I mafiusi di la Vicaria is at heart a sentimental fable about the redemption of criminals. This first ever literary representation of the mafia is also the first ever. Performer: Gaspare Marrone e Co.; Marrone – Aguglia n; Sicilian Sketch; Parte 1a; L’Omeicidiu; Sicilian Sketch; Parte 2a; L’Arrestu;. A script was drafted with the working title “La vicaria di Palermo.” (Vicaria meant in Thus was launched “I mafiusi di la vicaria di Palermo.” The play gained a.

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How the word Mafia got its modern meaning. In Palermo, Sicily, in a young and penniless playwright, Gaspare Mosca, and the actor Giuseppe Rizzotto wrote and brought to the stage a play set in the new prison of the city, the Ucciardone.

This production would serve to popularize the Sicilian word Mafia and to change its traditional meaning from positive to negative. Gaspare Mosca mariusi a political dissident during the period when the Spanish Bourbons controlled Sicily. He participated in the revolution ofwhen the Sicilians sought to throw out the foreign government.

A wanted man, Mosca fled from the Bourbon police by joining a traveling troupe of actors that toured through Italian towns.

After Garibaldi invaded Sicily, inMosca served under arms for two years. Returning to Palermo inhe joined the theatrical company at the Sant’Anna playhouse. As Mosca later recalled, “D’Angelo had spent half his life in prison. His criminal skills were so esteemed by the other inmates that he soon became their dk.

He carried a deep scar on his cheek of which he was quite proud. He would supply mafiuso vocabulary of the vjcaria argot to give to the scenes an immediate realism.

A script was drafted with the working title “La vicaria di Palermo. But that title was soon to change.

I mafiusi de la Vicaria, quando il teatro denunciĆ² la mafia

About a bright tie, nicely knotted, one would say mafiusa. Of a well-rounded belly indicating health and prosperity one ls say mafiusu. The same could be said of an mafiuis suit, the sparkling eyes of a charming girl, a beautiful head of hair, or a saucy hat.


A mafiusu was man with a particular gift of courage or enterprise; for a woman, she represented a perfect femininity. In sum, the term signified a characteristic of a person that revealed a notable difference, a boldness, an impudence.

Mafia – Wikipedia

He encountered two men arguing who were about to come to blows. One exclaimed to the other in a challenging fashion, “Varrissi fari u’ mafiusu cu mia? This heated exchange sparked an idea in Mosca’s mind.

He immediately hurried to Rizzotto’s house. Let’s call the inmates mafiusi. Mosca and Rizzotto created these mafiusi. Vvicaria brought out of the cocoon of popular Sicilian culture the terms mafia and mafioso, introducing them to general public, and giving them the sinister significance that they have today. The play brought together the myths and realities of Sicilian life by forming a legend of a sect of men “forced” by circumstances to search for justice in the illusion that they were participating in a noble “social protest,” which was to burst its bounds and get out of hand.

At the same time of the play’s success the Italian government began its initial investigations of crime in Sicily. Needing a collective noun to refer to the phenomenon, the word mafia was readily at hand. The first use of the word was in a government report in in Palermo.

The legend and the word k outward from there.

The two, he contended, were not one and the same. Furthermore, he accused Mosca and Rizzotto of the degeneration of the word, concluding with a certain deep resentment that “the expression had been a good and innocent one, but now it represents bad things. Before, mafia meant beauty, attractiveness, perfection, boldness, graciousness, and excellence.

Now, its meaning had been so corrupted any definition is impossible. In an Italian dictionary we find this definition: Name of a secret organization in Sicily that has as its aim to achieve profits through illicit means.


I mafiusi de la Vicaria, quando il teatro denunciĆ² la mafia

There has been much speculation about the origins of the Mafia. Some have gone back to the 13th century marked by the Sicilian Vespers. The Sicilian Vespers was a rebellion against the French domination of the island. It began on Easter Monday in Others date the movement from the s and s or as late as the 19th century.

One intriguing sect in the s that deserves mentioning was dedicated to social protest in response to the excesses of the Inquisition in Sicily, the Beati Paoli The Blessed People. This lay confraternity was composed of men from many walks of life who belonged to the congregation of San Francisco di Paola. They were more interested in secular affairs than in the Kingdom of God.

The Beati Paoli was opposed to the abuse of authority. The secret sect members regarded themselves as agents of political and community justice. They were the alternative to what was considered a lack of fairness and much corruption in the legitimate sociopolitical order. Wronged women would be avenged, dishonest officials punished.

They would move stealthily in the dark of night dressed as monks in black-hooded San Franciscan cloaks, spreading fear and violence throughout Palermo. The Beati Paoli would gather in underground passages to hear evidence and to render verdicts. At midnight they would sally forth to execute the sentences. Too little is known of the Beati Paoli to suggest a definite connection historically to the traditional Sicilian Mafia. But there are some interesting parallels between these “men of honor.

Here is an excerpt from one set in Palermo: