Aristotle rated tragedy as the noblest form of art and distinguished between, on the one hand, the true and the particular in history and, on the other, the verisimilitude and universality of dramatic poetry. For him, comedy was an ‘imitation of vile subjects’, suitable for representing ugly and low characters in order to ridicule men’s vices.3 His opinion was unopposed for centuries until the rediscovery of Plautus, the opening of the humanist debate on Aristotle’s Poetics, and the use of new comedic experiments in Renaissance Italy.4 Despite the defence of classicism in the early Cinquecento, Italian theorists challenged the classical rules by inventing new kinds and models. Aristotelian imitatio became more complicated owing to the more revolutionary concept of contaminatio, which made it possible to experiment with a subtler hybridism of dramatic structures and a combination of diverse theatregrams taken up by countless playwrights.