It's Florence, Italy, 1348, and the Black Death has ravaged the city. Whole families have died. Neighborhoods are empty. Chaos reigns and the routines of daily life have been abandoned. In the church of Santa Maria Novella, a group of seven young gentlewomen gather to pray and discuss their sad life, hoping to find some way of alleviating their suffering. The oldest of the group, Pampinea, hits on a solution: road trip.
It seems like a good idea to get out of a city filled with contagion. There's nothing to do but watch the bodies pile up and hear the news about who died. Plus, it's dangerous to stay somewhere where all social and moral controls are gone and people are succumbing to "carnal pleasures." Better to leave for the country and enjoy the beauty of nature where the houses are far enough apart that you're not watching your neighbors die every time you look out the window. The prevailing medical advice at the time suggested that healthy air and a cheerful frame of mind could decrease your chances of catching the deadly disease.
But the ladies are afraid of traveling alone. After all, women are irrational and fickle, and without a man in charge they won't be able to get anything done. Fortune is kind in that moment and sends three young men of their acquaintance into the church. The ladies seize the opportunity—and the young men—and they have their posse (brigata in Italian) ready to go.
They don't have to travel far to escape the horrors of the city, and in about two miles they reach a lovely palace where they've arranged to stay. It has all the amenities: ample living space, servants, beautiful gardens, nature everywhere in the form of singing birdies, gentle breezes and clear flowing water. Once they arrive, they realize that all kinds of mischief might happen if they get bored, so they invent a storytelling game to occupy their time. They set the rules, choose a "Queen" to rule them for the first day, and the structure of their two-week stay is set in motion.
The ten young people spend the next two weeks (except for four days of religious observances) telling one story per day each on a chosen theme. Each day has a new king or queen that chooses the theme and makes arrangements for their meals and entertainment. It's the regimen of storytelling, they say, that refreshes them and keeps them on the straight and narrow path while they're away from the city, so that no one will gossip about them.
After telling a hundred stories on themes like the Power of Fortune, Unhappy Loves and Pranks Played by Wives on Their Husbands—and one relo to a new palace just to mix things up—the brigata return to the city to face their fate.
Note: In Boccaccio's day, chapter titles were really just brief descriptions of the chapter's content. (Remember those "Friends" episodes like "The One Where Chandler Can't Remember Which Sister?") For your comfort and convenience, Shmoop has thoughtfully shortened the names of the chapters in our Detailed Summary. For example, "Tancredi, Prince of Salerno, kills his daughter's lover and sends her his heart in a golden chalice; she besprinkles the heart with a poisonous liquid, which she then drinks, and so dies" helpfully becomes, simply, "Tancredi, Prince of Salerno."
Shmoop's Handy Pocket Guide to the Decameron
|Storyteller||Day One, open theme||Stories||Attributes|
|Pampinea||Day One, open theme||I.10 Master Alberto; II.3 Alessandro & Abbot; III.2 Agilulf & Groom;|
IV.2 Friar Alberto; V.6 Gianni da Procida; VI.2 Cisti the Baker; VII.6 Madonna Isabella; VIII.7 Scholar & Widow; IX.7 Talano d'Imolese; X.7 King Peter & Lisa
|Eldest at 28, wise, "blossoming queen," moderate thinking and behavior, self-sufficient and contented in love.|
|Filomena||Day Two, Power of Fortune||I.3 Melchizedek & Saladin; II.9 Bernabò & Ambrogiuolo; III.3 The Gentlewoman & The Confessor; IV.5 Isabetta & Her Brothers; V.8 Nastagio degli Onesti; VI.1 Madonna Oretta; VII.7 Ludovico & Beatrice; VIII.6 Calandrino & the Pig; IX.1 Madonna Francesca; X.8 Titus & Gisippus||"Beloved," or "Lover of song." Perhaps Filostrato's lover. Wise, resourceful, introspective. Poor view of women's abilities, unhappy with her actions in love.|
|Neifile||Day 3, Genius & Industry||I.2 Abraham the Jew; II.1 Martellino; III.9 Gillette; IV.8 Girolamo & Salvestra; V.5 Giannole & Minghino; VI.4 Chichibio the Cook; VII.8 Ariguccio Berlinghieri; VIII.1 Gulfardo; IX.4 The Two Ceccos; X.1 Ruggiero & King Alfonso||Youngest at 18, innocent and shy yet spunky and creative. Classically beautiful, in the early stages of love with one of the young men.|
|Filostrato||Day 4, Unhappy Loves||I.7 Bergamino & Cangrande; II.2 Rinaldo d'Este & The Widow; III.1 Masetto da Lamporecchio; IV.9 The Eaten Heart; V.4 Caterina & the Nightengale; VI.7 Madonna Filippa; VII.2 Peronella; VIII.5 The Judge of the Marches; IX.3 Pregnant Calandrino; X.3 Nathan & Mithridanes||Miserable, "one prostrated by love."|
|Fiammetta||Day 5, Loves that End Happily||I.5 Marquess of Montferrat; II.5 Andreuccio; III.6 Ricciardo Minutolo; IV.1 Guiscardo & Ghismonda; V.9 Federigo degli Alberighi; VI.6 Michele Scalza; VII.5 The Jealous Merchant; VIII.8 Spinelloccio & Zeppa; IX. 5 IX. 5 Calandrino in Love; X.6 Charles of Anjou||"Little flame," possible representation of Boccaccio's love Maria d'Aquino. Classically beautiful, spunky, jealous.|
|Elissa||Day 6, Witty Remarks||I.9 King of Cyprus & Woman of Gascony; II.8 Walter, Count of Antwerp; III.5 Zima & Francesco; IV.4 Gerbino; V.3 Pietro Boccamazzo; VI.9 Guido Cavalcanti; VII.3 Brother Rinaldo & the Gossip; VIII.3 Calandrino & the Heliotrope; IX.2 The Abbess & The Breeches; X.2 Ghino di Tacco & the Abbot of Cluny||Named for Dido, represents unhappy female love. Still hopeful of recovery, clever & resourceful.|
|Dioneo||Day 7, Pranks that Wives Play on Their Husbands||I.4 The Monk & The Abbot; II.10 Paganino & Ricciardo; III.10 Alibech & Rustico; IV.10 Mazzeo the Doctor; V.10 Pietro di Vinciolo; VI.10 Friar Cipolla; VII.10 Tingoccio & Meuccio; VIII.10 Salabaetto; IX.10 Don Gianni; X.10 Griselda||Mischievous, rule-breaking, good-natured, "safety valve" of group. Tells the bawdiest stories, highly determined to be happy. |
|Lauretta||Day 8, Pranks of All Kinds||I.8 Guglielmo Borsiere; II.4 Landolfo Rufolo; III.8 Ferondo & the Abbot; IV.3 Misfortune Among Three Couples on Crete; V.7 Teodoro & Violante; VI.3 Nonna de'Pulci; VII.4 Tofano and Ghita; VIII.9 Maestro Simone; IX.8 Biondello & Ciacco; X.4 Messer Gentile's Return of Wife & Child||Named in homage to Petrarch's beloved, Laura. Only sings songs of her own composition, more of a type than a character.|
|Emilia||Day 9, Open theme||I.6 The Good Man & The Inquisitor; II.6 Madonna Beritola; III.7 Tedaldo degli Elisei; IV.7 Simona & Pasquino; V.2 Gostanza & Martuccio; VI.8 Fresco & His Niece; VII.1 Gianni & the Ghost; VIII.4 The Parish Priest & the Widow; IX.9 Solomon; X.5 Messer Ansaldo||Young, self-absorbed, enchanted with her own beauty. "Innovates" by declaring an open theme on Day 9.|
|Panfilo||Day 10, Munificence||I.1 Ser Cepperello; II.7 Alatiel; III.4 Dom Felice & Brother Puccio; IV.6 Andreuola & Gabriotto; V.1 Cimon & Iphigenia; VI.5 Master Giotto & Messer Forese; VII.9 Lydia & Pyrrhus; VIII.2 Monna Belcolore; IX.6 Pinuccio & Adriano; X.9 Saladin & Torello||"All-loving" or "full of love." Happy in love, optimistic, upstanding fellow. Noble, representative of courtly love ideals. Disciplined in pleasure.|
- The author wants to tell us his reasons for participating in this writing experiment.
- He wants to pay it forward: he's been comforted by friends in times of distress and now it's his turn.
- What distress, you ask? He was burned by love and it nearly destroyed him.
- This is not garden-variety lust. We're talking "inflamed beyond measure with a most lofty and noble love."
- The problem with this love wasn't she-cruelty; he was just way too into her.
- But God has ordained that this love should cool and now he's left with only "delectable feelings."
- He's also left with good memories of those that helped him through it, so now he wants to help others in the same situation.
- But he has a target audience in mind.
- He wants to help the ladies, since they suffer so much more in love than men do.
- That's because women don't have the freedom men have. They have more social restraints and have to stay home and live quietly. It's not like they can drown their sorrows by hunting or drinking with their buddies.
- But he doesn't intend to help ALL women: just the ones in love. The others can just keep embroidering cushions and stuff.
- The narrator then sets out his plan: 7 ladies and 3 men will tell 100 stories over 10 days.
- He's going to include some songs, too, just for entertainment.
- The stories (and songs) won't just be pleasing. They're also meant to provide "useful advice."
- For instance, he'll offer ideas about what should be avoided and what should be done.
- This way, lovelorn ladies will finally have some way to ease their suffering.
First Day, Introduction
- First, a round of apologies. Boccaccio tells the ladies of his target audience that he has to start with the miserable stuff before he can get onto the entertainment he promised earlier.
- How miserable? It's the plague, people. It can't get much worse.
- The descriptions he gives of the disease are graphic: swelling and dark patches on the skin, bruising where the infection makes the skin rot.
- Even worse: this disease was highly contagious, spreading like wildfire throughout the city.
- Level of contagion: even pigs that nosed through the rags of a plague victim caught the disease and died within a day.
- People are terrified of the sick. Instead of taking care of them, they abandon them.
- Some say the best way to avoid illness is moderation in all things. Others want to party all the time.
- The fact is, people knew their days were numbered. And they acted like it.
- Laws and morality crumble. Mothers and fathers wouldn't nurse their sick children. Women will (gasp!) show their plague-ravaged bodies to anyone who will help them.
- Even dead bodies get no respect: no proper funerals anymore. Dead bodies are dumped in the streets to be picked up on boards and carted off to a mass grave.
- The same horror is happening in the surrounding towns. Even peasants lived like there was no tomorrow and let their fields and animals go untended.
- The plague takes entire families and empties great houses of owners.
- But wait! Boccaccio focuses in on a little band of women surviving amid this misery.
- The ladies are of prime marriageable age, between 18 and 27, and all know each other.
- They meet at the church of Santa Maria Novella (get the play on "novella"?) to pray, and, let's face it, gossip a bit.
- If you remember from the Prologue, Boccaccio likes the ladies, and these girls are no exception: he doesn't want to use their real names in case he embarrasses them by relating some of the naughty stories they'll tell.
- He gives the rundown of their "fictional" names: Pampinea, Fiammetta, Filomena, Emilia, Lauretta, Elissa and Neifile. That's a fiction within a fiction.
- Pampinea prods her friends: why don't they high-tail it out of the city? They're only hanging out to count the corpses.
- Besides, they don't even have servants at home anymore.
- Pampinea describes what we would now call PTSD: she feels nothing but anxiety and sees the faces of the dead grimacing at her.
- She recalls that many of their young friends have fallen victim to the epidemic and they're no different. Why shouldn't they take care of themselves and get out while they still can?
- A road trip into the country might refresh their spirits. Bonus: they may have less of a chance to catch the Plague.
- Not so fast, says Filomena. Did Pampinea forget that they were just silly women? They really ought to have someone to rein them in.
- Elissa picks up on Elissa's cue: Oh, yeah. We need a man.
- But where does one find a man in plague-ridden Florence? All the good ones are...dead.
- What do you think happens next? Three men walk into the church. They're called Panfilo, Filostrato and Dioneo. No kidding.
- They are just the right sorts of fellows: none younger than 25, and still deeply interested in love despite the death and destruction around them. They'll be fun to have around.
- Neifile's worried about her reputation. She warns Pampinea that the men are in love with some of the women in their group.
- Filomena really wants to get away with these guys, so she convinces them by saying that they'll all behave super well, so that no one will have any reason to gossip.
- Pampinea makes the offer to the men: did they want to go away with them for a couple of weeks?
- The men can't believe their luck. Are the girls mocking them?
- Once they take Pampinea up on the offer, they're off to a palazzo (or palace) barely two miles outside of Florence (some road trip).
- Boccaccio describes the palace and it's a real locus amoenus—a sweet, secluded place with gardens and fountains. Just the place to chill and forget all the death and misery.
- Dioneo makes it clear that he's there for pleasure. He's left all cares behind in Florence.
- Pampinea is down with that, but she knows that pleasure won't last for long if it doesn't take some kind of form. Also, they could get into trouble if things aren't planned out.
- She comes up with a solution: each of them will get to be king or queen for a day. The sovereign is responsible for figuring out how to entertain them during his or her reign.
- Of course, Pampinea gets to be first. Filomena makes her a crown of laurel leaves.
- Pampinea lays down the law for the servants, orders breakfast and dismisses her friends to occupy themselves happily for a while.
- When they regroup, they make a discovery: it's @*$! hot there in the afternoon. Pampinea has an idea.
- They'll tell stories in the hottest part of the day to amuse themselves while keeping cool.
- And that's the set-up for the next ten days.
- Stories on the first day will be open topic, to keep things loose and light. And Panfilo will begin.
First Day, First Story
- Storyteller: Panfilo
- Panfilo starts out like a good boy by reminding his friends that they should begin in God's name. So he's going to tell a story about a saint. Well, sort of.
- Panfilo gives us a paradox: sometimes really bad people can become "holy" if the person calling on his name believes the scoundrel is holy.
- The question: are those prayers answered even if the saint was a truly horrible person? Panfilo says that God's generosity is so great that even prayers to a fraud would be answered.
- The scoundrel in question is called Master Cepperello/Ciappelletto.
- To give you an idea how bad this character is, "Cepperello" has a dual meaning in Italian ("Little Prick").
- He's so bad that a wealthy merchant named Franzesi hires him to do some money-collecting among the Burgundians.
- FYI, the Burgundians here are considered villains. Franzesi therefore knew he needed a villain to deal with them.
- As a notary, Ciappelletto would draw up as many false documents as you liked—for free.
- He'd give false testimony just for fun, was a gambler and card sharp, hated going to church, and cussed as often as possible.
- Basically, he's not the guy you want your sister to marry (if you like your sister).
- So off goes Ciappelletto to Burgundy to work his magic.
- But he gets sick while staying in the house of two Florentine money-lenders. Really sick.
- As Ciappelletto gets sicker, the two Florentines find themselves in a sticky situation: it would be really awkward if a man who won't take the last rites died in their house (the church would refuse burial and they'd be stuck with the body).
- But they can't throw him out into the street, either. It isn't nice.
- Ciappelletto hears this discussion and is one step ahead of them. He makes them call a friar so he can give a "confession." He doesn't want his friends to suffer because of him.
- Ciappelletto tells serious some serious whoppers during the confession, making the holy man think that he's led a saintly life.
- Ciappelletto's having a good time with his lies, even though he misses something important: the friar reminds him that no sin is too big to be forgiven, if you are truly sorry for it. Our scoundrel doesn't really care about this.
- The friar's so impressed by Ciappelletto's holiness that he offers to bury the man in his own convent if he should, in fact, die. Problem solved.
- Ciappelletto dies that same day. The friar and his fellows bury him with honors, believing that miracles will happen through the saintly man's intercession.
- The friar preaches about Ciappelleto's amazing life of piety and good deeds. People are so worked up that they grab pieces of Ciappelletto's clothes as a relic.
- Pretty soon, people make pilgrimages to the church to pray and make offerings to Ciappelletto.
- His convincing lies to the friar made the people believe so strongly in his saintliness that people claimed miracles worked in Ciappelleto's name.
- Panfilo ends his story by praising God in his generosity, since He clearly rewards the faith of his people, despite their ignorance.
First Day, Second Story
Abraham and Jehannot de Chevigny
- Storyteller: Neifile
- Neifile riffs off Panfilo's story about God's kindness in overlooking human error.
- She's doing this to strengthen their beliefs.
- Jehannot de Chevigny is friends with an honest and upright Jewish man named Abraham. He really wants Abe to convert to Christianity so he doesn't burn in Hell.
- Abraham isn't biting, but Jehannot won't stop trying to save his friend.
- So Abraham makes a deal. If he goes to Rome and finds that the Pope is a good person, he'll convert.
- Jehannot is dismayed. He knows that the Pope lives like a sinful and debauched monarch. He tries to change Abe's mind about visiting Rome because he knows what he'll see.
- But Abe goes anyway and sees for himself.
- He quickly realizes that everyone, from the Pope to the lowest clergyman, are degenerates of the worst kind—drunks, sodomites, and gluttons.
- Abraham also finds them to be money-grubbers of the worst order. They'd sell their grandmas for a buck.
- He's pretty disgusted, so he returns to Paris.
- He tells Jehannot about the ungodliness of the Christian clergy and how well they practice all seven of the deadly sins.
- In conclusion: he decides to become a Christian.
- Jehannot is stunned.
- Abraham explains that the Church is growing and flourishing despite the wickedness of its leaders, so it really must be a religion built by the Holy Spirit.
- Jehannot takes Abraham to Notre Dame and stands up as his godfather. He gives Abe the name John.
- Jehannot becomes a good and responsible godfather, hiring the best masters of religion to instruct his friend.
First Day, Third Story
Melchizedek and Saladin
- Storyteller: Filomena
- After Neifile's story of God and religion, Filomena wants to bring it down a notch to the doings of men.
- She hopes to make her audience more careful about answering questions and to prove that wisdom is its own reward.
- The great sultan Saladin had spent all his vast fortune on wars, and finding himself in a pinch he tries to persuade a Jewish man called Melchizedek to lend him some money.
- But Melchizedek isn't willing and Saladin doesn't want to force him. Well, not openly.
- So he sends for Melchizedek and asks him a question: Which is the authentic law, Jewish, Saracen (Muslim) or Christian?
- Melchizedek knows it's a trap, so he answers with a story about a man who bequeaths a precious ring to one of his sons.
- Whoever owns the ring will be considered the heir and everyone else will look up to him.
- This practice is passed down through generations until one of the descendants has three awesome sons, and can't decide who should receive it.
- So he gets a jeweler to make two more rings exactly like the first one.
- But this causes a problem, because after the father's death they find that the rings are so alike, they can't decide who should inherit what.
- Melchizedek concludes that these three religions follow the same pattern, and to this day, no one can say which one's the true law.
- Saladin sees that Melchizedek is wise and instead of roughing him up, tells him exactly what funds he needs.
- They come to an understanding and after a time, the Sultan pays him back in full.
- He also showers Melchizedek with gifts and they become BFFs.
First Day, Fourth Story
The Monk and the Abbott
- Storyteller: Dioneo
- Dioneo believes that their purpose in storytelling is to amuse and entertain.
- So he plans to do this by telling the story of a monk who used the naughty behavior of another to get out of a sticky situation.
- There was a young monk in Lunigiana who came upon a beautiful peasant girl gathering herbs nearby his monastery.
- He falls in lust with her and convinces her to come back to his cell so that they can indulge themselves.
- The Abbot hears them having fun in his room. The Abbot decides to hang onto that information for later.
- The young monk knows he's in trouble when he hears someone in the hallway. He looks through a crack in the door and sees the Abbot. Uh-oh.
- But he's a quick thinker and comes up with a plan. He tells the girl he's going to find her a way out.
- Then he goes to the Abbot and hands him his key (the monks do this whenever they're leaving).
- He tells the Abbot that he's going to pick up the remaining firewood he'd left outside.
- The Abbot makes a beeline for the young monk's room. You can probably imagine what he does when he finds the lovely young girl there.
- Shmoop blushes to say it, but it's important to the punch line: the Abbot is too old and large to assume the "missionary position." He lets the girl be alpha for this one.
- The young monk doesn't actually go for the firewood. He stands in the corridor and watches.
- When the Abbot's done with the girl, he decides to scold the young monk anyway.
- But the young monk's ready for him. He pretends that the Abbot's scolding him for his "technique" and not for the fact that he'd had a girl in his room.
- I didn't realize that we monks had women to "support," he jokes. He promises to do better next time.
- So the young monk gets away with his offense and finds ways to bring the girl back for more visits.
First Day, Fifth Story
The Marchioness of Montferrat and the French King
- Storyteller: Fiammetta
- Fiammetta begins with a standard piece of courtly love wisdom: if a man is right-thinking, he'll always look for a woman of a higher social station to love.
- And women will always make sure they don't choose someone of a higher rank.
- Her story features a woman who played by these rules and a man who tried to overlook them to his discredit.
- The Marquis of Montferrat has a wife who (surprise!) is beautiful and virtuous beyond every other woman in the world.
- The King of France hears about her and decides to take a slight detour on his way to join a crusade to the Holy Land.
- And since the Marquis is already on his way east, the king hopes to have his way with the Marquess.
- But the Marquess is onto him. She figures out pretty quickly that a king who wants to visit her in her husband's absence is up to no good.
- So she consults with the few male advisors she has left (most are off fighting) and comes up with a plan.
- The Marquess gathers up as many hens as she can find and has them prepared in various dishes for the king's dinner.
- When the king meets her, he is immediately struck by the arrow of love. He can't wait to sweet-talk her into doing what he wants.
- But as he's eating dinner, he realizes that all the dishes are chicken.
- He's perplexed, so he asks the Marquess what's up with all the hens? No cocks?
- The Marquess explains that like the hens, the women of her "neighborhood" may be dressed differently, but they are really the same as women everywhere.
- Translation: you don't need to go fishing for a woman around here, king, since beautiful women are everywhere.
- The king's immediately ashamed of his intentions and gets on his way to the Crusade as quickly as he can.
First Day, Sixth Story
The Good Man and the Inquisitor
- Storyteller: Emilia
- There once was a Franciscan friar in Florence who was supposed to be an inquisitor, but who was really in it for the $$, not for the faith.
- Someone in the city tells the friar that a wealthy man had gotten drunk in public and had praised the quality of the wine he drank in a slightly blasphemous way.
- The friar's delighted at this news. He proceeds to charge the poor sot with some very serious offenses.
- When the wealthy man's brought in, the friar makes sure that the man's scared enough to believe that he'll burn at the stake for his offenses.
- So the wealthy man pays a great sum of money to the friar to overlook his offense, and the friar makes the man do penance by wearing a large cross and attending church every morning.
- The good man does everything he's supposed to, including reporting every morning to the friar to "check in" and make sure that he's obeying the rules of his "probation."
- One morning, the good man goes to church and hears a phrase from the Gospel that he knows will serve him well: "For every one you shall receive a hundredfold." So he memorizes it.
- When he checks in with the Friar that morning, the clergyman asks him if he had anything to say about the Mass that morning.
- The good man says yes, there was something that he heard that made him feel sorry for all the friars.
- He's been watching how the friars gave away surplus vegetable broth to the poor, in huge quantities. If they were to get back a hundredfold for each one, says the good man, the friars would drown in it in the afterlife.
- This enrages the friar because it points up how the lazy clergy did so little good in this life that they'll only be getting back lots of soup for their efforts.
- He dismisses the good man from him forever to avoid more embarrassment.
First Day, Seventh Story
Bergamino and Cangrande
- Storyteller: Filostrato
- Filostrato snipes at Emilia for making an easy target (i.e. the clergy) the subject of her tale. Anyone can criticize the corrupt clergy.
- It's cooler, he says, when you take aim at an "unusual object" and hit your mark.
- The hero of his story will deserve greater praise, because he criticized a great prince.
- Cangrande della Scala, Lord of Verona, was usually a generous prince in all things. But one year, he had an attack of stinginess.
- He called together entertainers for a great party, but once everyone arrived he changed his mind and sent them all away with almost nothing.
- One of these was Bergamino, a comedian, who received nothing for his preparations from Cangrande.
- But he hung around anyway, hoping that the prince would loosen his purse strings and make it worth his while.
- Bergamino got nothing for his patience except an enormous bill from the inn where he stayed.
- In the end, he had to barter three of his finest gowns to the innkeeper for his room.
- But he stayed on. Bergamino put himself directly in front of Cangrande so the prince could see how dejected he was about not getting paid.
- Cangrande eventually took the bait and asked him what could possibly be wrong?
- Bergamino responded with a relevant story about Primas, a renowned grammarian, and a similar encounter he had with a notoriously generous Abbot of Cluny.
- Though Primas was a famous poet, he was poverty-stricken and learned that he could get a good breakfast if he went to see the Abbot of Cluny.
- But Primas wanted to make sure he didn't starve on the journey in case he got lost. So he took three loaves of bread with him.
- When he arrives at the monastery, sure enough, they're preparing a sumptuous breakfast.
- However, it was the practice not to set food on the table till the Abbot had entered the hall.
- When the Abbot walks through the door, the first person he sees is Primas, who's dirty and ill-mannered. It turns him off completely and he goes back to his room.
- Primas decides to dig into his emergency rations while he waits for the Abbot's temper to cool.
- Unfortunately, the Abbot's serving men tell him that Primas is chowing down on his own vittles in the dining room. This makes the Abbot feel even angrier toward the vagrant.
- But the Abbot has a sudden insight. He's always been generous, even to people who didn't deserve it. Why the sudden attack of miserliness?
- He finally thinks to ask who Primas is. When he finds out, he's appalled. Primas the grammarian!
- So the Abbot returns to the hall and puts Primas in a place of honor. He also gives him lovely parting gifts and puts his residence at Primas' disposal.
- When Bergamino finishes the story, Cangrande gets it. He tells Bergamino that, like the Abbot, he doesn't know why he's been so harsh with Bergamino.
- But he'll make exactly the same amends to him as the Abbot had done with Primas.
- In the end, Bergamino leaves with a lovely robe, money, a horse, and access to Cangrande's home for as long as he wants to stay.
First Day, Eighth Story
- Storyteller: Lauretta
- Although a Genoese gentleman called Ermino de' Grimaldi is richer than any man in Italy, he's a total miser. His frugality earns him the name Ermino Skinflint.
- While Ermino piles up his money, a silver-tongued courtier named Guglielmo Borsiere comes to town.
- Lauretta here spends a lot of time dissing the so-called nobles of her day, who are anything but noble when compared to Borsiere.
- Gone are the days when courtiers performed noble, peacemaking deeds for little reward, she says. The scoundrels of these days do nothing but gossip and spread trouble, and the worst of them are rewarded.
- Lauretta then calms down and tells us that Guglielmo gets a great welcome from all the best families of Genoa. He learns of Ermino's greed and can't wait to meet him.
- Likewise, Ermino hears good things of Guglielmo and invites him to see a new house that he's built for himself.
- Ermino asks Guglielmo if he can think of any completely novel subject that he might have painted on the walls of his home.
- Guglielmo's been waiting for this opening. He says that there's nothing new under the sun, but that he does know of something that Ermino knows nothing about: Generosity.
- Ermino's so struck by the comment that he promises Guglielmo to have it painted so well that others will never think Ermino was a stranger to generosity.
- And there's a bonus: Ermino took Guglielmo's comment so much to heart that he became the best and most generous gentleman of the city.
First Day, Ninth Story
The King of Cyprus and the Woman of Gascony
- Storyteller: Elissa
- Elissa wants to tell a story to show how one properly chosen word can be more effective than a strong punishment.
- A gentlewoman of Gascony is on the return leg of a road trip to the Holy Land when she's attacked by a gang of thugs in Cyprus. Naturally, she's pretty upset.
- She decides to lodge a complaint with the King of Cyprus, but everyone tells her she's wasting her time because he's spineless.
- The lady despairs but thinks that she'll feel better if she at least teases the king for his attitude.
- So she appears before him and "humbly" asks if he can teach her how to take such insults calmly, since he's so good at lying down and taking it.
- The king feels the sting of her comments and finally gets some courage. He punishes the lady's assailants and stands up to all the evildoers in his kingdom.
First Day, Tenth Story
Master Alberto of Bologna
- Storyteller: Pampinea
- Pampinea suggests that wit is the icing on the cake of good manners and conversation.
- It's especially appropriate for women to make witty remarks, since those kinds of remarks are usually brief and women should never speak for long periods of time.
- Wait, what?
- But modern women, she asserts, have lost the talent for making a witty remark. They're too obsessed by make-up and bling.
- They cover up their lack of intelligence with silence, thinking it makes them seem pure.
- But there's a time and place for everything: sometimes a woman thinks she's clever and tries her wit on a man—and it backfires.
- So Pampinea's going to tell a story that will help the ladies in her group avoid this mistake and keep men from thinking that women will always lose every argument.
- Master Alberto is an old physician who finds himself consumed by love for a beautiful young woman named Malgherida.
- Malgherida and her friends realize that the old man's in love with her and have a good time snickering at him behind his back.
- One day, the ladies decide to have some fun with Alberto, so they invite him in to have some wine and snacks with them.
- They ask him how it's possible that an old dude like him could fall in love with a woman like Malgherida, who has many young lovers-in-waiting.
- So Alberto gives them a great answer: as an older man, he's learned patience and hope. He's also observed that young women have some bizarre likes that can't be explained.
- Who knows, maybe Malgherida has a thing for old men, so he'll keep hoping.
- Malgherida thinks this is an excellent answer and can see that her nasty comments were misplaced.
- She tells Alberto that he's clearly worthy to be loved and that he's welcome to ask anything of her.
First Day, Conclusion
- Pampinea hands off her crown to the next queen, who'll not only decide the theme of storytelling for the next day, but will make scheduling arrangements for the day.
- Since this is the first day of storytelling, Pampinea realizes that she's setting precedents. She declares that each monarch should release the group a bit early each day so the new king or queen has time to make arrangements for the next day.
- Then she chooses Filomena as the next queen and crowns her. The entire group greets her as queen and mock-pledge their loyalty to her.
- Filomena's shy and doesn't really have the proper mindset for a monarch. She wants everyone to agree to her plans before she enacts them.
- She reaffirms the routine for the next day: wake up, play, breakfast, dance, nap, tell stories.
- But Filomena has a new restriction to impose on the game. From now on, they should have a theme for the day, and all storytellers should follow it in choosing a story.
- She decides that the second day's stories should relate to the unpredictability of Fortune.
- Everyone's okay with this except Dioneo. He asks to be exempted from this rule if he doesn't feel like conforming to the theme.
- In exchange, he'll always go last (like that's a bad thing).
- Filomena guesses his motivation. If the storytelling goes downhill, Dioneo will be there at the end to cheer them up.
- So she agrees and they all go off to play in the water until dinner.
- After dinner, there's singing and dancing.
- Emilia sings an odd little song to round out the day. It's either a riddle about an object, or an incredibly narcissistic set of lyrics about how much she loves herself. Even her friends are mystified.
Second Day, Introduction
- The ladies and gents wake up to a brand new day filled with singing birds and happiness.
- They wander through the gardens, make up garlands of flowers, and enjoy Nature.
- After they have their afternoon nap, they find a nice green meadow where they can begin their storytelling.
- Filomena chooses Neifile to begin the stories.
Second Day, First Story
- Storyteller: Neifile
- Neifile intends this story as a warning to people who would mock sacred things.
- Arrigo is a poor laborer in Trevisa who people believe is a saint.
- When he dies, a series of miraculous things happen, so the beliefs are confirmed.
- People want to get close to his body so that they might be cured of illness or win favor with the new saint.
- It so happens that three entertainers from Florence—Stecchi, Martellino and Marchese—show up in town during this exciting time.
- They want to get a good look at Arrigo's body, but the crowds are too intense.
- They need some kind of scheme to get through the crowds.
- Martellino comes up with one: he'll pretend to be a paralyzed man who needs the healing powers of the saint.
- So Stecchi and Marchese truss him up on a stretcher, and the crowd parts for them.
- Martellino's really playing up his part. The men surrounding Arrigo's body lift him up and lay him across the corpse.
- Martellino pretends like he's been cured.
- Unfortunately for him, there's another Florentine in the crowd who recognizes him and reveals the sacrilege to the crowd.
- The mood immediately turns ugly and the crowd's on the verge of lynching Martellino for mocking the saint.
- They start beating him, and Marchese and Stecchi have to get the watchman to keep the crowd from killing Martellino.
- Marchese and Stecchi allege that Martellino had "cut their purses"—like pick pocketing—so that the watchman will save his life by taking him into custody.
- But the crowds follow and some of the men claim that Martellino cut their purses, too.
- Martellino says he'll confess to the crime if the men can say when and where it happened.
- The men pick days that Martellino wasn't in the city. But the magistrate has a grudge against Florentines and is tempted to hang Martellino just for fun.
- Meanwhile, Marchese and Stecchi go back to their lodgings and ask the landlord to help them.
- He sends them to Sandro, a Florentine living in Trevisa. Sandro takes them to the prince.
- The prince has a good laugh at their expense, but in the end he goes to the magistrate and saves Martellino.
- He also feels sorry for their bad luck, so he gives them each a new set of clothes (Martellino definitely needs it).
- So the men return to Florence in one piece and richer by a new suit of clothes.
Second Day, Second Story
Rinaldo d'Este and the Widow
- Storyteller: Filostrato
- Filostrato wants to tell a story to help all newbie lovers navigate the unfamiliar and inhospitable terrain of Love.
- Rinaldo d'Este, a merchant, hooks up with some respectable-looking travelers on his way home from Bologna.
- But they're not respectable. They're thieves. And they intend serious harm.
- After traveling and chatting together happily for a couple of days, one of the thieves decides to toy with Rinaldo a bit.
- He asks Rinaldo if he ever says any prayers before traveling.
- Sure, says Rinaldo. He always says the Our Father and Hail Mary in the name of St. Julian, patron saint of innkeepers, so that he'll always find safe harbor at the end of the day.
- The thief tells him he's personally never prayed to St. Julian, but he does say some other prayers that are effective.
- He wonders out loud who will have better lodgings that night. Whose prayers will be answered? Of course, the thief knows that he and his compadres plan to mug Rinaldo that night and steal his money.
- Rinaldo doesn't know this, so you can imagine his surprise when his three new friends beat him to pieces and steal his horse and money late that night.
- To add insult to injury, they taunt him as they ride away: Let's see if St. Julian answers your prayers.
- So Rinaldo's left to fend for himself, half-naked in the snow outside the city walls.
- He heads for Castel Guglielmo in hopes of saving himself, but when he arrives, the city gates are closed and locked up for the night.
- Rinaldo sees that there's a house jutting out from the castle walls, so he makes a little nest for himself there. He does plenty of complaining to St. Julian—thanks for nothing.
- Inside the house lives the most beautiful lady that ever was (surprise), who was waiting for her lover, Marquis Azzo, to show up.
- But the Marquis is called away on urgent business, and the lady decides to get in the bath that she'd drawn for him. The bathing room is right on the other side of the door from where Rinaldo took shelter.
- She can actually hear his teeth chattering so she sends her maid to find out what's up.
- The maid finds Rinaldo nearly freezing to death and returns to her mistress to tell his pitiful story.
- The lovely lady takes Rinaldo in, lets him bathe, feeds him the dinner meant for the Marquis, and dresses him in her late husband's clothes.
- Since she was already in the mood for love—and Rinaldo's handsome—the two decide to make the most of the night.
- In the morning, the lady gives Rinaldo traveling clothes and money and helps him find his servant.
- How could it be better? Well, the three thieves were caught in the night and all of Rinaldo's belongings were restored to him.
- In the end, St. Julian did keep up his end of the bargain and Rinaldo had no need to complain. Ah, the twists and turns of Fortune.
Second Day, Third Story
Alessandro and the Abbot
- Storyteller: Pampinea
- Pampinea observes that there's no end to the things they could say about Fortune. That's because she's forever changing the outcomes of men's lives.
- We can see this by watching all the things that happen to us in just a single day.
- Three young men—Lamberto, Tebaldo and Agolante—inherit the enormous fortune of their father and proceed to burn through it pretty quickly by extravagant living.
- When they realize their situation, they sell what's left and leave Florence to seek their fortune in England.
- They do pretty well lending money at interest and they build up a huge fortune.
- They return to Florence and buy back their possessions, find wives to marry and send their nephew Alessandro off to England to manage the family business.
- But the brothers once again spend money like water, borrowing and piling up debt.
- Alessandro supports his uncles with the proceeds of their English business until a civil war breaks out and their clientele dries up.
- Alessandro sweats it out in England while his uncles continue to live it up in Florence.
- But after several years, things aren't looking up and the uncles and their families are thrown into debtor's prison.
- Alessandro eventually has to flee England for safety reasons. On his way to Florence, he joins up with the entourage of a newly appointed Abbot.
- As they ride along, bromance blossoms between Alessandro and the Abbot. Pretty soon, the Abbot offers him a position in his household.
- Alessandro proves to be a good hand at this, arranging lodging for them in the most inhospitable of places.
- But one night, everyone but Alessandro gets a bed. In the end, he has to sleep in a tiny closet in the Abbot's room.
- The Abbot, meanwhile, is not asleep. He's entertaining some serious feelings for Alessandro.
- He invites Alessandro to share the bed with him—you know, so he can be more comfortable.
- Pretty soon, the Abbot is caressing Alessandro's chest and Alessandro's getting a bit suspicious.
- But the Abbot's got a little secret that he's hiding. He's got breasts.
- It turns out that he's a she—a noblewoman on her way to the Pope to seek permission to marry.
- And now, she's proposing marriage to Alessandro as they lie in bed. He quickly agrees.
- In Rome, the "Abbot" reveals herself to the Pope. She's a daughter of the King of England and destined to marry the elderly King of Scotland.
- She tells the Pope that she's already married to Alessandro and asks for his blessing.
- This is an awkward situation, to say the least. The two knights accompanying the lady are ready to kill them both.
- The Pope realizes that the deed's already done, so he reconciles the knights to the couple and gives them a grand wedding celebration before they leave for Florence.
- Alessandro's new bride springs the uncles from prison and settles their debts. Then the new couple heads off to England via Paris to face Daddy.
- Alessandro turns out to be quite a peacemaker. He convinces the King of England not to kill him for stealing his princess AND reconciles the warring factions in the country.
- Alessandro and his bride live happily in England until he conquers Scotland with the help of his father-in-law.
Second Day, Fourth Story
Landolfo Rufolo and the Power of Fortune
- Storyteller: Lauretta
- Lauretta says that Pampinea will be a tough act to follow, but she's going to do it.
- How? She'll tell a story that has greater misfortunes and doesn't end quite so well.
- You won't really enjoy it as well as Pampinea's, she says, but you'll just have to deal.
- Landolfo Rufolo is a wealthy merchant from Ravello who foolishly tries to double his fortune with a risky business venture.
- It doesn't work out. Landolfo loses almost everything he has and realizes that he'll have to turn to piracy to recover his economic footing in the world.
- It turns out that Landolfo's a really great pirate—even better than he was at being a merchant—and raids enough Turkish ships to make himself a tidy fortune.
- At this point, Landolfo feels he has enough coin to choose early retirement, so he sails for home as quickly as he can.
- But Fortune will have none of this. A storm blows up and forces him into the protection of a bay.
- It also forces two Genoese ships to harbor there. They recognize Landolfo's vessel and decide to reclaim some of the booty for themselves.
- The Genoese quickly take Landolfo hostage, steal his booty (pirate booty, not the other kind) and sink his ship. The next day, they find themselves in the middle of another storm.
- The ship carrying Landolfo wrecks and sends everyone and everything into the sea. Landolfo winds up clinging to a chest until he washes up on the shore of Corfu.
- A kindly woman drags him from the sea and takes care of him until he's well. She also hands over the chest that he had been clinging to when she found him.
- And, of course, when Landolfo opens it, he finds it filled with precious jewels.
- But he's finally learned to be cautious, so he tells no one of his fortune as he makes his way back to Ravello.
- Once there, he cashes in the jewels, sends sums of money to the woman at Corfu and to others that helped him get back home, and lives happily ever after without having to return to the business world.
Second Day, Fifth Story
- Storyteller: Fiammetta
- A young horse-dealer from Perugia called Andreuccio decides to test his horse sense down in Naples.
- He takes 500 gold florins with him and brings a couple of other merchant friends. This will turn out to be a huge mistake.
- Because Andreuccio had never left home before, he does a few seriously stupid things. For one, he keeps pulling out his full purse at the horse market to show the traders that he means business.
- But the horse traders weren't the only ones to see the purse. A young and beautiful (and unscrupulous) Sicilian woman also sees it.
- The young woman, Madonna Fiordaliso, has an older woman (also Sicilian) with her as a companion. She recognizes Andreuccio and gives him a hug.
- It turns out that the old woman and Andreuccio's father had lived together for a long time, and she knows absolutely everything about the boy.
- So the young woman uses this information to devise a really wicked plan.
- When Andreuccio receives an invitation to Madonna Fiordaliso's house, he thinks it's because he's so good-looking. He responds so eagerly that he doesn't tell his friends where he's going.
- Fiordaliso lives in a part of town called "The Fleshpots." Yeah, it's what you think. But Andreuccio doesn't know this.
- When he arrives, Fiordaliso throws her arms around him and leads him into the bedroom.
- Then, she drops a bomb on him: Andreuccio, she says, I'm your sister.
- She uses every piece of information from her old companion to convince Andreuccio that his father and her mother hooked up in Sicily.
- Through a series of unfortunate events, so she says, she and her husband have landed in Naples as refugees.
- Andreuccio's amazed, but he's also gullible, so he buys her story.
- Fiordaliso cleverly arranges that he stay for supper and then for the night. She pretends to send word to his companions from Perugia to tell them of his plans.
- When he goes to bed, he asks the serving boy to show him where he can answer the call of nature.
- The boy leads him through a door. Andreuccio steps onto a loose plank and drops into the alley below the house.
- Ah, the classic loose-plank ruse.
- So now he's locked out of her house, standing in the street with only his "doublet and hose," and is covered in "filth" from the garbage in the alleyway.
- Most importantly, his purse is still in the house with his "sister."
- Andreuccio tries to get back inside, but Fiordaliso unleashes her bouncer on him.
- On the advice of smarter people, Andreuccio decides to give up and head back to his inn.
- He stinks to high heaven because he fell into doo-doo in the alley, so he decides to go down to the sea to wash it off.
- On the way, he encounters two men who ask what the heck happened to him. He explains and they come up with a plan.
- The two men invite him to come along on a "job" that will more than pay back what Andreuccio lost. It's an offer he can't refuse.
- Seems a few hours before, the Archbishop of Naples had been buried with lots of ecclesiastical loot. The men have decided that the dead man can't possibly use it.
- On their way to raid the tomb, they realize that Andreuccio still reeks, so they stop at a well to give him a bath.
- The men have to lower Andreuccio into the well on a rope because the bucket's missing. He's meant to tug the rope when he's done, and the two men at the top will haul him up.
- But Fate has other plans. As Andreuccio washes, officers of the watch came to the well for a drink.
- The two would-be tomb raiders freak out and take off, leaving Andreuccio at the bottom of the well.
- The officers haul at the rope and up comes Andreuccio, who has no idea what's happening.
- The poor officers think they've seen a ghost and Andreuccio barely has time to grab the rim of the well before they drop the rope and run away.
- Andreuccio encounters his two "friends," who were coming back to get him, and they finally go along to the cathedral.
- Once the tomb's pried open, the men argue about who's going into the tomb. Guess who loses the argument?
- Andreuccio robs the tomb, but he doesn't trust the two men. He keeps the archbishop's ring for himself and hands out the other goodies.
- But the men weren't born yesterday and they want to know where the ring is. Andreuccio insists that it isn't there.
- The men don't like that answer, so they shut Andreuccio in the tomb.
- Now Andreuccio's lying on top of the archbishop's corpse, pretty sure that he's not gonna get out of this one.
- But another group of grave robbers appears and opens the lid. When the priest (!) who is robbing the tomb puts his legs through the opening, Andreuccio grabs them and pulls.
- The grave robbers think the dead archbishop is trying to eat them. They leave the tomb open and run away.
- Andreuccio finally escapes and gets back to his inn. His friends have been wondering what happened to him.
- On the advice of their innkeeper, Andreuccio and his companions pack up and get out of town as fast as possible.
- So in the end, Fiammetta says, Andreuccio wound up investing in a ring rather than buying himself some horses.
Second Day, Sixth Story
- Storyteller: Emilia
- It's good for both the happy man and the miserable man to hear stories of Fortune's fickle nature, says Emilia.
- It keeps the happy man on his toes and gives the miserable one hope that things might get better.
- To prove this, she's going to tell a true tale that has a happy ending but in which things got worse before they got better.
- A man called Arrighetto Capece governed the island of Sicily during the reign of Manfred.
- Arrighetto has a beautiful wife named Madame Beritola and enjoyed the high regard of King Manfred.
- But all good things come to an end. Manfred's killed by Charles I and Arrighetto tries to flee the island ahead of the conquering forces.
- He's captured and handed over to King Charles. Meanwhile, a pregnant Beritola has to flee with her young son.
- A storm blows up and puts them off course. They wind up on the island of Ponza.
- Beritola leaves her sons on the beach and finds a private place to cry her eyes out over her fate. She does this every day.
- But one day, a pirate ship appears while she's off by herself. When she returns, her sons are gone and she finds herself alone on the island.
- She makes friends with a doe that has given birth to two little bucks. Since Beritola still has breast milk from her own recent pregnancy, she begins to feed the deer from her own breasts.
- This continues for some time, until Beritola has become quite wild from all the weeping and living on a diet of grass and water.
- This is called an "identity crisis."
- Months later, Currado of Malaspina and his wife anchor in the bay of the island and discover Beritola in the cave with her doe and baby bucks.
- They convince her to come away with them to a place where she isn't known, and the deer family goes with them.
- Beritola stays with Currado's wife as her "maid of honor" and the scene shifts to Genoa, where Beritola's sons have been left with their nurse to be slaves in the house of Guasparrino d'Oria.
- The nurse changes the boys' names so that they'll be safe from political backlash, and they wait patiently for their luck to change.
- But the older boy, now called Giannotto, runs away from servitude when he turns 16 and becomes an accomplished seaman.
- And as fate is a funny thing, he winds up in the service of Currado Malaspina on the very same estate as his lost mother.
- Giannotto learns that his father's not dead at all, but has been left to rot in the dungeons of King Charles I.
- And though the young man sees his mother often, neither of them recognizes the other.
- Now we add a love story to this drama: Currado's daughter, Spina, comes home a widow and falls in love with Giannotto. The feeling's mutual.
- But they get a little careless about their "meetings," and pretty soon they're caught by Currado and his wife.
- Daddy's upset, to say the least. He's all for killing them both in the worst possible way, but his good wife dissuades him. She convinces Currado to banish them to the dungeon instead.
- So things stand for a year, with the two lovers languishing away in jail.
- Then Fortune's wheel spins again, and the political balance changes. Sicily is taken out of Charles I's control.
- When Giannotto hears about this in prison, he tells his jailer who he really is. The jailer passes on the info to Currado.
- Currado realizes that Giannotto must really be Madame Beritola's son, Giusfredi. After speaking with both Giannotto and Beritola, he knows the truth and has a plan.
- He offers Spina's hand in marriage to Giannotto and arranges for them to get married in prison.
- Currado keeps everything a secret from the rest of the family, until the youngsters can gain some weight and look a little more presentable in front of the ladies.
- When Currado presents the couple to Beritola and his wife, Beritola eventually understands that the young man is her lost son, Giusfredi. She does what any refined lady would do—she passes out.
- Giannotto, now called Giusfredi, asks Currado to send someone to fetch his younger brother and the nurse. He also requests that an emissary be sent to Sicily to find out about his father.
- Back in Genoa, the emissaries explain to Guasparrino just who he'd been mistreating all those years. He's pretty appalled, because he knows how important Arrighetto is in the new political climate.
- He makes amends to the younger son, named The Outcast, by giving him his 11-year-old daughter for a bride. Ick.
- Anyway, they all go to Currado's estate and there's rejoicing and feasting.
- During the feast, the emissary to Sicily comes back with good news: Arrighetto has been restored to his former glory and is sending his people to collect up the family.
- After more days of feasting, Madame Beritola and her family get on a ship and sail for Sicily.
- And in the end, Emilia says, they manage to live happily ever after. She thinks, anyway.
Second Day, Seventh Story
- Storyteller: Panfilo
- Panfilo opens by calling Fortune a fickle wench. No one's immune from the "accidents" of Fortune.
- If you want to be happy, you've got to accept your lot as it falls.
- Then he gives a shout-out to the ladies: women sin through their desire to be beautiful.
- So he's going to tell a story that combines these two ideas, about a woman who was "unfortunately" beautiful.
- Beminidab is the name of the Sultan of Babylon even though it sounds like a new treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.
- He has a smoking hot daughter called Alatiel.
- She's been promised in marriage to the King of Algarve (modern day Morocco).
- So the Sultan fits out a ship and sends Alatiel off to her bridegroom.
- But here comes Fortune, the grumpy harlot. A storm blows up and destroys ship and crew.
- Alatiel survives with a few of her women, but now they're alone on a foreign shore.
- A nobleman named Pericone da Visalgo finds her.
- He can't speak her language, but beauty speaks for itself. Pericone falls hard for Alatiel.
- He decides to keep her as his mistress, if he can't actually marry her.
- Alatiel instructs her maidens to keep their identity a secret.
- Meanwhile, Pericone's getting hot and bothered—he doesn't know how to get Alatiel into his bed.
- So he tries what many another young man has done: he plies her with alcohol.
- It works. Alatiel doesn't know what she's been so worried about. The whole sex thing is pretty enjoyable.
- But Fortune is fickle. Have we said that?
- Pericone has a brother called Marato. He's into Alatiel, too.
- So Marato and his friends break into Pericone's house, murder him, and steal his stuff.
- Including Alatiel.
- They get on a ship for Corinth.
- Alatiel's freaked out, but apparently Marato has, um, his ways of consoling her.
- But, you know, Fortune.
- The ship's captained by two Genoese men, both of whom fall in love with Alatiel.
- They conspire together to get her, but they don't work out the fine details (like who gets her first).
- So they wind up pushing Marato overboard and then fighting each other for the girl.
- One dies and the other is injured. Body count=3.
- But the remaining guy "inherits" Alatiel and takes her to his house in Corinth.
- Beauty of this caliber can't be hidden for long. The Prince of Morea (The Peloponnese) hears of Alatiel's beauty.
- And a Prince trumps a sea captain, so he "wins" her.
- Because Alatiel's very high-class, the Prince treats her more like a wife.
- Alatiel feels fortunate and that makes her more beautiful. And that causes more trouble.
- Now, the Duke of Athens hears about her beauty.
- He murders the Prince (that's 4) and shoves him out his bedroom window.
- The Duke discovers Alatiel sleeping naked and is so aroused that he makes love to her with the Prince's blood still on his hands. Ew.
- Alatiel's spirited away by the Duke. But the Duke has a wife, so he keeps Alatiel secretly.
- Back at the Prince's house, they've figured out what happened and prepare to go to war with the Duke of Athens.
- The Duke prepares to defend himself and gathers his allies. And this is where the family tree comes into play.
- The Emperor of Constantinople sends his son, Constant. Constant is the brother of the Duke's wife.
- Did we mention that the Duchess is NOT happy about Alatiel?
- Constant's eager to meet Alatiel. Guess why?
- So instead of making war, Constant fakes illness and goes back to his sister. He promises to help her out by removing Alatiel. Because, you know, that's the kind of good bro he is.
- So he fits out a boat and abducts Alatiel, who has to take her pleasure where she can get it.
- But it's not over yet. Meet Uzbek, King of the Turks.
- He sees that Constant puts all his attention on his mistress and knows it's a good opportunity to attack.
- Uzbek conquers Constant and takes prisoners.
- Guess who's among them?
- Constant's father is not pleased about all this, so he works with the King of Cappadoccia to attack Uzbek.
- Together, they kill him and conquer the land.
- We've lost count of all the men who died for Alatiel.
- Alatiel's been left in the hands of Antico, Uzbek's faithful servant.
- Who's—you guessed it—smitten with Alatiel's beauty. But he also speaks her language, so Alatiel is won over.
- They flee together to Rhodes after Uzbek's death. Antico becomes ill and dies.
- He bequeaths his property to a Cypriot merchant. This property includes Alatiel.
- Now Fortune's wheel turns again. An old servant of her father's spots her. His name is Antigono.
- He urges her to tell of her misfortunes so that he can help her. She does.
- Antigono comes up with a plan to restore Alatiel to her former life. He instructs her in what to say.
- Then he negotiates with her father to bring Alatiel home.
- Alatiel tells an, um, "allegorical" version of her adventures to her dad, including a stay in a nunnery and adventures that are all chaperoned at every step.
- The Sultan falls for it, and makes arrangements for Alatiel to marry the King of Algarve. Again.
- But this time it sticks, and Alatiel is somehow able to convince her husband the King that she's a virgin.
- Which means, in this world, that they live happily ever after.
- Fun fact: the translator points out that Alatiel is an anagram for " la lieta," which means "happy woman." Boccaccio is maybe slyly suggesting that he knows what it is that makes women happy.
Second Day, Eighth Story
The Count of Antwerp
- Storyteller: Elissa
- All the ladies sigh after the story of Alatiel. The author suggests maybe they're wishing they were Alatiel with her many lovers.
- Elissa rejoices that there are so many stories she could choose to tell on the topic of Fortune
- But she has to choose one, so she picks a story about a time of transition (the Roman Empire moving to the hands of the Germans) and how Walter, the Count of Antwerp gets pulled into it all.
- So this Walter, Count of Antwerp is left behind to govern all of France when the King and his son go off to war against the Germans.
- He's a good-looking guy and recently widowed, so it's no surprise that the King's daughter-in-law soon falls for him.
- One day, she summons Walter to her boudoir so that she can confess her passion.
- Walter's astonished and because he's a loyal subject, he asks her if she's completely out of her mind.
- She doesn't take it well. Instead of accepting the situation, she musses her hair and begins to scream that Walter's trying to rape her. (FYI, this episode uses the Bible story of Potiphar's wife).
- Walter doesn't wait around to find out if the household staff believes in his innocence. He takes off for his estates.
- Gathering up his children and taking nothing else with him, he heads for England.
- Meanwhile, news reaches the King and his son about Walter's naughty behavior. They're so enraged that Walter's banished forever and his estates are destroyed.
- Walter knows that he and his children need to travel incognito, so he gives the children the new names of Jeannette and Perrot.
- Jeanette's taken in by the kindly wife of a King's marshal in London; Perrot is fostered by another of the King's marshals in Wales.
- Walter's heartbroken at the loss of his children, but he knows he had to give them up. He heads over to Ireland and becomes a servant to a baron.
- Meanwhile, Jeannette grows up to be a stunner. Her foster mother realizes that she must really be a nobleman's daughter, even though she can't prove it. Old trope: beauty=nobility.
- The lady's son—who is gorgeous and accomplished—falls desperately in love with Jeannette. But he assumes that his Mom won't approve because Jeannette comes from lowly parents. (Which she really doesn't. Are you following this?)
- He hides his love for Jeannette and we all know that doing this will only result in dire illness. (Hey, it's a courtly love story.)
- Pretty soon, the young man's on his sickbed and everyone despairs of his life.
- A clever young doctor quickly realizes that his patient's in love with Jeannette, so he tells the parents what he thinks is going on.
- Jeanette's foster mother tells her son that he should get well soon, because she's going to see to it that Jeannette will be his.
- She has no intention of marrying her son to a person with a questionable background, but she believes a little fling will cure him.
- But she doesn't anticipate Jeannette's unwillingness to become anyone's lover. Jeannette wants marriage and nothing less.
- In the end, the parents have to consent to the marriage because they don't want their son to die.
- So Jeannette marries the young man of the house and everyone's happy.
- Now back to Perrot, who's on the other side of the country. He's grown up to be handsome, courageous, a good jouster, etc., etc.
- As luck would have it, a plague of some sort strikes the area and everyone in the house where he grew up dies—except one daughter of his master and mistress. Naturally, she marries Perrot.
- The King of England elevates Perrot to the position of marshal, to take the place of Perrot's dead father-in-law.
- Walter decides it's time to look up his kids and see how Fortune has treated them. First, he goes to check on Perrot.
- But before revealing himself, he wants to see how Jeannette's doing. He's taken into the house out of pity by Jeannette's husband (whose name is Jacques) and fed in the kitchen.
- Jeannette's children take a shine to the old man and won't be separated from him.
- Despite his father's insults and grumbling, Jacques gives Walter a position in the household to take care of their horse and amuse the children.
- Back in France, the political tides begin to turn. The King dies and his son (the one with the lying wife) ascends the throne.
- Long political story short, the King of England sends some of his men to help the new King of France with a war and both Perrot and Jacques are sent to lead the English forces.
- Walter goes along with Jacques' crew. He performs his duties well but still flies under the radar.
- Meanwhile, the mendacious Queen of France is about to die. On her deathbed, she decides to confess her false accusation against Walter of Antwerp.
- The King of France feels just awful about the banishment of Walter, so he proclaims a reward for anyone who can find him and return him to France. He plans to elevate Walter even higher than his former rank.
- Walter brings Jacques and Perrot together, reveals his identity and tells Jacques to claim the reward from the King of France as the dowry he never received when he married Jeannette.
- Jacques is happy to do this. Walter appears before the King in his ragged clothes, just to shame him more. It works. The King restores Walter to his proper rank.
- Walter tells Jacques to take the enormous reward back to his snob of a father and rub it in his face.
- The whole family's joyfully reunited for a time in France where Walter remains for the rest of his life.
Second Day, Ninth Story
Bernabò and Ambrogiuolo
- Storyteller: Filomena
- Since Dioneo has to be allowed to go last, Filomena has to tell her tale now.
- She opens with a proverb: "A dupe will outwit his deceiver."
- Filomena hopes that this will help us be on guard against people who would deceive us.
- A group of Italian merchants in Paris are having a great time at dinner, talking about the women they left behind in Italy.
- They all agree that they don't know what their wives are doing when they're out of town, but who cares? The merchants are certainly enjoying whatever pretty women come their way.
- But Bernabò disagrees with them. His wife is golden. She's even as good as a knight or a squire.
- He brags a lot about her accomplishments and then adds that she's virtuous and chaste.
- Ambrogiuolo, another merchant, laughs at all this. He gets into it with Bernabò and goes on a long tear about men having stronger moral fiber than women.
- How would it be possible for Bernabò's wife to resist what all other women cannot?
- Bernabò continues defending virtuous women and Ambrogiuolo insists that he's missing the truth that's right under his nose.
- Bernabò then puts his money where his mouth is. If Ambrogiuolo can turn his wife's head, then Bernabò will give him 1,000 florins.
- Ambrogiuolo ups the ante. He'll do it in three months' time—and wager 5,000 to his 1,000.
- He'll prove he's done the deed by bringing back her panties. Well, he'll bring back some "intimate possessions" of hers.
- Game on. Ambrogiulo makes a beeline for Genoa.
- He makes friends with a poor woman who's close to Bernabò's wife. In the end, he persuades her to have him carried into the house in a chest, which is then set at the foot of the lady's bed.
- After the lady's asleep, creepy Ambrogiuolo gets out of the chest and begins to procure those "intimate" tokens as proof.
- He also takes a peek at her naked body while she sleeps, and sees that she has a mole under her breast.
- Ambrogiuolo takes some items from her bedroom and voila! He's got enough information to "prove" that he slept with her.
- He creeps back into the chest and waits to be carried out again.
- Ambrogiuolo travels back to Paris and describes the bedroom and Zinevra's breast mole to Bernabò.
- Bernabò is crushed! Here's absolute proof that Zinevra had been naked with Ambrogiuolo.
- He pays up the wager and heads back to Genoa.
- And then the story gets all Snow White.
- Bernabò instructs his servant to fetch his wife for him and kill her when he reaches a secret enough place.
- As the servant's about to murder her, she asks why.
- Basically, he's afraid not to carry out his master's orders but Zinevra convinces him that she can get him off the hook.
- She'll disappear and he can claim that he's killed her.
- So Zinevra dresses like a man and signs on as cabin-boy on a Catalan ship. She calls herself Sicurano.
- She winds up at the court of the Sultan in Alexandria and carries out her duties so well that she becomes a trusted servant there.
- The Sultan sends her to Acre (now northern Israel) to oversee a trade fair. As she's inspecting the goods, she recognizes some items that belonged to her.
- Ambrogiuolo's there and begins to brag about his "conquest." Sicurano gets him to tell the whole story about his having sex with Zinevra.
- Sicurano has a eureka moment. Now she understands Bernabò's anger.
- And it's her turn for revenge. She lures Ambrogiuolo to Alexandria and also gets Bernabò to make the journey.
- They're both brought before the Sultan, who forces Ambrogiuolo to tell the truth.
- Bernabò is also forced to admit his wrongdoing in killing his innocent wife.
- Sicurano goes for the big reveal, ripping open her shirt and showing her breasts.
- The Sultan is surprised, but praises Zinevra for her good character.
- Bernabò grovels at her feet and Zinevra takes him back.
- But Ambrogiuolo? He's smeared with honey, tied to a pole and left in the sun to be eaten by bugs and suffocated by the heat.
- The Sultan awards Zinevra all of Ambrogiuolo's money and gives her tons of precious jewels and shiny things.
- Then he sends the happy couple home with great honors.
- Ambrogiuolo's bones are left to bleach out in the sun for a long time, as a warning to deceivers.
Second Day, Tenth Story
Paganino and Ricciardo
- Storyteller: Dioneo
- Dioneo confesses that Bernabò's gullibility has made him change his mind about the story he meant to tell.
- Women, as we all know, do not hang around doing nothing while their husbands are having fun.
- Dioneo also wants to demonstrate how people use flawed reasoning to defy Nature.
- In Pisa, there's a feeble old judge called Ricciardo who insanely decides to marry a young and beautiful woman named Bartolomea.
- On their wedding night, he can barely consummate the marriage.
- In the morning, he has to rely on the medieval equivalent of a 5-Hour Energy Drink to get himself together.
- Ricciardo has also convinced her that almost every day of the week is some religious holiday or other, and that they should abstain from sex as a sign of devotion.
- And so things might have stood, if Ricciardo hadn't taken a little fishing boat out to sea on vacay.
- While they're drifting farther and farther from the shore, Paganino the pirate arrives and pursues them.
- Paganino is charmed by Bartolomea's beauty and snatches her up.
- For some reason, Bartolomea's upset. Paganino comforts her; he doesn't worry about holy days.
- They flee to Monaco and live a very happy life until Ricciardo discovers them.
- He offers a ransom to Paganino to get his wife back.
- Paganino counters: if she is, in fact, his wife and she wants to go with him, then so be it.
- But Bartolomea acts as though she's never seen Ricciardo before.
- Ricciardo asks to speak to her in private (just in case she's being strong-armed by Paganino).
- Once they're alone, Bartolomea acknowledges that he's her husband. Sort of.
- She asks him why he chose to marry since he had no intention of "tilling her little field."
- She wants to work it while she's young, she says, and therefore she's staying with Paganino.
- Ricciardo begs her to consider her honor and promises to make a greater effort in a certain area.
- This is where Bartolomea loses her temper. She schools him on what honorable behavior really is.
- And then she insults him for trying to hang on to a fresh, young wife happy with his decrepit old body.
- She tells him to leave immediately or she'll scream and tell Paganino that Ricciardo tried to molest her.
- So Ricciardo goes back to Pisa without his wife, becomes insane, and dies.
- Back in Monaco, word reaches Paganino that Bartolomea's a now a widow.
- He then takes the opportunity to make Bartolomea his proper wife.
Second Day, Conclusion
- Everybody got a major kick out of this story, but Filomena can see that it's getting late.
- She realizes it's time for a transfer of power, so she takes the laurel crown off her head and passes it to Neifile.
- Neifile blushes and Boccaccio says she looks even more beautiful for it. But don't be tricked: she's no shrinking violet. She has a few ideas about how to rule the group.
- First, she says, they need to take a two-day sabbatical from storytelling. Since the next day is Friday, they need time for religious observances and on Saturday they have to bathe, whether they need it or not.
- Also, since they fast on Saturday in honor of the Virgin Mary, it wouldn't be a great time for a game like theirs.
- And there's one more thing: they should really think about moving to a new location, so they don't get invaded by others fleeing from Florence.
- But don't worry, Neifile says. She's got it under control.
- She also feels that their subject for that day was too broad, so she's going to narrow it down even more. So when they tell stories next, they'll tackle the theme of "Ingenuity and Industry."
- In other words, stories about people who work hard to achieve or recover something.
- Everyone agrees with Neifile, of course, and they go to play in a garden until supper.
- The day ends with Emilia dancing and Pampinea singing a song about a happy, requited love.
Third Day, Introduction
- By that Sunday, the group has moved to its new digs (only two miles away) and spends the afternoon exploring all of its delights.
- It's a real paradise, complete with a well-stocked wine cellar, a full well and lots of lovely nightingales to sing to them.
- They explore a walled garden (that's a hortus conclusus for those in the know) that's practically mystical.
- The central feature of this pleasure garden is a marble fountain spraying a high jet of crystal-clear water and flowing into channels all around the garden.
- The brigata is tickled by Neifile's choice of location.
- After naptime, they gather around the fountain to tell their stories.
Third Day, First Story
Masetto da Lamporecchio
- Storyteller: Filostrato
- People are sadly mistaken, says Filostrato, if they think that a woman leaves behind her carnal desires when she becomes a nun.
- They're also incredibly stupid to think that rough living and constant prayer will take away these desires.
- Filostrato will tell a tale that will bust those myths wide open.
- A man called Nuto once tended the gardens and did odd jobs around a local nunnery. But he earned a poor wage and wanted out, so he collected his money and returned to his home village of Lamporecchio.
- When he got there, a young laborer called Masetto asked him what kind of work he'd done and why he'd left.
- So Nuto explained that the nuns, though young, were kind of evil and hard to please. Plus, they paid him badly.
- Masetto thought, "Eight young nuns? Sounds like my kind of place!" So he sets off for the convent to see if he can pick up Nuto's old job.
- But he knows that it'll be hard to convince a religious order to hire a handsome and strong young man, so Masetto pretends he's deaf and mute.
- After he shows the steward of the place how well he can work, the steward refers the matter to the Abbess, who thinks they can keep Masetto on if he knows about gardening.
- Which he does. Pretty soon, the nuns begin to tease him, thinking he can't hear.
- One day, two of the nuns see him "sleeping" in the garden and make some plans to learn more about the pleasures of the flesh.
- It's a perfect set up, says one of the nuns. Masetto can't speak and is probably intellectually deficient, so he'll never be able to tell anyone.
- They decide to take him into the hut and have their way with him. Of course, Masetto hears the whole plan and very willingly goes along with it.
- Pretty soon, the other nuns catch on to the pleasures enjoyed by their sisters. They want their share, too.
- Now Masetto finds himself the stud of the nunnery. Only the Abbess hasn't taken part in the enterprise.
- Until one day when she finds Masetto truly asleep in the garden (he's pretty exhausted by his night shift duties).
- The Abbess takes him back to her room and monopolizes him for days. The other nuns complain.
- In the end, Masetto can't take it anymore. Eight nuns and one Abbess are too much for one man, so he decides to reveal his secret.
- The Abbess is shocked by his ability to speak—which he tells her he's just recovered—and even more shocked by the fact that he's servicing the whole abbey.
- Masetto gives her an ultimatum: either work out some kind of schedule with the nuns or I'm outta here.
- The Abbess decides to keep him at the abbey so that he won't talk and destroy their reputations.
- She makes him steward and he stays until he's an old man, fathering many "nunlets and monklets" in the process.
Third Day, Second Story
Agilulf and the Groom
- Storyteller: Pampinea
- King Agilulf of Lombardy marries Theodolinda, the beautiful widow of the former king.
- But a lovely Queen doesn't go long without an admirer and Theodolinda's no exception.
- Her lover is of incredibly low social status, but also capable and handsome.
- He's also not stupid, so he keeps his love to himself. Instead, he tries to do things for the Queen that will attract her notice.
- The Queen shows him a small bit of favor by always choosing the horse under his care to ride.
- But that's all the hope the groom gets, and pretty soon, it just isn't enough. His love burns even hotter and he determines to die if he can't have her.
- But he's going to do it in such a way that a) The Queen knows the reason he died and b) he'll be able to get what he wants from the Queen just before he dies.
- The groom decides that the best way to do this is to impersonate the King. They're the same height, after all.
- So the groom hides in the palace to study what the King wears and how he behaves when he approaches the Queen's chamber for the night.
- The groom finds a cloak similar to the King's and chooses a stick so that he can bang on her door the way the King does. Then he takes a nice bath so that he doesn't offend with his odor.
- And guess what? His plan works. He manages to "enjoy" the Queen multiple times in one night.
- After he leaves, the Queen gets a surprise visit from the real King, who is feeling very rested and ready to make a night of it.
- The Queen tells him that he should really take it easy; he might hurt himself if he does too much "work" in the evenings.
- Agilulf immediately understands what must have happened, but keeps quiet. He can tell that the Queen has no idea that she'd been duped.
- Later on, Agilulf makes his way to the servants' quarters so that he can check the heart rate of the "sleeping" servants. Surely, the guilty party would still be pumped up after that exertion?
- When he reaches the groom, he knows he's got his man. But he's still concerned for his wife's (and his own) reputation, so he doesn't make a fuss.
- Instead, he grabs a pair of shears and cuts off a lock of the groom's hair so that he can identify him in the morning.
- The groom, meanwhile, is really awake but pretending not to see what the King's doing. After Agilulf leaves, the groom comes up with an ingenious plan: he'll just cut a lock of hair off of all the sleeping servants.
- So when the King lines them up the next morning, he finds that all the servants have the same lock of hair cut off. He can't identify the perp.
- Agilulf realizes that his adversary is clever and—still concerned about his reputation—issues a general warning and leaves it at that.
- In doing this, King Agilulf scores a point: he doesn't distress his wife or reveal his shame but makes sure that the groom knows his moves and won't allow him to get away with those shenanigans again.
Third Day, Third Story
The Gentlewoman and the Confessor
- Storyteller: Filomena
- Filomena rips into the clergy, saying that all friars are feeble-minded pigs.
- She wants to tell a story to prove that even the clergy are capable of being deceived.
- In Florence, there was a gentlewoman who was married off to a rich merchant.
- She hated him because she felt that she should have been married to a gentleman.
- So she decides to find some other way of satisfying herself. That is to say, with some other man.
- But she's a discreet woman and won't use her maid as a go-between.
- Instead, she hooks up with a fat friar who's a friend of the object of her desire.
- She pretends that this man has threatened her virtue and asks if the friar will please get him to stop his wicked behavior.
- The next time this handsome gentleman visited his friar friend, the clergyman gives him a good talking to about his wickedness.
- At first, the man is amazed. Then he understands the woman's plan. He cruises by her house and serious flirtation starts.
- The gentlewoman wants things to proceed, so she visits the friar again.
- This time, she complains that the gentleman sent her a belt and purse as a gift. Would the friar please take them back and tell him to stop?
- So the friar meets up with the gentleman again, and gives him a good lecture—and the belt and purse.
- The friar doesn't realize it, but the he's now delivering gifts between the lovers.
- Then the gentlewoman's husband goes to Genoa for business and she decides to push her luck further.
- She goes back to the friar and tells him the harrowing story of how his friend must have learned that her husband was away from home, because he appeared at her window and saw her naked.
- The friar is about to pop a vessel at this news. He confronts the gentleman, who receives the information exactly as the gentlewoman intends it.
- The next morning, he's in his lover's arms. They spend their time together making fun of her husband and the friar.
- Soon they arrange a better way to hook up than using the friar.
- Filomena ends the story with a funny little prayer, asking God to give her a similar fate as these two lovers.
Third Day, Fourth Story
Dom Felice and Friar Puccio
- Storyteller: Panfilo
- Panfilo's feeling pretty naughty at this point. Sometimes, he says, you send someone to heaven while you're trying to get there yourself.
- This story is the perfect example of a man who did just that, and the lucky wife that reaped the rewards.
- There once was a guy named Puccio, who was part of the Franciscan order. He took the title "Friar" even though he didn't live in a cloister.
- In fact, he was married to the young and beautiful Monna Isabetta.
- She wasn't too happy about Friar Puccio's ideas about sexual abstinence.
- Whenever she felt "playful," Puccio would talk about Jesus or "sermonize" her.
- This got old quick. Isabetta required someone else to take over Puccio's duties.
- Enter Dom Felice, who is, ironically, actually a monk attached to the local church.
- Friar Puccio works hard to be friends with him because Dom Felice appears to be saintly.
- Felice decides to help Puccio out by pleasing Isabetta.
- Of course, she takes him up on his advances, with one stipulation: she'll only do it in her own house.
- This is difficult, because Puccio never leaves unless it's to go to church.
- So Felice decides to make his own luck by fooling Puccio. He's going to share with him a sure fire recipe for saintliness.
- He convinces Puccio that he'll go to heaven if he follows his simple plan.
- Here it is: Puccio has to confess his sins and fast for 40 days (from both food and sex).
- Puccio also has to find a place in the house where he can gaze up at the heavens at night and contemplate Jesus' crucifixion.
- While he's doing this, he has to say 600 prayers (Our Father and Hail Mary).
- And BTW, he has to do all of this while assuming the position of Christ on the cross.
- In the morning, he's allowed to rest, but then he has to attend 3 masses at the church.
- Puccio's thrilled.
- So is his wife.
- Because while he's doing all this penance, his wife's in the room next door tasting a little bit of heaven herself.
- One night, however, Dom Felice gets a little too...frisky. Puccio hears the ruckus and calls out to his wife.
- Isabetta's prepared with a good answer: she's been fasting too, and it makes her restless at night.
- After that close call, Isabetta and Felice make up a bed in another part of the house and continue their play.
- Here's the pun: Isabetta quips that Puccio is doing penance, but that they (Felice and Isabetta) are the ones in Paradise.
- But all good things must come to an end. The 40 days go by. Of course, Felice and Isabetta figure out more ways to continue their pleasures.
Third Day, Fifth Story
Zima and Messer Francesco
- Storyteller: Elissa
- Boccaccio adds an interesting character note about Elissa when he transitions from Panfilo's story to hers: she speaks like a snob out of habit. Hmmm.
- But we digress. Sometimes, Elissa says, we assume that people are stupid just because we're smart. That usually leads to problems.
- It's always best not to open yourself up to backlash in this situation, but Elissa says she's going to tell us a story about a person who does just that.
- There was a gentleman of Pistoia called Messer Francesco who was both wealthy and smart, but he was also a jerk, mean-spirited and full of himself.
- When he was appointed Governor of Milan, he wanted to make a good show of coming into town, but couldn't find a splendid enough horse to make an entrance.
- But a man named Ricciardo (a.k.a. "Zima") had an awesome horse. The problem? Zima's in love with Messer Francesco's beautiful wife.
- Everyone knows this, and tells Francesco that the horse will be his for the asking because of Zima's affection for his wife.
- So Francesco asks and Zima makes a proposal: let me talk to your lady for a while and you can have the horse.
- Francesco thinks that Zima's an idiot, so he tells his wife to go and listen to Zima but not to speak back to him.
- Zima speaks with her and claims that he'll do anything she asks, offers all his possessions (including himself) and promises that he'll die if she doesn't show him some compassion.
- And voila! The lady can't help but fall in love with him right then and there. But she can't speak to Zima, because she promised her husband she wouldn't.
- Zima has a clever remedy for this. He decides to answer his own plea for her and even puts on a female voice to do it.
- In doing this, he mentions an opportunity for the two of them to hook up: when Messer Francesco takes that good horse of Zima's and heads off to Milan to take up the office of governor.
- Zima even arranges a signal with the lady as he continues to answer for her.
- After switching back to his own voice and bidding her farewell, Zima confronts Francesco for not allowing the lady to speak.
- So Francesco leaves town and the lady decides not to waste her youth and beauty on an absent husband. She sets up the signal for Zima.
- The lovers manage to keep things going well beyond the six months of Francesco's absence. And so, Zima's well paid back for the loss of his good horse.
Third Day, Sixth Story
Ricciardo and Catella
- Storyteller: Fiammetta
- Fiammetta goes back to Naples for this story of a woman who gets duped into taking a lover.
- It's a cautionary tale for the ladies, she says, but also one that should make them laugh.
- A nobleman called Ricciardo is married to a lovely and young wife but falls in love with a woman called Catella, who's the most beautiful woman in all of Naples.
- But Catella won't have anything to do with Ricciardo, because she's horribly, jealously in love with her own husband, Filippello.
- Naturally, Ricciardo pines away for her until he learns just how insanely jealous she is of her husband.
- Then he devises a plan to get what he wants. First, he makes everyone believe that he's transferred his love from Catella to another woman.
- Then, he tells Catella quite casually about an affair that her husband's having.
- Ricciardo claims that it's with his own wife. He tells Catella that he knows about it because his wife has revealed all to him and he's been directing her responses to Filippello.
- He also explains that Filippello and his (Ricciardo's) wife are supposed to meet at a Turkish bath house in the city the next afternoon.
- Ricciardo has no intention of sending his wife to such a meeting, but he advises Catella to show up and give her husband a good scolding.
- Of course, Catella swallows the story whole.
- Ricciardo goes to the bath house and arranges with the woman who runs it to play along with his little joke. She reserves the darkest room in the place for them.
- The next day, Catella arrives and asks for Filippello. The woman quickly leads her to a waiting Ricciardo.
- The room's so dark that Catella doesn't realize her mistake. Ricciardo whispers to her so she doesn't recognize him and gets her to bed as quickly as possible.
- Catella expects that she's tricked her husband into having sex with her when he meant to have an adulterous tryst with Ricciardo's wife.
- After they do their thing, Catella reveals who she really is and gives Ricciardo—who she still thinks is her husband—a tongue-lashing.
- I could have had Ricciardo, she tells him, since you've gone ahead and had an affair with his wife.
- Ricciardo speaks up and reveals his true identity. Catella freaks out.
- This is where things get a little creepy. Ricciardo holds Catella down so that she can't storm out of the room and forces her to see his point of view.
- After he whispers sweet nothings in her ear, she changes her mind and learns to enjoy the fruits of Ricciardo's trick.
- Catella enjoys it so much that she and Ricciardo find ways to carry on the relationship to their hearts' content.
Third Day, Seventh Story
Tedaldo degli Elisei
- Storyteller: Emilia
- Tedaldo degli Elisei (a Florentine) has the bad luck to fall in love with Monna Ermellina, who's inconveniently married to another man, Aldobrandino Palermini.
- For a while, it works out: Ermellina gives him, um, what he asks for and he's very pleased.
- But suddenly, she refuses to see him without giving a reason.
- Tedaldo's devastated, so he decides to slink away without telling anyone except one friend.
- He arrives in Ancona and takes the name Filippo di Sanlodecchio.
- This Filippo finds employment with a merchant and he immediately ships off for Cyprus.
- He does so well in his new position that he's rewarded with a good salary and great responsibility. Things stay like this for seven years.
- But one day, Filippo hears someone singing a song that he'd composed about his former lover, and all of his longing returns. He decides to return home to catch a glimpse of her.
- When he arrives in Florence, he walks to Ermellina's house and finds that it's been closed up.
- Filippo then walks on to his former home and sees his brothers standing around, all dressed in black.
- He asks around and finds out that his own brothers are in mourning because their brother Tedaldo (i.e. himself) had been murdered.
- Filippo/Tedaldo is even more amazed to hear that Aldobrandino has been accused of his murder.
- As he tries to sleep at his inn that night, Tedaldo sees three men enter from the roof and confess to the murder of a man they call Tedaldo.
- The real Tedaldo knows that he has to do something to save Aldobrandino (even though he's the husband of his lady love), so he comes up with a plan.
- First, he visits Ermellina to learn why she snubbed him so long ago.
- She doesn't recognize him and Tedaldo manages to impress her so much with his intimate knowledge of her situation that Ermellina thinks he's a prophet.
- Tedaldo exploits that very nicely. He tells Ermellina that God's angry with her for one particular sin that she committed in her youth (i.e. rejecting Tedaldo).
- Ermellina tells him that she cut off Tedaldo because a friar told her she'd wind up in the deepest pit of Hell if she continued her affair.
- Tedaldo tells her that he's a friar himself (FYI, a total lie) and he can say with total certainty that "modern" friars are far from holy.
- In fact, they only want women and money, so they torment lay people with stories of hell and punishments.
- Tedaldo spends a long time on the wickedness of friars to say one thing: friars denounce the sins of lay people so that they can clear the way to perpetrate those sins themselves.
- He convinces Ermellina that she, in fact, had stolen from Tedaldo (because she had given herself to him and then took herself away) and sent him into exile and ultimately caused him to be murdered.
- Isn't that much worse, he says, than garden-variety adultery?
- To sum up: Ermellina's husband is about to die for murder and she herself is in despair all because of her stupid need to follow the advice of a "holy man."
- The "friar" makes her promise that if Tedaldo should return, she'll give herself to him again.
- Ermellina thinks that this is nuts—she's seen Tedaldo's dead body—but she promises.
- With that, Tedaldo shows her a ring that she'd given to him on their last night and reveals his identity.
- Ermellina's mighty freaked out. She thinks Tedaldo has come back from the grave.
- After a few kisses, Tedaldo's off to see Aldobrandino in jail. Still disguised, he asks Aldo to do one thing if he's freed: forgive Tedaldo's brothers for landing him in jail.
- Aldobrandino promises readily to do this—and Tedaldo is off again to see the judge.
- In the end, Tedaldo manages to convince the judge that the two innkeeper brothers were guilty of the murder in question.
- The men are arrested and confess to the murder of Tedaldo, but the reason they give is interesting: the man had been pestering one of their wives and had tried to rape her.
- So the thugs are summarily dispatched and Aldobrandino is released. There's much rejoicing in his house, but still no one knows that Tedaldo's really alive.
- Aldobrandino makes good on his promise to reconcile with Tedaldo's brothers and invites them for a banquet, where he pardons them in public.
- Finally, Tedaldo reveals himself to them. At first, they don't believe he's alive. He has to convince them by relating things only the real Tedaldo would know.
- After the partying dies down (a few days, give or take), Tedaldo settles back into his life.
- The people of Florence still weren't 100% convinced that he was the real Tedaldo. Then they learn, by accident, who the real dead man was.
- One day, a group of soldiers passes through town and greets Tedaldo by the name Faziulo. As soon as Tedaldo speaks, they realize their mistake, but the description they give of their missing friend and his clothing fit the murdered man to a tee.
- Now that the question of his identity is cleared up, Tedaldo lives happily ever after.
- And no—Ermellina never refuses him again.
Third Day, Eighth Story
Ferondo and the Abbot
- Storyteller: Lauretta
- Lauretta declares that she MUST tell us this story because a) it's true; and b) it's stranger than fiction.
- It involves another mix-up between the living and the dead, the saintly and the foolish.
- There was an Abbot who was very holy, except for his habit of loving beautiful women (surprise, surprise).
- The Abbot has a friend called Ferondo. Ferondo isn't the most cultivated of people, but he does have a beautiful wife.
- And of course our Abbot falls desperately in love with her.
- Ferondo's a fool, but he keeps a watchful eye on his wife. This drives the Abbot nuts, because he can't find an opportunity to be alone with her.
- The wife's duped into believing that the Abbot is truly a holy man and she wants to confess her sins to him.
- Ferondo thinks nothing of this and gives her permission to go.
- Her confession is an earful. She says that Ferondo is an idiot and jealous to boot. What's she to do?
- The Abbot likes this very much and tells her that they will have to cure Ferondo of his jealousy by sending him to Purgatory.
- He intends that Ferondo should die for a little while, go to Purgatory to pay for his sins and then, with the help of special prayers, come back to life.
- He warns the wife that though she'll be a widow temporarily, she can't remarry.
- She just has to offer some form of payment to him for this service. Can you guess what it will be?
- Ferondo's wife is freaked out by his request. How is this saintly behavior? Don't worry, says the Abbot. Saintliness belongs to the soul and what he wants has only to do with the body.
- So the Abbot takes a miracle powder that he received from some random eastern prince and mixes it with Ferondo's wine.
- Ferondo loses consciousness, is declared dead and quickly buried in a tomb.
- That night, the Abbot takes a trusted monk-friend with him to the tomb and relocates Ferondo to a vault inside the cloister. Now he's in Purgatory!
- The Abbot then dresses in Ferondo's clothes and makes many trips to the new widow's house, to collect his "payment." People think that Ferondo's ghost is wandering about doing penance.
- Meanwhile, Ferondo wakes up to find himself in a vault with a strange monk. The monk gives him a good beating with sticks.
- Ferondo learns that he's in Purgatory and that he's going to be beaten twice a day for the sin of being jealous of his wife.
- He promises the monk that if he ever gets to live again, he'll let his wife do whatever she wants.
- The beatings and conversations between the monk and Ferondo go on for ten months.
- The meetings between the Abbot and Ferondo's wife continue, too—until she gets pregnant. It becomes clear to them that Ferondo needs to come back from Purgatory pronto.
- The monk in Purgatory tells Ferondo that God's decided to send him back to Earth, and that He'll send them a son in good time.
- The Abbot mixes up another batch of powder-tainted wine and puts the sleeping Ferondo back into his tomb. In the morning, he wake up and emerges from the grave. The monks think they're witnessing a miracle.
- The Abbot plays along with the whole thing, declaring it a sign of God's power. Since everyone already thinks the Abbot is a saint, these shenanigans earn him even more points.
- Ferondo returns to his wife and "gets her pregnant." They conveniently have a boy, just like the monk promised him.
- And Ferondo keeps his word to never be jealous again—which gives the Abbot and his wife just enough room to visit each other when the need arises.
Third Day, Ninth Story
Gillette of Narbonne and Bertrand of Roussillon
- Storyteller: Neifile
- Since Dioneo has to speak last, Neifile must tell her story now.
- She can't see how she can top Lauretta's story (but she's going to try).
- We start out in France, where the hypochondriac Isnard Count Roussillon keeps a doctor on retainer. The Count has an only son, Bertrand.
- The doctor's called Gerard of Narbonne and he has a lovely daughter named Gillette.
- She's crazy in love with Bertrand.
- Both young people lose their fathers (guess some hypochondriacs really are sick).
- Bertrand's sent off to Paris and Gillette has to stay at home. She's seriously deflated by this.
- Although Gillette's a pretty eligible bachelorette, she refuses all other suitors. She's still bonkers for Bertrand.
- Then Fortune gives her an opening: the King of France has a chest tumor.
- And guess what? He lives in Paris, where a certain special someone also lives.
- And guess what again? Gillette has a lot of medical knowledge from watching her dad.
- She's ready to bargain with the King to get her hands on Bertrand.
- Gillette promises to cure the King in one week. If not, he can burn her at the stake.
- Now that's confidence.
- The King sees that she isn't married, so he promises to make her a good marriage if he succeeds.
- Gillette adds a proviso: she gets to choose the man.
- Of course, Gillette succeeds. Guess who she chooses?
- Bertrand's not pleased. Gillette's a she-doctor. A working-class woman. He thinks he deserves someone more high class.
- The king tells him to quit whining—Gillette is beautiful and intelligent.
- Bertrand sulks for a while and then concocts a plan of his own.
- He tells the king he will "consummate" the marriage at his estate. Instead, he takes side trips to Tuscany to wage war with the Florentines against the Siennese.
- Gillette is left high and dry.
- She keeps it together and goes to her husband's estate in France. Gillette rules wisely and everyone loves her.
- Gossip starts that Bertrand's a bad Count. Gillette writes to Bertrand to say that she'll go away if only he'll return to govern his estate himself.
- Bertrand says "Whatever" and issues a challenge: he'll live with her when she's wearing his special ring and is carrying his child in her arms.
- Gillette isn't one to back down from a challenge. She dresses like a poor pilgrim, packs up her jewels and money, and heads for Florence.
- She learns that her husband has fallen in love with a poor girl there. Only the girl's virtuous mother has been able to keep Bertrand at bay.
- Gillette reveals her identity to the mother of this girl and tells her story. Also, she has a plan.
- She wants to trick her husband into sleeping with her by convincing him that he's actually making love to the young girl. Classic switcheroo.
- Gillette promises her mother that no harm will come to the daughter and that she won't have to do anything awful.
- They start by telling Bertrand that the girl has demanded his special ring as a token of devotion.
- Of course, he sends it.
- Then, the women manage to get him into bed with his proper wife, who's hoping to get pregnant as quickly as possible.
- While this is going on, Bertrand gives Gillette a precious jewel every morning before he leaves her. Remember, he still thinks he's sleeping with the young girl. Gillette saves them up.
- After a short time, Gillette gets pregnant with twin boys.
- She knows it's time to get out of town, so she gives the mother over 1,000 pounds as a dowry for the young daughter. The mother wisely packs up her girl and goes to live in the country.
- Bertrand returns to his estate in France because his nobles tell him that Gillette is gone.
- Gillette stays in Florence until her twin boys are weaned. Then she makes her way to France to take Bertrand up on his promise.
- She confronts Bertrand in public and charges him to honor his promise. She shows the boys (who look just like Bertrand) and the ring.
- (Is it just Shmoop, or are you wondering why Gillette wants this guy back?)
- Bertrand is freaked out. Gillette explains the whole plot.
- Seeing that she went through so much trouble to get him, Bertrand decides that he should take her as his wife.
- He kisses her and they live happily ever after, which means that he never tried to disown her again.
Third Day, Tenth Story
Alibech and Rustico the Monk
- Storyteller: Dioneo
- Dioneo teases the ladies by wondering aloud if they've ever learned to put the devil back into Hell.
- If they learn, they might still be able to save the men's souls from damnation.
- Alibech is the young daughter of a very wealthy merchant with many children. She's taken an interest in Christianity and wants to know how best to serve God.
- She learns that those who best serve God live far away in the Sahara. So she heads out to find these holy people.
- After several days, she stumbles into the hut of holy man, who sees that she's young and beautiful.
- Tempted, he knows immediately that he has to get rid of her, so he sends her on to the next hermit, called Rustico.
- She asks him what it means to serve God.
- Now Rustico wants to prove that he has strong willpower, so he doesn't send her away.
- But pretty soon, he finds that his willpower just can't cut it. He's just got to figure out how to have his way with Alibech without sounding like a pervert.
- Rustico tells her that the best way to serve God is to help him by putting the devil back in Hell.
- Alibech wants to know how to do that.
- So Rustico shows her the proper "praying" position: taking off all clothes and facing each other.
- Dioneo can hardly help himself here, quipping that Rustico experiences a "resurrection of the flesh."
- Alibech is a total innocent and asks what that bit of anatomy is.
- This, Rustico says, is the devil.
- Alibech thanks God that she has no such devil. But Rustico tells her that she has something he doesn't: Hell.
- Rustico explains that God has clearly sent her to him for his salvation. Would she help him?
- Since Alibech is a virgin, the process hurts her "like the devil."
- Dioneo keeps up the euphemistic language throughout the storytelling. You get the idea.
- As it turns out, Alibech really likes this service to God. She becomes very zealous in the practice.
- So much so that Rustico's devil is worn out.
- Meanwhile, Alibech's father and siblings are burned to death in a house fire. Alibech inherits his property.
- Rustico's relieved when a young, fortune-hunting man comes from the city to look for her.
- She doesn't really want to go—what if the men of her city don't know about this kind of holy life?
- Before her marriage to this young man, the women of the city ask her about her service to God.
- She explains everything she learned with Rustico and the women laugh.
- They reassure her that her husband-to-be understands everything about putting the devil back in hell.
- It soon becomes a joke among the ladies of her city and the saying crosses the ocean to Italy.
- Dioneo concludes by advising the ladies in the group that they should put the devil into Hell if they need God's grace.
- Fun fact: this story was considered so over-the-top obscene that many later versions of the book either deleted it or cleaned it up beyond recognition.
Third Day, Conclusion
- The ladies may be virtuous, but they find Dioneo's outrageous story absolutely hilarious and can't stop shaking with laughter.
- After they pull themselves together, Neifile hands off the crown to Filostrato, the first King of the bunch.
- Neifile remarks that they'll now be able to see if the wolf can lead the sheep any better than the sheep have led the wolves.
- Filostrato has a vulgar reply (i.e. apt after the final story), and Neifile pluckily tells him that the women could teach him a thing or two.
- Filostrato gives instructions to his steward for the next day and then declares his miserable theme: loves that end unhappily.
- He explains that, as his name suggests ("the one shot down by love"), he constantly gets his heart trampled on by Love. Dioneo's going to have his hands full with this Debby Downer.
- They all stick around the miraculous garden to play a bit longer, and then Filostrato asks Lauretta to dance and sing.
- Lauretta says she only knows songs that she composes herself. Filostrato is okay with that and asks her to proceed.
- She sings a lamentation of a widow who loses her perfect love and then decides to marry again (hint: mistake). Her friends spend time interpreting the lyrics in their own ways and singing some more.
Fourth Day, Introduction
- We have a lengthy narratorial intrusion in the opening of the fourth day.
- Boccaccio claims that he's done absolutely everything to avoid envious, malicious comments from those around him.
- He's tried to keep his head down and even kept his goals attainable. For heaven's sake, he writes in the vernacular (i.e. not in Latin) and only dabbles in prose (not poetry, which is considered more serious and lofty).
- But still, THEY find him (his detractors).
- He addresses the ladies to whom he has dedicated this work and appeals to them for mercy.
- People say, he claims, that he's too fond of the ladies and it's quite shameful for a man of his age.
- Some say he should be thinking about lining his purse (pleasing women with little stories isn't very lucrative); others that he's not telling the stories right.
- Generally speaking, he's pretty cool with all the criticism. But he's going to take this opportunity to respond more fully to the allegations.
- So he's going to tell a little half-story of his own—he doesn't want to compete with his own storytellers—in order to illustrate a point.
- It's about a Florentine called Filippo Balducci who was of low social status but was otherwise an upright guy. He's married to a lovely lady and they're happy together.
- But Filippo loses his good lady and decides to retreat from the world with his young son.
- He goes to live in a cave with the boy and spends all his time praying and fasting and shunning all worldly things.
- When the boy grows to be a young man of 18, he asks his father to take him to Florence when he goes to pick up supplies. He'd never really left the cave before.
- Filippo is pretty certain that his son could never be attracted to worldly things because he'd been raised otherwise, so he decides to take the boy along.
- Of course, the boy's dazzled by all the buzz of the city. But it's not until he sees a group of beautiful young women that he's totally captivated.
- He asks Dad what those lovely creatures could be. Filippo tells him that they're called goslings and to look away because they're evil.
- The boy doesn't believe him and immediately asks his father to get one of the goslings for him.
- He urges Filippo to bring one home for him so that he can "pop things into its bill." Filippo explains to him that he knows nothing of where their "bill" really is and what it likes to eat.
- But Filippo knows he's defeated. Nature will win out.
- So Boccaccio leaves his tale at that, expecting that you'll understand what you're meant to understand.
- How is it possible, he asks, to blame him for loving the ladies, when he was born to do so? And unlike the young boy in the story, he's experienced their love, so he has more motivation to seek it out.
- Boccaccio continues by saying that he cares nothing about the accusations pertaining to his age. What does his white hair mean? Beauty can be admired at any age. He has classical authorities to back him up on this.
- As for being a snobby poet and living with the Muses on Parnassus, Boccaccio points out that the muses are women. Therefore as a writer, it's natural for him to be fond of women.
- Finally, as to his financial situation, he tells his detractors to mind their own business. He makes ends meet just fine, thanks.
- Oh, and one more thing: if anyone thinks his stories don't properly follow the sources, let him produce the earlier versions so that the stories can be corrected.
- He rests his case. He won't do anything against his nature because he says that's how you hurt yourself. The critics can leave him to enjoy his own short life.
- Now he turns back to the stories and the storytellers. Filostrato wakes up the crew and they hit the breakfast table, do their siesta and then head out to the fountain for some story time.
- Filostrato chooses Fiammetta to begin.
Fourth Day, First Story
Tancredi, Prince of Salerno
- Storyteller: Fiammetta
- Fiammetta confesses that she doesn't understand why they're telling such dismal tales when they're supposed to be cheering themselves up.
- Did Filostrato think they needed to tone it down a bit?
- Still, she wants to show that she can play the game, so she's going to tell a truly horrendous tale.
- Tancredi has a beautiful daughter called Ghismonda that he loved so much he didn't want to marry her off.
- Eventually, he gives her up to the Duke of Capua, but the Duke dies early and Ghismonda returns home again.
- And once again, Tancredi's in no hurry to marry off his beloved daughter.
- The beautiful and young daughter tires of her loneliness and decides to take a lover on the sly.
- She sets her heart on her father's valet, Guiscardo. Guiscardo notices that he's caught her eye and the feeling is clearly mutual.
- Ghismonda passes him a letter concealed in a hollow reed. In it, she tells him how to proceed.
- As palaces often do, Tancredi's palace has a secret passage to an unknown place. The door to a forgotten cavern is conveniently located in her bedroom.
- Guiscardo just has to lower himself into the cavern from outside the palace and he can walk right into his lover's room.
- Which he does. More than once.
- Everything's going well until one day Tancredi decides to speak with Ghismonda in her room. She isn't there, so he decides to curl up on a low stool behind a curtain and wait for her.
- Of course, Ghismonda's made a date with Guiscardo for that very afternoon. She returns to her room and lets her lover in by the secret door.
- Tancredi wakes up and is horrified by what he sees going on in the bed next to him.
- He doesn't say anything, but he's already got a pretty grisly plan taking shape in his mind.
- Tancredi has Guiscardo arrested as he's leaving the cavern and gives him a very good dressing down before locking him up for the night.
- In the morning, Tancredi confronts Ghismonda. He's peeved not just because she's carrying on with a man outside of marriage, but because she chose such a low-born guy.
- And now the image of them making love is burned on his brain forever. (Thanks for that, kids.)
- Tancredi tells Ghismonda that he already knows what he's going to do with Guiscardo, but he wonders what to do with her.
- Ghismonda knows what this means. She decides not to sugar-coat the story for Daddy in order to save her life. If Guiscardo dies, she wants to die, too.
- She reminds her father what it's like to be young, to understand about the pleasures of the flesh and to have a lot of time on your hands.
- Then she takes him to task for being elitist. Guiscardo's a noble man in his behavior even if he wasn't born into nobility.
- Ghismonda reminds her father how much he actually likes Guiscardo and says that she fell in love with him on Tancredi's own good opinion of the young man's virtues.
- Tancredi isn't moved by her speech. He decides to spare his daughter and kill Guiscardo.
- So his servants strangle Guiscardo and by Tancredi's orders, remove his heart.
- Tancredi has the heart placed in a gold chalice and sent up to Ghismonda with a special little note.
- Ghismonda's a woman prepared for all emergencies. In this case, she's prepared a potion to end her life.
- She cries enough tears into the chalice to mix with the poison and then drinks up.
- Her serving women tell Tancredi what's going on and he rushes to her. Ghismonda tells him that he's just getting what he wanted and that if he really does feel sorry about the whole thing, he should bury the two lovers together.
- She dies, clutching Guiscardo's heart-chalice to her chest.
- Tancredi is sorry for his actions, but too late. To make amends, he buries the two lovers together in a public ceremony.
- Listen and learn, Shmoop parents.
Fourth Day, Second Story
Fra Alberto and Lisetta
- Storyteller: Pampinea
- Filostrato praises the story of Ghismonda and Guiscardo and reminds everyone how miserable he is because he has no prospects of having his love returned.
- So to make him feel better, Filostrato asks Pampinea to tell some "gruesome tale." Misery loves company, right?
- But Pampinea's more inclined to amuse than depress, so she decides to ride the fence: she'll stick to the theme, but she'll make them laugh, too.
- And what's the best way to do that in this world? Tell a story about the clergy, of course.
- Pampinea spends a lot of time abusing the clergy: they're meek and humble when asking for money but like foghorns when talking about other people's sins.
- Which means that Pampinea will have no trouble telling a story about the punishment that all such friars deserve.
- Pampinea begins with Berto della Massa, a rogue who moves to Venice so that he can prey on fresh victims.
- Berto becomes a Franciscan friar to put a good face on his wicked deeds. (It also helps cover his tracks from his former identity.)
- He calls himself Friar Alberto and eventually becomes a priest, celebrating masses and showing great dedication to the suffering of Christ.
- The Venetians believe this show and think Alberto's trustworthy. They make him trustees of their wills and give him money for safekeeping.
- Then Alberto meets Monna Lisetta, a woman so conceited about her looks that she swears to him that the angels in heaven would praise her beauty.
- Alberto can see that she's a woman of little brain and knows that she's ripe for the picking. He admonishes her vanity and leaves her in a huff.
- When he visits her again, Alberto tells her that he's had a heavenly vision concerning her.
- In it, the Angel Gabriel appeared and physically beat Alberto for insulting the beautiful Lisetta.
- Gilberto tells her that it seems Gabriel's fallen in love with her. Lisetta's thrilled and gloats over her conquest.
- Alberto tells her that the Angel would like to "visit" with her, but to do so he'd have to take on a human form. He'd like to know from Lisetta which man would most please her.
- Lisetta doesn't care whose body the Angel possesses, as long as he doesn't two-time her with the Virgin Mary.
- Now sly Alberto goes to work. Would she accept his body as a vessel for Gabriel?
- Alberto explains that while the Angel inhabits his body to hook up with Lisetta, his soul will be transported to heaven. It really would be a great favor to Alberto if she'd agree.
- And of course, Lisetta falls for it. Alberto dresses up as an angel and they have a heavenly time when they first meet.
- Lisetta isn't the brightest bulb in the pack. After this goes on for a while, she gossips about her experience with the Angel to a neighbor.
- Eventually, the news of Lisetta's heavenly lover gets the attention of her brothers-in-law.
- Alberto knows he's in trouble, but he goes to Lisetta again anyway so that he can scold her while they're in bed together.
- The family posse shows up looking for Alberto's blood. He does some quick thinking and jumps out the window and into the Grand Canal. He's totally naked.
- Alberto swims across to the house of a neighbor, who kindly lets him in to save his life.
- The kind man locks Alberto in and goes into the city to do some errands. While there, he hears the story of Alberto's less-than-angelic behavior and immediately identifies his mysterious guest.
- When he returns, he tells Alberto that he has an escape plan, but that Alberto has to play along.
- In the city square, there's to be a mock hunt to celebrate some feast day or other. Alberto will go along with the man as a masked and shackled wild man, and during the festivities can escape out of the city.
- Alberto lets the guy smear him with wild honey and put a chain around his neck.
- But of course it's a double-cross: the man sends an accomplice to town to announce that the Angel Gabriel is coming to the city square.
- Crowds gather to see him. Meanwhile, Alberto is being eaten alive by insects because of his honey-coat.
- The man ties him up as a captive in the square and then announces to everyone exactly who it is under the costume.
- The crowd heckles and threatens him and Alberto only escapes with the help of his ecclesiastical brethren.
- They take him along to their monastery and lock him away, where he spends the rest of his miserable days.
Fourth Day, Third Story
The Three Young Men & Three Sisters
- Storyteller: Lauretta
- Since Filostrato is in Goth mode, he's not amused by Pampinea's jokiness. He begs Lauretta to stick to the theme and be as miserable as possible in her story.
- Lauretta tells Filostrato that he's being unkind to lovers, since all he cares about is killing them off in his stories.
- But since Lauretta has a little bit of a wicked streak, she promises to obey.
- Lauretta begins with a discussion on vices in general and anger in particular.
- Anger's bad in a man, she says, but worse in a woman. Because, you know, women have very little intellect to counteract passionate impulses.
- The laws of thermodynamics are also involved: fire catches quicker on things that are lightweight and soft. So there you go.
- Lauretta will therefore tell this next story to prove that a woman who's mild and pleasing makes everything better than a woman who's willful and passionate.
- This one takes place in Marseilles and involves the three eldest daughters of a rich merchant. The first two are 15-year-old twins, Ninetta and Maddalena, and the third is 14-year-old Bertella.
- There were marriages arranged for all three girls, but they managed to fall in love with a whole other set of young men.
- Bertella hooks up with a man called Restagnone, while a fellow called Folco falls hard for Maddalena. Ninetta catches the eye of Ughetto.
- Ninetta's lover, Restagnone, convinces the other two gentlemen to share their wealth with him if he can convince the girls to run away with them to some secluded spot in the world and set up house.
- So the men choose Crete as their new residence, sell off their goods and purchase a small ship as their getaway vehicle.
- Meanwhile, Ninetta convinces her twin sisters that this scheme is a good idea. They steal some of their father's fortune as their dowries and set out to sea with their lovers.
- They arrive in Crete as happy as can be, build grand estates for themselves and party like they're royalty.
- But all good things must come to an end, especially when you're a 14-year-old married to an older gentleman with time on his hands.
- Restagnone gets a wandering eye and acquires a taste for a lovely gentlewoman in his new neighborhood.
- Ninetta learns that Restagnone's actually hooked up with her rival and she's furious.
- She finds an old Greek woman who knows a thing or two about poisons. You can guess the rest.
- And Ninetta would have gotten away with it, but the old Greek woman gets hauled in by the cops. Under torture, she confesses to making the poison that killed Restagnone.
- Her sisters are greatly distressed when the Duke of Crete makes it known that he intends to burn Ninetta at the stake.
- Maddalena realizes that she has the key to saving her, since the Duke has a major thing for her. She sends word to the Duke that she's ready to do whatever he wants in exchange for Ninetta's life.
- He agrees and brings Ninetta along, trussed up in a sack, to his tryst with Maddalena. When it's over, he tells her to send Ninetta far away so that he's not tempted to burn her anyway.
- Meanwhile, Folco and Ughetto believe that Ninetta's been dumped into the sea by the Duke. When Folco returns to Maddalena and sees that Ninetta's still alive, he immediately becomes suspicious.
- Folco understands how things went between Maddalena and the Duke and in his fury, he kills his wife.
- He then assures Ninetta that he'll take her to safety, and the two disappear into the blue with a sack of money and a boat.
- Meanwhile, Ughetto and Bertella are completely clueless as to the fates of the other lovers. They are totally shocked when the Duke arrests them both for the murder of Maddalena.
- They know they're in a precarious situation, so they bribe their guards and escape to Rhodes, where they die in poverty and misery.
Fourth Day, Fourth Story
- Storyteller: Elissa
- The author tells us that the brigata is divided in their opinions about who was most responsible for the tragedy in Lauretta's story.
- Many think that Ninetta's anger was to blame.
- Elissa starts her story by telling us that we don't only fall in love by looking with our eyes; sometimes, just the reputation of a person is enough to do the trick.
- In this case, simple hearsay not only creates love, but causes the lovers to die horrible deaths.
- Gerbino is the grandson of King William II of Sicily and apparently, he's quite a hottie. Not only is he handsome, he's also a famous warrior and a man of chivalry.
- Pretty soon, stories about Gerbino's awesomeness reach the ears of the daughter of the King of Tunis. (She's not so bad herself.)
- She also loves a man with a good reputation. She quickly falls in love with Gerbino, sight unseen.
- Gerbino also hears of this woman's beauty and sweetness and falls hard for her. He can't figure out an excuse to get out to Tunis, so he enlists the help of his friends.
- One of them is able to speak with the lady and tell her all about Gerbino's love.
- Pretty soon, this messenger friend is going back and forth from Sicily to Tunis, carrying love letters and little gifts between the two lovers.
- The long distance relationship drags on, until the King of Tunis announces that he's marrying her off to the King of Granada.
- He also knows about the two lovers' long-distance love affair, and he'll have no more of that. So he contacts King William and gets an official promise that Gerbino won't interfere.
- But Gerbino has other plans. He takes two ships and intercepts his lover's bridal entourage.
- Things don't go well. In the hostilities, the Tunisians kill Gerbino's beautiful lady before his eyes.
- Gerbino becomes a killing machine and leaves no loot behind. He retrieves the lady's body from the sea and gives her an honorable burial.
- The King of Tunis is not pleased. He sends ambassadors to complain to King William.
- King William can't tolerate this insubordination from his only grandson, so he has the young rebel beheaded right before his eyes.
- And yes, that's how it all ends.
- Happy now, Filostrato?
Fourth Day, Fifth Story
Lisabetta and Her Brothers
- Storyteller: Filomena
- Filomena is truly depressed by Elissa's story.
- She'll tell a story about ordinary people this time, which was inspired by the mention of Messina.
- Three merchant brothers of Messina have a beautiful sister named Lisabetta.
- Lisabetta's in love with one of her brothers' employees, the handsome Lorenzo.
- And Lorenzo has fallen in love with her. Pretty soon, they hook up.
- Everything's fine and dandy until Lisabetta's oldest brother sees her going to Lorenzo's bedroom.
- He and the other two brothers decide on a drastic course of action. They lure Lorenzo out to the countryside and murder him.
- They tell Lisabetta that he's away on a business trip.
- When she asks about his disappearance, they threaten her.
- She prays to him to come to her, and after a while, he appears to her in a dream.
- He looks pretty bad. He tells her about his murder and describes his burial place.
- So she takes her maidservant with her to the place Lorenzo had described and yeah—he was still there.
- She does what any woman in her situation would do: cuts off his head and then buries the rest of his body in a more loving fashion.
- Lisabetta takes the head home with her and cries over it and kisses it. Ew.
- Then she puts it into a large pot and covers it with soil, planting some basil on top.
- She becomes very attached to this plant and waters it only with her tears (well, that and some rose essence).
- The basil plant flourishes. Lisabetta does not. She's gone to pot—hahahaha.
- Her brothers notice. They take away the basil pot because her attachment seems...unhealthy.
- Lisabetta becomes truly sick. She lies in bed and calls for her basil.
- The bros get suspicious, so they root around in the soil to see what this is really about.
- Guess who they find?
- They realize that something funny's going on, so they re-bury the head and flee to Naples.
- Meanwhile, Lisabetta literally cries herself to death over the loss of her basil pot.
- Filomena says that after a time, the whole story came out and a song was composed about this sad story, probably "Tears on My Pillow" by Little Anthony and the Imperials.
- Some critics see Lisabetta as an extreme example of the kind of lovelorn ladies that Boccaccio claims is his target audience.
Fourth Day, Sixth Story
Andreuola and Gabriotto
- Storyteller: Panfilo
- The dream in the previous story by Filomena inspires Panfilo to tell another story about the significance of dreams.
- Dreams, he says, often feel real while we're sleeping but turn out to be nothing but fantasies. Others, however, can come true.
- So some people either believe in dreams wholeheartedly OR they have to see them come to life before they believe.
- Panfilo equivocates about the power of dreams. Filomena's story proves that not all dreams are false. His story's going to support this idea.
- First, a shout-out. You might recognize this story as the basis for Chaucer's Nun's Priest's Tale about Chanteclere and Pertelote. Now go impress your teacher.
- This story takes place in Brescia and involves another beautiful young couple.
- Andreuola falls in love with her neighbor Gabriotto. This is all well and good, except that Gabriotto comes from a lower social class than Andreuola.
- But Andreuola and Gabriotto work it out, at least in secrecy. With the help of her maidservant, the two meet in secret in her garden.
- They become married in the most basic sense. In other words, they have sex and Gabriotto gives her a ring.
- One night, Andreuola has a bad dream. She sees herself in the garden with Gabriotto when something "dark" and "terrible" comes from his body.
- She can't stop the thing from dragging him underground.
- Andreuola's terrified by this dream and tries to keep Gabriotto out of the garden.
- But of course she can't resist him, so they meet there again. She tells him about her dream
- And he laughs at her. If he really believed in dreams, he says, he'd be in trouble.
- Just the other night, he'd dreamed that he was out hunting and captured a beautiful white doe.
- It followed him around and he put a golden chain around it. Does this sound familiar to anyone?
- But while the doe is resting its cheek on his chest, a black greyhound appears and sinks its teeth into his left side.
- The devil dog then carries Gabriotto's heart off between his teeth.
- Gabriotto laughs at his own terror on waking from the dream. So stupid! What could it mean, anyway?
- Andreuola is completely freaked out. And here's where it gets creepy.
- All of a sudden, Gabriotto heaves a huge sigh and says that he's dying.
- Andreuola holds him in her arms as he dies and then realizes her predicament.
- What's she going to do about his body? Remember, this was a secret affair.
- She wants to kill herself so that she can be with Gabriotto, but her maidservant reminds her that suicides go to Hell, not heaven (medieval religious opinion, not Shmoop's).
- So they decide to wrap Gabriotto in silk and deposit him on the doorstep of his house.
- Which sounds like a good idea, until they're caught by the night watchman.
- Andreuola's brought before the chief magistrate, who turns out to be a sleaze. He tries to convince her that he'll drop all charges if she sleeps with him.
- When she refuses, he tries to force her. Andreuola fights him off and curses him out.
- As it turns out, Gabriotto died because of a cyst that burst near his heart. Andreuola's off the hook.
- Soon, Andreuola's father finds out what's going on and goes to the magistrate. He's steamed that she's been taken away.
- The magistrate pretends like he was testing Andreuola by coming on to her and found that she was a modest woman. So can he marry her, please?
- Andreuola asks for her father's forgiveness and as he's a good dad, he gives it to her. He also honors Gabriotto as his son-in-law and gives him a big funeral.
- The pervy magistrate still tries to marry Andreuola, but her dad allows her and her maidservant to enter a convent and become nuns.
Fourth Day, Seventh Story
Simona and Pasquino
- Storyteller: Emilia
- Emilia reminds the group that Love also makes some pretty awesome displays among the poor.
- To prove this, she'll tell a story set in Florence.
- A young and beautiful woman called Simona falls in love with a man named Pasquino, who's as poor as she is. Pretty soon, the couple found ways to, um, indulge themselves.
- Pasquino convinces Simona to meet him in a particular garden so that they can have more privacy for their fun.
- Simona agrees and brings her friend Lagina with her. Turns out that Pasquino brings a friend (called Stramba) too, so it's a double date.
- Pasquino and Simona find a cozy little nook by a huge clump of sage and get down to business.
- Sometime later, while engaging in random pillow talk, Pasquino plucks some of the sage leaves and begins to clean his teeth and gums.
- Almost immediately, he falls ill and dies.
- Simona yells for her friends. By the time Lagina and Stramba get there, Pasquino is looking pretty harsh—black and blue and swollen all over.
- Stramba immediately accuses Simona of poisoning Pasquino and has her dragged off to the judge.
- But the judge can't believe that a sweet thing like Simona could be a murderer, so he takes her back to the scene so that she can show him exactly what happened.
- Pasquino's body is still there, swollen and putrid on the ground. So Simona goes to the clump of sage, plucks some leaves and...yes, she does. She rubs her gums with the sage.
- Simona falls down dead in front of the entire crowd.
- At this point, Emilia goes into spasms of joy that Simona has the good luck to die like this. For one thing, she gets to be with her lover in the afterlife. For another, her innocence is preserved.
- Back to the story: the judge is appalled by the death of Simona. He orders the sage to be pulled up at the roots.
- Guess what they find there? A large venomous toad. Clearly, this is what killed the lovers. (Shmoop's Chief Botanical Poison Correspondent can't vouch for the scientific authenticity of this conclusion.)
- In the end, the swollen bodies of the two unhappy lovers are picked up and buried together.
Fourth Day, Eighth Story
Girolamo and Salvestra
- Storyteller: Neifile
- Neifile warns against "presumption": acting like you know more than others and pitting yourself against everyone and the laws of Nature.
- Love is one of those things that defies wisdom, knowledge or outside pressure.
- Her story, therefore, will be about a woman who tried to outwit Love and lost it all.
- A boy named Girolamo was born to a wealthy merchant, who dies when the boy is still young.
- Girolamo falls in love early with a completely unsuitable neighbor girl called Salvestra (her dad's a tailor, and Girolamo's mum doesn't approve).
- Mom punishes him, lectures him, but to no effect. So she and his guardians decide to pack him off to Paris.
- But Girolamo won't be parted from Salvestra. Mom coaxes him by saying he only has to go for one year.
- Of course, he stays away for a lot longer. By the time he returns, Salvestra's married.
- To make matters worse, Salvestra has forgotten him.
- Driven mad by disappointment, Girolamo decides he has to speak to her in person.
- He decides to creep up on her at night while she's in bed with her husband.
- Salvestra nearly has a heart attack. She turns out to be very practical, telling him to get the heck out of there.
- Salvestra says that she loves her husband and they're not kids anymore.
- Girolamo wants to die. In fact, he's already turning cold. So he begs Salvestra to let him into bed to warm up.
- Amazingly, she agrees. Girolamo literally holds his breath until he dies. Best. Tantrum. Ever.
- Salvestra's in an awkward situation. How does she get rid of his body without her husband finding out?
- The answer is: she's not. Instead, she wakes her husband and asks him, hypothetically, what he'd do if he were in that situation. You know, just hypothetically.
- The husband says that he'd bring the corpse back to its proper house.
- Well, says Salvestra, you'd better get your shoes on. She grabs his hand and makes him feel Girolamo's cold corpse.
- Her husband is a real peach. He slings the body over his shoulder and deposits it on Girolamo's doorstep.
- When the body's discovered, everyone knows that Girolamo died of grief.
- At the church, Salvestra's husband asks her to go closer to the body so that she can hear if there's any gossip.
- When she sees Girolamo, she begins to regret that she didn't kiss him.
- She's so overwhelmed by Girolamo's dead face and the memory of their love that she drops down dead from grief, right on top of his body.
- Everyone understands immediately why Salvestra died. Her husband then tells the whole story and the two lovers are buried in the same tomb.
- That is one evolved husband.
Fourth Day, Ninth Story
The Eaten Heart
- Storyteller: Filostrato
- You think those other stories are horrifying? Well, says Filostrato, this one's worse.
- That's because this story involves people of a higher social standing. Poor things.
- This one takes place in Provençe, where two knights named Guillaume were friends.
- Guillaume de Roussillon has a beautiful and charming wife. Guillaume de Cabestanh is hopelessly in love with her.
- The lady returns her lover's affection, and pretty soon they're sneaking about the castle to fulfill their desires.
- But Guillaume the Husband finds out. He's miffed because Guillaume de Cabestanh had been his best friend.
- So Guillaume de Roussillon invites his good friend over to discuss a road trip to a major tournament in France. On the way, he ambushes Cabestanh and cuts his heart from his body.
- Roussillon has the heart sent on to his cook and instructs him to prepare this "boar's heart" in the most tasty way possible.
- When the cooked heart arrives at the table, Roussillon has no appetite. He gives the special dish to his lady, who eats up every delicious morsel.
- Roussillon asks if she enjoyed the dish. Why, yes, she replies, very much so.
- Then comes the big reveal. Roussillon tells her that he tore the heart out of her lover with his own hands.
- Instead of gagging and vomiting, the lady takes him to task for punishing the wrong person (she doesn't understand the whole friendship-bond thing).
- She declares that she'll never taste another piece of food since she has eaten the most perfect thing in the world. So she steps out the window casement and jumps to her death.
- Roussillon panics when he sees her mangled body on the ground below. He saddles up and heads out of town before his wicked deeds become known.
- The lady's family has her body and the body of Guillaume de Cabestanh buried in the same tomb—at her castle.
Fourth Day, Tenth Story
Mazzeo the Doctor
- Storyteller: Dioneo
- Dioneo's pretty sick of all the doom and gloom. He's glad the storytelling game is almost over for the day.
- In fact, he refuses to participate any longer in the misery and plans to tell a story that should set an example for the next day's theme.
- Once again, we have an old man, Mazzeo Della Montagna, who marries a young, beautiful woman.
- He's a respected doctor and showers his wife with worldly goods.
- But there's one problem: she feels neglected in bed.
- Just like Messer Ricciardo, husband of Bartolomea (II.10), Mazzeo also makes his wife observe holy days.
- So the young wife goes out and finds someone else who can do the job. His name is Ruggieri d'Aieroli.
- Ruggieri is a rogue. Well, actually, he's a criminal. But the lady likes him anyway.
- So with the help of her maid, they hook up. The lady quickly sees that Ruggieri really is a thug and has to change his ways. She bribes him with money.
- Meanwhile, the doctor's taken a man with a gangrenous leg into surgery. He sends off a prescription for a special drug that will keep him asleep during his procedure.
- He puts this drug in his house.
- The doc then has to make a house call to another town because of mass casualties from a fight.
- His wife takes advantage of his absence and invites Ruggieri over for some fun.
- As he waits in the house for all the servants to go to bed, Ruggieri spies the drug and decides it would be good to drink.
- When the wife finally appears, Ruggieri is passed out. She tries to wake him, but he looks like a corpse.
- Now she has a problem: what to do with the body?
- Her maid has a solution, as maids often do: stuff him inside a trunk standing outside the neighbor carpenter's house.
- Also, they should stab him two or three times just to make it look good. He was a rogue, after all.
- The lady says yes to the trunk, no to the stabbing. So they drag him down and stuff him in.
- Dioneo has to backtrack to make the story work. Earlier in the week, two miserly young men had moved in down the street.
- And like most young men, they were a bit short on home furnishings. This was pre-IKEA.
- They had seen the trunk sitting by the road, so they planned on stealing it for their living room.
- Ruggieri's already hidden inside the trunk by the time the young men get around to taking it. They deposit the trunk outside their wives' bedroom and leave it there.
- The potion wears off and Ruggieri wakes up. He has no idea where he is and winds up tipping the trunk over with a spectacular crash.
- The women freak out and scream that there are burglars in the house.
- In short, Ruggieri's taken by the young men to the magistrate and tortured into a confession.
- Now he's set to hang.
- When the lady hears the news that her lover isn't actually dead, she can't understand it. (She obviously hadn't gotten around to finishing "Romeo and Juliet" yet.)
- Then her husband returns and asks about his drug. Ahhh—now the lady understands what happened.
- When the true owner of the trunk was heard fighting with the carpenter about how he'd sold it to the two young men, the lady and her maid figure out how Ruggieri made his journey.
- Now the lady has to keep Ruggieri from hanging. She coaxes her maid into pretending that Ruggieri was in the house the night before to make love to her (the maid).
- After speaking with Ruggieri and allowing the judge in the case to make "a little snack of her," the maid manages to get the truth out, save Ruggieri and see to it that the young men are fined.
- Dioneo says that the love between Ruggieri and the lady became stronger than ever, just as he would like to have happen to him, minus the trunk-stuffing.
Fourth Day, Conclusion
- Once again, Dioneo saves the day with a funny story.
- Filostrato apologizes for making everyone so miserable with his tragic theme, and with that, he passes the crown to Fiammetta.
- He knows she'll fix things up with whatever theme she chooses, and Fiammetta makes sure this happens by declaring the next day "Loves with Happy Endings" Day.
- So they eat dinner by the fountain and sing and dance.
- Fiammetta commands Filostrato to sing the song for the end of the evening.
- She knows that his song will be miserable and wants to squeeze all the unhappiness into one day and then leave it there.
- He's actually happy to be miserable just for her, so he sings a lament about falling in love and being dumped. In it, he begs for death. Not that again.
- Now his friends know what his problem is, and Boccaccio says that one young lady turned quite red during the song—but no one could see it because night has fallen.
- Hint: it's probably Filomena, to whom Boccaccio's story Filostrato is dedicated.
Fifth Day, Introduction
- You know the routine by now, so you'll understand that Fiammetta, the new queen, leads them through all of it.
- When the time comes, they gather at the fountain for storytelling and the queen elects Panfilo to begin a day full of love affairs with happy endings.
Fifth Day, First Story
Cimon and Iphigenia
- Storyteller: Panfilo
- Panfilo wants to demonstrate the power of Love to convert those who have contempt for it.
- But he's pretty sure he's preaching to the choir, since all of his companions are in love.
- The protagonist here is a young man called Galesus. But everybody calls him Cimon, which means "idiot."
- Cimon's father, Aristippus, is a nobleman of Cyprus and is so ashamed of his idiot son that he sends him to live in the country.
- Cimon isn't stupid. He's just a caveman: he won't wear fashionable clothes or be educated. He probably doesn't wash every week like his normal brothers.
- So off he goes to the country. On the way, he finds himself in a beautiful wood.
- And in that wood is a beautiful maiden asleep by a fountain. She's practically naked.
- Cimon thinks that she might be a goddess, so he's afraid to wake her. Instead, he just stares at her while she sleeps. Creepy.
- But when she wakes up, we find out that she's a mortal and her name is Iphigenia. She knows Cimon by his idiot reputation.
- He's handsome and rich, but he's also big and stupid, so she's a little worried when he follows her all the way to her door.
- But Iphigenia turns out to be Cimon's eureka moment. After he meets her, he starts behaving like a proper gentleman.
- He dresses well, begins to educate himself, maybe even bathes.
- Cimon not only becomes a proper gentleman, he becomes a real lover. He learns to sing and play instruments.
- Panfilo explains that all of these virtues must have been locked up in Cimon's heart and that Love released them.
- Cimon begs Iphigenia's father for her hand in marriage, but she's already promised to Pasimondas, a gentleman from Rhodes.
- Push finally comes to shove: Pasimondas sends for Iphigenia so they can get married.
- Cimon fits out a ship for war and ambushes the ship carrying Iphigenia to her fiancé.
- He explains himself and demands Iphigenia. Cimon has to rough them up a bit before they jump ship and flee for Crete.
- But, as Panfilo has told us in the story of Alatiel, Fortune is a fickle mistress. A storm blows their ship off course and they wind up in Rhodes.
- Iphigenia wants to kill Cimon. She's sure that the storm is a sign of the gods' displeasure at Cimon's actions. Come to think of it, Panfilo never tells us that Iphigenia cares for him at all...
- Cimon and Iphigenia try to escape into the woods off the coast of Rhodes, but the sailors capture them and bring them to the magistrate.
- So things stand like this: Cimon and crew land in the clink and Iphigenia stays with some ladies of Rhodes until her wedding day.
- Pasimondas has a brother called Ormisdas, who's sweet on a girl named Cassandra.
- But the magistrate (Lysimachus) aims to marry Cassandra, even though Pasimondas is pushing hard for a double wedding for himself and his bro.
- Lysimachus schemes to carry Cassandra himself. Sound familiar?
- He goes to Cimon with his plan and offers him a deal. A bride-snatching deal.
- Cimon and Lysimachus think it would be a great idea to abduct the women from their own wedding feasts. What could go wrong?
- So Cimon, Lysimachus and crew crash the wedding—quite literally.
- Cimon kills Pasimondas and then Ormisdas when he gets in the way of their retreat.
- They hop back on the ship and this time, they make it to Crete, where they marry their beloveds.
- Their respective families have to clean up the mess they left behind in Rhodes, but after a while (and probably a lot of cash), they work it out.
- The men return to their respective homelands with their brides, and they live happily ever after. At least, the men do. We hear nothing further about the opinions of Iphigenia and Cassandra.
Fifth Day, Second Story
Gostanza and Martuccio Gomito
- Storyteller: Emilia
- Like everyone else, Emilia's really glad that Filostrato's no longer the king. She believes that true love should be rewarded with happiness rather than suffering, at least in the long-run.
- Here's another story of two lovers from opposite social classes: Gostanza (noble and beautiful) and Martuccio Gomito (handsome and skilled, but poor).
- Martuccio does the right thing and asks Gostanza's father if he can marry her, but no deal (he's poor, remember?).
- So he fits out a ship and leaves the island, vowing to return only when he's rich. Sounds like a plan.
- And it is, until Martuccio gets a bit too ambitious. See, he doesn't want to have just a little nest egg; he wants a Bill Gates-type fortune.
- He plays pirate with exactly the wrong people (a whole fleet of Saracen ships) and winds up in a jail cell in Tunis.
- Back at home, word comes round that not only have all of Martuccio's men perished (true), but that Martuccio himself is a goner (false).
- Gostanza hears this rumor and is ready to kill herself. But she wants to go out in style, so she casts herself out to sea in a rudderless, oarless boat.
- No luck, she doesn't die. Instead, she lands a hundred miles beyond Tunis and now she really has a problem.
- But a good Italian woman called Carapresa finds her, takes her in and gets her employment with a kindly Saracen woman. So Gostanza stays put and waits for her fortune to change.
- Meanwhile, Martuccio finds out that the King of Tunis is being challenged for his throne and Martuccio lets it slip to his jailer that he knows how the King can win the war.
- The king gets wind of Martuccio's boast and sends for him to hear his plan, which is actually pretty ingenious.
- Martuccio had observed that the Saracens prefer to fight with archers, so if the King of Tunis could simply have more usable arrows than his opponent, he could easily win the day.
- To do this, Martuccio orders that the king's archers be given bows with a finer string to them—and then make arrows with notches that will only fit the narrow string.
- Smart guy. When the enemy has used up all their own arrows, they won't be able to re-use the King of Tunis' arrows and fire them back.
- Using this trick, the king wins the war and Martuccio is elevated in importance.
- The report of his good work reaches Gostanza, who begs her lady to take her to Tunis.
- Which she does, and the two lovers are reunited. There's rejoicing, then a wedding, then more rejoicing.
- The happy couple takes Carapresa back with them to Italy, where everyone's astonished and joyful to find the two of them still alive.
- And, of course, they live happily ever after.
Fifth Day, Third Story
- Storyteller: Elissa
- Pietro Boccamazza is a young gentleman of Rome who falls in love with the beautiful Agnolella.
- Agnolella's father is respectable but poor, so Pietro's family isn't exactly thrilled about a possible marriage between them.
- So Pietro and Agnolella take matters into their own hands and elope. But as they're leaving Rome, Pietro forgets to take his GPS and they quickly get lost.
- As they pass an unknown castle, they're attacked by a group of soldiers. Agnolella is quicker to react and rides deeper into the forest, but Pietro is caught.
- The soldiers believe that Pietro's a member of a rival family and decide to hang him, but just in time they're attacked by, well, a rival family.
- Pietro manages to escape in the hubbub, but he can't track his beautiful bride. He's pretty sure she's been smothered by bears or eaten by wolves.
- He climbs a tree and spends the night crying about Agnolella and his cursed fate.
- But Agnolella finds a cottage of an elderly couple, who warn her that they'll probably be invaded by thugs during the night (this isn't the nice part of the forest).
- Sure enough, the thugs show up close to morning. Agnolella hears them and has time to hide in a pile of hay.
- But hay isn't spear-proof, and one of the gang tosses his through the haystack and barely misses her.
- The thugs take her horse, so she has to walk with the elderly couple to the nearby castle of the Orsini family. The lady of the house knows Agnolella and takes her in.
- Meanwhile, Pietro is definitely not having fun. A pack of wolves devours his horse during the night and really would have liked to have Pietro for dessert.
- In the morning, he runs into a bunch of shepherds that just happen to be wandering around in that forsaken forest and they lead him to the castle where Agnolella is staying.
- The lady of the house decides that if the couple could defy hanging, rapacious thieves and wild beasts, their marriage was meant to be. She offers her husband's money to pay for the wedding and promises to make peace with Pietro's family.
- And once the lady talks Pietro's family down, they all live in peace forever after.
Fifth Day, Fourth Story
Caterina and the Nightingale
- Storyteller: Filostrato
- Filostrato admits that he's been the King of Pain for the previous day—and they've teased him plenty for it—so he wants to make it up to them by telling a pleasant story.
- An older gentleman and his wife have a lovely little daughter late in life. Caterina grows up to be wondrously beautiful and charming.
- At this time, a handsome young man called Ricciardo often visited their house. The old gentleman, called Lizio, gave Ricciardo free range of his premises and never thought twice about it.
- But Ricciardo, naturally, falls in love with Lizio's beautiful daughter. Pretty soon, they figure out that the feeling is mutual. Now, they have to find a way to "be together."
- Since Caterina's an only child, she's watched closely. Ricciardo suggests that she find a way to sleep out on the balcony overlooking the garden, and he'll manage to climb up and join her.
- Caterina complains to her mother that she can't sleep because it's so hot in the house.
- Can she make up a bed on the balcony OUTSIDE HER FATHER'S ROOM and sleep there? It would be cooler and, you know, the nightingale could sing her to sleep.
- Dad is pretty grouchy about this request: nightingales? Why does she need nightingales?
- So the next night, Caterina not only fusses about the heat, she keeps her mother awake, too.
- Which means that the following night she gets her bed on the balcony.
- Ricciardo climbs to the balcony and spends the whole night with her there. They fall asleep together, completely naked, with Caterina's hand covering Ricciardo's private bits.
- Guess who finds them like that in the morning? Lizio jokes with his wife that Caterina has caught her nightingale in her hand (the word for "bird" in Italian is "uccello," which is also a euphemism for the male you-know-what).
- Lizio turns out to be a level-headed guy. Ricciardo is wealthy and well-born, so he'll make them marry before the boy tries to leave the house.
- In fact, Lizio makes them marry right there on the spot, naked and all. They go back to bed and have sex two more times, since they'd done it "only" six times the previous night.
- Ultimately, they have a proper wedding celebration in the days that follow and spend a lifetime together "caging the nightingale" in perfect happiness.
Fifth Day, Fifth Story
Giannole and Minghino
- Storyteller: Neifile
- Everyone laughs their heads off at Filostrato's story and thank him for telling something upbeat for a change. Neifile decides to also tell a tale set in Romagna.
- Giacomino da Pavia inherits his friend Guidotto's ward, a 10-year-old girl.
- Giacomino takes the girl, Agnesa, to his hometown of Faenza and raises her as his own.
- The girl grows up to be beautiful, what else is new?
- So beautiful that two gentlemen, Giannole and Minghino, fall desperately in love with her.
- Each man plots to kidnap her.
- Giannole works with Giacomino's servant, Crivello, to help him get into the house.
- Minghino cozies up to Giacomino's maidservant. She delivers his love letters and puts in a good word with her mistress.
- Both Crivello and the maidservant promise to let their respective gentlemen into the house as soon as Giacomino decides to dine out.
- When that happens, they both send word and both men come running with their posses to snatch the girl.
- Giannole gets there first and grabs the girl, dragging her into the street.
- Agnesa is not pleased. She lets out a blood-curdling scream.
- Minghino rushes to the rescue and the two men start fighting. In the end, Minghino manages to get Agnesa back into the house.
- Giacomino returns and realizes quickly that Agnesa has had nothing to do with this, but he has to marry her off and quick.
- The families of the two men realize they're in a heap of trouble, so they write letters to Giacomino to ask his forgiveness and to ask him what kind of recompense he wants.
- Giacomino says that because he's not native to the area, and that Agnesa actually is, he'll be ruled by them.
- Then Giacomino is obliged to tell the story of how his friend Guidotto found Agnesa.
- He'd been plundering houses in Faenza during wars there when they found a little girl in an abandoned house.
- She was a sweet 2-year-old and called him "father," so he took her into his care.
- One of the gentlemen listening to the story had actually witnessed the incident and knew that the house belonged to a man named Bernabuccio, who lost a little girl of that age at that time.
- Bernabuccio, who's present at the telling of this story, asks to see the skin behind Agnesa's ear, so that he can look for an identifying scar.
- Wouldn't you know, she not only has the scar, she looks just like Bernabuccio's wife!
- Not only are father and daughter reunited, but another problem is solved. Bernabuccio is Giannole's father, too. He clearly can't marry his sister, because ew.
- So Minghino wins the day, getting the girl because they don't have matching DNA.
Fifth Day, Sixth Story
Gianni di Procida
- Storyteller: Pampinea
- Pampinea will tell a story about how Love helps people endure just about anything, including terrible risks and hardships.
- The setting here is Ischia, a small island in the Bay of Naples.
- On this island lives the beautiful Restituta, who's adored by a man called Gianni from the neighboring island of Procida.
- Everything goes well for them at first. But one day, Restituta is kidnapped by Sicilian pirates.
- Since they can't agree which one of them should get the girl, they decide to give her to King Frederick of Sicily as a gift.
- Women as gifts: what an interesting concept.
- King Fred is quite pleased, but he's not feeling up to despoiling a young virgin at the moment. So he puts her up at a posh villa until he's ready.
- Meanwhile, Gianni has figured out the location of his girl and sets out to recover her.
- He finds Restituta in her villa and she shows him a way in. They spend the night together.
- But Gianni forgets to set his alarm clock, so he and Restituta are discovered together in bed by the newly recovered King Fred.
- The King orders that the two lovers be bound up, naked, and burnt at the stake in the town square for this unmentionable sin.
- They're brought out in their birthday suits and everyone comes down to the square to check it out. This includes the Admiral of the Royal Fleet, who happens to know Gianni.
- Gianni tells him the whole tale and requests that he be turned to face his lover so that they can stare into each other's eyes when they are burnt to death. Now that's what we call romantic.
- The Admiral visits the King and informs him that the condemned young people belong to families that have been his biggest political supporters.
- The King freaks out and immediately orders their release. He plies them with gifts, gives them a sumptuous wedding and sends them home to live happily ever after.
- Extra credit assignment: check out recent Presidential pardons to see if any of them are politically motivated.
Fifth Day, Seventh Story
Teodoro and Violante
- Storyteller: Lauretta
- Teodoro is a good-looking youth who was captured by Genoese pirates (the brigata's on a pirate kick, it seems) along the Armenian coast and sold to Messer Amerigo Abate in Sicily to care for his large family and estates.
- Though Teodoro's a servant, Messer Amerigo likes the look of him and is charmed by his noble behavior, so he's brought up among the gentleman's children.
- Amerigo likes him so much that he has the boy baptized (Amerigo believes him to be Muslim) and re-named Pietro. He also puts him in charge of his business concerns when Pietro's old enough.
- Now Amerigo has a beautiful (natch) daughter called Violante. She falls in love with Pietro and he loves her back.
- As so often happens (at least in myth and folktales), a terrible storm in the countryside gives the two young lovers the opportunity to consummate their love in an abandoned cottage.
- Pietro and Violante find various ways to "meet" in the days that follow, and pretty soon Violante's pregnant.
- To save Pietro's life (to say nothing of Violante's), she agrees not to reveal that he's the father. Violante waits until she can no longer conceal her condition and throws herself on Mom's mercy.
- Her mother sends Violante off to a secluded property of theirs to have the baby. She doesn't tell Amerigo.
- But Amerigo happens to be passing this secluded spot on the very day that Violante goes into labor. He hears the ruckus she's making and figures out what's going on.
- Amerigo threatens Violante with death if she doesn't reveal the name of the father. She caves.
- Amerigo makes arrangements for the lovers and their child to be killed on the same day: Pietro by hanging, Violante by poison or dagger (her choice), and the child will have its brains knocked out and be fed to dogs.
- Be glad Amerigo's not your father.
- As it happened (Fortune again), three Armenian ambassadors were being entertained by Amerigo at a place on Pietro's route to the gallows. One of them recognizes a birthmark on Pietro and is convinced that he's the son he lost 15 years ago to pirates. Small world.
- The ambassador calls out to Pietro in Armenian and addresses him by his real name (Theodor). Pietro reveals that his father was called Phineas and that he was, indeed, captured by pirates.
- Phineas pleads with Amerigo: let the two children be married and enough with the revenge business.
- Amerigo worries that Violante has already killed herself, so he sends a speedy messenger to tell her he's changed his mind.
- Happily, Violante was stalling in her choice of death, so instead of occupying a grave, she soon becomes Theodor's wife.
- In the end, Phineas regains his son, adds a daughter-in-law and grandson to the family and returns to Armenia with them, where they all live happily ever after.
Fifth Day, Eighth Story
Nastagio degli Oneste
- Storyteller: Filomena
- Filomena follows up on Lauretta's story by philosophizing a bit. Cruelty, she says, is punished by divine justice.
- She'll tell a story that will help her audience to stop being so darn cruel—but also will entertain them.
- Nastagio, a nobleman, falls in love with the daughter of Paolo Traversari. She's way out of his league.
- She's also a bit of a shrew and very unfriendly to him (makes you wonder how he fell in love with her).
- Nastagio's a mess. Sometimes he feels like killing himself. Sometimes he feels like trying harder to win her.
- But his attempts aren't working and he's spending all his money. His friends advise him to leave Ravenna before it's too late.
- So he takes his belongings and sets up camp about three miles outside of Ravenna. He does okay out there and his friends come to visit.
- And then something really strange happens. As he's walking through the forest, he sees a naked woman running towards him, being chased by dogs.
- She's a total mess, with bad hair and bloody wounds on her body from running naked through the forest and being bitten by angry pooches.
- Also, there's a very angry knight pursuing her. He threatens the naked woman with a knife (read into that what you will).
- Nastagio takes up a branch to defend her, but the knight tells him to keep out of it.
- Nastagio says he won't stand by while a woman is torn to pieces, and shame on him. A big scary knight acting so ungallantly.
- Then the knight reveals something unexpected: both he and the woman are already dead.
- Nastagio was witnessing the eternal punishment of two tormented souls.
- The knight (called Guido) had killed himself in despair when the lady showed him extreme cruelty.
- And the lady was thrilled that he'd died but then died herself immediately after.
- So Guido has to chase her and kill her with the same knife that he used to kill himself and then rip her cold, cold heart from her body to feed to the dogs. Then the lady gets up and they do it all over again.
- It happens every Friday at the same time.
- Guido does his thing, and Nastagio's completely and utterly freaked out.
- But not so freaked out that he can't see that he could make this experience work in his favor.
- Nastagio gets some help from his friends and family to bring Paolo Traversari and his stuck-up daughter out to this supernatural part of the woods.
- He has a banquet prepared and tables set up so they can see the drama playing out. Kind of like dinner theater with those murder mysteries.
- Boy, does this tactic work. Nastagio's cruel beloved gets the message and quickly succumbs to his attentions and marries him right away.
- Even better, all the ladies of Ravenna are so frightened by this spectacle that they become, according to Filomena, "more tractable to men's pleasures" than ever before.
- Listen and learn, ladies.
Fifth Day, Ninth Story
Federigo degli Alberighi and the Falcon
- Storyteller: Fiammetta
- Fiammetta will tell a story sort of like the one Filomena's just told.
- She wants to make sure the ladies understand the power their beauty has over noble men and to show that everyone has the ability to choose where they apply their generosity.
- Fiammetta does something unusual here: she gives credit to a specific person for telling this story first. Coppo di Borghese Domenichi was a real person back in Boccaccio's day and he knew how to spin a tale.
- A nobleman called Federigo Alberighi falls in love with a woman named Monna Giovanna.
- She is, of course, beautiful beyond all imagination. She's also married.
- Federigo spends a lot of effort and money on showing Giovanna that he's in love with her, but to no avail.
- Federigo realizes that she'll never dishonor her husband, but too late—he's spent all his money and now has only his good falcon and a small farm in the country.
- Monna Giovanna carries on with her husband until he dies early. She's left with only one son to inherit all of his father's wealth.
- As a fashionable Florentine woman, Giovanna takes her son to spend the summer in their country house. It happens to be near Federigo's farm.
- Giovanna's young son loves birds and dogs, so he quickly becomes friends with their neighbor. He's especially enamored of Federigo's falcon.
- The boy then falls ill and believes that he might have something to live for if only his mother can get Federigo's falcon for him.
- This puts Giovanna on the spot: she knows that Federigo loved her so much that he was reduced to poverty, but she never gave him the time of day before. How can she now ask for the falcon?
- But things go from bad to worse for the boy, and Giovanna's maternal instincts get the better of her. She takes a companion with her and sets off for Federigo's farm.
- You can imagine his surprise when she appears and says she wants to have breakfast with him, to make amends for ignoring him all this time.
- Federigo's overjoyed, but now he realizes just how poor he is: he has nothing to put on the table for breakfast.
- In his panic, he reaches for the only edible thing in the house—his falcon.
- O.M.G. Totally O. Henry.
- Federigo and the lady eat up the bird and then Giovanna tells him the real reason for coming.
- Federigo's inconsolable and has to explain the problem to Giovanna.
- At first, she admonishes him for killing so good a bird just to feed a woman. Then she's utterly blown away by his generosity.
- And then she's dismayed, because now her son can't have his falcon.
- Sure enough, the lad dies some days later. Fiammetta isn't really willing to say it was because of the falcon mishap (he might have had some incurable disease, after all).
- Giovanna inherits the estate from her son (note the line of inheritance, ladies), and her brothers urge her to marry after a period of mourning.
- She swears she'll only marry Federigo even though her brothers laugh at her, because he's truly noble (check out Fiammetta's last story at IV.1—she's kind of stuck on this theme).
- So Federigo marries Giovanna, becomes a wealthy man again (and smarter about his money), and lives happily ever after.
Fifth Day, Tenth Story
Pietro di Vinciolo
- Storyteller: Dioneo
- Dioneo can't explain why, but it seems as though humans are more likely to laugh at something wicked than at something virtuous.
- He mentions that as a storyteller, his only function is to please and make them merry, so he'll tell a story that's pretty racy but awesome nevertheless.
- He hopes the ladies can take what's good in it and cast aside the naughtiness when it is over.
- A man called Pietro di Vinciolo decides to distract peers from his homosexuality by taking a wife.
- But he makes a mistake: he chooses a young redhead. You know those redheads—Boccaccio says they can take on two husbands.
- Pietro's really not up to the challenge, so his wife decides to find pleasure elsewhere.
- She enlists the help of a local older woman who puts on a good show of religious devotion but really is a bit of a…madame.
- She encourages Pietro's wife to have a bit of fun while she's still young. She'll look out for a suitable man. Pietro's wife gives her a piece of meat by way of payment.
- The old woman arranges a variety of men for Pietro's wife and the young woman's quite satisfied.
- But one evening, Pietro returns home early from a dinner at his friend Ercolano's house and catches his wife on the hop.
- She hides her lover under the chicken coop and pretends that all is well.
- Pietro explains why he's home so early. Ercolano's wife had hidden her lover in the cupboard under the stairs where she'd been bleaching her veils. The young man gave himself away by sneezing because of the chemicals.
- You can imagine the scene, and Pietro had to carry the young lover out of the house before Ercolano had time to find a knife.
- Pietro's wife tries to cover her own tracks by loudly denouncing Ercolano's wife. How could she do such a thing? And she's so old, too!
- Pietro goes off to bed without any supper and his wife thinks she's off the hook.
- But Fortune has other plans. Fate, in the form of a donkey, wanders over and tramps on the lover's fingers, which are sticking out from under the chicken coop.
- He lets out a blood-curdling scream and Pietro rushes over to check things out.
- And really, Pietro couldn't be more pleased. He'd been after this young man for his own purposes.
- So he chews his wife out for blaming Ercolano's wife, saying that women are all alike.
- She notices that he doesn't seem to be all that angry. And he does seem to be holding her lover's hand an awful lot.
- She tells Pietro that she really just wants what every wife wants. At least she takes her pleasure in men of high social standing.
- Pietro tells her that he'll work things out to everyone's mutual satisfaction.
- So she brings out some supper and they make a merry evening of it.
- Dioneo says that he doesn't recall exactly how Pietro worked it all out, but the young man spent the next day trying to figure out if he'd spent more of the night with the husband or the wife.
Fifth Day, Conclusion
- Everyone laughs at Dioneo, even though they feel they shouldn't.
- Fiammetta hands the crown to Elissa, who declares that the subject for the next day should concern those who used a witty comeback to protect themselves from embarrassment or shame.
- After supper, Emilia dances and Dioneo sings another suggestive song. Elissa cuts him short and asks him to sing something else.
- He offers a slew of obscene but hilarious song titles and she tells him to knock it off.
- So he sings a little song about newly falling in love and being full of hope, and everyone's content with that.
Sixth Day, Introduction
- The pattern continues: while the heat's low, the party's on. Everyone takes a walk before breakfast and then goes about their day of amusement.
- Dioneo and Lauretta sing a song about Troilus and Cressida (Boccaccio wrote a version of that story in Il Filostrato, so it's clearly still on his mind).
- When Queen Elissa is about to start the storytelling, they're interrupted by the quarreling of two servants, Licisca and Tindaro.
- The argument? Tindaro asserts that an acquaintance's wife came to the marriage bed as a virgin. Licisca, in some seriously colorful, euphemistic language, begs to differ.
- Why should she, Licisca asks, when she could enjoy herself while she's young? Fathers and brothers always wait too long to arrange marriages. By then, the girls are already experienced.
- The queen tries to stop Licisca from talking but she can't; everyone's laughing too hard anyway.
- Elissa defers the question to Dioneo to answer at the end of the day, but he answers right away: Licisca is right and Tindaro's an idiot.
- Licisca gloats in triumph, but a little too loudly and Elissa tells her to get back to the kitchen and be quiet or she'll be whipped.
- And so they can begin the storytelling in peace, starting with Filomena.
Sixth Day, First Story
- Storyteller: Filomena
- Filomena compares quick-witted responses to stars and to flowers that brighten up a meadow.
- Women shouldn't make long speeches, so all of these things are suited to them rather than men.
- She complains that women are either too stupid or just unlucky, because they can't seem to think of anything witty to say.
- However, she'll tell a story about one woman who figured out just the right thing to say to a knight.
- A very clever woman, Madonna Oretta, found herself in the company of a knight as she was on a journey through the countryside.
- The knight promised to take her riding by telling her the best story ever.
- Oretta is delighted. However, it turns out that the story was good, but the storyteller—not so good.
- He flubs the story endlessly and he actually succeeds in making Oretta feel sick.
- She pleasantly tells him that he has "taken [her] riding on a horse that trots very jerkily," and begs him to set her down.
- The knight laughs at his own shortcomings and decides to tell her a different sort of tale.
Sixth Day, Second Story
Cisti the Baker and Messer Geri Spina
- Storyteller: Pampinea
- Pampinea laments the fact that sometimes Fortune and Nature conspire to put good men in unsuitable situations or to give them bodies that don't match their great personalities.
- But both Nature and Fortune have a way of hiding the best parts until they're absolutely needed—and then they burst forth.
- Pampinea will tell a story that illustrates this and takes a humble baker as its protagonist.
- Messer Geri Spina is a nobleman in the good graces of Pope Boniface VIII, so when the Pope needs to send a delegation to Florence, he asks Geri to lodge them in his house.
- During this visit, the delegation walks past the local church every day as they get on with their business.
- Next to this church is Cisti's bakery. And Cisti's not just any baker: he's gotten quite rich from his talents in the kitchen, a 14th-century Cake Boss.
- Fortune gave him a humble calling, but rewarded him with riches.
- But Messer Geri, along with most everyone else, doesn't realize that Cisti's wealthy enough to have an awesome wine cellar. They just see the humble part.
- Because it's hot, Cisti decides to arrange things so that Messer Geri will come to him to ask for a drink of wine. FYI, he can't just outright offer it, because of the differences in their social situations. That's how these things work.
- So Cisti sits in the doorway drinking his wine and smacking his lips over its deliciousness until Messer Geri can't stand it anymore. Cisti offers him and his friends a drink.
- They're completely bowled over by how good it is. So every morning, Messer Geri and his group appear at Cisti's to drink a little wine.
- When the papal emissaries are leaving, Messer Geri throws a huge banquet and invites Cisti to it. But Cisti's a humble man and won't accept.
- If Cisti won't attend, Messer Geri hopes he'll send a small flagon of his good wine along to the party, just so his guests can take a little taste of it. He asks his servant to take a small flask for the job.
- This servant, however, is disgruntled that he can never taste his master's wines, so he takes a huge vessel along with him, so he can skim some off the top.
- When Cisti sees this, he chases the servant off, since he knows that Geri would never ask for so much wine. That would be unseemly.
- The servant tells Geri that Cisti has refused his request, saying that Geri would never ask for his wine.
- Geri sends the servant back, who proceeds to visit Cisti again with a supersized container.
- Again, Cisti sends him back to his master empty-handed.
- Messer Geri gets suspicious and asks to see the flagon that the servant brought to Cisti.
- When he sees the size of it, he scolds the greedy servant. Then, he sends a smaller flask for Cisti to fill.
- Cisti knew what was going on the whole time and didn't want to waste his good wines on servants. So now that he sees that Messer Geri knows the score, he sends his new friend his entire supply of good wine.
- Messer Geri receives it happily and from then on the two men are the greatest of friends despite their class differences.
Sixth Day, Third Story
Monna Nonna de' Pulci
- Storyteller: Lauretta
- Lauretta wants to make a distinction between a witty remark and an insult. One's like the bite of a sheep and the other like that of a dog.
- It's okay to bite like a dog if you've been bitten likewise, but you've got to choose your time and place.
- And you've got to remember, says Lauretta, that people can give as good as they get. So, if you bite like a dog, expect to be bitten back.
- This story involves a dishonest transaction made by one Messer Dego, Marshall to King Robert of Naples, and a relative of the Bishop of Florence, who was Dego's friend.
- Dego falls madly in love with the married niece of the Bishop's brother (figure that one out) and promises to pay her husband 500 gold florins to "borrow" her for a night.
- But Dego hands over only gilt silver pieces, thereby cheating the husband and humiliating the family when the rumors spread. Everyone in town knew about it.
- So one holy day, Dego and his friend the Bishop are riding through the town and surveying all the beautiful young ladies who are walking around when they see Monna Nonna.
- Monna Nonna's a beautiful and newly married woman. The Bishop stops, and in front of everyone present, asks her if she could "conquer" his friend Dego.
- Monna Nonna's furious at the public implication of a lack of virtue, so she bites back.
- If he did conquer me, she says, I'd make sure he paid me in real coins. Ouch.
- So the Bishop and his friend are publicly humiliated and have to slink away from the holiday crowd.
Sixth Day, Fourth Story
Chichibio the Cook
- Storyteller: Neifile
- Sometimes, Neifile says, even the slow-witted can be capable of witty remarks—if Fortune lends a helping hand.
- Currado Gianfigliazzi is a gentleman who loves him some hunting.
- One day, he killed a crane that looked fat and tasty, so he sent it off to his cook, Chichibio, to prep it for dinner. Yum, crane.
- As he's cooking, Donna Brunetta appears. Chichibio is sweet on her and would do anything she wanted.
- At this point, Brunetta just wants a roasted crane leg.
- Chichibio can't say no, but now he's got a problem: how's he gonna explain to his boss a crane with just one leg?
- Sure enough, Currado notices the missing leg.
- Chichibio quickly thinks up a lie: everyone knows that cranes only have one leg.
- Currado loses his temper and challenges him. If Chichibio can't show him a one-legged crane in the wild, he'll beat him.
- So Chichibio and Currado set out the next day to look for the elusive one-legged crane.
- And guess what? They find a whole flock of cranes standing on one leg. Chichibio is relieved.
- But Currado isn't a fool. He gives a yell and the cranes bring down their second legs before flying off.
- Currado's about to clobber Chichibio, screaming "Cranes have two legs, don't they?"
- Chichibio replies that, duh, of course they do. But you have to yell at them to make the second leg appear.
- Currado didn't yell at the roasted crane the night before.
- This answer's so hilariously stupid that Currado bursts into laughter and Chichibio escapes a beating.
Sixth Day, Fifth Story
Giotto and Forese da Rabatta
- Storyteller: Panfilo
- Panfilo is going to one-up Neifile: his story will talk about genius hidden behind an ugly face.
- Panfilo tells us about two physically repulsive dudes: Forese da Rabatta (a famous jurist) and Master Giotto, the famous medieval Italian painter.
- He describes Forese as "deformed" and "dwarf-like." Giotto is about as handsome. Harsh.
- Both men had homes in the northeast of Florence and one summer, they meet each other as they're returning back to the city.
- On top of their general ugliness, they're riding horses that look about to keel over.
- Then it starts to rain.
- They shelter for a while with a peasant friend, but when they realize it won't let up, they borrow some outerwear and decide to tough it out on the road.
- The two unattractive men—by now filthy and drenched—ride along for a while in silence.
- When Giotto finally speaks, Forese looks over at him. And then he bursts out laughing at the sight of his friend.
- Forese quips that no one who saw Giotto in that state would believe he was the greatest painter in the world.
- Giotto sees the opportunity and takes it. No stranger, he said, would believe that Forese could even know his ABCs, let alone be a brilliant legal mind!
- Forese hadn't guessed at his own homely appearance, leaving himself wide open to insult.
Sixth Day, Sixth Story
- Storyteller: Fiammetta
- Fiammetta wants to riff off Panfilo's mention of the Baronci family in the last story by telling a tale that demonstrates their great nobility. It also conveniently fits the theme for the day.
- Fiammetta recalls a young man named Michele Scalza who was considered the life of the party—all the guys in Florence wanted to have him around.
- One day, Michele and his friends get into a friendly argument about which of the Florentine families was the oldest and most noble.
- Of course, Michele feels he has the answer: the Baronci.
- The others think he's insane, but he offers a wager that he's right. If he can prove his claim, the loser has to buy supper for him and six friends.
- They appoint their host, Piero di Fiorentino, as judge.
- Michele explains his logic: 1) The oldest family is therefore the most noble; 2) The members of the Baronci family are the ugliest people on the face of the planet; 3) They're so ugly that it's clear they're God's first clumsy attempts in designing people, so they're the oldest family; 4) Ergo, they are the noblest.
- How can you argue with that? Piero judges that Michele must be right, so he wins the supper and the laughter of everyone present.
- Shmoop hopes you are beginning to appreciate the 14th-century sense of humor.
Sixth Day, Seventh Story
- Storyteller: Filostrato
- True to his nature, Filostrato's going to top all the stories on this day by adding a life-or-death element to his. It's good to say the right thing at the right time, he says, but saying it when your life's on the line is even better.
- There was a law in Prato that sentenced any woman caught in the act of adultery to be burned alive.
- Unfortunately for the beautiful and intelligent Madonna Filippa, she's caught in the act by her husband, Rinaldo. He immediately denounces her to the authorities.
- Though her friends and family beg her to lie about the affair, Filippa won't do it. She's ennobled by love and stuff.
- So she goes before the chief magistrate and tells him straight up that she was indeed caught by her husband.
- But she insists the law's invalid. Men and women are supposed to be equal before the law and this particular law only applies to women. You go, girl.
- She then asks a favor of the magistrate: ask my husband if I've ever denied my body to him.
- Rinaldo readily admits that he gets his fill.
- Filippa takes the opening. What's she to do, then, with all the surplus? Is she supposed to waste it?
- The court erupts into laughter and agrees with Filippa's arguments.
- Not only does Filippa beat the charge and the punishment, but the law's amended to apply only to unfaithful wives who take money for their services.
Sixth Day, Eighth Story
Fresco and His Niece
- Storyteller: Emilia
- Emilia snaps out of a daydream to tell a short story about a silly girl that has to be corrected by her uncle.
- A man named Fresco has an empty-headed, clueless niece nicknamed Cesca.
- Cesca's the girl you love to hate: stuck on her looks, thinks she's too cool for school and everyone else are losers.
- One day, Cesca comes home early from some festivities to find her uncle home.
- She immediately begins to complain about the random people in the street and how repulsive they all are.
- Fresco's totally turned off by his niece's manner and words, so he tells her that if she wants to avoid seeing horrible people, she'd better stop looking in the mirror.
- But Cesca's an idiot, so this goes right over her head. Emilia says that she's still an airhead to this day and will never change.
Sixth Day, Ninth Story
- Storyteller: Elissa
- Elissa tells everyone that two of the stories she had in mind for the day have already been told, so she has to go with her third choice.
- She's going to take them back to the good old days of Florence, when gentlepeople would throw fabulous dinner parties to amuse their friends.
- One of these party-goers is Messer Betto Brunelleschi, who was trying to recruit the poet Guido Cavalcanti into the ranks of wealthy party-givers. But Guido really wants nothing to do with them.
- There's some speculation about why Guido won't bite—he's a loner, an atheist, etc.—so Betto and friends decide to taunt him a bit about it.
- One morning, they find Guido on his favorite walk through the tombs near the center of Florence.
- Betto asks Guido what good it does to spend all his time in deep thoughts if it means avoiding their splendid company.
- Guido enigmatically says that while they're in their own house, they can say anything to him that they want. Then he jumps over a headstone and walks away.
- Betto's friends have no idea what Guido means, but Betto gets it.
- He's realized that Guido has just dissed them by saying that the graveyard was their house.
- In other words, since they're so much less educated than he, they're worse off than the dead.
- Betto and friends have been shamed, and they decide not to tease the intellectual Guido again.
- Wait, what?
- Don't worry; Shmoop doesn't get this one, either.
Sixth Day, Tenth Story
- Storyteller: Dioneo
- For once, Dioneo will tell a story in keeping with the theme du jour.
- And he'll take his time about it, since it's only noon and they're already through nine stories.
- This one's set in Certaldo, the possible city of Boccaccio's birth and the place where he lived after he retired.
- Because of its wealth, it was a popular place for a friar called Cipolla ("Onion" in Italian) to go begging.
- And look out—Friar Cipolla has red hair. (Remember the red-headed character in V.10?)
- He's also illiterate, popular and a good speaker.
- Cipolla, like many friars of his time, would make a lot of money by preaching fiery sermons outside of churches, and showing relics—usually body parts of the saints or pieces of sacred items—that were supposed to have healing powers.
- In this particular instance, Cipolla promises to show the people of the parish a feather from the Angel Gabriel that was left behind in Mary's room after the Annunciation.
- Giovanni and Biagio, citizens of Certaldo, listen to Cipolla's speech and decide to expose him as a fraud. Feathers, seriously?
- They break into Cipolla's room and steal the feather he plans to show in his next sermon.
- Cipolla had a servant called "Guccio Porco" or "Guccio the Pig." He's a slob, but he keeps Cipolla supplied with gossip.
- The friar tells Guccio to keep an eye on his room, but Guccio's busy trying to hook up with an ugly kitchen maid.
- So Giovanni and Biagio have an easy time of stealing the feather and replacing it with three lumps of coal.
- When the peasants of the town gather to see Gabriel's feather, Cipolla sees dollar signs. He sends Guccio back to get his relics so that they can begin and then collect money.
- Cipolla preaches dramatically and then opens the box to reveal the angel feather.
- Of course, he finds the lumps of coal and has to do some quick thinking.
- But Cipolla's in his element. He regales them with a nonsense story about his travels through fictitious lands.
- The point of telling such a lengthy story is to explain why he has coals rather than an angel's feather.
- Cipolla says that when he reached the Holy Land, the Patriarch gave him many relics. One of them was the feather. But he also has the coals over which St. Lawrence was roasted.
- Since the Patriarch placed each of them in identical containers, Cipolla sometimes confuses them, as he's done today.
- But God be praised! What a great mistake to make! The feast day of St. Lawrence is coming up, so how much cooler is it that Cipolla happened to bring the coal?
- He invites the faithful to step forward to be blessed (and give him some money). In return, they will "never be touched by fire without being burnt" for a whole year.
- Cipolla makes a fortune and dupes the whole town.
Day Six, Conclusion
- They all have a good laugh at Friar Cipolla's cleverness, and Elissa passes the crown to Dioneo.
- Elissa tells him to take his responsibility seriously and rule wisely. Dioneo assures her that there have been better kings on a chessboard.
- But if they obey, he says, they'll get pleasure out of his reign.
- After going through the usual motions, Dioneo reveals that Licisca has helped him choose the theme for his reign: tricks that women have played on their husbands.
- The ladies feel somewhat scandalized, so they ask him to come up with something more appropriate.
- Dioneo concedes that the topic may be somewhat risqué, but he pleads the circumstances of the times. It's the end of the world as we know it, he says, and all laws are up for negotiation.
- Who'll blame them if they step outside the rules of etiquette to give themselves pleasure? It's not like they're hurting anyone.
- Also, they've been really good up to this point and proved that they're virtuous people. They will probably still be virtuous at the end of the day.
- Plus, if they refuse to listen to this type of story, people might assume it's because of a guilty conscience. That does it—he's allowed his topic.
- Elissa then proposes to the women that they should go to see a beautiful place nearby called the Valley of the Ladies. How suggestive is that?
- So they slip away from the men and go on a little field trip. It turns out that the Valley is another locus amoenus, but this one appears not to be man-made.
- Like all good pleasure places, it has lovely plants and animals, but also a great place for bathing.
- There's a stream and a clear lake, so the ladies go cool off and catch little fish with their bare hands.
- The ladies return to the men in the garden and boast about their exploits. But the men won't be outdone, so they make a trip to the Valley of the Ladies after dinner to check it out.
- In the end, they like it so much that Dioneo orders things to be set up there for tomorrow's storytelling (including beds for naps) and they proceed with their regular schedule.
- Panfilo dances and Elissa sings her favorite song. Her lyrics describe the lover as a warrior who lays down arms and Love as one who betrays and attacks. It ends with the lover begging for death.
- No one has any idea who could be causing Elissa to feel this way, but they dance the night away and don't appear to be too troubled by it.
Seventh Day, Introduction
- We get a little astronomy lesson in this intro, when Boccaccio tells us that the steward heads down to the Valley of the Ladies when the Morningstar (Venus) is the only one left in the sky.
- So it's early when the posse sets out for the Valley, and they're serenaded along the way by an impressive variety of birds.
- When they arrive, there's singing and eating, merrymaking—and napping.
- They settle themselves by the clear lake and Emilia's chosen to begin.
Seventh Day, First Story
Gianni and the Werewolf
- Storyteller: Emilia
- Emilia pretends to be dismayed that she has to go first on this day, but she seems prepared anyway.
- She's going to tell the story about a man and a werewolf because, hey, every woman is afraid of werewolves.
- As a bonus, Emilia will teach them a prayer to protect them against such creatures.
- Gianni Lotteringhi has a beautiful and clever wife called Monna Tessa.
- Gianni isn't so clever. However, he's a good weaver and makes a good living, so most people in the neighborhood take advantage of him.
- Tessa realizes that she'll need to take a lover to be happy, so she turns her mind to a handsome man called Federigo.
- In the summer, Tessa often goes to a villa that her husband owned. Most of the time, Gianni doesn't stay at home with her in the evenings, so this means that Tessa's free to invite her friend.
- And she does, more than once. Tessa contrives a system of signals to warn Federigo if her husband's going to be at home in the villa.
- There's a donkey's skull on a post in the vineyard near the villa. If the skull points toward Florence, their date is on. If it points in the opposite direction, they'll have to raincheck because Gianni's at home.
- This works well until it doesn't. One night, Gianni arrives at the villa unexpectedly.
- Tessa sends the maid with a supper for Federigo into the garden, but no one tells him about the change in plans.
- And so just as they go to bed, Federigo knocks on the door.
- Gianni hears it immediately and Tessa has some quick thinking to do.
- She tells Gianni that the knocking is from a werewolf that's been scaring her for the past few nights.
- Tessa tells her husband that she knows a prayer to exorcise the beast and asks Gianni to go with her to the door.
- She stands at the door and speaks a "prayer" that's actually a warning to Federigo who's on the other side of the door.
- In the prayer, she tells him about the food under the tree and that he should "let them be" since Gianni's there.
- Federigo gets it and makes off with the food that Tessa set out for him.
- In the days after, Tessa and Federigo have a good laugh over her prayer.
- At the end of her tale, Emilia tells us that there's another version of the ending, one that has a peasant turning the donkey skull from the right direction to the wrong one and also a different prayer.
- Emilia says we can choose which version we like best, or perhaps keep them both.
Seventh Day, Second Story
- Storyteller: Filostrato
- Filostrato says that because men play so many tricks on women, whenever they hear of tricks played by a woman on a man, it should be circulated to as many people as possible.
- The reason? Men should realize that women are every bit as clever as they are, and so that they'll think twice before messing with them.
- Peronella, a beautiful and charming woman, lives with her poor husband in a district of Naples.
- Every day, Peronella's husband goes off to find work and Peronella stays home to spin wool.
- Pretty soon, she catches the eye of a young gentleman called Giannello. They figure out that once her husband leaves for the day, they have plenty of time to play around before he returns.
- Except for one day, when Peronella's husband returns early and finds the door to the house locked.
- What a virtuous wife, he thinks. She's locked the door behind me to keep the naughty men out.
- Inside, Peronella hears her husband knock on the door and gives herself up for lost. She hides Giannello in an empty "tub" (or wine barrel) and goes to answer the door.
- When she sees her husband returned so early from work, she gives him a dressing down: how could she have married such a lazybones? How are they going to put food on the table?
- He tells her to relax: it's a saint's feast day so there's no work. However, he's sold the empty tub to the man he brought with him.
- Peronella does some quick thinking and tells her husband that she's already sold it for even more. The man's in there now inspecting it.
- Peronella's husband is pleased and goes to check it out. Giannello plays along, even saying that the tub needs a good cleaning before he buys it.
- The husband is glad to oblige—for such a good price—so he lowers himself into the tub and begins scraping away the leftover wine.
- Giannello sees his final opportunity to get what he really came for. While Peronella is leaning over the edge of the tub and giving instructions to her husband, Giannello, uh, completes his task like a wild stallion with a mare, according to Filostrato.
- And just in time, too, before the husband clambers back out of the tub.
- So Giannello winds up with the "embraces" of his lover—and a tub in the bargain.
Seventh Day, Third Story
- Storyteller: Elissa
- The ladies got the joke about the stallion and the mare and start to laugh, but pretend they're laughing about something else.
- Emilia's story reminds Elissa of another trick played by the use of an "incantation," so she'll tell it.
- Rinaldo is a handsome young man of Siena who falls in love with his neighbor's beautiful wife, Madonna Agnesa.
- Agnesa's pregnant (Rinaldo's not the baby daddy) and Rinaldo offers his services as godfather to the child so that he can get close to her.
- But despite his efforts, Agnesa's not interested. Rinaldo becomes a friar (reasons unknown) and gives up his desires for a while.
- But not for long. Like all friars, says Elissa, Rinaldo becomes corrupt and full of desires.
- And Agnesa isn't made of steel. She still has reservations about giving in to a man of the cloth who also happens to be the godfather of her child (it's considered taboo).
- Rinaldo brushes off her worries. Isn't the father of the child even more closely related to it? Doesn't Agnesa sleep with him anyway?
- So they hook up and have a great time. But one day, Agnesa's husband comes home early and surprises her as she's locked in the bedroom with Rinaldo (and Rinaldo's friend is in the attic with the maid).
- Agnesa does some quick thinking and tells Rinaldo to follow her lead as she opens the door to her husband.
- Rinaldo dresses himself and takes his godchild (yes, he was in the room with them) in his arms.
- Agnesa explains that Rinaldo has saved their child from certain death. The boy, she says, had worms coming close to his heart and Rinaldo recited special prayers to save him. His friend was in the attic saying prayers, too.
- The poor man's so relieved that his son hadn't died that he believes everything. He even gives Rinaldo and friend a celebratory meal, which Elissa says they needed after their "hard work."
- Agnesa's husband believes them so completely that he even has a little wax statue made as an offering to the local saint in thanksgiving for his son's return to health.
- Editorial Note: Some commentators feel that Boccaccio is pretty unsympathetic to well-meaning and devoted husbands who get duped by their wives.
Seventh Day, Fourth Story
Tofano and Ghita
- Storyteller: Lauretta
- Lauretta praises Love for giving even stupid lovers the ingenuity to hide their lies and schemes.
- To illustrate such ingenuity, she'll tell the story of a woman who really doesn't have much going on upstairs, but who still managed to find her way around a sticky situation.
- A man called Tofano marries a very beautiful woman named Monna Ghita. He immediately becomes jealous of her.
- Since Ghita's done nothing to deserve this, she decides to torment her new husband.
- So she finds herself a handsome young man and quickly devises a way to be with him.
- Ghita finds her husband's Achilles' heel: he loves the drink. She encourages him to get plastered in the evenings so she can put him to bed and do what she likes with her lover.
- But Tofano realizes that his wife never drinks with him. He starts to suspect what she's doing.
- One night, he just pretends to be drunk, so his wife puts him to bed as usual and goes over to her lover's house. Tofano waits until she's gone and bolts the door after her.
- Ghita returns and is left howling on the doorstep to be let in. Tofano refuses.
- Then Ghita gets some inspiration. She tells Tofano that she'll hurl herself into the well if he doesn't let her in. The neighbors will think he killed her in a drunken rage.
- Tofano isn't buying it, so he stands fast. Ghita throws a huge stone into the well to dupe Tofano into thinking she made good on her threat.
- Tofano's horrified when he hears the splash. He runs to the well to save his wife, but Ghita is waiting by the door for her chance.
- Now the tables are turned: Tofano's on the step and Ghita locks herself inside the house. She begins to scream as loudly as possible about his drunken behavior.
- Pretty soon there's a real ruckus and the neighbors get involved. Ghita plays the poor, helpless wife of a drunken jerk. Tofano tries to tell the truth but no one believes him.
- Then Ghita's kinsfolk get wind of the situation and beat Tofano within an inch of his life. They pack up Ghita and her belongings and take her home with them.
- Tofano realizes that he wants his wife back, and after lots of negotiating and promising never again to be jealous, they're reconciled.
- In this way, Ghita's basically given permission to do as she pleased from then on.
Seventh Day, Fifth Story
A Jealous Husband, His Wife and Her Lover
- Storyteller: Fiammetta
- Fiammetta tells us that jealous husbands deserve every bit of suffering they get, especially ones who are jealous for no reason.
- She goes one step further: anything a woman does against a jealous husband should be seen as self-defense in the eyes of the law, since in reality, the jealous man is simply out to get his wife.
- Fiammetta explains that the poor wife of a jealous man doesn't even get to have a little fun on the Sabbath like everybody else. Instead, she's kept locked away in the house.
- She sounds like she knows quite a bit about this situation first-hand and sums up by saying that such an abused woman should be allowed to do whatever's necessary.
- In Rimini, there was a man who was so jealous of his wife that he didn't even allow her to stand at the window or look out the door.
- Although she'd done nothing to provoke jealousy, she now decided to give him a good reason for jealousy.
- But it's not like she could go to a bar and pick up a guy, so she has to look a little closer to home.
- She knows that there's a handsome young man, Filippo, who lives next door. She sets out to find a little crack in the walls between their houses so she can talk to him.
- Pretty soon, she finds a crack conveniently leading to Filippo's bedroom.
- They manage to carry on pretty nicely for some time, but all they can do is touch hands through the opening in the wall.
- At Christmas, the wife asks her husband's permission to go to the local church to confess her sins, like every other Christian.
- He immediately becomes suspicious: what sins could she have? He only allows her to go to their little chapel and then she has to come straight back home, so what trouble could she possibly get into?
- The wife realizes that this is a trap, but she's going to work it into her plans.
- Her husband gets to the chapel before her and convinces the chaplain to let him play priest for a morning.
- When she arrives, the usual chaplain sends in her disguised husband to hear her confession.
- She pretends not to recognize him and then hits him with his worst nightmare. She tells him she's in love with a priest who sleeps with her every night.
- This priest, she claims, has magical powers to open all the locks in the house and cast a sleeping spell on her husband.
- Her disguised husband is appalled and tells her she must stop having sex with this priest.
- The wife objects: she loves him too much!
- The "priest" tells her that her soul will be lost if she doesn't desist. He'll send her someone to give her spiritual guidance and pray for her.
- She protests that her husband is wicked jealous and would suspect something if he did so, but the "priest" promises to be discreet.
- The jealous husband is now fit to be tied. He decides to wait at the front door all night if he has to in order to catch this sneaky priest.
- Of course, this gives his wife the opening she's been looking for. She tells Filippo the whole story and says they can now spend the night together if he comes in through the window.
- In the morning, the jealous husband feels awful from staying up all night.
- He sends a servant dressed up like a confessor to his wife. She tells him that the priest lover didn't show up last night and that she'll forget about him if this keeps up.
- The husband feels triumphant and determined to keep watch until his wife forgets about her lover.
- This, of course, leads to many nights of fun for his wife and Filippo.
- When the husband can't take it anymore, he blows up and reveals his deception to his wife.
- She calls him on his stupidity and tells him that she always knew he was the priest who confessed her on Christmas day.
- Didn't she say she was in love with a priest (which he was pretending to be)? Didn't she say that all doors opened to him and that she slept with him every night (both true for him)? And when he was keeping watch at the door, didn't she tell the "confessor" that the priest hadn't been with her?
- The husband feels like a complete ass and decides that his wife is both wise and virtuous, but it's too late.
- Now that she's given free rein, she lets Filippo in through the front door so that they can spend more time together.
Seventh Day, Sixth Story
- Storyteller: Pampinea
- Pampinea is displeased by the general belief that Love turns people into idiots.
- Not so, she says, and she'll tell a story to prove it.
- Madonna Isabella is—of course—a beautiful noblewoman who's married to a pretty great rich guy.
- But she gets tired of all that and decides to fall in love with Leonetto, a young man of inferior social standing.
- On the other side of things, an influential gentleman called Lambertuccio has got it bad for Isabella. She thinks he's just annoying.
- When Lambertuccio realizes that Isabella won't have him, he threatens to make her life difficult.
- So Isabella gives in and does whatever Lambertuccio asks of her.
- When the summer comes, Isabella heads out to her country villa and invites Leonetto to visit her while her husband's away.
- Lambertuccio invites himself as well.
- Isabella hides Leonetto behind her bed and begs him to stay quiet until she can smuggle him out.
- Then she lets Lambertuccio in.
- Her husband comes home. But Isabella's a quick thinker and she tells Lambertuccio to run downstairs with his dagger drawn, screaming, "I'll catch you yet!"
- Then, he's to leap into his saddle and ride away immediately.
- Lambertuccio does this, much to the amazement of Isabella's husband.
- Isabella then tells her husband a whopper of a story, loudly enough so that Leonetto can hear and act accordingly.
- She explains that a young man came rushing into the house with Lambertuccio breathing fire at his heels. The young man begged her to save him and so she hid him somewhere in her chamber.
- Isabella's husband praises her for doing the right thing; it wouldn't have been nice to have someone murdered in their own house.
- Her husband coaxes Leonetto out of his hiding place and asks what happened between himself and Lambertuccio.
- Taking his example from his lover, Leonetto explains that he'd never met Lambertuccio in his life, but that the man began chasing him with a drawn dagger for no reason.
- Isabella's husband, being a man of honor, escorts Leonetto all the way back to his own house, just to be sure he's safe.
- And Leonetto, on instruction from Isabella, tells Lambertuccio what happened, so that Isabella's husband never did find out the truth about that night.
Seventh Day, Seventh Story
Lodovico and Beatrice
- Storyteller: Filomena
- Lodovico is the only child of a Florentine nobleman-turned-merchant. He was sent to the French royal household to be brought up among other young noblemen.
- One day, Lodovico was hanging around with the lads, debating the beauty of women from different countries when some knights returned from crusade told them of the beauty of one Madonna Beatrice.
- Beatrice was from Bologna and, unfortunately for them, was married to Egano de' Galluzzi.
- Young Lodovico's very taken by all this talk about Beatrice and decides to go to Bologna to catch a glimpse of her.
- He tells his father that he wants to go visit the Holy Sepulcher, takes on the name Anichino, and makes his way to Bologna.
- Anichino sees Beatrice and realizes that her description was totally accurate and then some. And now he's seriously determined to win her affection.
- He decides the best way to do this is to be Egano's servant.
- So he sells his horses, asks his own servants to pretend not to know him and moves into his new job at Egano and Beatrice's house.
- Pretty soon, Egano completely relies on Anichino.
- One day, Beatrice invites Anichino to play chess with her. Her husband's away from home.
- He lets her win. After the "defeat," he reveals himself to her. She takes a shine to him immediately and kisses him.
- She invites him to her room the next night, saying that she'll leave the door open and making sure he knew which side of the bed was hers.
- So the next night, he slips into bed with her. Egano's there, too.
- Then Beatrice does something that makes Anichino's heart stop: she wakes up her husband.
- She asks Egano who his most trusted servant is (she knows it's Anichino).
- Beatrice tells him that his trust is misplaced. Beatrice makes him believe that Anichino is down in the garden at that very moment, waiting for her.
- If Egano wants proof, all he has to do is put on a dress, pretend to be Beatrice and go into the garden.
- Of course, Egano goes. Beatrice bolts the door behind him and has Anichino all to herself.
- When they've finished up with each other, Beatrice tells him to get a big stick and go into the garden.
- She tells him to say that he was putting Beatrice to the test and then to go ahead and beat up her husband—pretending the whole time that he doesn't know it isn't Beatrice.
- So Anichino does just this, cursing "Beatrice" out for being a brazen hussy who dared accuse him of betraying his master.
- When Egano returns to Beatrice, he's covered in bruises, but he's kind of happy. Anichino really is a good guy and deserves a reward.
- And Egano's convinced that he has the best servant and most faithful wife.
- Beatrice and Egano carry on as long as Anichino works for her husband.
Seventh Day, Eighth Story
- Storyteller: Neifile
- This is the story of an upstart, rich merchant who marries an aristocratic wife and ends up regretting it.
- Arriguccio Berlinghieri, the merchant, marries Monna Sismonda, a gentlewoman who immediately falls in love with a man called Ruberto.
- Sismonda has a great time with her lover, but eventually even a busy merchant like Arriguccio figures out what's going on.
- So he starts watching her carefully, making sure she's in bed before he falls asleep.
- But Sismonda gets an idea. Once Arriguccio drops off, she can spend some quality time with Ruberto.
- She ties a string to her toe and dangles the end of it out the window. When Ruberto arrives, he gives it a tug to let her know it's "magic time."
- If all is clear, Sismonda would release the string. If not, she'd haul the string up.
- The plan works beautifully. Until it doesn't.
- One night, Arriguccio catches his toe on the string.
- Long story short, he winds up chasing Ruberto down the street and fighting with him.
- Sismonda thinks fast. She puts her maid into her (Sismonda's) bed and blows out the lights.
- She bribes her maid to bear up under the beating she's about to receive.
- When Arriguccio gets home, he returns to his bedroom and beats his "wife" black and blue and cuts off her hair.
- Then he goes to fetch Sismonda's brothers so that they can finish the job.
- Sismonda returns to her room and takes care of her black-and-blue maidservant, giving her enough money to make her feel better.
- When the brothers, mother and husband return to the house, Sismonda is sitting there, calm and unharmed.
- Arriguccio thinks he's lost his mind.
- Sismonda denies everything, of course, saying that he'd never even been home that night.
- And then she accuses him further: he's been hanging out with harlots.
- Sismonda's mother launches into an attack on the nouveau riche merchant class.
- Sismonda's brothers are ready to thrash Arriguccio, but they let him off with a warning.
- So Sismonda not only gets off the hook, she ensures that she can do whatever she wants with Ruberto. Forever.
Seventh Day, Ninth Story
Lydia and Pyrrhus
- Storyteller: Panfilo
- Panfilo opens with a warning: don't try this at home, ladies. Not all men are as stupid as Nicostratus, and Fortune isn't always so kind.
- Love may give you the courage to try any fool thing, but that doesn't mean you should go through with it.
- First, a shout-out: this story is an antecedent for Chaucer's "Merchant's Tale."
- Nicostratus lives in Greece with his beautiful wife Lydia. Do they make any other kind of wife in Boccaccio's world?
- Nicostratus is wealthy, old, and loves to hunt. He also has a beautiful young retainer named Pyrrhus, whom he loves and trusts.
- Lydia, of course, falls in love with Pyrrhus.
- But Pyrrhus is clueless.
- When Lydia sends a note to him by way of her maid Lusca, Pyrrhus is shocked and refuses her offers.
- Lydia swears she'll die if she can't have Pyrrhus. She sends Lusca to do her worst.
- Lusca bribes Pyrrhus with presents and tells him that he's an idiot if he doesn't take Lydia as a lover.
- Pyrrhus has already secretly decided to do Lydia's bidding, but he has to know if she's really serious and worth the risk.
- So he asks her for three tokens: 1) Lydia must kill Nicostratus' favorite sparrowhawk right in front of him; 2) She has to pull out a tuft of his beard and send it to Pyrrhus; 3) Lydia has to pull out one of Nicostratus' best teeth.
- Lydia isn't sure how she'll do all this, but her hormones are raging. She'll think of something.
- She also decides to up the ante. She tells Pyrrhus that they'll make love right in front of Nicostratus.
- Sure enough, Lydia knocks the brains out of Nicostratus' favorite hunting bird. Her excuse? He spends more time with the %@#$ bird than he does with her.
- Then she corners her husband in the bedroom. He tugs playfully on her hair; she rips out his beard.
- Finally, Lydia devises a scheme to make Nicostratus believe he has a rotten tooth that needs extracting.
- Moreover, she convinces him that she should take the tooth out, because she loves him so much and she'll be gentler than a surgeon.
- Now that she's fulfilled Pyrrhus' requests, she just has to figure out how to make good on her promise.
- So she fakes illness and asks the two men to lead her into the garden for some fresh air. Perhaps a pear would make her feel better?
- Pyrrhus, who's in on the scheme, offers to fetch one from the tree.
- When he gets there, he begins to yell at Nicostratus in disgust: Get a room!
- He pretends that he sees Nicostratus and Lydia doing the wild thing right before his eyes.
- Nicostratus is appalled and thinks that Pyrrhus has lost his mind.
- Pyrrhus convinces Nicostratus that the tree has some pervy power to make anyone in it think he sees people making love.
- Nicostratus has to try it out for himself.
- You guessed it.
- Pyrrhus denies any wrongdoing and the lovers separate before the old man can climb down.
- Pyrrhus convinces Nicostratus that he and Lydia are too virtuous for such hanky-panky. Lydia acts offended at the suggestion that she could do such a thing.
- Lydia demands that Pyrrhus chop down the offending tree (it also helps to keep Nico from finding out their prank).
- Nicostratus is on his knees begging Lydia for forgiveness. Fine, she says, just don't ever go thinking I'm a slut again.
- And so the lovers set themselves up pretty well to continue their love affair in total safety, without any interference from Nicostratus.
Seventh Day, Tenth Story
Tingoccio and Meuccio
- Storyteller: Dioneo
- Dioneo says that he was fully intending to behave himself today, being that he's the King, and tell a story that conformed to the theme. But someone already told the story he had in mind.
- Instead, he's going to take his cue from Elissa and tell a story about the Sienese.
- He'll make up for violating his own law at another time.
- Tingoccio Mini and Meuccio di Tura are BFFs. They love to go to church together and listen to sermons.
- The sermons they've heard often deal with the afterlife, but they're confused. How do they know what really awaits them after death?
- They make a pact with each other. Whoever dies first will come back and tell the other what it's like.
- Meanwhile, Tingoccio becomes godfather to the son of a beautiful woman called Monna Mita.
- It happens that both Tingoccio and Meuccio fall in love with Mita.
- Neither wants to own up to his desires. Tingoccio's ashamed to be in lust with the mother of his godchild and Meuccio thinks that if Tingoccio knows, he'll poison Mita's mind against him.
- Tingoccio eventually overcomes his scruples and gets Mita into bed with him.
- Dioneo says that things go so well in that department that Tingoccio worked too hard and got a fever that eventually killed him.
- True to his word, Tingoccio appears to Meuccio after death.
- Meuccio's freaked out, but manages to ask if Tingoccio has been damned to Hell or not.
- Tingoccio replies that while he's not in Hell, he's being severely punished for his sins.
- Would Meuccio please say some prayers and have masses said for his soul? Meuccio promises to do this.
- Before Tingoccio leaves, Meuccio remembers to ask the important question: what punishment had he been given for sleeping with Mita, the mother of his godchild?
- Tingoccio reveals that when he was being roasted in the fire for all his other sins, he was still particularly worried about that.
- One of the other souls asked why he was trembling in the fire. Tingoccio tells him the reason and the soul has a good laugh at his stupidity: sleeping with a mother of a godchild doesn't even count as a sin.
- After Tingoccio goes, Meuccio laughs at his own stupidity—he'd let several women out of his clutches because they were the mothers of his godchildren.
- He decides to be wiser in the future.
Seventh Day, Conclusion
- Dioneo crowns Lauretta the next leader of the pack and she immediately makes arrangements to conduct the next day's amusements in the same place.
- Lauretta says she'd like to turn the tables on Dioneo and insist they tell stories about husbands who play pranks on their wives, but she doesn't want to be seen as a vindictive man-hater.
- Instead, she decides that they should talk about pranks in general.
- Dioneo and Fiammetta sing a long duet about Palamon and Arcite (that's the story that becomes Chaucer's Knight's Tale).
- Everyone's happy—the lake, the breeze, the birds, the trees, all perfect.
- In the end, Filomena sings a lament of a lover being scorched by the flames of frustrated love.
- Of course, there's intense speculation after this performance about the possibility of a new love for Filomena.
- Since the words of her song hint that she might have tasted the fruits of love, they're all a bit jealous, too.
- Lauretta recalls that the next day is Friday and reminds them of their resolve to suspend storytelling through Saturday so they can focus on religious observances (and take baths).
- With that, the day comes to a close.
Eighth Day, Introduction
- After they attend Mass on Sunday, they make their way to the fountain for stories.
- Lauretta chooses Neifile to begin.
Eighth Day, First Story
Gulfardo and Guasparruolo
- Storyteller: Neifile
- Neifile wants to tell a story about a trick played by a man on a woman, just to even the playing field.
- She scolds women who sell their chastity for money, excusing women who stray for love alone (they can't help it, can they?).
- A German soldier named Gulfardo falls in love with Madonna Ambruogia, wife of Guaspparuolo Cagastraccio (say that ten times, fast).
- She accepts his affections, but has two conditions: he can't tell anyone of their affair and she wants something shiny. Can he send 200 florins, please?
- Gulfardo is totally turned off by her money-grubbing. He decides to humiliate her.
- He then borrows 200 florins from Ambruogia's husband.
- When they meet for the first time, Gulfardo brings a friend along. He hands over the payment to her and says that she should give it to her husband when he returns.
- Ambruogia thinks he's talking in code because he had a friend with him, so she accepts it.
- And then they get down to, um, business.
- When Guaspparuolo returns, Gulfardo pays a visit with his same friend.
- He mentions to Guaspparuolo that he had returned the money to his wife. Had he gotten it yet?
- Ambruogia's caught. She has to hand over the money to her husband.
- Gulfardo's work is done. He got what he had wanted—and Ambruogia got schooled.
Eighth Day, Second Story
- Storyteller: Panfilo
- Panfilo wants to get back at priests with his story because there's really no other way to retaliate against them.
- His message: Don't believe everything a priest tells you.
- This particular priest is a bit...unpriestly. He "serves" ladies and has little book learning.
- And he has a thing for a village woman named Monna Belcolore (or "Mistress FineColors"), who is, do we even have to say it, a married woman.
- He learns that Belcolore's husband will be out of town for a bit and thinks he should seize the opportunity to get what he wants.
- Belcolore thinks he's nuts: priests don't do that!
- The priest assures him that they do, and really well, too. But Belcolore isn't sure. She wants something in return.
- She needs five pounds to get her best clothes out of the pawn shop. Otherwise, she has nothing to wear to church.
- Okay, says the priest, but he doesn't have a fiver on him at the mo. He's good for it, though.
- Belcolore's heard that one before. She wants some collateral.
- The priest offers his cloak, and promises that he'll send her the money right away.
- So the priest has his way with Belcolore in the barn and he leaves the cloak with her.
- But regret sets in. He doesn't have five pounds. And he really did like that cloak.
- He works out a good scheme to get his cloak back. Part 1: send a child to Belcolore to borrow her mortar and pestle.
- Part 2: send child back with mortar and pestle when the husband is there and have him demand the cloak back as though it had been collateral for the kitchen equipment.
- Belcolore has to play along. Score one for the priest.
- Belcolore sends a message to him: no more grinding in my mortar with your pestle. Ouch.
- The priest thinks this is pretty funny and brings Belcolore around by threatening hellfire.
- He also appeases her by "putting a new skin on her tambourine" and attaching a new little bell to it. Double entendre? We like to think so.
Eighth Day, Third Story
Calandrino and the Heliotrope
- Storyteller: Elissa
- Calandrino is a simple painter who's a comedic character in several stories that will follow.
- Calandrino's friends—and friends of his friends—take every opportunity to prey on his gullibility because it's soooo fun.
- This time, Maso del Saggio, a noted prankster of Florence, decides to put one over on Calandrino.
- Maso and a friend enter the church of San Giovanni where Calandrino's admiring the artwork. Maso makes sure Calandrino can hear him when he talks with his friend about the miraculous properties of certain stones.
- Calandrino takes the bait and asks him where such stones can be found.
- Maso describes the fabulous land of Cornucopia, where there's a mountain made of grated Parmesan cheese. Yum.
- He also goes on about more local "precious stones," like the millstone. Maso's having a great time at Calandrino's expense.
- Finally, Calandrino learns that the Mugnone River contains a special stone called the heliotrope, which makes the person who holds it "invisible when they're out of sight."
- Calandrino's awestruck. He rushes off to find his friends Buffalmacco and Bruno, who are also painters and who love to have a laugh at his expense.
- When the two friends hear that Calandrino wants to go to the Mugnone, they realize that an excellent opportunity to humiliate Calandrino is about to present itself.
- On the weekend, they head out to the river to go heliotrope hunting. Calandrino gathers up as many black stones (the supposed color of heliotrope) as he can and brings them back to his friends.
- And, of course, Bruno and Buffalmacco pretend that they can't see their friend. Instead, they talk about how rude he was to have left them and then coincidentally pelt him with stones all the way back to town.
- Before they'd set out on this adventure, Bruno and Buffalmacco had arranged it with the customs guards outside the city not to challenge Calandrino when they came back from the river. So he passes without being noticed, or so he thinks.
- No one else in town speaks to him (mostly because not many people are out yet).
- Calandrino reaches his house and is greeted immediately by his wife Tessa, who's upset because he missed his breakfast.
- Thinking that she caused the magic stone to lose its power—women do that to magical things, apparently—he beats Tessa until she's black and blue.
- Meanwhile, Bruno and Buffalmacco arrive and berate him for hurting her, since it's probably his fault for not warning her of his plans beforehand.
- They say it's his judgment for abandoning them at the river.
- So in the end, Calandrino's left with a room full of useless black stones.
Eighth Day, Fourth Story
The Provost and the Widow
- Storyteller: Emilia
- Emilia says that although there have already been many stories about how clergymen will do anything to get their hands on women, there are plenty more out there.
- She proposes to tell yet another of these stories.
- A young and beautiful widow of Fiesole attracts the attention of the provost of her church.
- But he's old and pompous and boring. And oh yeah, he's a priest.
- The widow's in a tricky situation. She can't afford to make this priest angry, since he's in a position of power and she has to see him all the time.
- So she diplomatically tells him in no uncertain terms that a) he's a priest; b) he's getting too old for these shenanigans; and c) she's a widow and can't be acting like a young woman having a fling.
- Of course, the Provost won't take no for an answer and pretty soon our widow's at the end of her rope.
- She comes up with a plan to teach this priest a lesson and gets the go-ahead from her brothers to put it into action.
- Next time she sees the provost, he corners her in the church and hits on her as usual.
- The widow pretends that she can no longer refuse him and makes a date with him that night at her house.
- But there's one condition: since her younger brothers still live at home and the walls are paper thin, they must do everything in the dark and be absolutely silent.
- Now the widow has a maidservant named Ciutazza. Let's just say that she's not the best looking woman around.
- The widow makes a deal with Ciutazza: sleep with the provost, and I'll buy you a new smock.
- Ciutazza agrees to the arrangement and takes the provost to bed in place of her lady.
- Meanwhile, the two brothers, who are in on the joke, go to town to fetch the bishop.
- They bring him back to the house and entertain him for a while. Then they have something to show him.
- When the provost is found in bed with Ciutazza, the bishop loses his mind.
- He's so angry with him that he forces him to see who he's really been sleeping with and sends the provost on a "walk of shame" back to the church.
- The provost is then sentenced to 40 days penance for his deeds, but that's the least of his troubles.
- Now when he walks through town, the little boys point him out as the lover of ugly Ciutazza.
- Ciutazza, on the other hand, comes out of the whole affair with a nice new smock.
Eighth Day, Fifth Story
The Judge from the Marches
- Storyteller: Filostrato
- Filostrato says that Elissa's earlier tale about Maso del Saggio has made him change his mind about the tale he was going to tell. It's reminded him of another Maso tale.
- Although it has some naughty words in it, Filostrato tells the ladies not to worry—it's just an entertaining little tale.
- The chief magistrates of Florence, Filostrato says, mostly come from an area of Italy called the Marches.
- Because they're cheapskates, they find bottom feeders to bring with them as judges and other officials.
- One of these judges is Messer Niccola and he's a disgusting mess of a man.
- His dress is very unbecoming of a judge: his fur hat is filthy, his judicial robes don't cover much and—wait for it—his pants are on the ground.
- One day, Maso del Saggio happened to be at the court looking for a friend when he saw Messer Niccola on the bench. He couldn't believe his eyes.
- He decides to change his plans and goes to find his partners in crime, Ribi and Matteuzzo.
- When his friends see the comically dressed judge, they can hardly contain themselves. They know they have to come up with some plan to humiliate him in front of the court.
- So the next day, Matteuzzo hides right under the judge's bench where there's a hole conveniently located just below his honor's pants.
- Ribi and Maso pretend to have complaints to lodge against each other and approach the bench to plead with Messer Niccola.
- Ribi pulls Niccola's robe one way and Maso pulls it the other so that the judge's ill-fitting pants are on view to the general public.
- At this moment, Matteuzzo pulls down the judge's pants. With the skimpy robe held open, the judge's entire bottom is on display for all to see.
- Ribi and Maso pretend that Niccola's not doing his job properly and unhand him so they can leave. Matteuzzo gets out of there before he can be seen.
- Messer Niccola's a little slow on the uptake and doesn't realize that Ribi and Maso were in on the prank until it's too late.
- Although he complains to the chief magistrate about the humiliation, the chief realizes that the reason for the prank was to show the stupidity of his judges—so he has to let it go.
Eighth Day, Sixth Story
Calandrino and the Pig
- Storyteller: Filomena
- Filomena's going to tell another Calandrino tale, following up on Elissa's earlier story (VIII.3).
- Calandrino has a little pig farm outside of Florence where he goes every year in December and has a pig slaughtered and preserved in salts.
- Usually, his wife goes with him. But one year, she got sick and stayed behind.
- That was the cue for Buffalmacco and Bruno to go and stay with a priest-friend of theirs who lived nearby.
- When they show up, Calandrino shows off his slaughtered pig.
- They're impressed, but they want him to sell it so they can party with the money.
- Tell your wife it was stolen, they say. Calandrino knows his wife will kill him.
- Bruno and Buffalmacco decide they'll go ahead and steal the pig for themselves.
- The priest thinks this is an excellent idea.
- They decide to get Calandrino drunk so that it'll be easier to steal the pig.
- The three men show up to his house and find the door wide open. They take the pig and hide it at the priest's house.
- Poor Calandrino wakes to find his pig gone. No one can tell him what happened to it.
- Bruno and Buffalmacco go over to see what Calandrino thinks happened to his pig.
- When he tells them someone stole it, they see an opportunity to tease. They pretend he's taken their advice and will dupe his wife about the pig.
- No matter how much Calandrino swears that the pig's been stolen, the two men go on like Calandrino's really shamming.
- Then they pretend they'll help him find the pig.
- Buffalmacco says he'll give the neighbors a "bread and cheese test" (a kind of medieval lie detector test—very inaccurate, of course). In this case, he's going to use a kind of crystallized ginger.
- But Bruno and Buffalmacco have something up their sleeves. They buy normal ginger sweets, but they also buy a different, bitter root, which is then compounded with aloe (also bitter) and rolled in sugar to look just like the normal candies.
- Bruno and Buffalmacco explain to Calandrino that they'll say magic spells over the sweets so that they can detect the pig thief.
- Calandrino gathers all the neighbors and Bruno explains to them what they're doing.
- The pig thief, he says, will not be able to swallow the ginger because it will taste bitter to him.
- He gives them all a chance to confess before the test begins.
- But they all receive their sweets and take their chances. Calandrino, of course, gets a bitter one.
- Calandrino spits out his "sweet," but they give him a second chance. He spits out the second.
- Now Buffalmacco and Bruno really lay into him. He stole the pig himself! And he's keeping a girl up there in the country!
- They decide to blackmail Calandrino into giving them some capons (or they'll rat on him to his wife).
- Calandrino has no choice. He gives up the birds.
- The two scoundrels make off with their pig and poultry and leave poor Calandrino in despair.
Eighth Day, Seventh Story
The Student and the Widow
- Storyteller: Pampinea
- Pampinea warns her audience that what goes around comes around, so they should be careful about playing tricks on people.
- She feels it's especially important to say this, since they have been telling plenty of stories of people who played tricks on others, but told nothing about any blowback or revenge.
- Pampinea wants to rectify that with this tale and make her friends less enthusiastic about the prospect of a prank.
- A young widow of Florence, Elena, takes a certain gentleman as her lover.
- But because she's very beautiful (and she knows it), another gentleman named Rinieri falls in love with her.
- Rinieri's a very clever fellow and has just returned from his studies in Paris.
- Elena really wants nothing to do with him, but she can see that he admires her and can't resist flirting and coming up with ways to string him along.
- Her lover knows that Rinieri has a thing for his girl and begins to get jealous. Elena realizes that this is the perfect time to play a nasty little trick on Rinieri to prove her devotion to her lover.
- So she tells Rinieri to come to her just after Christmas so that they can hook up.
- Of course, Rinieri is delighted. He's received by Elena's maidservant, who locks him in the courtyard and tells him to wait there until her mistress appears.
- Meanwhile, Elena is living it up in the warm house with her lover. She takes delight in showing him the freezing Rinieri and mocking the scholar for his foolishness.
- She even goes downstairs to speak with Rinieri, saying that her brother's paid her a surprise visit and that Rinieri can't come in until he leaves.
- It takes most of the night and the near death of Rinieri, but Elena pulls off her nasty prank and convinces her lover of her devotion.
- Rinieri feels his love for Elena turning into hatred as he freezes in the courtyard.
- He spends the next several months recovering physically from the experience and plotting his revenge against the heartless wench.
- Soon, Fortune provides an opportunity for Rinieri to be avenged. Elena's lover has left her for a younger woman and leaves her longing for him.
- Her maidservant advises Elena to consult with Rinieri, the scholar, to find a magical incantation that will make her lover return.
- Elena proves herself to be seriously stupid, because she thinks this is a good idea even after what she did to Rinieri. She sends the maidservant to ask Rinieri to help.
- Of course, he agrees. He tells Elena that she needs to do everything he says so that her lover will return.
- Rinieri makes a picture of Elena's lover and tells her that she must take it to a flowing stream by herself in the middle of the night.
- She has to take off her clothes and dip herself seven times into the water. Then she has to climb up something high—a tree or onto a roof—while still naked and recite some mumbo-jumbo.
- There are some other very specific instructions, all of which Elena promises to do.
- So she goes out to a farm of hers to perform the ritual and Rinieri follows her.
- She performs the ritual exactly as prescribed and climbs up a ladder to the top of an observation tower.
- When she reaches the top, Rinieri takes away the ladder. Now Elena's stuck on the platform of the tower and she's still completely naked.
- By this time, Elena realizes that she's fallen into a trap, but it's too late. She's on top of a tower in a deserted area and no one can hear her scream.
- In the morning, Rinieri shows up and takes great pleasure in his successful revenge.
- At first, Elena's worried about her reputation (which Rinieri has assured her she's already ruined with her sexscapades).
- Then she cries and pleads with him as she gets the worst sunburn and bug bites ever. She's dying of thirst, too. But Rinieri has no pity. He spends the entire day taunting her from the ground and watching her suffer and burn. He's pretty sadistic. He remembers how he almost died in that cold courtyard.
- He suggests that if she's so anxious to get off the roof, she should just jump off and break her neck.
- He goes on and on about how much he hates her. While he's at it, he insults women in general because they're suckers for younger men.
- He tells Elena he'll bring her clothes so she can come down, but he really goes off for lunch and a long nap.
- Finally, when Rinieri can see that she is on the brink of death, he takes her clothes back to the maidservant and tells her where she can find her. He also tells her that she'll suffer for her part in his humiliation, as well.
- The maidservant arrives at the tower fearing the worst. With the help of a swineherd, they replace the ladder and carry the lady down.
- The maidservant slips on the ladder and snaps her thigh-bone; Rinieri's revenge is complete.
- Elena does live through the ordeal (so does the maidservant), but she makes up a story to explain how she got injured and burned.
- She has to live through a world of pain until her burns are healed.
- She vows not to play tricks on anyone else or to mess around with men.
- And that, says Pampinea, should teach women not to trifle with scholars.
Eighth Day, Eighth Story
Spinelloccio Tavena and Zeppa di Mino
- Storyteller: Fiammetta
- Fiammetta takes a little swipe at Pampinea's tale of poor Elena and promises to tell a "more entertaining story."
- This time, the injured party isn't going to insist on over-the-top revenge.
- Spinelloccio and Zeppa are neighbors and friends, both with beautiful wives.
- Spinelloccio hangs out at Zeppa's house even when he's not at home, and becomes good "friends" with Zeppa's wife.
- One day, the two lovers don't realize that Zeppa's still in the house. He sees everything.
- Zeppa calls out his wife for her behavior the second that Spinelloccio leaves. He makes her promise to help him carry out his plan for revenge.
- The next day, she's to invite Spinelloccio over to the house early in the morning. Zeppa will surprise them and she's to stuff him into the chest at the foot of the bed and lock him in.
- Things go according to plan and when Zeppa has Spinelloccio securely locked in the chest, he sends his wife next door to invite Spinelloccio's wife to breakfast.
- When she gets there, Zeppa takes her upstairs to his bedroom and sets her down on the chest to explain the situation.
- He tells her the only revenge he's asking is to have sex with her. And afterward he'll give her a precious jewel as a present.
- Spinelloccio's wife decides to give Zeppa what he wants, since there are worse ways of being avenged.
- They do the deed right on top of the locked trunk where Spinelloccio's locked in.
- Afterwards, Zeppa calls his wife and opens up the chest. This is the jewel, he says, that he's giving to Spinelloccio's wife.
- They all have a good laugh at Zeppa's revenge and the men decide that since they've shared everything in the past, now they'll share wives, too.
- Fiammetta ends by saying that henceforth, each husband had two wives and each wife had two husbands—and they lived happily ever after.
Eighth Day, Ninth Story
Master Simone and the Secret Society
- Storyteller: Lauretta
- Lauretta shows once again that she believes in ironic retribution: she thinks it's okay if a person plays a deserved trick on someone else.
- It's also okay to humiliate someone if they're asking for it. She wants to tell a story that demonstrates this.
- An idiot of a doctor, Master Simone, comes from Bologna to set up shop in Florence. He tries to learn as much as possible about the people his new neighborhood.
- One day, he spots Bruno and Buffalmacco (of Calandrino fame) and asks his companion about them.
- He learns that they're penniless painters, but Master Simone thinks they look too carefree and cheerful to be totally broke.
- He decides to find out their secret source of income.
- So he makes friends with Bruno and asks him outright how he manages to be so cheerful without money.
- Bruno knows a blockhead when he sees one and wants to see how much he can squeeze the doctor.
- He tells Simone that he and Buffalmacco "go the course" in order to pay for their happy lives.
- Wait, what?
- Simone asks for clarification and Bruno convinces him he could be killed for revealing the secret, but since the doctor's such a great friend, he'll give it up.
- Bruno says that two disciples of Michael Scott, the great sorcerer and World's Best Boss, have established a secret society of 25 Florentines. When they meet, each member is granted two wishes on the spot.
- Because Bruno and Buffalmacco are BFFs with these two magical disciples, they're among the 25.
- He goes on to describe the lavish banquets held in their honor, which include exotic women from all over the world brought in to provide for their every pleasure.
- Bruno tells Simone that he and Buffalmacco always request the "company" of the Queens of England and France, and it's granted to them along with whatever money they need.
- Now Master Simone's all hot to become part of this secret society, so he wines and dines Bruno to get into his good graces.
- Bruno paints some lovely murals in Simone's house just to appear grateful for the physician's attentions.
- Finally, Simone summons the courage to ask Bruno to bring him to one of the secret meetings. He's just dying to get his hands on a serving wench he met in an alley.
- Bruno can see that Simone's a true dunce, so he makes him promise on his honor as a "gentleman and a moron" that he will never breathe a word of what he's about to reveal.
- He suggests that Simone should butter Buffalmacco up, since very soon he'll be an important head honcho in the secret society.
- So Simone wines and dines both Buffalmacco and Bruno in the hopes of being inducted to this secret society of pleasure.
- The good doctor brags of his own wisdom to both men, saying that when he was among the other doctors in Bologna, he was worshipped as a god.
- The two men decide to have some real fun with the doctor. They promise to help him gain entrance into the society since he's so wise, and to find favor with the "Countess of Cesspool."
- Bruno and Buffalmacco have a grand time making jokes about farts and poo, all in the service of tricking the foolish physician.
- Finally, they decide that the day's come for Master Simone to be inducted into the society. They give him very specific instructions on how he's to be conveyed to the pleasure palace and tell him he has to be brave, because the ride over will be very scary.
- Simone is to wait for his ride on the tombs outside Santa Maria Novella and get on the back of a horned beast that comes for him. He must not call out to God or the saints for help.
- So Simone's picked up by Buffalmacco, who's dressed like the devil, but Simone can't help it and calls out to God for help.
- That's Buffalmacco's cue to take him outside of town and dump him in a ditch filled with waste
- Master Simone has to return home to his wife stinking like a medieval Florentine cesspool.
- In the morning, Bruno and Buffalmacco appear at Simone's house. They've painted themselves all over with bruise marks and give Simone a dressing down for his cowardice.
- Simone is so sorry that he treats them to even fancier meals than ever.
Eighth Day, Tenth Story
- Storyteller: Dioneo
- People really love to see a tricky person deceived, Dioneo says. And the worse they are, the harder we like to see them fall.
- So this story should give them the most pleasure of all, since Madonna Jancofiore is the Queen of Deception.
- Dioneo explains that there's a custom in countries with seaports to take a merchant's cargo into a warehouse owned by the local government once it's docked, so that the merchant pays the proper fees.
- The merchant would draw up a list of goods, which was made public so that other merchants could consult it and decide if anyone had items to barter.
- It was good system for trade and government, but other parties—beautiful women—used the list for more nefarious purposes.
- In Palermo, Sicily, beautiful women were notorious for consulting the lists to find out how much a man was worth. In this way, they could strip him of everything he owned.
- Enter Salabaetto, a young Florentine with 500 gold florins worth of leftover woolens to sell in Palermo. He's handsome and he knows it, so he expects to conduct a little affair while he's there.
- Madonna Jancofiore recognizes a victim when she sees him, so she sends her maidservant to tell Salabaetto that she's sick with love for him.
- He believes the maidservant, accepts a ring that Jancofiore sent, and promises to meet her at a bath house.
- Jancofiore makes a good show of it, sending slave-girls ahead of her with expensive items to make their "date" more sumptuous and to impress the gullible Florentine.
- It works. Salabaetto thinks he's in heaven as he's bathed and sprinkled with rose water—and when he finally "embraces" Jancofiore.
- She invites him to dine at her house in the evening.
- When he arrives there, he's impressed. She's made him a fancy supper and brings him to her bedroom where all her fine gowns and fancy mechanical birds are on display.
- In short, he thinks she's a fine and wealthy lady despite the rumors he's heard in town.
- After all, he is handsome and why shouldn't she be violently in love with him?
- The affair goes on for some time, until Salabaetto sells his goods at a profit and Jancofiore finds out.
- She invites him to her house and works him up into a frenzy of passion. At that moment, one of her slaves calls her out of the room.
- When she returns, she's all tears.
- Her brother, she tells Salabaetto, has written to say that he needs 1,000 pounds immediately or he's a dead man.
- If she had time, she says, she could raise twice that much. But now, alas...
- Salabaetto falls for it hook, line and sinker. He immediately offers her the 500 florins he earned from the sale of the woolens.
- Once Jancofiore has the cash in hand, she refuses to see him.
- Salabaetto kicks himself for not listening to all those rumors and warnings.
- Now he has to deal with the owners of the merchandise. Instead of returning to Pisa, he hurries to Naples.
- In Naples, he finds an old friend, Pietro dello Canigiano (FYI, a real friend of Boccaccio's), who scolds him first and then offers his help.
- On his friend's advice, he packs up some merchandise bales and oil casks and heads back to Palermo.
- When he registers his merchandise at the warehouse, Salabaetto claims that it's worth 2,000 gold florins. He also tells the officials there that he expects another cargo load worth 3,000 more.
- Of course, Jancofiore hears about this and decides that perhaps she should pay back the 500 florins to get her hands on an even bigger pile of money.
- Salabaetto visits her and she immediately gives her excuses. She also returns his money.
- The stage is set for sweet revenge. Salabaetto carries on with Jancofiore as he did before, but this time, the roles are reversed.
- He tells her that he intends to set up shop in Palermo and if she ever needs money, she should ask him.
- Then, one night, he comes to her and he's upset.
- Pirates have taken the ship with his goods and are demanding a ransom.
- But Salabaetto can't raise 1,000 gold florins on his own because no one will lend to a stranger.
- Jancofiore says she knows someone who can lend, but his interest rates are high. And she would probably have to "co-sign" for him, leveraging all of her belongings and her body against the loan.
- Salabaetto knows she's doing this to get her hands on the items in the warehouse, so he tells her that he can use the merchandise in the warehouse as collateral.
- On one condition: he gets to keep the key to his merchandise, just in case he needs to get to it.
- So they seal the deal and Salabaetto sails immediately back to Naples with his 1,500 florins.
- He settles up with his employers for the 500 and retires from business.
- As for Jancofiore, she quickly gets suspicious when Salabaetto doesn't show his face for two months.
- When she goes to inspect the merchandise, she finds that it's seawater—not olive oil—in the casks and "tow" (short, broken fibers, mostly worthless) in the bales. It's not even worth 200 florins.
- And that, Dioneo says, is how Madonna Jancofiore learned not to mess with Florentines.
Eighth Day, Conclusion
- Lauretta abdicates the throne and hands it over to Emilia, saying an odd thing to her: sure, you're beautiful, babe—but are you good?
- She encourages her to be a pleasant queen and Emilia feels a little embarrassed ("Did she just call me beautiful?").
- After she makes arrangements with the steward for the next day, she employs a little ox and yoke metaphor. In order to take up the yoke of storytelling, Emilia says, they should be given a little freedom.
- So the theme for the next day will be open, so that once again the storytellers may choose the topic.
- She asks Panfilo to sing a song. As his name implies ("all loving"), Panfilo is one blissed-out dude. He sings a song about one who's happy in love—a nice change.
- But he also alludes to a "rapture" that he has to keep hidden, and that sparks wild speculation among the crew.
- Boccaccio hints that they were all quite wrong in their conjectures, but he doesn't give us the 411.
Ninth Day, Introduction
- The brigata spends the morning playing with woodland animals and weaving garlands from the local flora.
- Boccaccio mentions that they look either as though death would never touch them or that they would welcome it if it did.
- After their meal in the afternoon, Emilia requests that Filomena begin the ritual.
Ninth Day, First Story
- Storyteller: Filomena
- Love is a powerful force, Filomena says. It will even make you consort with the dead.
- She hopes her story will convey the power of Love and the crazy things some lovers will do.
- This story has a beautiful widow named Madonna Francesca as its heroine.
- She has two banished Florentine gentlemen vying for her love. One is called Rinuccio and the other Alessandro.
- They're really annoying in their attentions, and Francesca desperately wants to get rid of them.
- So she gives them a task that she's pretty sure they won't be able to do, and then she can ignore them forever.
- It has the additional charm of being frightening and humiliating for the gentlemen as well.
- Here's the set-up: A disgusting man called Scannadio has died. He was reprehensible total creep and hideously deformed. People who saw him were scared silly.
- Francesca sends her maidservant to Alessandro to say that for some reason, Scannadio has to be exhumed and brought to her home, but that she doesn't want his decomposing body in her house.
- If Alessandro wants favors from Francesca, he'll go to Scannadio's tomb, put on his clothes and pretend to be the dead man.
- He'll have to lie there until her family comes to get him, and Francesca will receive him with open arms.
- If he refuses to do this, she'll never see him again.
- Then Francesca sends the maidservant to Rinuccio's house and has her say that if he'll go to Scannadio's tomb and carry his body to Francesca's house, he'll have what he wants from her.
- Otherwise, he can leave her alone forever, too.
- On his way to the tomb, Alessandro has doubts (i.e. why do Francesca and her kinsmen want the body of Scannadio?) but his lust overcomes his better judgment. As usual.
- Rinuccio's also worrying. He thinks he might get caught with a corpse by the night watch and be charged as a sorcerer. But if he gets his way with Francesca, well, he'll deal.
- Rinuccio almost makes it to Francesca's, but he stumbles onto a sting operation in the neighborhood. The night watch stops him.
- He dumps Alessandro to the ground and runs for his life. Alessandro recovers and also flees.
- Francesca's watching the whole thing from her window and nearly dies of laughter.
- The two men are heartbroken and try to push their luck with Francesca, but she rejects them outright.
- As for Scannadio...his corpse was never found because Alessandro had pushed it out of sight in the tomb.
- Some townsfolk believed that the demons dragged him off for his wickedness.
Ninth Day, Second Story
The Abbess and the Breeches
- Storyteller: Elissa
- Everyone agrees that Madonna Francesca got rid of her two foolish suitors perfectly.
- Elissa has a similar story of a young nun who also used her wits to get out of a bad situation.
- Elissa tells us that many people are hypocritical and would like to correct people even though they share in the same fault or sin.
- This is the story of an Abbess who does just this and a nun who puts her to shame.
- A beautiful gentlewoman named Isabetta is a nun in a convent in Lombardy. Despite her professional situation, she falls in love with a man who accompanies a kinsman of hers on a visit.
- They're both intelligent people, so they quickly find a way to be together inside the convent walls.
- But they're not all that careful in their meetings, so the other nuns catch wind of what's going on. The nuns decide to keep watch on Isabetta's room so that they can catch the lovers in flagrante. One night, the young lovers are meeting and the nuns rush to the Abbess' room to inform her. But the Abbess is entertaining her own company: a priest who she smuggles into her room in a chest.
- The Abbess is so worried about getting out into the hall before the nuns break down the door and find her "friend" that she doesn't realize that she's grabbed her lover's pants and put them on her head instead of her veils.
- The nuns don't notice, either. They're too excited to catch Isabetta in the act.
- So the two lovers are surprised and Isabetta's dragged off to be scolded by the Abbess.
- At first, Isabetta's utterly mortified and can't take her eyes off the floor. But as the shaming goes on, she looks up and sees the breeches (with suspenders) on top of the Abbess' head.
- Isabetta knows how they got there and has the Abbess right where she wants her. She asks the Abbess to "tie up her bonnet" before continuing with the scolding.
- The Abbess has to be told twice before she sees Isabetta's point. She knows that the entire convent of nuns, including Isabetta, now knows what she's been doing in her own cell.
- The Abbess changes her tune and tells the girls that such passions are natural and must be obeyed.
- She pretty much makes an open bed policy from then on, allowing lovers to visit anytime as long as they're discreet about it.
Ninth Day, Third Story
- Storyteller: Filostrato
- Filostrato is going to tell yet another Calandrino tale because, hey, they're always good for a laugh. This one's a hoot.
- Calandrino comes into an inheritance of 200 pounds after the death of his aunt. He decides to buy a farm with it.
- But his "friends" Bruno, Buffalmacco and Nello have other ideas: they want a good supper out of it, at least.
- First, they psych Calandrino into believing that there is something seriously wrong with him.
- They advise him to send a urine sample off to Master Simone so that he can diagnose Calandrino properly.
- Then they run ahead and inform Master Simone of the plan. He's all for it if it gets him a good dinner.
- So Master Simone pretends to test the urine and then visits with Calandrino, who has taken to his bed in fear for his health.
- The doctor tells him not to worry. There's nothing much wrong—he's just pregnant!
- Calandrino howls: he knew he shouldn't have let his wife get on top the last time they were together! He knew this would happen!
- Monna Tessa, Calandrino's wife, turns scarlet and leaves the room. Calandrino's on his own with this one.
- He whines about his predicament and wonders how he'll ever get the baby out of his body.
- Women, he says, have so much pain when they give birth and they actually have to space to do it.
- Master Simone calms him down and says that he can make a drug to cause a miscarriage. But it's certainly going to cost him.
- Calandrino winds up having to buy three fat birds and lots of other delicacies so that the doctor can concoct his potion.
- He takes his "medicine" over three days and is freed of his condition.
- So Bruno, Buffalmacco, Nello and Master Simone get the luxurious dinner they were craving and Calandrino sings the praises of a doctor who helped him to have a painless miscarriage.
Ninth Day, Fourth Story
The Two Ceccos
- Storyteller: Neifile
- Everyone roared with laughter at Calandrino's explanation for how he got pregnant. Just goes to show you, says Neifile, that it's pointless to ask some people to think before they open their mouth.
- So let's get this straight: we have two guys born in Siena, both named Cecco (say "check-oh"). One's surnamed Angiulieri and the other Fortarrigo.
- They both really hate their dads.
- Cecco A. decides to try his luck at the court of a high-ranking clergyman, so he asks for money from his hated father.
- Cecco F. asks if he can go along as a servant. But Cecco A. knows that Cecco F. is a drunkard and gambler, so he says no.
- Cecco F. whines enough that Cecco A. gives in. Cecco F. promises to be good.
- But he can't, because he's a drunkard and a gambler.
- On the first day out, he loses all of his clothes and money at the gambling tables.
- Then he loses all of Cecco A's clothes and money.
- When Cecco A. can't find his companion, he decides to pack up and leave without him.
- But his purse is gone. He can't settle his bill at the inn.
- When Cecco F. finally appears (wearing only a shirt), Cecco A. is ready to kill him.
- Cecco F. pretends like his friend is talking about someone else and continues to ask him for money to get his "doublet" out of the pawn shop.
- He follows Cecco A. on the road out of town and pretends that Cecco A. robbed him of his money and clothes.
- Some local farmers block Cecco A. on the road and beat him up. They give his belongings to Cecco F.
- Cecco A. has to slink off to another town and get help again from the father he despises.
- Don't worry, says Neifile: Cecco A. gets the opportunity for revenge on Cecco F. at a later date.
Ninth Day, Fifth Story
Calandrino and Niccolosa
- Storyteller: Fiammetta
- Fiammetta thinks it's time for pure enjoyment, so she's ready to tell another tale of Calandrino.
- She knows how hilarious everyone finds these stories, so she'll stick with the sure thing.
- A wealthy Florentine built a lovely mansion and asked Calandrino's friends Buffalmacco and Bruno to decorate it up with frescoes.
- The two men realize that the job will be enormous, so they ask Calandrino and their friend Nello to help out.
- The mansion's unoccupied while they work in it, except that the owner's son Filippo occasionally brings some girl or other up there to play.
- One day, he brings a beautiful woman called Niccolosa with him. She goes out to the well to splash some water on her face and runs into Calandrino, who's fetching water for the workmen.
- Since she's beautiful, he can't help but stare; since he's so unattractive, she can't help but look him over.
- Calandrino interprets her stares as looks of love and Niccolosa plays this up, flirting with him for fun.
- When he returns to Bruno, he tells him that he's fallen in love with Niccolosa, but he's worried that she's actually Filippo's wife.
- Calandrino tells Bruno to keep his amor a secret from Nello, since he's related to Calandrino's wife Tessa.
- No worries, Bruno says, I'll help you out, bro.
- Bruno goes immediately to Buffalmacco and Nello to tell them all about it.
- Then he tells Filippo and Niccolosa about Calandrino's feelings. They hatch a plan to make a fool out of him.
- Though Bruno knows very well that Niccolosa isn't the sort of woman Filippo would marry, he tells Calandrino that she's his wife.
- At the end of the working day, Calandrino and the others come upon Niccolosa and Filippo in the courtyard. Calandrino struts around like a peacock to catch Niccolosa's eye.
- Everyone thinks he's hilarious and Niccolosa encourages him, while Filippo turns a blind eye and pretends not to notice.
- When they leave, Bruno tells Calandrino that he has Niccolosa eating out of the palm of his hand. If he'd just bring his rebec and play her some love tunes, she'd throw herself at him.
- So he plays his ridiculous love songs, much to the entertainment of everyone, and follows Niccolosa around like a puppy dog.
- Bruno also convinces him to send her love letters and delivers letters to Calandrino from Niccolosa. In short, they have a good laugh at his expense for two months.
- As the job draws to a close, Calandrino gets frantic. What happens if he can't bed Niccolosa before they leave?
- So Bruno promises that he'll make Niccolosa give in to him before long.
- He tells Calandrino to gather up some items so that Bruno can make a "magic" scroll that will help him. Among these items: a live bat. Calandrino spends all night catching one.
- Bruno makes the magic parchment scroll and tells Calandrino to touch Niccolosa with it and then take her up to the barn to take what he wants.
- Meanwhile, Nello joins in the fun and travels back to Florence to cause trouble with Tessa.
- He explains that Calandrino has been carrying on with a harlot and that Tessa should come and catch him.
- Back at the house, Filippo pretends to leave for Florence the minute they see Tessa arriving. Calandrino takes his chance and touches Niccolosa with the scroll and then takes her to the barn.
- Niccolosa plays her role well, following as if in a trance and then throwing him onto the hay and pretending to make love with him.
- Just as Calandrino reaches up to kiss her, Tessa walks in. She sees Niccolosa straddling her husband and loses her mind.
- She attacks Calandrino and claws his face with her nails, plus reads him the riot act.
- And of course, his good friends Bruno, Buffalmacco and Nello are watching and having a good laugh.
- In the end, Calandrino has to return to Florence with his very angry wife, who makes sure he knows just how awful a husband he really is.
Ninth Day, Sixth Story
Pinuccio and Adriano
- Storyteller: Panfilo
- The name of Calandrino's crush reminds Panfilo about another woman named Niccolosa whose quick thinking prevents a scandal.
- First, another literary shout-out: this tale is a source for Chaucer's "Reeve's Tale".
- There was a poor man who made his living by offering food and drink to travelers.
- Sometimes he offered lodging, but as his house was tiny, he only took in people he knew well.
- Amazingly, he also has a beautiful wife and a 15-year-old daughter, named Niccolosa.
- A young gentleman named Pinuccio (not to be confused with Pinocchio) falls in love with Niccolosa.
- She falls in love back.
- Pinuccio gets his friend Adriano to help him hook up with the girl.
- The two pretend to be coming home late to Florence one evening and to be in need of a place to sleep (the city gates are locked at a certain point, so no one can get in or go out).
- In the tiny house, the sleeping arrangements were like this: two beds against one wall, one bed against the opposite wall.
- The host placed the two men in one bed, his daughter in the second and he and his wife in the third. The wife placed a cradle with a baby at the foot of her bed.
- Cozy, right?
- After lights out, Pinuccio finds his way to Niccolosa's bed. After everyone is asleep, they, uh, entertain each other.
- But then the darn house cat knocks something over in the other room and wakes up the wife.
- Naked as she is, of course, she gets up to see what's going on.
- Adriano also gets up (call of nature). He bumps up against the cradle and moves it beside his own bed to get it out of the way.
- The wife returns to her own bed, but doesn't feel the cradle. She's mortified that she nearly got into bed with one of her guests!
- So she gropes around until she finds the cradle and climbs into bed.
- Adriano can't believe his luck and takes advantage of the situation. The wife thinks she's is in bed with her husband, so she goes along with it.
- Pinuccio realizes he now has to get back to bed with Adriano before he drifts off to sleep next to his girlfriend and gets killed in the morning.
- So he finds the bed without the cradle and hops in. Thinking the bedmate is his buddy Adriano, Pinuccio talks about how exquisite young Niccolosa was in bed. Oops.
- The host freaks out and then the game is up. The wife realizes she's in the wrong bed with the wrong man.
- But she's a quick thinker, so she hops in bed with her daughter. She convinces her husband that Pinuccio's lying, because she's been in bed beside her daughter the entire night.
- So she manages to save both their skins.
- Adriano helps by teasing Pinuccio for his stupid sleepwalking habit.
- It works.
- Because of their quick thinking, the men make it out of the house alive in the morning. Pinuccio and Niccolosa figure out other ways to continue "meeting."
Ninth Day, Seventh Story
- Storyteller: Pampinea
- Pampinea reminds everyone that they've told stories about dreams before (IV.5 and IV.6), but she's going to tell another one.
- This one will be even better than the others, because it happened to her neighbor, for reals.
- Talano has a beautiful but argumentative wife named Margarita who caused his life to be somewhat of a living hell.
- One night, Talano dreams that his wife was walking in some beautiful woods by their house when a wolf grabs her by the throat.
- In the dream, Margarita's throat is shredded to ribbons. Talano is disturbed by his dream and decides to warn his wife.
- He tells her that even though she makes his life miserable, he'd be sorry to see something bad happen to her and warns her to stay inside that day.
- Margarita tells him to buzz off—she'll do what she pleases. Moreover, she's pretty certain he's going to meet some loose woman or other in the woods and that's why he's trying to scare her away.
- So when Talano leaves the house, Margarita takes herself straight to the woods so she can catch him in the act.
- Sure enough, a gigantic wolf appears and drags her off by her throat.
- Margarita is saved by shepherds, who startle the creature into dropping her.
- However, her throat and face and aren't a pretty sight, and even with the help of the best Beverly Hills plastic surgeons, her beauty's been destroyed.
- That's what you get, says Pampinea, when you're stubborn and willful and don't listen to your husband.
- Well, excu-u-u-se me.
Ninth Day, Eighth Story
Biondello and Ciacco
- Storyteller: Lauretta
- Laura says she was inspired by Pampinea's story about the lady who got what she deserved for tricking the scholar, so she's going to tell another story of revenge. This time, though, the payback isn't quite as bad.
- There was a gluttonous man in Florence called Ciacco. He loved to eat better food than he could afford, so he amused wealthy people with his wit in order to feed himself well.
- There was also a man called Biondello who was a particularly cool and fashionable guy.
- Biondello also earned his bread by hanging out with rich people and displaying his wit, so this made the two men rivals.
- One day, Ciacco was wandering through the fish market when he saw Biondello buying two enormous fish for one of his wealthy patrons.
- Ciacco's mouth starts watering for a tasty breakfast, so he asks about the fish. Biondello gives him the wrong destination for the market where he got it.
- So Ciacco goes off in search of his breakfast. Though he's welcomed in to breakfast at the house where Biondello sent him, it's a meager meal. Ciacco's seriously chafed about this.
- When Biondello teases him about the prank, Ciacco vows to pay him back.
- So Ciacco decides to rile up the wine seller—who's a huge guy—against Biondello. Then, he sends word to Biondello that the wine seller wants to see him. Classic.
- When Biondello arrives, the wine seller beats him to pieces.
- After the bruises heal, Biondello encounters Ciacco again, who promises him an "excellent drink" if Biondello ever sends him to another great meal.
- The two men decide to leave each other in peace forever after.
Ninth Day, Ninth Story
- Storyteller: Emilia
- Emilia gives a long sermon on the frailty of women and their need to be governed by men. Even if the law hadn't made women subservient to men, nature did, by making women weak and soft. So women have to be kind, obedient, patient, and pretty much do whatever their men tell them to do.
- So 14th-century.
- If they don't, they should be punished. Physically, if need be. Don't take her word for it—even the wise King Solomon thinks so.
- Two gentlemen, Melissus and Joseph, who don't know each other meet up on the road on their way to consult with the wise king Solomon.
- Joseph tells Melissus that he's going to Solomon for advice on how to deal with his stubborn wife.
- Melissus has a different problem: although he spends all his money on banquets and entertaining his friends, no one loves him. So, better call Sol.
- The two men arrive at the court of Solomon together. Melissus gets his audience first and explains the situation. Solomon replies with one word: "Love."
- Then Joseph steps up and asks Solomon what to do about his wife. Solomon says "Go to Goosebridge."
- Both men are quickly ushered out. They have absolutely no idea what Solomon meant by his "advice."
- On the way home, the men come to a bridge with a traffic jam of domestic animals across it.
- One mule driver is having a heck of a time getting a stubborn mule across the bridge, so he begins to beat the creature.
- Melissus and Joseph are horrified by the beating and tell the guy to stop beating the mule. Won't it walk if he just talks nicely to it?
- The mule driver tells them to mind their own beeswax and proceeds to beat the animal even harder.
- And that does the trick. The mule finally gives up and moves across the bridge.
- A light bulb goes off in Joseph's head. He's simply not been beating his wife hard enough!
- When they get to the other side of the bridge, the men ask a local guy the name of the place.
- Right. Goosebridge.
- Solomon's advice suddenly makes very good sense to Joseph.
- When they arrive in Joseph's hometown of Antioch, he invites Melissus to stop at his house overnight. His wife behaves true to form, refusing to serve what Joseph would like for dinner.
- Joseph thinks this is a great time to put Solomon's advice into effect. He makes Melissus promise not to interfere, and then he grabs a big oak stick.
- Joseph beats his wife within an inch of her life. He stops only because he's too tired to continue.
- Amazingly, she lives through the night. And this time, when Joseph orders a special meal for breakfast, he gets it.
- Now Melissus has to return home and see if he can make good on the advice given by Solomon.
- When he tells a local wise man about the advice, the man says, "Duh!"—you can't be loved if you give parties just to show off. You've got to do it out of love, man.
- So in the end, Emilia says, the disobedient wife gets what she deserved (!) and Melissus finally learns how to attract the love he's always wanted.
- Thanks, Sol.
Ninth Day, Tenth Story
- Storyteller: Dioneo
- Dioneo says that people who are different from the others are easier to notice, and sometimes you can appreciate something better by seeing its opposite.
- His own foolish behavior, for instance, sets off the tact and discretion of the rest of the brigata.
- Therefore, he asks the group for permission to tell a really stupid short story really only meant for a good laugh.
- Father Gianni is a poor priest in the town of Barletta (on the Aegean Sea side of Italy) who takes goods to market to supplement his income.
- He makes friends with another poor man named Pietro who does the same kind of work.
- Although Pietro lives in Tresanti (southwest of Florence), Gianni calls him "Neighbor Pietro" out of friendship.
- The two men travel back and forth to each other's towns in order to conduct business. Gianni has a horse, but Pietro uses a donkey.
- Each man offers the other hospitality when he visits, but Gianni's better able to put up Pietro in his church.
- Pietro's house is so small that there's only room for one bed for himself and his beautiful wife.
- Whenever Father Gianni stays with them, he has to sleep on hay in the barn next to his horse and Pietro's donkey.
- Pietro's wife, Gemmata, offers to stay with a neighbor so that Gianni can share the bed with Pietro, but he declines the offer.
- I'd rather stay with the mare, Gianni says, because I know a spell that will turn her into a beautiful woman.
- Gemmata is more beautiful than clever and believes everything Gianni says.
- She tells her husband to learn the spell so he can turn her into a horse. That way, they can carry more goods to market.
- Gianni agrees to show him and tells Pietro that the hardest part of the spell is attaching the tail.
- Early one morning, Gianni goes to their room in his nightshirt to perform the "spell." He tells Pietro that no matter what happens, he shouldn't say anything. Ditto for Gemmata.
- Gianni takes off Gemmata's clothes and makes her get down on all fours. He begins to stroke her body, remarking what a fine mare she will make. We can sure see where this is going.
- Gianni gets to the bit about attaching the tail.
- Pietro naturally gets upset. "I don't want a tail!" he cries out.
- But too late. Gianni's already done his thing. He tells Pietro that he's ruined the spell by speaking and now he can never do it again. No mare for him.
- Gemmata's angry at her husband: he just ruined their financial prospects!
- After this incident, Gianni and Pietro pack up their wares and go about their business as if nothing had happened.
Ninth Day, Conclusion
- Boccaccio makes an astute observation: those readers who are laughing at this tale right now (i.e. us) can imagine how much the ladies in the garden laughed when they heard it.
- Then Emilia gives up her crown to the last king, Panfilo. She tells him that he has to make up for all the wrongdoing of the past monarchs, so good luck with that.
- But the irrepressible Panfilo is thrilled with the honor.
- He decides that they've had enough of this open-ended arrangement, so he wants to go back to their old custom and tell stories on a theme.
- Panfilo also has a sense that they need to leave a decent legacy, so he chooses the subject of generosity.
- It will also help them to realign their moral compass as they face the reality of their mortality.
- Seriously—all they've been talking about is sex and sex. And deception.
- Finally, Panfilo requests that Neifile sing the closing song.
- She sings a song of blissful young love—you know, in the time before anything bad has happened. It's completely appropriate for the youngest member of the group.
Tenth Day, Introduction
- Panfilo gathers up the crew and starts them on their daily routine.
- After consulting with them, he decides to set them up at the fountain for their daily stories.
- He calls on Neifile to begin.
Tenth Day, First Story
Ruggieri and King Alphonso of Spain
- Storyteller: Neifile
- Neifile wants to tell a story that is both delightful and morally good for her audience.
- A worthy knight called Ruggieri de' Figiovanni decided not to waste his goodness in Tuscany so he road trips out to the court of King Alphonso of Spain.
- But when he gets there, he's disappointed. King Alphonso is dishing out land and favors to the most unworthy people.
- To make matters worse, he doesn't even acknowledge Ruggieri's good service.
- So Ruggieri decides to leave. As a parting gift, the King gives him a mule.
- Ruggieri's grateful for the animal; it's a long trip home.
- Alphonso sends a "spy" along with Ruggieri. He's there to listen to what Ruggieri has to say about the king and then bring him back to the court on the second day to answer to the king if he's said anything bad about him.
- Ruggiero's in a good mood until the mule refuses to pee when it should, and then pees in what should have been its drinking water.
- He comments that the darn mule is just like the man who gave it to him as a gift.
- Alphonso's spy took note of that one.
- On the second day, the spy delivers the message that Ruggiero has to turn back.
- When they arrive back at the court, Alphonso asks Ruggiero what he meant by comparing him to the mule.
- Ruggiero explains that like the mule, he does things backwards. He gives gifts where he shouldn't and withholds them when he should give.
- King Alphonso explains that it's just Fortune and not Alphonso's stinginess that deprives the knight of reward. And he can prove it.
- He sets two chests before Ruggiero and asks him to choose one, Monty Hall style. One has all the king's jewels and the other has dirt (Ruggiero can't see what each one contains).
- Ruggiero chooses a chest and it turns out to be the one filled with dirt. King Alphonso has a good laugh.
- You see, he tells Ruggiero, you just have bad luck. Don't blame me.
- But he gives Ruggiero the chest full of treasures anyway to defy the power of Fortune—and because of Ruggiero's good service.
- Ruggiero leaves this time pretty pleased at Alphonso's crazy generosity.
Tenth Day, Second Story
Ghino di Tacco and the Abbot of Cluny
- Storyteller: Elissa
- Everyone praises King Alphonso's generosity, but Elissa says she can top that. She has a story about a group that everyone knows is the least generous in the world—the clergy. So her story is even more amazing because it's about an abbot who showed magnificent generosity. That's pretty much a miracle, according to Elissa.
- Ghino di Tacco, an Italian version of Robin Hood, was banished from his hometown of Siena and decided to start a rebellion against the Church of Rome.
- He sets himself up on the road between Rome and Siena and sees to it that anyone passing through is attacked and robbed.
- Meanwhile, back in Rome, the Abbot of Cluny is visiting Pope Boniface VIII when he begins to have tummy trouble. He's advised to go to the baths of Siena to recover.
- The Abbot's very wealthy but not too informed on current events: he doesn't know about Ghino, so he travels to Siena with all his wealth on display.
- When Ghino's men capture him, the Abbot has no choice but to go along to Ghino's fortress.
- Ghino puts him in the worst room in the place while giving everyone else in the retinue comfortable rooms.
- Ghino appears before the Abbot and pretends to be a servant. He asks the Abbot the reason for his travel and when he learns of his illness, Ghino's determined to help him recover.
- He keeps the grumpy Abbot separated from his men for a few days and feeds him only a small quantity of toasted bread and wine. The Abbot has to admit that he's actually feeling a lot better.
- Now that the Abbot's appetite has returned, Ghino allows him to rejoin his friends and prepares a huge banquet for them.
- When it comes time for the Abbot to leave, Ghino assembles all of the Abbot's belongings in one room and his horses in the courtyard.
- He reveals who he is and tells the Abbot that he won't take any of the treasures, as he would normally do. Instead, he wants the Abbot to decide whether or not to give him any portion of it for his medical services.
- The Abbot is so moved by Ghino's good care and generosity that he keeps for himself only the bare minimum he needs to get back to Rome. They part good friends.
- Back in Rome, the Pope has heard about Ghino's abducting the Abbot and his men.
- He asks if the Abbot feels any better and the Abbot tells him the whole story. He claims that Ghino's really a prince of a man, but that his fortune has been, well, unfortunate.
- The Abbot asks the Pope to restore Ghino to his "good graces" because he feels that Ghino is a real gentleman and will behave better if he's allowed to live properly.
- The Pope takes the Abbot's word for it and pretty soon he sees that the Abbot's right. Boniface is so pleased with Ghino that he makes him a Knight of the Order of Hospitallers because of his healing powers.
Tenth Day, Third Story
Nathan and Mithridanes
- Storyteller: Filostrato
- Filostrato acknowledges that the Abbot was pretty generous to Ghino by giving up most of his stuff. But he's now got a story where someone was willing to give the most generous gift of all—his life.
- For this tale, we're going all the way to Cathay (that's modern China to us) to hear a story about the wealthy and generous noble man called Nathan.
- Nathan has an exquisite palace built on the route between the East and West just so he can provide hospitality to any travelers that might need assistance on the road.
- Because of his legendary generosity to travelers, Nathan's reputation spread near and far. He's all five stars on Trip Advisor and Yelp.
- A young man called Mithridanes hears about it and wants to be just like Nathan.
- But Mithridanes is no Nathan: he thinks of generosity as a type of competitive sport and is extremely jealous of Nathan's status in the game.
- Then one day, an old beggar woman calls him out when he chides her for taking more alms than she should have. She tells him that Nathan would never have counted how many times she came to him in one day for money or food. He'd just give and give.
- Mithridanes realizes that if he wants to be the MOST generous person on the face of the earth, Nathan will simply have to be eliminated.
- So he sets off toward Nathan's palace with a plan to murder the old man.
- When he approaches the palace, he meets Nathan walking around the grounds, but Mithridanes doesn't recognize him.
- Nathan hides his identity from the young man and tells him that he'll bring Mithridanes to the palace.
- Once Mithridanes is lodged in one of the beautiful rooms of the palace—king bed, flat-screen TV, free Wi-Fi, minibar—the two men begin talking. Mithridanes likes Nathan, so he reveals his intentions.
- Nathan promises to help Mithridanes to kill, well, himself. He tells Mithridanes that Nathan was in the habit of strolling in a particular grove in the evening and the job could easily be done there.
- He even tells his potential murderer the best route for escaping without being seen.
- So Mithridanes heads out to the grove to murder the most generous man in the world.
- He sees the man he assumes to be Nathan.
- But before he gets a chance to strike him dead, Mithridanes recognizes his friend from the castle.
- He realizes what's happened and he's completely ashamed of himself.
- Nathan forgives him immediately, since Mithridanes is not motivated by evil but by the desire for a good name.
- Shmoop thinks that's putting too generous a spin on it, but whatever.
- Nathan even suggests that Mithridanes take his life anyway.
- After all, Nathan's really old and he feels that Mithridanes really is an okay guy. And Nathan's goal in life is never to refuse anything that someone really wants from him.
- Then the two men have a generosity battle: Mithridanes would gladly give some years from his life to extend Nathan's. But no, says Nathan, I'm a giver—I could never accept.
- They end by swapping identities, palaces and reputations. Mithridanes remains at the palace and becomes Nathan, and Nathan goes to Mithridanes' place and assumes his identity.
- And so we're to assume that both men got what they wanted out of life in the end.
Tenth Day, Fourth Story
- Storyteller: Lauretta
- The brigata agrees that Nathan has one-upped everyone so far in his generosity. Lauretta, next to tell a story, is feeling story exhaustion. She says that they've covered almost every possible topic in the ten days of their game and it would be hard to find something to share that had not already been told.
- So she's going to have to go with an old standby and tell a story about lovers.
- Lovers are always giving up things they want to possess the objects of their love, so they're magnanimous in their own way.
- Besides, the listeners are all young, so love is really all they want to talk about anyway.
- Lauretta takes us back to Bologna, where one Messer Gentile Carisendi is deeply in love with a woman called Catalina. Alas (and there's always an alas), she's happily married to Niccoluccio, a chief magistrate of Modena.
- Though Gentile's a good and kind gentleman, Catalina doesn't return his love.
- When Niccoluccio goes off to Modena to fill his position as magistrate, Catalina—who's pregnant—stays behind in one of his residences outside the city.
- She becomes ill and, to the eyes of all her kinsfolk, dies. They don't bother to save the baby, because they think it's too premature.
- Catalina's buried in a tomb and her story's over. That is, until Gentile finds out about her death.
- He feels that it's too bad that he never had the chance to kiss her, so he rides out to her tomb, breaks in and lies down beside her for a kiss.
- Here's where it gets a little creepy: while he's at it, he decides to feel her breast, too.
- He figures he'll never get another opportunity like this.
- Lauretta comments, you know men, when they want one thing it leads to another…
- While caressing her breast, Gentile feels a faint heartbeat there, so he gently removes her from the tomb and brings her to his house where his mother tends to her.
- Soon, Catalina revives; all it takes is a warm bath and a cozy fireplace.
- On regaining consciousness, she realizes she's in a strange place. Gentile tells her what's happened.
- She begs him not to dishonor her or her husband, and he gallantly agrees.
- She wants to return to her husband as soon as possible, but Gentile has grander plans. He wants to do something more ceremonial to mark the occasion, but he has to go out of town first.
- He asks Catalina to stay in his home until he returns.
- Catalina agrees. After all, he did rescue her from the tomb.
- Soon, she gives birth to a son (she was farther along than her kinsfolk thought). Everyone's overjoyed.
- Gentile arranges for a lavish banquet and invites Niccoluccio and family out to his house.
- He keeps Catalina and the baby hidden and tells his company that he'd like to perform a Persian custom.
- This custom requires the host to show his guests his most precious possession. But first, he has a question.
- He asks Niccoluccio, who's a magistrate, about the ownership rights over a servant that had been cast into the streets by his original lords and picked up by another master.
- Who legally gets to keep this servant? Niccoluccio says that the second master has rights, since he picked up the servant and nursed it back to health.
- At this point, Gentile reveals Catalina and her baby. No one recognizes them at first.
- Even Catalina's husband asks her where's she's from. She doesn't reply.
- Gentile explains that this is the servant of whom he spoke, and since he's the second master, he has legal rights to keep her.
- But he's not going to do that. He tells everyone what happened and who the lady really is.
- Everyone bursts into tears and waits to see what Gentile will do next.
- Gentile says that although this is no longer the wife his family cast out, the child really does belong to Niccoluccio. Therefore, he'll give them back. He presents the baby to Niccoluccio. More tears all around.
- Niccoluccio's overjoyed, and he and Gentile become the best of friends after this.
- Now Lauretta poses a question: wasn't Gentile the most noble of all the generous figures they had discussed that day?
- After all, he was a young lover and still managed to control his passions to do the right thing.
Tenth Day, Fifth Story
Madonna Dianora and Messer Ansaldo
- Storyteller: Emilia
- Literary public service announcement: this story influences Chaucer's "Franklin's Tale".
- Madonna Dianora, who's old and unattractive…Psych! Just wanted to see if you were paying attention.
- Madonna Dianora, who's young and beautiful, is married to a man named Gilberto.
- She's attracted the attention of Messer Ansaldo.
- Dianora's pretty happy with her husband's immense wealth and good nature, so she has to find a way to get rid of Ansaldo.
- She hits upon a surefire way of losing him: ask him to prove his love by completing an impossible task.
- Dianora tells the servant woman sent by Ansaldo that although it's almost January, she would like a garden flowering like springtime planted near their town.
- If he can't do this, says Dianora, he can take his love and split. She'll also turn her husband and kinfolk loose on Ansaldo if he won't go away.
- Ansaldo sees what she's trying to do, but he's a stubborn man. Instead of giving up, he hires a magician to help him complete his task.
- So of course, Ansaldo's able to pull off a blossoming garden in the middle of January.
- When Dianora learns that Ansaldo fulfilled her "impossible" task, she's dismayed. What's she supposed to do now?
- She tells Gilberto of her bargain with Ansaldo and once he gets over his anger, he gives her permission to do something unusual.
- She should go to Ansaldo and see if he'll let Dianora out of her promise. If he won't, then she may— just this once—give her body to him.
- But don't fall in love, warns Gilberto.
- Dianora doesn't like this answer one bit. But she heads over to Ansaldo's house to do as she's told. Husband knows best.
- Ansaldo's overjoyed to see her, but asks what she's doing there anyway.
- And Dianora tells him it's not her choice: her husband is making her fulfill her promise.
- She tells Ansaldo that she doesn't love him and doesn't want to do anything with him, but a deal's a deal.
- Ansaldo's so impressed by Gilberto's generosity that he releases Dianora of her promise to him.
- When she returns to her husband and tells him what happened, Gilberto's pretty impressed himself and becomes fast friends with Ansaldo.
- And when the magician hears how generous both men were to each other, he tears up the bill for his grand optical illusion.
- No one is impressed with Dianora.
- Emilia ends the story with a question: who among these fine people was the most generous?
Tenth Day, Sixth Story
King Charles the Old (the First)
- Storyteller: Fiammetta
- Fiammetta disapproves of the amount of discussion about the previous story, so she abandons her first choice of tale to keep the peace.
- She's going to tell a story about a king so valiant that no one can argue about it.
- When King Charles conquered Manfred and drove the Ghibellines out of Florence, a Ghibelline knight called Messer Neri gathered up his goods and family and fled the city.
- Neri makes an Edenic garden outside of his new mansion in the countryside. It's so pretty that King Charles decides he wants to see it, even though Neri's his enemy.
- Messer Neri makes the King very welcome anyway, serving him luncheon in the garden.
- As an entertainment, Neri has his lovely twin daughters, Ginevra and Isotta, wade into the fishpond to catch dinner for King Charles. They're wearing very sheer dresses, BTW.
- The king is so enchanted by the girls' beauty (and especially by their bodies beneath their wet dresses) that he falls violently in love with them both.
- He continues to visit Messer Neri so that he can catch glimpses of the girls. He decides he likes Ginevra slightly better, but plans to kidnap both of them to keep the matched set together.
- When his subject Count Guy learns of his plan, he takes the king to task.
- What on earth can he be thinking? To violate his reputation as king and protector to deprive a kind host of his daughters?
- This is exactly the kind of thing that got Manfred into trouble, Guy reminds him. Shame on him. He's better than that. Plus, he's way too old for these girls.
- King Charles realizes that Guy's right; he's got to conquer his desires if he's going to be a real king.
- So he decides to control himself and deal honorably with Neri. He arranges good marriages for both Ginevra and Isotta.
- Then he hides away in Apulia to rid himself of his lust.
- King Charles does such a good job at this that he never suffers from such passions again.
- Fiammetta ends by saying that King Charles was generous in this instance not just because he gave the girls away in marriage, but that he did it without "plucking any fruit" for himself first.
Tenth Day, Seventh Story
Peter of Aragon
- Storyteller: Pampinea
- Bernardo Puccini is a rich Florentine apothecary living in Palermo, Sicily. He and his wife have one child, the beautiful Lisa.
- Lisa falls hard for King Peter of Sicily after seeing him at a jousting tournament, but since she's of such a lowly social station, she knows it's futile.
- But she can't stop loving him, so she falls ill and gradually wastes away.
- Her poor parents do everything they can and offer her anything she wants to help her feel better.
- Lisa's pretty sure she's going to die from all this, but she'd feel better about it if King Peter could just know that she was dying of love for him.
- So she asks her father to bring in Minuccio, a singer who performs for King Peter.
- Lisa tells him her secret and begs him to tell the King about her love so she can die in peace.
- Minuccio promises to help her and goes straightaway to a composer of songs who sets Lisa's sad story to music.
- Minuccio has the opportunity to sing it to King Peter and tell him of his mission from the beautiful dying girl.
- The King is mighty impressed by Lisa's "nobility" and decides to visit her.
- Like any good adolescent girl who gets to meet her idol, Lisa just about dies when King Peter shows up.
- She's so happy about his visit that she starts to feel better right away.
- King Peter's so moved that he speaks with his wife about what they should do for such a noble girl.
- So he and the queen visit Lisa again at her house and make some promises.
- first, King Peter will always be her loyal knight (which means he'll do noble deeds in her name, etc.)
- Also, he'll only require a kiss from her for this favor. OMG—she almost blushes to death.
- Lastly, he'll give her a perfectly wonderful husband to spend her life with.
- Lisa tells him that she'd walk through fire for him if he wished it, so taking a husband on his request is no biggie. She's really very happy about all this.
- In the end, King Peter gives her a lovely man for a husband (who's unfortunately called Perdicone, but whatever), a sizeable dowry and some very valuable estates. It pays to have an adolescent crush on a king.
- He then kisses her gently on the forehead.
- The king kept his promises to Lisa and always kept her in mind.
- Pampinea ends her story gushing about King Peter's generosity, comparing then to the rulers of her day who are nothing but pitiless tyrants.
Tenth Day, Eighth Story
Titus and Gisippus
- Storyteller: Filomena
- Filomena says that it's easy to be generous if you're a king—not impressive. You're rich anyway, so what, right?
- But if a person's broke and still shows generosity, that's something to praise.
- She intends to tell a story now that will please them much more than Pampinea's since it's about everyday people like themselves (never mind that they're all elite folk).
- Filomena's story takes place in the early days of Octavianus Caesar, before he got rid of the other two guys in the Roman ruling triumvirate and became Emperor Augustus.
- A young man called Titus Quintus Fulvius was sent by his father to Athens, to be schooled under the care of an old friend named Chremes.
- Chremes himself has a son named Gisippus, about Titus' age. He sends the boys off to a philosopher called Aristippus to be educated.
- The boys become great friends and are praised by everyone for their intelligence.
- Then Chremes dies, and both young men are devastated.
- Gisippus' family arranges a marriage for him to Sophronia, a beautiful 15-year-old.
- Before the wedding day, Gisippus asks Titus to visit Sophronia with him. Big mistake.
- Titus, of course, falls in love with Sophronia at first sight.
- He beats himself up about it and tries to remind himself how very wrong it is. But then he remembers her beauty and decides he needs to follow his heart.
- Titus uses his philosophical training to reason out why Gisippus should really be happy that his friend has fallen in love with his girl.
- And then he beats himself up again with guilt. This goes on for days. He eventually falls ill from obsessing about it.
- Gisippus tries to cheer up his suicidal friend and asks him what's going on, but Titus can't bring himself to say.
- Finally, he confesses his passion for Gisippus' bride-to-be.
- No, Gisippus doesn't kill him. Instead, he bursts into tears at his friend's misery.
- In an absolutely rational fashion, Gisippus tells Titus that he can have Sophronia as his wife, because Titus' life is more important to him that having Sophronia.
- Titus is moved by the offer, but also ashamed. He can't take him up on it. No, really.
- Besides, he'll either get over it or he'll die. Either way, his suffering will end.
- Gisippus protests. He really can't have Titus dying on him because this is a serious bromance.
- And besides, he's not really losing Sophronia to Titus. He's really just "transferring" her to his "second self."
- Plus, he loves Sophronia well enough, but he sees that Titus is totally head-over-heels.
- After a long back-and-forth about it, Titus gives in and swears that he'll find a way to pay Gisippus' back for his generosity.
- But there's another problem: how does Gisippus jilt Sophronia in a way that ensures that Titus will get her?
- There's only one thing to do. Gisippus will go through the ceremonies and Titus will sleep with her.
- This way, if her family doesn't like it, they'll just have to deal with it.
- Notice that Sophronia is being totally left out of this equation.
- On the wedding night, Titus and Gisippus have rooms next to each other with a connecting door.
- Gisippus enters the chamber where his bride is waiting, turns out the lights, and goes to get Titus.
- But Titus is having second thoughts and Gisippus practically has to shove him through the door to the bridal chamber.
- Titus gets in bed and asks the lady in a whisper if she wants to be married to him. Duh.
- So he puts a ring on her finger and consummates the marriage.
- But Fortune has a way of screwing things up. Titus gets a message that his father, Publius has died.
- He has to go back home (and take Sophronia with him), so he'll have to man up and tell her the truth.
- She doesn't take it well. She goes back home and tells her Dad, who's not amused.
- Sophronia's relatives complain to the families of both men and especially to Gisippus' family.
- They're at the point of disowning him for his bad behavior, even though he tries to convince them he's behaved honorably.
- Titus hears it all and notes that Athenians are always given to loud complaining about everything and just need to be told to shut up.
- He calls the families of Gisippus and Sophronia together and works his philosophy on them.
- Since the actions of man are preordained by the gods, he says, why are you complaining?
- Clearly, Sophronia was destined by the gods to be Titus' wife.
- Human reason should also teach them to quit complaining about Gisippus' behavior.
- The laws of friendship ruled his actions and therefore he is the noblest of dudes.
- Then Titus convinces the families that he's far more preferable as a husband to Sophronia than their original choice (he's actually quite humble in his phrasing of it).
- He's from an ancient noble Roman family, and everyone knows that Rome is a free city while Athens still pays tribute.
- And besides, he didn't play a trick on Sophronia to degrade her. He did it to become her husband.
- Titus mentions that he said the proper words of marriage to her and gave her a ring—even asked if she consented to be his wife. (Too bad for her if she neglected to ask who he was).
- The message is clear: just get over it, people.
- Here's an interesting twist: if they don't let it slide, he'll take Gisippus to Rome with him instead. Then he'll come back for Sophronia.
- When Titus finishes, he takes Gisippus by the hand and storms out of the temple.
- The Athenians fall in line and give Sophronia back to Titus. They go off to Rome and Gisippus stays in Athens.
- But the fortunes of war drag down Gisippus and his family, who have to leave Athens and become beggars.
- Gisippus goes to Rome in the hopes that Titus will remember and save him.
- By this time, Titus is an important man and Gisippus is afraid to ask him for anything. Titus passes him by and Gisippus assumes that he's been snubbed.
- So he literally crawls off to a cave to die. But robbers come into the cave to count their money.
- They argue over their ill-gotten gains and one of them kills the other. Gisippus sees a way to die without committing suicide.
- Gisippus is quickly questioned and sentenced to death by execution for killing the robber.
- But at that moment, Titus happens to show up at court and recognizes Gisippus despite his wretched appearance.
- Titus is shocked to see what's happened to his good friend.
- He claims that he—not Gisippus—is the murderer.
- Gisippus insists it was him; he doesn't want his friend to die on his account just to pay him back for the favor of Sophronia.
- Each man tries to convince the praetor that he's the real villain, but the praetor isn't biting.
- And then out of the blue, amazed by the actions of the two men, the real murderer steps forward and confesses.
- Octavianus (the future Caesar Augustus) summons the men to find out what the heck is going on.
- In the end, he releases all three of them (the murderer for the sake of the two men).
- So Titus shares his wealth and house with Gisippus, but not his wife.
- For that, he gives his sister Fulvia in marriage to Gisippus.
- Gisippus decides to stay in Rome because, hey, he's already been exiled from Athens.
- They all live happily together under one roof.
- Filomena ends with a panegyric on friendship, extolling it as a blessing even better than, well, anything.
Tenth Day, Ninth Story
Saladin and Messer Torello
- Storyteller: Panfilo
- Panfilo follows Filomena's story so that Dioneo can go last.
- He wants to use his story to reinforce Filomena's ideas of friendship. These days, you won't find too many people like those guys Titus and Gisippus.
- The moral? Be nice, because karma.
- Panfilo sets his story during the Third Crusade (about 1189, led by Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa).
- Saladin, the legendary Sultan of Babylon, disguises himself as a merchant and tours Europe to scout out the countries of the Christian crusaders coming to destroy him.
- On their way to Pavia, he and his companions run into a gentleman called Torello.
- Torello is so impressed by the merchants that he arranges, with a little deception, for them to stay at his country home.
- Saladin and Torello admire each other.
- Saladin speaks Italian, so he's able to converse freely with Torello.
- Torello thinks Saladin is the finest guy ever and wants to impress the "merchant" even more, so he sends a message to his wife in the city of Pavia asking her to prepare a little something for his guests.
- Torello pretends to bring them to the finest inn in Pavia, but really he's bringing them to his own mansion.
- Saladin doesn't know what to make of this guy. He's so generous that he can't be for real.
- When they get to town, his wife has set up a feast with lots of VIPs to entertain the merchants.
- Saladin's kind of exasperated. He's trying to be under the radar and Torello isn't having it.
- Torello's wife gives Saladin and his companions two sumptuous robes apiece as parting gifts.
- Torello himself replaces their old, tired horses with new ones.
- Saladin suspects that Torello sees through his disguise. Otherwise, why would an ordinary citizen go through the trouble of entertaining merchants as if they were emperors?
- He tells his companions that he's never met anyone like Torello before.
- As they're saying their goodbyes, Torello tells Saladin that he can't believe his new friends are merchants.
- Saladin replies that one day, he'll prove the "quality of his merchandise" to Torello. What could that mean?
- Saladin also promises himself that he'll repay Torello's kindness if he survives the coming wars.
- He returns home and makes plans to fight the Crusaders.
- Torello makes plans to join the Crusade. His wife is not happy.
- He tells her that if he doesn't return in a year, a month, and a day, and if she doesn't have proof that he's alive, she should re-marry.
- She gives him a ring so that in case she should die, it would remind him of her.
- Torello makes it as far as Acre, but the crusading troops are afflicted with an epidemic of fever and Saladin captures everyone else.
- Torello hides his identity to protect himself, and gets a job training hawks. He's so good at it that Saladin makes him his personal falconer.
- So here's the problem with disguises: you don't recognize a good friend when you see him.
- Saladin never learns Torello's name. He calls him "the Christian."
- Torello tries without luck to escape. He manages to get a letter off to his wife by way of some Italian emissaries.
- Eventually, Saladin recognizes a certain expression on Torello's face. But Torello insists that he's just a poor man.
- (ISHO, we'd fess up ASAP and hope to be saved.)
- Saladin devises a test: he lays out all of his robes and asks Torello if he recognizes any of them.
- Torello says that two of them remind him of robes his wife once gave to some merchants.
- Saladin hugs him and tells him that now "he will prove the quality of his merchandise."
- Saladin entertains Torello as his equal and Torello kind of likes it. He totally forgets about his wife and his promise to her.
- OTOH, he believes that his letter has been delivered.
- It hasn't.
- Also, another Torello, a Provençal nobody who was with the Crusaders, had died. Everybody thought it our Torello.
- Word gets back to his wife that Torello's dead. Her family pressures her to re-marry.
- Torello finally gets word that the ship carrying his letter sank. The deadline he'd given his wife is fast approaching. Now he wants to die for reals.
- But Saladin tells him to cheer up. He's got an ace up his sleeve.
- He gets his conjurer to make an enchanted bed that will fly Torello home in an instant.
- Wow—we want one of those. Beam us up, Saladin.
- Saladin wants Torello to stay and rule with him—a political version of bromance. He's also bummed that he can't send Torello back to Pavia in style.
- So he decks out the bed as much as he can (read that however you like) and dresses Torello in funky, expensive eastern clothes.
- At departure time, Saladin is grieved that he can't go with his friend and begs Torello to come back to him or at least to write.
- Then he "enfolds [Torello] tenderly in his arms."
- Torello's given a sleeping potion to make the transport smooth, kind of like Ripley and crew in "Alien."
- Saladin places a crown with a gift tag to Torello's wife on it, a ring on Torello's finger, a sword by his side and other precious things around him.
- Torello zips away and wakes up in the church near his home, where his uncle's the abbot.
- He scares the bejeebers out of the clergy, who are under the impression that he's dead.
- Now he has to crash his wife's wedding, which is taking place that day.
- No one recognizes him. Torello decides to reveal himself to his wife at her wedding feast.
- He pretends that it's a custom of his country for the bride to ask a valued guest to drink wine from her cup and for the guest to send it back so she can drink the last drops.
- So he gets the cup from her and slips her ring into the dregs.
- When she recognizes it, she knocks over the table and claims him as her true husband.
- Torello reclaims her from her new bridegroom. She takes off her crown and new wedding ring and replaces them with the ring and the crown from Saladin.
- And of course, they live happily ever after. Nothing further is said about Saladin, however.
Tenth Day, Tenth Story
- Storyteller: Dioneo
- Dioneo says that since the stories have been about nobility, he'll tell a story about a marquis.
- But that is where his cooperation ends. Instead of telling a story about munificence, Dioneo is going to tell a story about a character notable for his brutality.
- Don't try this at home, he says. Nobody should ever profit from this sort of behavior.
- Editor's note: Chaucer did profit from the story—he included it as "The Clerk's Tale" in his Canterbury Tales.
- A man called Gualtieri becomes Marquis of Saluzzo. He's not married and spends all of his time hunting, so his people are worried about the future of his estate.
- They urge Gualtieri to marry and provide them with an heir.
- Gualtieri finally gives in on one condition: he gets to choose his own wife and they'll have to honor her as their lady, whoever she is.
- His people agree and eagerly await his choice.
- Gualtieri had taken a liking to a poor girl in his locality, so he approached her father and made a bargain for marriage.
- Then he returns to his own people and gives them the news, reminding them of their promise.
- The people, who never believed he would settle down, are joyful.
- Gualtieri and his people plan a lavish wedding. He has a dress made to fit his bride and buys rings and crowns for her.
- Just one thing: he has to tell the girl that she's marrying him.
- So on the day of the wedding, Gualtieri rides out to the village to get his bride. Since she has no idea that he intends to marry her, she's standing around with the other village girls, trying to get a look at the lucky bride.
- We learn that her name is Griselda. Gualtieri sits down with her and her father and asks her a series of questions. He wants to know if she'll obey him, no matter what.
- When she agrees, Gualtieri brings her outside to his waiting kinsman.
- Then he strips her naked in front of all the men and women present. Nice.
- Only then does he call for the new clothes he's had made for her (perhaps he should have done that before the stripping).
- He asks her if she'll accept him as her husband (she does). He accepts her as his wife. It's a done deal.
- There's a huge party at Gualtieri's house, just as if he'd married a high-born lady.
- And in fact Griselda turns out to be a treasure. She has excellent manners, treats her husband's subjects well, and is totally compliant with Gualtieri's wishes. Everyone adores her.
- Griselda has a daughter and Gualtieri is super happy with her. But then, something disturbing happens.
- Dioneo says that Gualtieri's "seized" with a desire to test Griselda's goodness and begins treating her badly.
- She responds with total submissiveness and Gualtieri is pleased that she is passing his tests. But he doesn't tell her that.
- He's also not finished with her. He tells her that his subjects are complaining about this low-born daughter of theirs.
- So one day, a servant appears to Griselda and implies that Gualtieri has ordered him to take the infant out and murder it.
- Griselda obeys and hands over the baby even though she's heartbroken.
- Gualtieri actually sends the child to be raised by a kinswoman in Bologna, but he lets Griselda think she's dead.
- Griselda then has another child, a boy. Gualtieri decides to play with his wife's emotions some more.
- He tells her that his subjects resent that they'll be ruled by the grandson of a farmer, so he's going to do the same thing to the boy as he did to the girl.
- Not only that, he's going to look around for someone better to marry.
- Griselda says that he should do whatever makes him happy. She's nobody, anyway.
- So the boy baby is taken from her in the same way, and Griselda responds as she did before.
- Gualtieri's subjects also think he's had his own children killed and they hate him for it.
- The women who surround Griselda console her, but she simply says that her husband's word is law.
- Everyone loves Griselda even more because of her sweet nature and all the abuse she suffers.
- Years pass, and Gualtieri decides it's time for one more test. He's going to divorce Griselda and marry someone else.
- Gualtieri takes the cruel scheme to a whole new level: he pretends to have received papers from the Pope that allow him to divorce Griselda.
- He brings Griselda before his people and tells her his intentions. Griselda shames him with her humility and steadiness.
- She says that she never believed she was worthy of him, so she doesn't blame him for taking these steps.
- But would he please let her leave with a slip on so that she doesn't have to show her nakedness to the world?
- Gualtieri wants to cry at her goodness, but he keeps at it. Okay, he says, you can keep your slip.
- So Griselda returns to her village thirteen years after her marriage and takes up her old sheep-herding job.
- Gualtieri's subjects are not happy. But he's not done yet.
- He tells everyone he's going to marry again. Since he no longer has a wife or serving women to set the place in order for the wedding, he calls Griselda back to do it for him.
- Amazingly, she complies. She cleans, arranges the bedrooms and sends the invitations. She also has to stand by and greet all the guests as though she were still lady of the house.
- Meanwhile, Gualtieri sends to Bologna for his children to be returned. At this point, the girl is 12 and the boy is 6. He orders his kinsman to say that the daughter is to be Gualtieri's bride.
- At the wedding feast, Griselda greets the new "bride" and treats her well. Griselda sits at the meal in her disgusting old dress and listens to the guests compliment the new, young mistress. She compliments the young girl as well.
- Gualtieri is so astounded at the patience of Griselda that he decides enough is enough.
- Finally. We can't take one more second of this.
- He asks Griselda what she thinks of his new bride, and Griselda lets a little bit of her emotions show. She warns him not to treat her as roughly as he treated his "previous wife," since the new lady is high-born.
- Gualtieri reveals his purpose in tormenting her all those years: to keep the peace in his household (for himself, of course), to teach her how to be a wife and to teach his people how to choose a proper wife.
- He then discloses the identities of the young lady and her little brother and professes undying love for his perfect, obedient wife.
- Shmoop may get sick now.
- But Griselda does not. Somehow, she still loves this guy and is overjoyed by his revelations.
- And somehow, everyone forgives Gualtieri and actually believes he's a wise man for all that he's done.
- In the end, they feast for days and Griselda is restored to her rightful place.
- Her father's set up properly in a comfortable house, and the daughter is married off to a gentleman.
- Dioneo ends by saying that Gualtieri probably didn't deserve Griselda. After all, most women, being turned out in their slips, would have found a sugar daddy to buy them a fine dress.
- That's all he can say about it?
Tenth Day, Conclusion
- Dioneo's story causes controversy, so the crew argues and discusses it for a while.
- Panfilo takes the lead in considering what they should do now.
- What they need, he says, is to keep perspective: remember where they came from, what they're doing here, and decide what should happen next.
- He concludes that they've done a great job in behaving themselves and having fun, but that if they stay longer, they'd get bored and people might talk.
- Plus, lots of people know they're here and might show up and ruin the fun.
- So, in his humble opinion, they should head back to Florence on the next day unless anybody objects.
- No one does. They continue with their regularly scheduled evening amusements, featuring Lauretta (leading a dance) and Fiammetta (singing the concluding song).
- Fiammetta sings of how jealousy ruins the security and bliss of love. But she's no shrinking violet—she'll put the hurt on whoever steals her love away.
- Dioneo laughs at the warning in the song and tells Fiammetta she should publish the name of her lover so no one accidentally wins his heart away from her.
- In the morning, they get up early and return to Santa Maria Novella, which was the place of their departure.
- The young men go off to find something else to amuse them and the ladies go home.
- Seems a bit anticlimactic.
- Boccaccio says that he's completed the task he set for himself at the beginning of this work and he's ready for a good, long rest.
- But first, he wants to address some criticisms that may have come up in the minds of his readers.
- He knows that people will be upset by the kinds of tales he's made ladies tell and listen to in the course of the work.
- Boccaccio denies any intent to corrupt the ladies. Even naughty stories can be told, he says, as long as you use "seemly language." He's pretty sure he's done that (think euphemisms).
- But let's say we don't agree with him. Boccaccio has that covered. The fault is really in the nature of the stories. To change the words of the stories would be to distort them.
- If we don't agree with some of the language used—and here he's speaking of double entendre—we might as well object to those everyday words being used at all, even without the naughty ideas behind them.
- Really, you could interpret anything as vulgar if you work hard enough. Boccaccio points out some well-known instances in religious art that could even be construed wrongly with a certain mindset.
- Consider also that these stories weren't told in sacred places. They were told in places of pleasure, like gardens and valleys.
- The stories were also told by consenting adults, who really should be past the age when raunchy stories could influence their behavior.
- Besides, we're talking about a time when anything goes because death is all around in the form of the plague.
- Boccaccio then uses a comparison that we've all heard before: just because weapons kill people doesn't mean they're evil in themselves. It's the evil intention of the user that kills.
- The same applies to the potentially questionable stories here. Corrupt characters and plots aren't going to defile a pure mind.
- He says if the super-righteous disapprove of his stories, they can just ignore them. The stories won't run after anyone and force anyone to read them.
- We've heard that one before, too.
- Then Boccaccio makes a move that Chaucer steals for the Canterbury Tales. He says he'd have written more appropriate stories if only the ladies of the brigata would have told more wholesome ones.
- He's just the scribe, you see. He can only copy down what they said. Way to hold on to the fiction, Mr. B.
- Boccaccio also claims that we can skip the stories that we think will have a corrupting influence. That's why he gave us those nifty little summary-titles at the opening of each tale as a warning of what was to come.
- (Sorry, Shmoopers, for shortening those titles, but we figured you could handle it.)
- He knows also that some people think there's no gravitas in what he writes. He's all jests and witty remarks.
- Boccaccio has a field day playing with the idea of having "weight" and "gravity," including plenty of double entendre.
- And one final criticism: why is he always ridiculing friars? Rather than defend himself against this accusation, he mocks them some more.
- He ends his defense by saying that he doesn't have a sharp and evil tongue. In fact, the lady next door told him otherwise not too long ago. (Yes, it's what you think.)
- Boccaccio offers thanks to God and asks the ladies to remember him in their prayers if they got anything useful out of his stories.