or stimulus. – Rudlin

Walks like a side-winding crab. – Tim Shane



1.) Bent over as if spine just went out supporting upper body with cane.
2.) Leaning slightly forward with nose in the air.
3.) One leg bent, with on foot resting on heel.
4.) One hand behind back or holding purse, other hand on cane, bending upper body at 45 degrees.
5.) Leaning back with pelvis thrust forward and phallic cod piece standing out with the entire rest of the body behind it.
6.) Nose targeted towards parts of female anatomy.
7.) Hands out, legs together shoulders together.
8.) Seated with head in hands.
9.) Cuddle position with women
10.) Lunge position with cane


Can mimic those of any other character, but only in a form diminished by age.  Sometimes falls flat on his back on hearing bad news (usually financial).  Like a beetle, he cannot then right himself.  – Rudlin

Head is very quick like a bird, but the rest of the body is very lathargic as if moving through water.  – Tim Shane

Gestures Old in body, but his head, feet and hands are still active.  The hands (which he can’t keep to himself) flutter continuously, gesticulating each thought as it comes into his head.  The only way he can stop this is to hold them behind his back, underneath his cloak. – Rudlin


A high-pitched chicken Squawk: - Rudlin

His youthful hose, well sav’d, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. – As You Like It.  Shakespeare

The actor who assumes this role should have at his fingertips a complete command of the Venetian dialect with all of its variations, proverbs and phrases.  -Duchartre

Like the Skeksis from the film "The Dark Crystal." – Tim Shane



Chicken or Turkey – Rudlin

Stork or Crab – Tim Shane

Jewish Hermit Crab – Danny Fletcher

Relationships Mean to his servants, narrow-mindedly proscriptive to his children, fawning to Il’ Dottore, scheming with Il’ Capitano, lecherous with Colombina and indulgent to himself. – Rudlin
Too self-interested to be aware of spectators.  Yet his main, perhaps only, virtue is that of transparency: his motives are so obvious that he almost emerges as an honest man – again unlike Il’Dottore. – Rudlin

Pantalone gives voice to the darker side of the male consciousness, a secret hero to the unenlightened males in the audience. - Fletcher

An impediment to the action.  For example, he typically wants to marry the same woman as his son Flavio, or is too mean to provide a dowry for his daughter, Isobella.  – Rudlin


Two only: avarice and trouble with his prostate gland.  Pantalone operates on the assumption that everything can be bought and sold, and this turns out to be true, with the exception of loyalty (and love).  But he also loves money for its own sake and will therefore only part with it when there is no other option.  He always wants to marry his daughter to a wealthy man – and avoid giving her a dowry.  When things do not go his way he quickly slips into emotional extremes, particularly enraged petty tyranny.  He has a long memory and never forgets or forgives the slightest past transgression.  Pantalone is action, not words – in contrast with Il’ Dottore.  – Rudlin

Old Man.  A cheap and ridiculously gullible merchant from Venice.  A foolish authoritarian figure who attempted to disguise his old age through his tight-fitting Turkish outfit.  Although married to a beautiful woman, who often cuckolded him, he chased other women.  Rarely successful, he never gave up hope. - Gordon

His personality is as old as mankind, of course, but it was Venice who individualized him with the stamp of her own particular color and pircturesqueness.  He is always old and as a rule retired from active business.  Sometimes he is rich, sometimes poor, somtimes the father of a family, and again, an old bachelor.  He should be able to play a decrepit old man who tries to pass himself off as a youth. -Ducharte



1. Lazzo of the tooth extractor
2. Lazzo of the returning coin
3. Lazzo of the urine test
4. Lazzo of the echo
5. Lazzo of fondling the nurse
6. Lazzo of wooing young women
7. Lazzo of the bent back
8. Lazzo of the wake
9. Lazzo of farting
10. Lazzo of impotence
A Bibliography

Commedia dell'Arte: An Actor's Handbook by John Rudlin.  Routledge 1994

Commedia dell'arte: A Scene-Study Book by Bari Rolfe.  Personabooks 1977

The Commedia dell'Arte by Winifred Smith, New York, 1912

The Italian Comedy by Pierre Louis Ducharte.  Dover Publications, inc.  1966

Lazzi: The Comic Routines of the Commedia dell'Arte by Mel Gordon.  Performing Arts Journal Publications  1983

Scenarios of the Commedia dell'Arte:  Flaminio Scala's Il Teatro Delle Favole Rappresentative translated by Henry F. Salerno Limelight Editions  1996

All other comments have come from growth and experience of the performers of Commedia dell'Carte