The play is dedicated to the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, both of which had recently awarded Jonson honourary doctorates at the time of the play's writing. He briefly discusses the moral intentions of the play and its debt to classical drama. In the Argument, Jonson provides a brief summary of the play's plot in the form of an acrostic on Volpone's name. The prologue then introduces the play on the viewing audience, informing them that 'with a little luck', it will be a hit; Jonson ends by promising that the audience's cheeks will turn red from laughter after viewing his work.
These opening parts of the play, before we are introduced to the action, may seem superfluous. But they help us understand the play in several ways. First, in a banal sense; the Argument, as Jonson terms it, provides in brief encapsulated form the premise of the play, a premise that will be fully introduced in the first scene.