Law and Opera pp 209-221 | Cite as

Revenge Between Legal and Social Norms in Cavalleria Rusticana

  • Giuseppe LoriniEmail author
  • Olimpia Giuliana LoddoEmail author


Revenge is usually considered a mere instinctive and spontaneous reaction to an injustice. However, as the legal anthropologist knows well, revenge is also an action regulated by unwritten laws in most traditional communities. It is therefore possible to see revenge as one of the most ancient legal institutions, and possibly the most ancient form of punishment provided for by traditional legal systems.

This paper is centered on such “normative” revenge, analyzed through the reading of Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana. Here, the plot is characterized by a number of cross-revenges, all of them committed in compliance with the unwritten norm “Offences must be revenged.” Such a rule is a common feature of the rural legal order in nineteenth century’s Italy, and it will lead to the dramatic ending “They killed gaffer Turiddu!”


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LawUniversity of CagliariCagliariItaly

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