Literature Study GuidesThe DecameronIntroduction And Fifth Day First Third Stories Summary

The Decameron | Study Guide

Giovanni Boccaccio

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The Decameron | Introduction and Fifth Day, First–Third Stories | Summary

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Summary

Introduction to Fifth Day

Fiammetta is the queen for the fifth day and she deems the theme to be stories of love affairs with happy endings.

Fifth Day, First Story

Panfilo goes first with his story about a young man named Galesus, although everyone calls him Cimone. Cimone's father is so ashamed of his son's manners and appearance he sends him away to live in the country. When Cimone stumbles upon a beautiful maiden in the woods named Iphigenia, he changes his behavior and hygiene to be more appealing.

Cimone finds out Iphigenia has been promised to Pasimondas of Rhodes. He kidnaps Iphigenia, but they are captured by sailors and taken before the magistrate. Meanwhile Pasimondas's brother, Ormisdas, is in love with Cassandra. They plan a double wedding with Pasimondas and Iphigenia. The magistrate is also in love with Cassandra, and makes a deal with Cimone to steal both brides from the wedding. Cimone kills Pasimondas and Ormisdas as they retreat to their ship headed for Crete. After some time has passed, the men return to their homelands with their wives.

Fifth Day, Second Story

Emilia narrates the second story. Martuccio is a poor young man in love with the noble Gostanza. He leaves town to make his fortune, turns to piracy, and ends up in a prison in Tunis. Gostanza hears Martuccio is dead, and sets out to sea in an oarless and rudderless boat. She lands near Tunis.

Martuccio meanwhile has ingratiated himself with the king of Tunis by helping him fight the Saracens. He is given a position in the king's court. Gostanza hears of this and goes to see him in Tunis. They marry and return to Italy.

Fifth Day, Third Story

Elissa tells the third tale. Pietro Boccamazza loves Agnolella, but she is from a poor family, and Pietro's family does not approve of a marriage. The two run off to elope. While lost in the country, they are attacked by soldiers. Agnolella escapes, but Pietro is captured. Agnolella makes it to a castle. Pietro manages to escape the soldiers and eventually makes it to the same castle. The lady of the castle, impressed by their story, offers to pay for the wedding and makes peace with Pietro's family.

Analysis

Class plays a significant role in these stories. Cimone's uncouth behavior and appearance mark him as a man from a lower social class, even if he is not. In the second and third stories, the reader sees a poor young man and a poor young woman struggle to find a happy ending with their noble lovers. They must go through a number of trials in order to earn their happy endings, usually with the help of fortune. In both cases a noble (the king of Tunis and the lady of the castle, respectively) serve to facilitate the marriages.

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