Giovanni Boccaccio.

The Decameron, Volume II online

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Produced by Donna Holsten




Faithfully Translated

By J.M. Rigg

with illustrations by Louis Chalon




NOVEL I. - Cimon, by loving, waxes wise, wins his wife Iphigenia by
capture on the high seas, and is imprisoned at Rhodes. He is delivered by
Lysimachus; and the twain capture Cassandra and recapture Iphigenia in
the hour of their marriage. They flee with their ladies to Crete, and
having there married them, are brought back to their homes.

NOVEL II. - Gostanza loves Martuccio Gomito, and hearing that he is dead,
gives way to despair, and hies her alone aboard a boat, which is wafted
by the wind to Susa. She finds him alive in Tunis, and makes herself
known to him, who, having by his counsel gained high place in the king's
favour, marries her, and returns with her wealthy to Lipari.

NOVEL III. - Pietro Boccamazza runs away with Agnolella, and encounters a
gang of robbers: the girl takes refuge in a wood, and is guided to a
castle. Pietro is taken, but escapes out of the hands of the robbers, and
after some adventures arrives at the castle where Agnolella is, marries
her, and returns with her to Rome.

NOVEL IV. - Ricciardo Manardi is found by Messer Lizio da Valbona with
his daughter, whom he marries, and remains at peace with her father.

NOVEL V. - Guidotto da Cremona dies leaving a girl to Giacomino da Pavia.
She has two lovers in Faenza, to wit, Giannole di Severino and Minghino
di Mingole, who fight about her. She is discovered to be Giannole's
sister, and is given to Minghino to wife.

NOVEL VI. - Gianni di Procida, being found with a damsel that he loves,
and who had been given to King Frederic, is bound with her to a stake, so
to be burned. He is recognized by Ruggieri dell' Oria, is delivered, and
marries her.

NOVEL VII. - Teodoro, being enamoured of Violante, daughter of Messer
Amerigo, his lord, gets her with child, and is sentenced to the gallows;
but while he is being scourged thither, he is recognized by his father,
and being set at large, takes Violante to wife.

NOVEL VIII. - Nastagio degli Onesti, loving a damsel of the Traversari
family, by lavish expenditure gains not her love. At the instance of his
kinsfolk he hies him to Chiassi, where he sees a knight hunt a damsel and
slay her and cause her to be devoured by two dogs. He bids his kinsfolk
and the lady that he loves to breakfast. During the meal the said damsel
is torn in pieces before the eyes of the lady, who, fearing a like fate,
takes Nastagio to husband.

NOVEL IX. - Federigo degli Alberighi loves and is not loved in return: he
wastes his substance by lavishness until nought is left but a single
falcon, which, his lady being come to see him at his house, he gives her
to eat: she, knowing his case, changes her mind, takes him to husband and
makes him rich.

NOVEL X. - Pietro di Vinciolo goes from home to sup: his wife brings a
boy into the house to bear her company: Pietro returns, and she hides her
gallant under a hen-coop: Pietro explains that in the house of Ercolano,
with whom he was to have supped, there was discovered a young man
bestowed there by Ercolano's wife: the lady thereupon censures Ercolano's
wife: but unluckily an ass treads on the fingers of the boy that is
hidden under the hen-coop, so that he cries for pain: Pietro runs to the
place, sees him, and apprehends the trick played on him by his wife,
which nevertheless he finally condones, for that he is not himself free
from blame.


NOVEL I. - A knight offers to carry Madonna Oretta a horseback with a
story, but tells it so ill that she prays him to dismount her.

NOVEL II. - Cisti, a baker, by an apt speech gives Messer Geri Spina to
know that he has by inadvertence asked that of him which he should not.

NOVEL III. - Monna Nonna de' Pulci by a ready retort silences the scarce
seemly jesting of the Bishop of Florence.

NOVEL IV. - Chichibio, cook to Currado Gianfigliazzi, owes his safety to
a ready answer, whereby he converts Currado's wrath into laughter, and
evades the evil fate with which Currado had threatened him.

NOVEL V. - Messer Forese da Rabatta and Master Giotto, the painter,
journeying together from Mugello, deride one another's scurvy appearance.

NOVEL VI. - Michele Scalza proves to certain young men that the Baronci
are the best gentlemen in the world and the Maremma, and wins a supper.

NOVEL VII. - Madonna Filippa, being found by her husband with her lover,
is cited before the court, and by a ready and jocund answer acquits
herself, and brings about an alteration of the statute.

NOVEL VIII. - Fresco admonishes his niece not to look at herself in the
glass, if 'tis, as she says, grievous to her to see nasty folk.

NOVEL IX. - Guido Cavalcanti by a quip meetly rebukes certain Florentine
gentlemen who had taken him at a disadvantage.

NOVEL X. - Fra Cipolla promises to shew certain country-folk a feather of
the Angel Gabriel, in lieu of which he finds coals, which he avers to be
of those with which St. Lawrence was roasted.


NOVEL I. - Gianni Lotteringhi hears a knocking at his door at night: he
awakens his wife, who persuades him that 'tis the bogey, which they fall
to exorcising with a prayer; whereupon the knocking ceases.

NOVEL II. - Her husband returning home, Peronella bestows her lover in a
tun; which, being sold by her husband, she avers to have been already
sold by herself to one that is inside examining it to set if it be sound.
Whereupon the lover jumps out, and causes the husband to scour the tun
for him, and afterwards to carry it to his house.

NOVEL III. - Fra Rinaldo lies with his gossip: her husband finds him in
the room with her; and they make him believe that he was curing his
godson of worms by a charm.

NOVEL IV. - Tofano one night locks his wife out of the house: she,
finding that by no entreaties may she prevail upon him to let her in,
feigns to throw herself into a well, throwing therein a great stone.
Tofano hies him forth of the house, and runs to the spot: she goes into
the house, and locks him out, and hurls abuse at him from within.

NOVEL V. - A jealous husband disguises himself as a priest, and hears his
own wife's confession: she tells him that she loves a priest, who comes
to her every night. The husband posts himself at the door to watch for
the priest, and meanwhile the lady brings her lover in by the roof, and
tarries with him.

NOVEL VI. - Madonna Isabella has with her Leonetto, her accepted lover,
when she is surprised by one Messer Lambertuccio, by whom she is beloved:
her husband coming home about the same time, she sends Messer
Lambertuccio forth of the house drawn sword in hand, and the husband
afterwards escorts Leonetto home.

NOVEL VII. - Lodovico discovers to Madonna Beatrice the love that he
bears her: she sends Egano, her husband, into a garden disguised as
herself, and lies with Lodovico; who thereafter, being risen, hies him to
the garden and cudgels Egano.

NOVEL VIII. - A husband grows jealous of his wife, and discovers that
she has warning of her lover's approach by a piece of pack-thread, which
she ties to her great toe a nights. While he is pursuing her lover, she
puts another woman in bed in her place. The husband, finding her there,
beats her, and cuts off her hair. He then goes and calls his wife's
brothers, who, holding his accusation to be false, give him a rating.

NOVEL IX. - Lydia, wife of Nicostratus, loves Pyrrhus, who to assure
himself thereof, asks three things of her, all of which she does, and
therewithal enjoys him in presence of Nicostratus, and makes Nicostratus
believe that what he saw was not real.

NOVEL X. - Two Sienese love a lady, one of them being her gossip: the
gossip dies, having promised his comrade to return to him from the other
world; which he does, and tells him what sort of life is led there.


NOVEL I. - Gulfardo borrows moneys of Guasparruolo, which he has agreed
to give Guasparruolo's wife, that he may lie with her. He gives them to
her, and in her presence tells Guasparruolo that he has done so, and she
acknowledges that 'tis true.

NOVEL II. - The priest of Varlungo lies with Monna Belcolore: he leaves
with her his cloak by way of pledge, and receives from her a mortar. He
returns the mortar, and demands of her the cloak that he had left in
pledge, which the good lady returns him with a gibe.

NOVEL III. - Calandrino, Bruno and Buffalmacco go in quest of the
heliotrope beside the Mugnone. Thinking to have found it, Calandrino gets
him home laden with stones. His wife chides him: whereat he waxes wroth,
beats her, and tells his comrades what they know better than he.

NOVEL IV. - The rector of Fiesole loves a widow lady, by whom he is not
loved, and thinking to lie with her, lies with her maid, with whom the
lady's brothers cause him to be found by his Bishop.

NOVEL V. - Three young men pull down the breeches of a judge from the
Marches, while he is administering justice on the bench.

NOVEL VI. - Bruno and Buffalmacco steal a pig from Calandrino, and induce
him to essay its recovery by means of pills of ginger and vernaccia. Of
the said pills they give him two, one after the other, made of dog-ginger
compounded with aloes; and it then appearing as if he had had the pig
himself, they constrain him to buy them off, if he would not have them
tell his wife.

NOVEL VII. - A scholar loves a widow lady, who, being enamoured of
another, causes him to spend a winter's night awaiting her in the snow.
He afterwards by a stratagem causes her to stand for a whole day in July,
naked upon a tower, exposed to the flies, the gadflies, and the sun.

NOVEL VIII. - Two men keep with one another: the one lies with the
other's wife: the other, being ware thereof, manages with the aid of his
wife to have the one locked in a chest, upon which he then lies with the
wife of him that is locked therein.

NOVEL IX. - Bruno and Buffalmacco prevail upon Master Simone, a
physician, to betake him by night to a certain place, there to be
enrolled in a company that go the course. Buffalmacco throws him into a
foul ditch, and there they leave him.

NOVEL X. - A Sicilian woman cunningly conveys from a merchant that which
he has brought to Palermo; he, making a shew of being come back thither
with far greater store of goods than before, borrows money of her, and
leaves her in lieu thereof water and tow.


NOVEL I. - Madonna Francesca, having two lovers, the one Rinuccio, the
other Alessandro, by name, and loving neither of them, induces the one to
simulate a corpse in a tomb, and the other to enter the tomb to fetch him
out: whereby, neither satisfying her demands, she artfully rids herself
of both.

NOVEL II. - An abbess rises in haste and in the dark, with intent to
surprise an accused nun abed with her lover: thinking to put on her veil,
she puts on instead the breeches of a priest that she has with her: the
nun, espying her headgear, and doing her to wit thereof, is acquitted,
and thenceforth finds it easier to forgather with her lover.

NOVEL III. - Master Simone, at the instance of Bruno and Buffalmacco and
Nello, makes Calandrino believe that he is with child. Calandrino,
accordingly, gives them capons and money for medicines, and is cured
without being delivered.

NOVEL IV. - Cecco, son of Messer Fortarrigo, loses his all at play at
Buonconvento, besides the money of Cecco, son of Messer Angiulieri, whom,
running after him in his shirt and crying out that he has robbed him, he
causes to be taken by peasants: he then puts on his clothes, mounts his
palfrey, and leaves him to follow in his shirt.

NOVEL V. - Calandrino being enamoured of a damsel, Bruno gives him a
scroll, averring that, if he but touch her therewith, she will go with
him: he is found with her by his wife, who subjects him to a most severe
and vexatious examination.

NOVEL VI. - Two young men lodge at an inn, of whom the one lies with the
host's daughter, his wife by inadvertence lying with the other. He that
lay with the daughter afterwards gets into her father's bed and tells him
all, taking him to be his comrade. They bandy words: whereupon the good
woman, apprehending the circumstances, gets her to bed with her daughter,
and by divers apt words re-establishes perfect accord.

NOVEL VII. - Talano di Molese dreams that a wolf tears and rends all the
neck and face of his wife: he gives her warning thereof, which she heeds
not, and the dream comes true.

NOVEL VIII. - Biondello gulls Ciacco in the matter of a breakfast: for
which prank Ciacco is cunningly avenged on Biondello, causing him to be
shamefully beaten.

NOVEL IX. - Two young men ask counsel of Solomon; the one, how he is to
make himself beloved, the other, how he is to reduce an unruly wife to
order. The King bids the one to love, and the other to go to the Bridge
of Geese.

NOVEL X. - Dom Gianni at the instance of his gossip Pietro uses an
enchantment to transform Pietro's wife into a mare; but, when he comes to
attach the tail, Gossip Pietro, by saying that he will have none of the
tail, makes the enchantment of no effect.


NOVEL I. - A knight in the service of the King of Spain deems himself ill
requited. Wherefore the King, by most cogent proof, shews him that the
blame rests not with him, but with the knight's own evil fortune; after
which, he bestows upon him a noble gift.

NOVEL II. - Ghino di Tacco, captures the Abbot of Cluny, cures him of a
disorder of the stomach, and releases him. The abbot, on his return to
the court of Rome, reconciles Ghino with Pope Boniface, and makes him
prior of the Hospital.

NOVEL III. - Mitridanes, holding Nathan in despite by reason of his
courtesy, journey with intent to kill him, and falling in with him
unawares, is advised by him how to compass his end. Following his advice,
he finds him in a copse, and recognizing him, is shame-stricken, and
becomes his friend.

NOVEL IV. - Messer Gentile de' Carisendi, being come from Modena,
disinters a lady that he loves, who has been buried for dead. She, being
reanimated, gives birth to a male child; and Messer Gentile restores her,
with her son, to Niccoluccio Caccianimico, her husband.

NOVEL V. - Madonna Dianora craves of Messer Ansaldo a garden that shall
be as fair in January as in May. Messer Ansaldo binds himself to a
necromancer, and thereby gives her the garden. Her husband gives her
leave to do Messer Ansaldo's pleasure: he, being apprised of her
husband's liberality, releases her from her promise; and the necromancer
releases Messer Ansaldo from his bond, and will tale nought of his.

NOVEL VI. - King Charles the Old, being conqueror, falls in love with a
young maiden, and afterward growing ashamed of his folly bestows her and
her sister honourably in marriage.

NOVEL VII. - King Pedro, being apprised of the fervent love borne him by
Lisa, who thereof is sick, comforts her, and forthwith gives her in
marriage to a young gentleman, and having kissed her on the brow, ever
after professes himself her knight.

NOVEL VIII. - Sophronia, albeit she deems herself wife to Gisippus, is
wife to Titus Quintius Fulvus, and goes with him to Rome, where Gisippus
arrives in indigence, and deeming himself scorned by Titus, to compass
his own death, avers that he has slain a man. Titus recognizes him, and
to save his life, alleges that 'twas he that slew the man: whereof he
that did the deed being witness, he discovers himself as the murderer.
Whereby it comes to pass that they are all three liberated by Octavianus;
and Titus gives Gisippus his sister to wife, and shares with him all his

NOVEL IX. - Saladin, in guise of a merchant, is honourably entreated by
Messer Torello. The Crusade ensuing, Messer Torello appoints a date,
after which his wife may marry again: he is taken prisoner, and by
training hawks comes under the Soldan's notice. The Soldan recognizes
him, makes himself known to him, and entreats him with all honour. Messer
Torello falls sick, and by magic arts is transported in a single night to
Pavia, where his wife's second marriage is then to be solemnized, and
being present thereat, is recognized by her, and returns with her to his

NOVEL X. - The Marquis of Saluzzo, overborne by the entreaties of his
vassals, consents to take a wife, but, being minded to please himself in
the choice of her, takes a husbandman's daughter. He has two children by
her, both of whom he makes her believe that he has put to death.
Afterward, feigning to be tired of her, and to have taken another wife,
he turns her out of doors in her shift, and brings his daughter into the
house in guise of his bride; but, finding her patient under it all, he
brings her home again, and shews her her children, now grown up, and
honours her, and causes her to be honoured, as Marchioness.



Pietro and Agnolella (fifth day, third story)

Gianni and Restituta (fifth day, sixth story)

Calandrino singing (ninth day, fifth story)

Titus, Gisippus, and Sophronia (tenth day, eighth story)

Endeth here the fourth day of the Decameron, beginneth the fifth, in
which under the rule of Fiammetta discourse is had of good fortune
befalling lovers after divers direful or disastrous adventures.

All the east was white, nor any part of our hemisphere unillumined by the
rising beams, when the carolling of the birds that in gay chorus saluted
the dawn among the boughs induced Fiammetta to rise and rouse the other
ladies and the three gallants; with whom adown the hill and about the
dewy meads of the broad champaign she sauntered, talking gaily of divers
matters, until the sun had attained some height. Then, feeling his rays
grow somewhat scorching, they retraced their steps, and returned to the
villa; where, having repaired their slight fatigue with excellent wines
and comfits, they took their pastime in the pleasant garden until the
breakfast hour; when, all things being made ready by the discreet
seneschal, they, after singing a stampita,(1) and a balladette or two,
gaily, at the queen's behest, sat them down to eat. Meetly ordered and
gladsome was the meal, which done, heedful of their rule of dancing, they
trod a few short measures with accompaniment of music and song.
Thereupon, being all dismissed by the queen until after the siesta, some
hied them to rest, while others tarried taking their pleasure in the fair
garden. But shortly after none, all, at the queen's behest, reassembled,
according to their wont, by the fountain; and the queen, having seated
herself on her throne, glanced towards Pamfilo, and bade him with a smile
lead off with the stories of good fortune. Whereto Pamfilo gladly
addressed himself, and thus began.

(1) A song accompanied by music, but without dancing.


Cimon, by loving, waxes wise, wins his wife Iphigenia by capture on the
high seas, and is imprisoned at Rhodes. He is delivered by Lysimachus;
and the twain capture Cassandra and recapture Iphigenia in the hour of
their marriage. They flee with their ladies to Crete, and having there
married them, are brought back to their homes.

Many stories, sweet my ladies, occur to me as meet for me to tell by way
of ushering in a day so joyous as this will be: of which one does most
commend itself to my mind, because not only has it, one of those happy
endings of which to-day we are in quest, but 'twill enable you to
understand how holy, how mighty and how salutary are the forces of Love,
which not a few, witting not what they say, do most unjustly reprobate
and revile: which, if I err not, should to you, for that I take you to be
enamoured, be indeed welcome.

Once upon a time, then, as we have read in the ancient histories of the
Cypriotes, there was in the island of Cyprus a very great noble named
Aristippus, a man rich in all worldly goods beyond all other of his
countrymen, and who might have deemed himself incomparably blessed, but
for a single sore affliction that Fortune had allotted him. Which was
that among his sons he had one, the best grown and handsomest of them
all, that was well-nigh a hopeless imbecile. His true name was Galesus;
but, as neither his tutor's pains, nor his father's coaxing or
chastisement, nor any other method had availed to imbue him with any
tincture of letters or manners, but he still remained gruff and savage of
voice, and in his bearing liker to a beast than to a man, all, as in
derision, were wont to call him Cimon, which in their language signifies
the same as "bestione" (brute)(1) in ours. The father, grieved beyond
measure to see his son's life thus blighted, and having abandoned all
hope of his recovery, nor caring to have the cause of his mortification
ever before his eyes, bade him betake him to the farm, and there keep
with his husbandmen. To Cimon the change was very welcome, because the
manners and habits of the uncouth hinds were more to his taste than those
of the citizens. So to the farm Cimon hied him, and addressed himself to
the work thereof; and being thus employed, he chanced one afternoon as he
passed, staff on shoulder, from one domain to another, to enter a
plantation, the like of which for beauty there was not in those parts,
and which was then - for 'twas the month of May - a mass of greenery; and,
as he traversed it, he came, as Fortune was pleased to guide him, to a
meadow girt in with trees exceeding tall, and having in one of its
corners a fountain most fair and cool, beside which he espied a most
beautiful girl lying asleep on the green grass, clad only in a vest of
such fine stuff that it scarce in any measure veiled the whiteness of her
flesh, and below the waist nought but an apron most white and fine of
texture; and likewise at her feet there slept two women and a man, her
slaves. No sooner did Cimon catch sight of her, than, as if he had never
before seen form of woman, he stopped short, and leaning on his cudgel,
regarded her intently, saying never a word, and lost in admiration. And
in his rude soul, which, despite a thousand lessons, had hitherto
remained impervious to every delight that belongs to urbane life, he felt
the awakening of an idea, that bade his gross and coarse mind
acknowledge, that this girl was the fairest creature that had ever been
seen by mortal eye. And thereupon he began to distinguish her several
parts, praising her hair, which shewed to him as gold, her brow, her nose
and mouth, her throat and arms, and above all her bosom, which was as yet
but in bud, and as he gazed, he changed of a sudden from a husbandman
into a judge of beauty, and desired of all things to see her eyes, which
the weight of her deep slumber kept close shut, and many a time he would
fain have awakened her, that he might see them. But so much fairer seemed
she to him than any other woman that he had seen, that he doubted she
must be a goddess; and as he was not so devoid of sense but that he
deemed things divine more worthy of reverence than things mundane, he
forbore, and waited until she should awake of her own accord; and though
he found the delay overlong, yet, enthralled by so unwonted a delight, he
knew not how to be going. However, after he had tarried a long while, it
so befell that Iphigenia - such was the girl's name - her slaves still
sleeping, awoke, and raised her head, and opened her eyes, and seeing
Cimon standing before her, leaning on his staff, was not a little
surprised, and said: - "Cimon, what seekest thou in this wood at this
hour?" For Cimon she knew well, as indeed did almost all the
country-side, by reason alike of his uncouth appearance as of the rank
and wealth of his father. To Iphigenia's question he answered never a
word; but as soon as her eyes were open, nought could he do but intently
regard them, for it seemed to him that a soft influence emanated from
them, which filled his soul with a delight that he had never before
known. Which the girl marking began to misdoubt that by so fixed a
scrutiny his boorish temper might be prompted to some act that should
cause her dishonour: wherefore she roused her women, and got up,
saying: - "Keep thy distance, Cimon, in God's name." Whereto Cimon made
answer: - "I will come with thee." And, albeit the girl refused his
escort, being still in fear of him, she could not get quit of him; but he
attended her home; after which he hied him straight to his father's
house, and announced that he was minded on no account to go back to the
farm: which intelligence was far from welcome to his father and kinsmen;

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