The Decameron is one of the greatest literary works of the Middle Ages. Ten young people have fled the terrible effects of the Black Death in Florence and, in an idyllic setting, tell a series of brilliant stories, by turns humorous, bawdy, tragic and provocative. This celebration of physical and sexual vitality is Boccaccio's answer to the sublime other-worldliness of Dante's Divine Comedy. Sold and delivered by Audible, an Amazon company. Read more Read less. Free sleep tracks.
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It's Florence, Italy, , 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. 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. 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.
Study Guide. By Giovanni Boccaccio. Wise, resourceful, introspective. Poor view of women's abilities, unhappy with her actions in love. Classically beautiful, in the early stages of love with one of the young men. Filostrato Day 4, Unhappy Loves I. Classically beautiful, spunky, jealous. Elissa Day 6, Witty Remarks I. Tells the bawdiest stories, highly determined to be happy.
Only sings songs of her own composition, more of a type than a character. Emilia Day 9, Open theme I. Panfilo Day 10, Munificence I.
Noble, representative of courtly love ideals. Disciplined in pleasure. Eldest at 28, wise, "blossoming queen," moderate thinking and behavior, self-sufficient and contented in love. Youngest at 18, innocent and shy yet spunky and creative. Named for Dido, represents unhappy female love. Mischievous, rule-breaking, good-natured, "safety valve" of group.
Named in homage to Petrarch's beloved, Laura. Young, self-absorbed, enchanted with her own beauty.
The Decameron, Volume II
Published by London: Isaac Jaggard, for M. Lownes Seller Rating:. Lownes,
The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio