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Casanovas paternal history is controversial. Owing to the profession of his mother, it has been suspected that at least some of the children in the Casanova household were not actually sired by Gaetan (John Masters, 1969, p. 12). In fact, it has been claimed that his mother had plenty of men even during his parents' marriage (The greatest). Casanova himself wrote that that his biological father was Michele Grimani, a Venetian patrician and owner of the theater that employed his parents (Bentley, 2008 and Giacomo Casanova Biography). An apparent support to his theory is the fact that the brother of Michele, Abbe Alvise Grimani, later became Casanova's guardian (Childs, 1988, p. 4).
Our protagonist, who was the oldest of the siblings, did not exactly have a good childhood. His parents were frequently abroad or doing tours and, therefore, had to leave him with his grandmother Marzia Baldissera in her house in Calle della Commedia while they went on tour. It is fair to note, however, that Casanova himself believed that he was his maternal grandmother's favorite (Casanova, 2001, p. 15). At any rate, he did feel abandoned by his parents (Smith, 1997). Also, he thought of his early life as "vegetative," implying that nothing much happened then. Moreover, his health was troubled by his chronic nosebleeds (Giacomo Casanova Biography).
Casanova's health was to improve at age eight, coinciding with the death of his official father, Giovanni. At age eleven, her mother brought her Padua to live in the house of an old "Slavonian" woman. After his mother paid for six months of advanced boarding, feeding and education, she kissed him goodbye: Casanova (2001, p. 22) wrote about this part of his life: Thus was my family rid of me."
He had a miserable stay at the boarding house but was lucky that her grandmother took him to live with his schoolmaster and young priest Doctor Gozzi. Casanova was to learn the limited but diverse knowledge of Gozzi in the household--from playing violin, to the logic of "peripatics," to the Ptolemaic cosmography, to strict religious morals and the Christian faith (Casanova, 2001, pp. 27-30).
In terms of career, Casanova would etch one that is colorful, scandalous and marked with indulgence. He was an all-rounded adventurer, but he was also a licentious man, apart from being a con man.
For a time, he served a Roman Catholic cardinal, became a violinist and later, a member of the Masonic Order, traveling to a number of European cities (Casanova, Giovanni Giacomo, 2006). When he returned to Venice in the mid 1700s, he was imprisoned for being a magician. In order to support himself, Casanova conned the nobility with a combination of spurious alchemy, magic tricks and mysticism. Herein, he was so good that an Inquisition trial landed him in jail (Giacomo Casanova Biography). Amazingly, he escaped what could have been five full years in jail--said to be the only one to successfully escape from the Doges Palace (Casanova, Giovanni Giacomo, 2006 and Smith, 1997).
Afterwards, he went to Paris where he built a name for himself, made a bit of a fortune and moved in the aristocratic social circles. These, he did by introducing lottery, using charm to gain influence, and mythologizing himself with a self-publicity account a.k.a. 'Jacques Casanova, the Chevalier de Seingalt' (Casanova, Giovanni Giacomo, 2006 and Giacomo Casanova Biography).
Later, he had to flee Paris because he later lost his self-made fortune and his creditors went after him. You see, Casanova was also a gambling man. In fact, he even devised a strategy for gambling: a gamble is to being by betting only one coin, and to double the bet in case s/he loses, but in case of win, one should return to betting only one coin. Our protagonist thought it would work, but it did not because for it to work, one needs to have limitless wealth to offset any big run of losses (Bergstrom, 2006).
A pattern of travelling to new countries, reinventing/mythologizing himself, and gambling his fortunes marked Casanova's life. During his lifetime, he brushed shoulders with the noble, famous, and powerful, including Mozart, Rousseau, and the Pope (Giacomo Casanova Biography).
His autobiography also revealed a pattern of his prodigious sexual activities. While his personal accounts are seen to be exaggerated, his memoirs established his reputation as a licentious heterosexual who is supposed to have made love to hundreds of women.
His sexual escapades began in Padua where he was expelled from the seminary for his wanton activities (Giacomo Casanova Biography). Thereafter, a licentious pattern is seen: a rich patron is present, Casanova would get involved in some scheme, as he would go into seducing somebody, and after which, he would flee to other countries or towns to get away from the ensuing scandal (Smith, 1997).
His art of seduction was open to all classes, age, and apparently, even gender. Even some nuns counted among his seduced as he appeared to have preferred girls. He almost even entered into an incestuous marriage. Casanova also seemed to have engaged in homosexual relationships. His relationship always ended in mutual consent, with neither rancor, revenge, heartbreak nor heartache (Smith, 1997).
Our protagonist truly led a colorful lifeââ‚¬"gambling-wise, trickery-wise and sex-wise. Does his life measure to his legendary reputation as embodied by the dictionary meaning of his name? Truly, it does. The real Casanova was so promiscuous he sexually engaged with many women, probably with other men, and even nearly with his own daughter he did not know.