Literature Study GuidesThe DecameronEighth Day Fourth Tenth Stories Summary

The Decameron | Study Guide

Giovanni Boccaccio

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The Decameron | Eighth Day, Fourth–Tenth Stories | Summary

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Summary

Eighth Day, Fourth Story

Emilia is the narrator of this story. A beautiful widow attracts the attention of an old priest. She has no interest in him but can't afford to alienate him. When he refuses to leave her alone, the widow hatches a plan. She invites the priest to her house, but bribes her maidservant to sleep with him. The widow's brothers go into town to fetch the bishop, and bring him back to the house so the bishop catches the priest with the maid. The priest becomes the laughingstock of the village.

Eighth Day, Fifth Story

Filostrato tells a story about a prankster and a judge. A foolish and unbecoming judge named Niccola is a sloppy dresser. Saggio—a prankster—decides to humiliate him in court. He arranges to pull the judge's pants down in front of the entire court and escapes without being caught. The judge is the object of much ridicule.

Eighth Day, Sixth Story

Filomena narrates another tale about Calandrino. Calandrino, Bruno, and Buffalmacco go to Calandrino's pig farm outside of Florence. Bruno and Buffalmacco decide to steal a pig, and get Calandrino drunk to make it easier. They steal the pig and act like Calandrino was the one who stole it. All three men take a "lie detector" test, elaborately rigged with cookies they have made that are so bitter they cannot be swallowed, showing he has been lying and trying to trick them. Bruno and Buffalmacco threaten to tell Calandrino's wife he stole the pig if he doesn't give them some capons. Calandrino does so, and they leave with the birds and the stolen pig, and Calandrino is more foolish than ever.

Eighth Day, Seventh Story

Pampinea offers a story of revenge. A young widow named Elena strings along Rinieri while she dallies with another man. After she leaves him out in the freezing cold, the young man's feelings change and he wants revenge. When Elena reaches out to him for help to get her previous lover back, Rinieri gives her a list of things to do, including climbing a ladder to stand atop an observation tower completely naked. Rinieri steals the ladder, and leaves Elena up there so she suffers sunburn and bug bites, all while berating her for her actions. Finally, after she endures a brutally long day in roasting sun and flies stinging her unmercifully, Rinieri tells Elena's maidservant where she can find her and the ladder. Elena recovers but vows never to trick anyone again.

Eighth Day, Eighth Story

Fiammetta narrates this story. Spinelloccio and Zeppo are neighbors, and both men are married to beautiful women. Spinelloccio is having an affair with Zeppo's wife, which he soon discovers. In revenge Zeppo has his wife invite Spinelloccio over, and then locks him inside a trunk. Then Zeppo has his wife invite Spinelloccio's wife over. He sits the wife on the trunk and tells her about her husband's affair. Zeppo asks Spinelloccio's wife to sleep with him in revenge. She agrees. Zeppo lets Spinelloccio out of the chest when they are through. The men agree to share their wives.

Eighth Day, Ninth Story

Lauretta shares her story. A foolish physician believes Bruno and Buffalmacco's lies about a secret society. He takes the two men out to dinner, and tries to win their favor so they will help induct him into it. When he fails their "initiation," the doctor is taken outside of town and dumped in a ditch. Bruno and Buffalmacco go to his house sporting fake injuries, and tell him they suffered for his failure. He feels terrible and continues to take them out to dinner.

Eighth Day, Tenth Story

Dioneo tells this tale. A naïve young man named Salabetto is duped by a Sicilian woman named Jancofiore. She swindles him out of 500 florins and then turns him away. He is left owing the men the money belonged to them. With the help of his friend, Pietro, Salabetto returns to Sicily with another load of cargo and uses it to swindle 1,500 florins from Jancofiore.

Analysis

Calandrino appears in several stories, and continues to serve as the victim of Bruno and Buffalmacco's pranks. He believes in folk magic, and is made to look a fool for doing so in all of the stories he appears in.

In almost all of these stories, men come out looking like fools—the judge who gets his pants pulled down, and the priest who becomes a laughingstock. These men hold a higher place in the social order and are made to look ridiculous. Humor allows people of lesser station to mock those of higher rank.

Pampinea's story of revenge is somewhat out of place here. It isn't lighthearted like the others. Instead the "Seventh Story" is quite brutal on both sides. Elena leaves Rinieri out in the cold and he nearly dies. In turn he leaves her atop a tower to nearly die of exposure. Pampinea uses this as her warning to the others in the brigata to be careful on whom they play tricks, especially since their stories seem to focus only on the pranks, and not on the consequences. There is nothing playful in this tale: Elena is mean-spirited and selfish, and Rinieri is vengeful and angry. This is another instance of the dark side of love being exhibited by the characters in a story.

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