Venice controlled the island of Cyprus from 1489-1570. The island was a place for ... Othello is asked to help defend Cyprus against the Ottoman Turks. ...
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OTHELLO Historical context
Geography • Othello takes place in two countries: • Venice • Cyprus • The Republic of Venice existed from 727-1797. • It is located in present-day Italy.
Geography (cont’d) • Venice controlled the island of Cyprus from 1489-1570. • The island was a place for commerce and a good location for the Venetian fleet in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea. • Cyprus was lost to the Turks in 1571.
Cyprus is located east of Italy, in the Mediterranean Sea. It is just south of Turkey. http://geography.about.com/library/cia/nccyprus.htm
Geography in the Play Othello • Othello is asked to help defend Cyprus against the Ottoman Turks. • Desdemona accompanies Othello to Cyprus. • It is unusual that a woman would go with her husband on military business.
Types of People in Othello • Venetians • Most are noblemen and women (Brabantio, Desdemona, Roderigo) • Also, there are the nobles’ servants (Emilia) • Some are soldiers (Othello, Cassio, Iago) • Others are part of Venetian government (the Duke)
Types of People (cont’d) • Moors • Black nomadic people of the northern shores of Africa, originally the inhabitants of Mauretania • Converted to Islam in the 8th century
Moors (cont’d) • Invaded Spain in 711 and dominated until the 11th century • had great dynasties up until 1492, when the last of their cities was conquered by Spain • virtually exterminated by Spain during the Inquisition (late 1400s-1820)
Moors (cont’d) • Othello is a Moor • Discriminated against because of his race (black) • Othello has been accepted in some ways because he is a Christian and a military genius • Yet his marriage to Desdemona reflects the prevailing view toward interracial marriage.
Works Cited • Chronological History of Cyprus. 2001. Ege Universitesi. 9 Feb. 2005 <http://bornova .ege.edu.tr/~ncyprus/cyp1.html>. • Derhak, Dean. Muslim Spain and European Culture. 2000. Muslim Spain and European Culture. 9 Feb. 2005 <http://www.xmission.com/~dderhak/ index/moors.htm>. • Shakespeare, William. Othello. New York: Putnam, Inc.1963. • The Venetian Period in Cyprus. 2001. Ege Universitesi. 9 Feb. 2005 <http://bornova .ege.edu.tr/~ncyprus/venedik.html>.