Decameron.pptx - Sessions 16 17 The Decameron CLCS 1101...

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Unformatted text preview: Sessions 16 & 17: The Decameron CLCS 1101: Introduction to World Literature I Professor Christopher Bonner October 22-24, 2018 Agenda 1- Context: Florence, birthplace of the Renaissance 2- Context: Love in the time of Plague 3- Structure: The Architecture of the Decameron 4- Truth, lies, and fiction: Ser Cepparello/Saint Ciappaletto (I, 1) 5- Fortuna’s wheel 6- Sex, death, and trade: Alatiel (II, 7) 7 – Tales of Exoticism (Saladin and Messer Torello) and Courtly Love (The Heart on a Platter, Griselda the Patient Wife) 1- Context: 14th Century Florence • Economic/financial center of the Mediterranean region • Maritime trade with North Africa, Middle East • Gold florin became common currency of W. Europe, Middle East due to its reliable, fixed gold content • Oligarchic republic ruled by powerful merchant and banking families 1- Context: 14th century Florence Baptistery, 1059-1128 Cathedral of Saint Maria, started 1296 Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace), 1299 1- Context: Boccaccio and Italian vernacular literature Dante Aligheri (1265-1321) : Divine Comedy Petrarch (1304-1374): sonnets Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375): Decameron 2- The Black Death 1348: “in the illustrious city of Florence, the fairest of all the cities of Italy, there made its appearance that deadly pestilence, which, whether disseminated by the influence of the celestial bodies, or sent upon us mortals by God in His just wrath by way of retribution for our iniquities, had had its origin some years before in the East, whence, after destroying an innumerable multitude of living beings, it had propagated itself without respite from place to place, and so, calamitously, had spread into the West.” Decameron, Day 1, Introduction 2- Black Death “in men and women alike it first betrayed itself by the emergence of certain tumors in the groin or the armpits, some of which grew as large as a common apple, others as an egg, some more, some less, which the common folk called gavoccioli […[ this deadly gavocciolo soon began to propagate and spread itself in all directions indifferently; after which the form of the malady began to change, black spots or livid making their appearance in many cases on the arm or the thigh or elsewhere, now few and large, then minute and numerous. And as the gavocciolo had been and still were an infallible token of approaching death, such also were these spots on whomsoever they shewed themselves […] not merely were those that recovered few, but almost all within three days from the appearance of the said symptoms, sooner or later, died, and in most cases without any fever or other attendant malady.” Decameron,Day 1, Introduction 2- The Black Death “Tedious were it to recount, how citizen avoided citizen, how among neighbors was scarce found any that shewed fellow-feeling for another, how kinsfolk held aloof, and never met, or but rarely; enough that this sore affliction entered so deep into the minds of men a women, that in the horror thereof brother was forsaken by brother nephew by uncle, brother by sister, and oftentimes husband by wife: nay, what is more, and scarcely to be believed, fathers and mothers were found to abandon their own children, untended, unvisited, to their fate, as if they had been strangers.” “Many died daily or nightly in the public streets; of many others, who died at home, the departure was hardly observed by their neighbors, until the stench of their putrefying bodies carried the tidings; and what with their corpses and the corpses of others who died on every hand the whole place was a sepulchre.” Decameron, Day 1, Introduction 3- Architecture of Decameron: Frame-Tale Brigata (group) of ten Florentines meets at the Church of Santa Maria Novella, decides to flee the city Brigata takes refuge in a villa for two weeks; Ten characters each recount one story per day, five days/week; 10 stories/day x 10 days = 100 stories Each storytelling day is “ruled” by a designated member of the Brigata, who decides the order in which the members will tell their stories and the theme of the stories 3- Brigata: A System of Characters • 7 women (between the ages of 18 and 27), 3 men (over 25) • Theological significance (the seven virtues, the Trinity, God’s Commandments) • Each is well-bred, intelligent, fair to look upon • Allegorical nicknames: Pampinea (F,); Filomena (F), Neifile (F), Filostrato (M), Flammetta (F), Elisa (F), Dioneo (M), Lauretta (F), Emilia (F), Panfilo (M) 4- Ser Cepparello / San Ciappelletto ”Although human sight is not sharp enough to penetrate the secrets of the divine mind in any way, it sometimes happens that we are deceived by popular opinion into making someone our advocate before Him in all His majesty whom HE has cast into eternal exile. And yet He, from whom nothing is hidden, pays more attention to the purity of the supplicant than to his ignorance or to the damned state of his intercessor, listening to those who pray as if their advocate were actually blessed in His sight.” (I, 1, 719) 4- Truth, lies, and fiction: The Story of Ciapelletto Once the body had been placed in the church, the holy friar who had confessed Ser Ciappelletto mounted the pulpit and began to preach marvelous things about him, about his life, his fasts, his virginity, his simplicity and innocence and sanctity […] After this, the holy friar took the opportunity to reprimand the people who were listening. “And you, wretched sinners,” he said, for every blade of straw your feet trip over, you blaspheme against God and His Mother and all the saints in Paradise.” (I, 1, 727) 4- Truth, Lies, and Fiction “by means of his words, which the people of the countryside believed absolutely, he managed to plant the image of Ser Ciappelletto so deeply inside the minds and hearts of everyone present that when the service was over, there was a huge stampede to kiss Ser Ciappelletto’s hands and feet […] In the end, they called him Saint Ciappelletto, as they still do, and claim that God has performed many miracles through him and will perform them every day for those who devoutly entrust themselves to him.” (I, 1, 617-18) “[God] does not consider our sinfulness, but the purity of our faith, and even though we make his intercessor one of His enemies, thinking him His friend, God still grants our prayers as if we were asking a true saint to obtain His grace for us.” (I, 1, 728) Le Novelle: Theme of the Day • Day 1: In this first day, the topic is free. • (Ser Cepparello / Saint Ciappelletto) • Day 2: Misadventures that suddenly end happily • (Alatiel) • Day 3: Success in overcoming adverse fortune because of merit • Day 4: Love stories that end in sorrow and defeat. • (Rossiglione and Guardastagno) • Day 5: Love stories that end happily after some difficulties. • Day 6: The triumph of human intelligence. • Day 7: Wives tricking their husbands. • Day 8: Both men and women playing tricks on each other. • Day 9: Human vices. • Day 10: Presentation of human virtue, munificence and noble feelings • (Messer Torello and King Saladin / The Patient Wife, Griselda) 5- Fortuna’s wheel But to avoid reviewing every conceivable human desire, let me simply affirm that no person alive can choose any one of them in complete confidence that it will remain immune from the vicissitudes of Fortune. (II, 7) Peripeteia – sudden reversal in fortune or change In circumstances Ilumination from Boccaccio’s On the Fates of Famous Men Showing Fortune spinning her wheel 5- Fortuna’s wheel "Inconstancy is my very essence; it is the game I never cease to play as I turn my wheel in its ever changing circle, filled with joy as I bring the top to the bottom and the bottom to the top. Yes, rise up on my wheel if you like, but don't count it an injury when by the same token you begin to fall, as the rules of the game will require.” - Boethius, Consolation of Philosophy No mortal power may stay her spinning wheel. The nations rise and fall by her decree. None may foresee where she will set her heel: she passes, and things pass. Man's mortal reason cannot encompass her. She rules her sphere as the other gods rule theirs. Season by season her changes change her changes endlessly, and those whose turn has come press on her so, she must be swift by hard necessity. -Dante, Inferno, VII, 82-90 5- Fortuna’s Wheel: The Carnival Carnival: a time of feasting when normally dominant constraints and hierarchies are temporarily lifted; a time of reversal of social roles and (controlled) anarchy. The political, legal and ideological authority of both the church and state were inverted during times of Carnival. Carnivalesque: the spirit of the carnival rendered in literary form: ex. reversals of roles (high/low), bad language, scatological (“toilet”) humor shape-shifting 6- Sex, death, and trade: Alatiel “When the sailors saw that the weather was favorable, they unfrled their sails into the wind, and for some while after leaving the port of Alexandria, their voyage prospered. One day, however, […] close to journey’s end, cross winds suddenly arose […]” (II, 7, 729) “It now became a case of every man for himself, and the officers, seeing no other means of escae, lowered a dinghy […] Although they all thought this was the way to escape death, they actually ran right into it, for the dinghy, not built to hold so many people in such weather, went down, taking everyone with it.” (II, 7, 729) 6- Sex, death, and trade “On several occasions he had noticed that the lady liked wine, which she was unaccustomed to drinking because the laws of her religion forbade it, and by using it as Venus’ assistant, he thought he would be able to have his way with her.” (II, 7, 731) “Up until that moment, she had no conception of the kind of horn men do their butting with, but once she did, she almost almost rgretted not giving in to Perricone’s solicitations. And from then on, she […] often issued the invitation herself” (622, II, 732) 6- Sex, Death, and Trade “Fortune, however, was not content to have made the wife of a king into the mistress of a lord, but was preparing a more terrible alliance for the lady.” (II, 7, 732) Pericone Marato ship’s masters Prince of Morea Duke of Athens Constantine Osbech Antioco Antigono 6- Sex, death, and trade: Alatiel “It pleased her immensely that he knew her language, because for a number of years she had been forced to live as if she were a deaf-mute, incapable of understanding others or getting them to understand her.” (II, 7, 738) “Her story made Antigono start weeping himself out of pity for her, and after pondering the matter a while, he said, “My lady, since no one ever knew who you were during all your misadventures, have no doubt but that I can restore you, more precious than ever, first to your father and then, as bride, to the King of Algarve.” (II, 7, 741) 6- Sex, death, and trade: Alatiel “While I was in the convent, I joined [the ladies] in worshipping Saint Grows-Big-in-Deep-Valley, to whom the women of that country are passionately devoted.” “It would make too long a story if I were to describe how much I was honored and how warm a welcome I was given […]” “I cannot begin to describe how much [Antigono] honored me, not only with the welcome he gave me there, but by sending me back here to you.” (II, 7,) “Were I to recount in detail everything they told me on this subject, I’d be talking not just all day, but all night, too […]” (II, 7, ) 6- Sex, Death, and Trade: Alatiel “Then, since he wanted to bring what he had started to its conclusion, namely to make her the wife of the King of Algarve, he wrote to the King, explaining everything that had happened, and adding that if he still wished to have her, he should send his envoys to fetch her. The King of Algarve was quite delighted by this proposition […] and gave her a joyous welcome. Thus, although she had slept with eight men perhaps ten thousand times, she not only came to the king’s bed as a virgin, but made him believe she really was one, and for a good many years after that, lived a perfectly happy life with him as the queen. And that is the reason why we say: A mouth that’s been kissed never loses its charm, But just like the moon, it’s forever renewed.” Saladin and Messer Torello • Day 10 Story 9 recounts the reciprocated generosity between the Saladin, the Sultan of Babylon, and Messer Torello, a Christian Lombard knight, during the Crusades. – Central Themes of Reciprocity & Hospitality Wooden trunk with details from Boccaccio’s novella, 1390. Saladin and Messer Torello • After the Crusades begin, Saladin captures Messer Torello at Acre in the region of Jerusalem. • Once they recognize each other, Saladin frees Messer Torello. • “God has given me a chance to show this man how much I appreciated his hospitality.” – Theme of “reciprocity” shows Boccaccio’s humanism Saladin and Messer Torello • Boccaccio’s Saladin “with no illusions” – Sympathetic, honorable and hospitable character – Orientalized, exotic, peculiar character who helps Messer Torello by summoning necromancers and magicians • “The Sultan therefore ordered one of his necromancers … to find a way to transport Messer Torello on a bed to Pavia in a single night.” – Example of Peripeteia – sudden reversal of fortune Courtly Love Tradition • Literary works, beginning in the Medieval Period, which feature the romantic escapades and conflicts of the knighthood, the aristocracy and the nobility. • Prominent in Europe, though the term is exceedingly applied to nonEuropean “courtly” literatures. • Popular example: King Arthur, Lancelot and Guinevere. Heart on a Platter • • • Day 4, Story 9 recounts the love triangle between Messer G. Guardastagno, and Messer G. Rossiglione and his wife. In the end, Rossiglione cuts out Guardastagno’s heart and feeds it to his wife. Upon discovering the truth, the wife commits suicide, plummeting to her death. Biting satire of the nobility and courtly love literature; emphasis not on marriage, chivalry or romance; emphasis on honor killing, cannibalism, and suicide Heart on a Platter • • Boccaccio’s satirical tone: “The cook took the heart, and calling upon all his knowledge and all his skill, he minced it, seasoned it with a number of savory spices, and made a very tasty dish of out of it indeed” (635). Heart on a Platter When the knight saw that his wife had finished the whole thing, he asked her: “My lady, what did you think of the dish?” “In good faith, my lord,” she replied, “I liked it very much.” “So help me God,” said the knight, “I do believe you did. But I’m really not surprised that you like it dead, because you liked it more than anything else in the world when it was alive.” Upon hearing these words, the lady hesitated a moment. Then she asked, “How’s that? What is this thing you’ve given me to eat?” “What you ate,” said the knight, “was actually the heart of Messer Guglielmo Gaurdastagno, whom you, like the faithless woman you are, were so infatuated with. And you may rest assured that it really was his, because I ripped it out of his chest myself, with these hands, just a little while before I came back here.” (636) 15th Cent. Codex, Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, Parigi. Griselda, The Patient Wife • Day 10 Story 10 recounts the abuses and trials of dutiful Griselda, the shepherd's daughter who is tested by her aristocratic husband, Gaultieri. Griselda, The Patient Wife • European folktale, orature for centuries • Last and most popular novella of The Decameron • Theological Significance: No known origin, though scholars suggest Griselda is a popular retelling of the Biblical story, Book of Job. • Book of Job: God tests Job by killing his family, his livestock, and his servants, and infecting him with malady. Griselda, The Patient Wife • Boccaccio’s critique of nobility: – Shows abusive relationship between nobility and the peasant class – God testing Job ≠ Gaultieri testing Griselda – “What more is there left to say except that divine spirits may rain down from the heavens even into the houses of the poor, just as others in royal palaces might be better suited to tending pigs than ruling men” (656). ...
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