Study Guide

Decameron Third Day, Eighth Story

By Giovanni Boccaccio

Third Day, Eighth Story

Ferondo and the Abbot

Intro

  • 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.

Story

  • 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.