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This character, which calls to mind Plautus' Miles gloriosus, has roots which go back to the Roman theatre itself. A roistering, vainglorious and bragging figure, based on all those soldiers of fortune that infested Italy but in particular upon those of the Spanish domination of the city, he did his very best to earn himself notoriety to get, himself cordially hated, in fact.

His great exploits and his Gascon-Spanish expressions, easily understandable by those who spoke Venetian, gained him about the same amount of actual admiration as Don Quixote.
His uniform was in garishly bright colours. The coat was striped, all the colours of the rainbow, and it had gold buttons. He wore a plumed hat and had a "fearful" sword, with its inevitable rust and spiders' webs, the only trophy he had to show for the bloodthirsty duels he had fought.

This character rarely wore a mask and the names he was given, Capitan Spaventa (Fright), Fracasso (Smash) or Spezzaferro (Breaksword), or the Spanish ones like Matamoros (Killer of the Moors) and Sangre y Fuego (Blood- and-'Thunder), were always bombastic and terrifying.

A demanding lover but the eternal victim of betrayals, his o<ne response would be the sword. He never managed to draw blood, however, unless his own or that of the actor who, impersonating him, suffered at the hands of the spectators, more often than not Spanish, who had no great love for this offensive character. His encounters with the zanni, where he broke into lengthy Rhodomontades about his military prowess, believed, of course, by no-one, are among his most comic moments.

On stage, one of the most celebrated capitani was most certainly Francesco Andreini, a comic actor of the "Gelosi" Company, playing Capitan Spaventa. This figure lost its importance towards the middle of the seventeenth century, giving way to that of his serving man, known as Scaramuccia, played by Tiberio Fiorilli.

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