This book relates Shakespeare's comedies to a broad European background. At the beginning and again at the end of his career, Shakespeare was attracted by a tradition of stage romances which can be traced back to Chaucer's time. But the main shaping behind his comedies came from the classical tradition. Mr Salingar therefore examines the underlying theme of 'errors' in Greek and Roman comedies and, taking three Italian comedies famous in the sixteenth century as examples, he then reveals how the Italian Renaissance revived the classical tradition, and what effect this revival had on Shakespeare the Elizabethan playwright and discusses such topics as the device of the play within a play and Shakespeare's choice of Italian short stories as plot material. This book shows how Shakespeare changed the motifs he took over from previous traditions of comedy and highlights the innovations he introduced, as an actor-dramatist writing in the first period of commercial theatre in Europe.