Literature Study GuidesThe DecameronSixth Day Fifth Story Summary

The Decameron | Study Guide

Giovanni Boccaccio

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The Decameron | Sixth Day, Fifth Story | Summary



Panfilo tells a story of two intelligent but ugly men, Forese and the artist Giotto. Forese is a famous jurist, and Giotto a remarkable painter. The two meet on the road, both riding ugly horses and dressed shabbily. They decide to ride together.

They are caught in a rainstorm, and take shelter with a mutual friend. But they are desperate to return to Florence, so they borrow hats and capes from their friend and continue on their way in the rain.

When the rain finally lets up, Forese looks over at Giotto and laughs at his sorry appearance. He asks Giotto if a stranger saw him now would he "believe [he] were the best painter in the world?" Giotto replies: "Looking you over, he were to think you knew your ABCs!" Forese realizes they both look terrible, and he had been insulted in the same way he had insulted Giotto.


These are two of the smartest and most accomplished men in Florence, and yet neither of them realize how ugly they are. They end up bedraggled on their way back to the city, and Forese makes a witty comment about Giotto's appearance. In addition, he is calling attention to the oddity someone as ugly as Giotto paints such beautiful art. Giotto responds in kind, causing Forese to realize he is just as ugly as Giotto. Forese falls silent after the insult. Despite their intelligence, the two men do not realize how other people see them and they are better like that. Their wit both protects them and exposes them.

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