HomeLiterature Study GuidesThe DecameronIntroduction And Tenth Day First Ninth Stories Summary

The Decameron | Study Guide

Giovanni Boccaccio

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The Decameron | Introduction and Tenth Day, First–Ninth Stories | Summary

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Summary

Introduction to Tenth Day

Panfilo is king of this last day. Emilia tells him his must make up for the shortcomings of the previous monarchs. Accordingly, his theme is generosity.

Tenth Day, First Story

Neifile begins by telling the story of the king of Spain and the knight Ruggieri. Ruggieri complains the king always rewards those he should not, and does not reward those he should. The king explains it is just Ruggieri's bad luck, and has nothing to do with him. As an example, he brings out two closed chests—one filled with gems and one filled with dirt—and tells Ruggieri to choose. Ruggieri selects the chest filled with dirt. Then the king gives the knight the chest of jewels for his service.

Tenth Day, Second Story

Elissa tells the second tale. Ghino di Tacco leads a small rebellion against the Church of Rome after being banished from his home in Siena. He kidnaps the abbot of Cluny, who is on his way to take the baths in Siena in the hopes of curing his stomach problems. Ghino actually cures the abbot, and when the clergyman is recovered, he throws a banquet for the abbot and his retinue, returning all of their goods. Ghino then asks the abbot to decide whether his medical services were worthy of payment. The abbot takes only what he needs to return to Rome and leaves the rest to Ghino. The abbot then intercedes with the pope on Ghino's behalf. Ghino is eventually made a knight of the Order of Hospitallers, an important religious honor.

Tenth Day, Third Story

Filostrato's story follows the exploits of Nathan and Mithridanes. Nathan is an old man famed for his generosity and hospitality. Mithridanes, a young and envious person, wishes to be just like him, but cannot compete so decides to murder Nathan. Mithridanes does not recognize Nathan when he meets him at Nathan's lodgings, and reveals his plot to his newfound acquaintance. When the time comes for Mithridanes to find and kill Nathan, he recognizes his friend and cannot bring himself to go through with it as Nathan is so kind to him. The two men decide to swap identities and share experiences, so they are both happy.

Tenth Day, Fourth Story

Lauretta tells the next story. A gentleman named Gentile de' Carisendi loves a married woman named Madonna Catalina, who is married to a magistrate named Niccoluccio Caccianemico. She is pregnant, so she stays behind when Niccoluccio travels to Modena. Unfortunately, Catalina falls ill and everyone thinks she is dead, and they entomb her. Carisendi goes to her tomb and realizes Catalina is alive. He takes her home and cares for her as she recovers. She gives birth to a son. After much fanfare, Carisendi presents Catalina and her son to Niccoluccio and explains what had happened. Carisendi and Niccoluccio become friends.

Tenth Day, Fifth Story

Emilia narrates this story. Ansaldo has fallen in love with a married woman named Dianora, but she is not interested in his affections. To get him to leave her alone, she tells him to prove his love for her by creating a garden in January. He hires a magician to help with the task, and is able to complete it.

Now Dianora must tell her husband what she agreed to. Her husband is upset at first, but tells her she must fulfill her promise if Ansaldo won't let her out of it—just once. Dianara goes to see Ansaldo. She tells him this was her husband's decision and she doesn't love Ansaldo but will stick by their agreement. Ansaldo is impressed by her husband's generosity, so he releases Dianara from her promise.

Tenth Day, Sixth Story

Fiammetta tells a story about King Charles. The king falls in love with a knight's two daughters. He plans to kidnap them both until one of his subjects rebukes him for dishonorable behavior. The king thinks better of his plans and instead arranges marriages for the two girls.

Tenth Day, Seventh Story

Pampinea tells the following story. An apothecary's daughter, Lisa, falls madly in love with King Peter of Sicily. Knowing she can never have him, she wastes away. When Peter hears of this, he and his wife visit the girl. He tells her he will be her knight. He arranges a suitable marriage for her, and provides her with a good dowry.

Tenth Day, Eighth Story

Filomena narrates the following convoluted tale of friendship between two men: Gisippus and Titus Quintus Fulvius. They were closer than brothers. Gisippus plans to marry a young woman named Sophronia. He takes Titus to meet her, but Titus ends up falling in love with her as well. He tries to hide it from Gisippus, but eventually Titus relents and tells him his predicament.

They are such good friends they argue back and forth over who loves Sophronia more, and who should marry her. Finally, Titus agrees to marry Sophronia. The plan is Gisippus will marry her, but not sleep with her on the wedding night—instead, Titus will sleep with Sophronia.

Titus then discovers his father has died and he must return to Rome. He plans to take Sophronia, but the men still haven't announced their deceit. Gisippus and Titus finally tell Sophronia what they have done and she tells her parents, causing a huge uproar. Titus gathers everyone together, and orders them to give Sophronia to him. They leave for Rome while Gisippus stays in Athens where he is treated horribly for his part in the deception.

Gisippus goes to Rome, hoping to see Titus, but after a misunderstanding, hides in a cave where he witnesses a murder. Wishing to die, he confesses to the murder. Titus intervenes on his friend's behalf, and gives Gisippus his sister to marry, and the two live in Rome with their wives.

Tenth Day, Ninth Story

Panfilo is narrator of the following story. Saladin, sultan of Babylon, disguises himself as a merchant, and tours the Christian countries to better learn about the crusaders who are coming to fight him. He meets a man named Torello in Pavia and the two become unlikely friends. Saladin is very impressed by Torello's generosity. He promises Torello he will repay his kindness. Then he returns home.

Torello heads off to the crusades, but is captured by Saladin. Torello hides his identity, but Saladin soon discovers who he is. Saladin repays Torello's generosity with treasure and a magic bed that will take Torello back to his wife in Pavia before she can marry someone else—since she believes he has been killed. Torello reveals himself at the wedding feast, and he and his wife live happily together.

Analysis

This day focuses on stories of generosity. Each story features a character who is more generous than the last, with even the clergy showing up in a good light, a rare thing in The Decameron. When Lauretta cannot hope to top the story before her, she defaults to one on the theme of love, because lovers are always generous with each other. Emilia's story influenced "The Franklin's Tale" in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. In instances where the generosity comes from royalty as with King Peter and King Charles, the reader sees monarchs exhibiting the proper decorum when around young ladies. Charles realizes how ridiculous he would be seducing such young women, and Peter is the model of kingly behavior and loyalty to his queen. It is fitting the brigata end on such a high note considering what awaits them back in Florence. The group has enjoyed their retreat from the horrible events of the plague, but their time is drawing to a close.

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