Italian man of letters and playwright. Pier Jacopo Martello modified the verse structure utilized up to that point in Italian tragedy, doubling the heptasyllabic verse and thus creating the martelliano verse. In his theoretical writings on theatre, he maintained that the bambocci (puppets) were more useful than the judgements of critics or men of letters for assessing the value of a work.

For the bambocci he wrote a short play (bambocciata), Lo starnuto d’Ercole (The Sneeze of Hercules), in which the demigod – of whom we see only one large finger – ends up among the African pygmies, represented by mute marionettes “operated (moved) either from above by means of strings or from below with the help of springs”. Set to music by Johann Adolf Hasse, this short play found great success and was revived several times, in 1727 by Carlo Goldoni in Wippach, Germany, at the court of Count Lantieri, and in 1746, with a different text and different characters, in the private puppet theatre of Abbé Angelo Maria Labia in Venice.

(See Italy.)


  • Binni, Walter. Pier Jacopo Martello e le commedie per letterati. La rassegna della letteratura italiana, 1957.
  • McCormick, John, with Alfonso Cipolla and Alessandro Napoli. The Italian Puppet Theater – A History. Jefferson (NC): McFarland & Co., 2010.