Study Guide

Decameron First Day, Sixth Story

By Giovanni Boccaccio

First Day, Sixth Story

The Good Man and the Inquisitor

Story

  • 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.