Literature Study GuidesThe DecameronIntroduction And Sixth Day First Fourth Stories Summary

The Decameron | Study Guide

Giovanni Boccaccio

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The Decameron | Introduction and Sixth Day, First–Fourth Stories | Summary



Introduction to Sixth Day

Elissa is the queen for the sixth day, and the theme is stories about those who use wit to save themselves from embarrassment and hardship.

Before the stories begin the next day, there is a terrible outcry on the ground. Elissa, as ruler, calls for the culprits, and two servants, Tindaro and Licisca who are brought before her. Elissa asks what the commotion is about, and before Tindaro can speak, Licisca talks over him. She says Tindaro claimed a mutual friend of theirs was a virgin when she married Sicofante, but Licisca knows she was not. As a woman, she knows none of her friends and neighbors were virgins when they married, and married women constantly pull tricks on their husbands to get what they want. She says Tindaro has no idea what he is talking about.

Elissa leaves judgment to Dioneo in this matter. He pronounces Licisca correct, and Tindaro a fool. Once the servants have departed, calm returns and the brigata tell their stories as usual.

Sixth Day, First Story

Filomena begins with the first story. Madonna Oretta accepts the offer of a knight to take her riding, pleased to listen to him tell a story. But he tells it so poorly she begs him to let her down. The knight laughs at his poor storytelling ability.

Sixth Day, Second Story

Pampinea tells the second story. Cisti is a very successful baker who has an extensive wine cellar. When a nobleman named Geri comes by his bakery, the two men share some of Cisti's wine. Geri throws a banquet and invites Cisti to it, but Cisti declines. Geri hopes Cisti will share some of his fine wine despite not attending, so he sends a servant with a small flagon to collect some. The servant instead brings a much larger container, thinking to drink some of the wine for himself. Cisti figures out what is going on, and refuses. Geri finally figures out what is going on, and scolds the servant. Cisti sends a large amount of fine wine now that Geri has proven he knows what his servants are up to.

Sixth Day, Third Story

Lauretta narrates. Dego is a friend of the bishop of Florence. He is a scoundrel who offers a husband 500 gold florins to spend the night with the man's wife. The husband accepts, but Dego pays him in silver pieces painted gold. The husband and family are humiliated when word gets out.

While Dego and the bishop ride through town one day, they spy the beautiful Monna Nonna. The bishop basically solicits her for Dego. Angered at the disrespect, she brings up Dego's cheating ways, embarrassing Dego and the bishop.

Sixth Day, Fourth Story

This tale is narrated by Neifile. Currado brings a crane to his cook, Chichibio, to prepare for dinner. As he is cooking, the woman he is in love with arrives and asks for one of the crane's legs. Chichibio lets her take it, but now he has to explain the missing leg to his lord. When he tells Currado cranes only have one leg, the lord wants Chichibio to prove it. The two men go out the next morning. They see a flock of cranes standing on one leg. Currado shouts, surprising the cranes, and they all lower their second legs. Chichibio tells his lord you have to yell to get the second leg to drop, and he didn't yell before he cooked the bird. Currado is amused.


Humor allows a number of characters to get out of unpleasant situations, or diffuse ones that could become violent. Boccaccio shows the power in humor and in making people laugh. Madonna Oretta could have made the knight feel badly about his inability to tell a good story, but she chose to make a quip that made sure the situation stayed light and pleasant. The knight was able to take her criticism with grace.

Cisti and Monna Nonna use humor to shame people that are trying to take advantage of them. When dealing with men of higher social rank, they have to be careful not to risk offense. Instead of confronting them directly and risk embarrassing them, they use their wit and humor to diffuse the situation while still getting what they want.

Chichibio's wit and quick thinking ensure his survival. He gave away part of his master's food before realizing what he had done. He makes it right by offering a funny story for the lack of the crane's leg, amusing his lord enough to save his own skin.

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