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Title: Giovanni Boccaccio, a Biographical Study
Author: Hutton, Edward
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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FREDERIC UVEDALE. A Romance. 1901.


ITALY AND THE ITALIANS. Second Edition. 1902.

THE CITIES OF UMBRIA. Third Edition. 1905.

THE CITIES OF SPAIN. Third Edition. 1906.






  By JAMES DENNISTOUN OF DENNISTOUN. Illustrating the Arms, Arts, and
  Literature of Italy, from 1440 to 1630. New Edition, with upwards of
  100 Illustrations. 3 vols. Demy 8vo. 1908.

  3 vols. 8vo. 1908-9.

[Illustration: _Traditional Portraits of Boccaccio & Fiammetta (Maria

_From the Frescoes in the Spanish Chapel of S. Maria Novella,




    But if the love that hath and still doth burn me
    No love at length return me,
    Out of my thoughts I'll set her:
    Heart let her go, O heart I pray thee let her!
            Say shall she go?
            O no, no, no, no, no!
    Fix'd in the heart, how can the heart forget her.





It might seem proper, in England at least, to preface any book
dealing frankly with the author of the _Decameron_ with an apology
for, and perhaps a defence of, its subject. I shall do nothing of
the kind. Indeed, this is not the place, if any be, to undertake the
defence of Boccaccio. His life, the facts of his life, his love, his
humanity, and his labours, plentifully set forth in this work, will
defend him with the simple of heart more eloquently than I could
hope to do. And it might seem that one who exhausted his little
patrimony in the acquirement of learning, who gave Homer back to us,
who founded or certainly fixed Italian prose, who was the friend
of Petrarch, the passionate defender of Dante, and who died in the
pursuit of knowledge, should need no defence anywhere from any one.

This book, on which I have been at work from time to time for some
years, is the result of an endeavour to set out quite frankly and
in order all that may be known of Boccaccio, his life, his love for
Fiammetta, and his work, so splendid in the Tuscan, the fruit of such
an enthusiastic and heroic labour in the Latin. It is an attempt at
a biographical and critical study of one of the greatest creative
writers of Europe, of one of the earliest humanists, in which, for
the first time, in England certainly, all the facts are placed before
the reader, and the sources and authority for these facts quoted,
cited, and named. Yet while I have tried to be as scrupulous as
possible in this respect, I hope the book will be read too by those
for whom notes have no attraction; for it was written first for

Among other things I have dealt with, the reader will find a study of
Boccaccio's attitude to Woman, and in some sort this may be said to
be the true subject of the book.

I have dealt too with Boccaccio's relation to both Dante and
Petrarch; and it was my intention to have written a chapter on
Boccaccio and Chaucer, but interesting as that subject is--and one of
the greatest desiderata in the study of Chaucer--a chapter in a long
book seemed too small for it; and again, it belongs rather to a book
on Chaucer than to one about Boccaccio. I have left it, then, for
another opportunity, or for another and a better student than myself.

In regard to the illustrations, I may say that I hoped to make them,
as it were, a chapter on Boccaccio and his work in relation to the
fine arts; but I found at last that it would be impossible to carry
this out. To begin with, I was unable to get permission to reproduce
M. Spiridon's and Mr. V. Watney's panels by Alunno di Domenico[1]
illustrating the story of Nastagio degli Onesti (_Decameron_, V,
8), which are perhaps the most beautiful paintings ever made in
illustration of one of Boccaccio's tales. In the second place,
the subject was too big to treat of in the space at my command. I
wish now that I had dealt only with the _Decameron_; but in spite
of a certain want of completeness, the examples I have been able
to reproduce will give the reader a very good idea of the large
and exquisite mass of material of the fourteenth, fifteenth, and
sixteenth centuries in Italy, France, Germany, and even in England
which in its relation to Boccaccio has still to be dealt with.
Nothing on this subject has yet been published, though something
of the sort with regard to Petrarch has been attempted. Beyond the
early part of the seventeenth century I have not sought to go, but an
examination of the work of the eighteenth century in France at any
rate should repay the student in this untouched field.

I have to thank a host of people who in many and various ways have
given me their assistance in the writing of this book. It has been
a labour of love for them as for me, and let us hope that Boccaccio
"in the third heaven with his own Fiammetta" is as grateful for their
kindness as I am.

Especially I wish to thank Mrs. Ross, of Poggio Gherardo, Mr. A. E.
Benn, of Villa Ciliegio, Professor Guido Biagi, of Florence, Mr.
Edmund Gardner, Professor Henri Hauvette, of Paris, Mr. William
Heywood, Dr. Paget Toynbee, and Mr. Charles Whibley. And I must also
express my gratitude to Messrs. J. and J. Leighton, of Brewer Street,
London, W., for so kindly placing at my disposal many of the blocks
which will be found in these pages.


          _September_, 1909.


Of the three great writers who open the literature of the modern
world, Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio, it is perhaps the last who has
the greatest significance in the history of culture, of civilisation.
Without the profound mysticism of Dante or the extraordinary
sweetness and perfection of Petrarch, he was more complete than
either of them, full at once of laughter and humility and love--that
humanism which in him alone in his day was really a part of life. For
him the centre of things was not to be found in the next world but in
this. To the _Divine Comedy_ he seems to oppose the Human Comedy, the
_Decameron_, in which he not only created for Italy a classic prose,
but gave the world an ever-living book full of men and women and the
courtesy, generosity, and humanity of life, which was to be one of
the greater literary influences in Europe during some three hundred

In England certainly, and indeed almost everywhere to-day, the name
of Boccaccio stands for this book, the _Decameron_. Yet the volumes
he wrote during a laborious and really uneventful life are very
numerous both in verse and prose, in Latin and in Tuscan. He began to
write before he was twenty years old, and he scarcely stayed his hand
till he lay dying alone in Certaldo in 1375. That the _Decameron_,
his greatest and most various work, should be that by which he is
most widely known, is not remarkable; it is strange, however, that of
all his works it should be the only one that is quite impersonal.
His earlier romances are without exception _romans à clef_; under a
transparent veil of allegory he tells us eagerly, even passionately,
of himself, his love, his sufferings, his agony and delight. He too
has confessed himself with the same intensity as St. Augustine; but
we refuse to hear him. Over and over again he tells his story. One
may follow it exactly from point to point, divide it into periods,
name the beginning and the ending of his love, his enthusiasms, his
youth and ripeness; yet we mark him not, but perhaps wisely reach
down the _Decameron_ from our shelves and silence him with his own
words; for in the _Decameron_ he is almost as completely hidden from
us as is Shakespeare in his plays. And yet for all this, there is a
profound unity in his work, which, if we can but see it, makes of
all his books just the acts of a drama, the drama of his life. The
_Decameron_ is already to be found in essence in the _Filocolo_, as
is the bitter melancholy of the _Corbaccio_, its mad folly too, and
the sweetness of the songs. For the truth about Boccaccio can be
summed up in one statement almost, he was a poet before all things,
not only because he could express himself in perfect verse, nor even
because of the grace and beauty of all his writing, his gifts of
sentiment and sensibility, but because he is an interpreter of nature
and of man, who knows that poetry is holy and sacred, and that one
must accept it thankfully in fear and humility.

He was the most human writer the Renaissance produced in Italy; and
since his life was so full and eager in its desire for knowledge,
it is strange that nothing of any serious account has been written
concerning him in English,[2] and this is even unaccountable when
we remember how eagerly many among our greater poets have been his
debtors. Though for no other cause yet for this it will be well to
try here with what success the allegory of his life may be solved,
the facts set in order, and the significance of his work expressed.

But no study of Boccaccio can be successful, or in any sense
complete, without a glance at the period which produced him, and
especially at those eight-and-forty years so confused in Italy,
and not in Italy alone, which lie between the death of Frederic II
and the birth of Dante in 1265 and the death of Henry VII and the
birth of Boccaccio in 1313. This period, not less significant in
the general history of Italy than in the history of her literature,
begins with the fall of the Empire, its failure, that is, as the sum
or at least the head, of Christendom; it includes the fall of the
medieval Papacy in 1303 and the abandonment of the Eternal City, the
exile of the Popes. These were years of immense disaster in which we
see the passing of a whole civilisation and the birth of the modern

The Papacy had destroyed the Empire but had failed to establish
itself in its place. It threatened a new tyranny, but already weapons
were being forged to combat it, and little by little the Papal view
of the world, of government, was to be met by an appeal to history,
to the criticism of history, and to those political principles which
were to be the result of that criticism. In this work both Petrarch
and Boccaccio bear a noble part.

If we turn to the history of Florence we shall find that the last
thirty-five years of the thirteenth century had been, perhaps, the
happiest in her history. From the triumph of the Guelfs at Benevento
to the quarrel of _Neri_ and _Bianchi_ she was at least at peace with
herself, while in her relations with her sister cities she became
the greatest power in Tuscany. Art and Poetry flourished within her
walls. Dante, Cavalcanti, Giotto, the Pisani, and Arnolfo di Cambio
were busy with their work, and the great churches we know so well,
the beautiful palaces of the officers of the Republic were then
built with pride and enthusiasm. In 1289, the last sparks, as it was
thought, of Tuscan Ghibellinism had been stamped out at Campaldino.
There followed the old quarrel and Dante's exile.

The Ghibellines were no more, but the _Grandi_, those Guelf magnates
who had done so well at Campaldino, hating the burgher rule as
bitterly as the old nobility had done, began to exert themselves.
In the very year of the great battle we find that the peasants of
the _contrada_ were enfranchised to combat them. In 1293 the famous
Ordinances of Justice which excluded them from office were passed,
and the _Gonfaloniere_ was appointed to enforce these laws against
them. A temporary alliance of burghers and _Grandi_ in 1295 drove
Giano della Bella, the hero of these reforms, into exile, and the
government remained in the hands of the _Grandi_. That year saw
Dante's entrance into public life.

The quarrel thus begun came to crisis in 1300, the famous year of
the jubilee, when Boniface VIII seemed to hold the whole world in
his hands. The dissensions in Florence had not been lost upon the
Pope, who, apparently hoping to repress the Republic altogether and
win the obedience of the city, intrigued with the _Neri_, those
among the magnates who, unlike their fellows of the _Bianchi_
faction, among whom Dante is the most conspicuous figure, refused
to admit the Ordinances of Justice, even in their revised form, and
wished for the tyrannical rule of the old _Parte Guelfa_. Already,
as was well known, the Pope was pressing Albert of Austria for a
renunciation of the Imperial claim over Tuscany in favour of the
Holy See; and Florence, finally distracted now by the quarrels of
_Neri_ and _Bianchi_, seemed to be in imminent danger of losing
her liberty. It became necessary to redress the balance of power,
destroyed at Benevento, by an attempt to recreate the Empire. This
was the real work of the _Bianchi_--their solution of the greatest
question of their time. The actual solution was to come, however,
from their opponents: not from the leaders of the _Neri_ it is true,
but from the people themselves. These leaders were but tyrants in
disguise: they served any cause to establish their own lordship.
Corso Donati, for instance, the head and front of the _Neri_, was of
an old Ghibelline stock, yet he trafficked with the Pope, not for
the Church, we may be sure, nor to give Florence to the Holy See,
but that he might himself rule the city. Nor did the Pope disdain to
use him. Alarmed even in Rome by the republican sentiments of the
populace, who wished to rule themselves even as the Florentines, he
desired above all things to bring Florence into his power. On May
15, 1300, the Pope despatched a letter to the Bishop of Florence,
in which he asked: "Is not the Pontiff supreme lord over all, and
particularly over Florence, which for especial reasons is bound to
be subject to him? Do not emperors and kings of the Romans yield
submission to us, yet are they not superior to Florence? During the
vacancy of the Imperial throne, did not the Holy See appoint King
Charles of Anjou Vicar-General of Tuscany?" Thus as Villari says, "in
a rising _crescendo_," he threatened the Florentines that he would
"not only launch his interdict and excommunication against them, but
inflict the utmost injury on their citizens and merchants, cause
their property to be pillaged and confiscated in all parts of the
world, and release all their debtors from the duty of payment." The
_Neri_, fearing the people might, with that impudent claim before
them, side with the _Bianchi_, induced the Pope to send the Cardinal
of Acquasparta to arrange a pacification. But though the city gave
him many promises, she would not invest him with the Balia.

Meanwhile the Pope, set on the subjection of Florence, without
counting the cost, urged Charles of Valois, the brother of Philip
IV of France, to march into Tuscany. Nor was Charles of Anjou,
King of Naples, less eager to have his aid against the Sicilians.
Joined by the exiles in November, 1301, he entered Florence with
some 1200 horse, part French, part Italian. His mission was to crush
the _Bianchi_ and the people, and to uplift the _Neri_. He came at
the request of the Pope, and, so far as he himself was interested,
for booty; yet he swore in S. Maria Novella to keep the peace. On
that same day, November 5, Corso Donati entered the city with an
armed force. The French joined in the riot, the Priors were driven
from their new palace, and the city sacked by the soldiers with the
help of the _Neri_. The Pope had succeeded in substituting black
for white, that was all. A new "peace-maker" failed altogether. The
proscription, already begun, continued, and before January 27, 1302,
Dante went into exile.

But if the Pope had failed to do more than establish the _Neri_ in
the government of Florence, Corso Donati had failed also; he had not
won the lordship of the city. He tried again, splitting the _Neri_
into two factions, and Florence was not to possess herself in peace
till his death in a last attempt in 1308. It was during these years
so full of disaster that Petrarch was born at Arezzo on July 20, 1304.

The medieval idea of the Papacy has been expressed once and for
all by S. Thomas Aquinas. In his mind so profoundly theological,
abhorring variety, the world was to be governed, if at all, by a
constitutional monarchy, strong enough to enforce order, but not to
establish a tyranny. The first object of every Christian society,
the salvation of the soul, was to be achieved by the priest under
the absolute rule of the Pope. Under the old dispensation, as he
admitted, the priest had been subject to the king, but under the new
dispensation the king was subject to the priest in matters touching
the law of Christ. Thus if the king were careless of religion or
schismatic or heretical, the Church might deprive him of his power
and by excommunication release his subjects from their allegiance.
This supreme authority is vested in the Pope, who is infallible, and
from whom there can be no appeal at any time as to what is to be
believed or what condemned.

Before these claims the Empire had fallen in 1266; but a reaction,
the result of the success of Boniface, soon set in, and we find
the most perfect expression of the revived and reformed claims of
the Empire in the _De Monarchia_, which Dante Alighieri wrote in
exile. Dante's Empire was by no means merely a revival of what the
Imperial idea had become in its conflicts with the Holy See. It was
nevertheless as hopeless an anachronism as the dream of S. Thomas
Aquinas, and even less clairvoyant of the future, for it disregarded
altogether the spirit to which the future belonged, the spirit of
nationalism. With a mind as theological as S. Thomas's, Dante hated
variety not less than he, and rather than tolerate the confusion of
the innumerable cities and communes into which Italy was divided,
where there was life, he would have thrust the world back into
Feudalism and the Middle Age from which it was already emerging,
he would have established over all Italy a German king. He was
dreaming of the Roman Empire. The end for which we must strive, he
would seem to say in the _De Monarchia_, that epitaph of the Empire,
is unity; let that be granted. And since that is the end of all
society, how shall we obtain it but by obedience to one head--the
Emperor. And this Empire--so easy is it to mistake the past for the
future--belongs of right to the Roman people who won it long ago. And
what they won Christ sanctioned, for He was born within its confines.
And yet again He recognised it, for He received at the hands of a
Roman judge the sentence under which He bore our sorrows. Nor does
the Empire derive from the Pope or through the Pope, but from God
immediately; for the foundation of the Church is Christ, but the
Empire was before the Church. Yet let Cæsar be reverent to Peter, as
the first-born should be reverent to his father.

So much for the philosophical defence of the reaction. It is rarely,
after all, that a rigidly logical conception of society, of the
State, has any existence in reality. The future, as we know, lay
with quite another theory. Yet which of us to-day but in his secret
heart dreams ever more hopefully of a new unity, that is indeed no
stranger to the old, but in fact the resurrection of the Empire, of
Christendom, in which alone we can be one? After all, is it not now
as then, the noblest hope that can inspire our lives?

Already, before the death of Boniface VIII, the last Pope to die in
Rome for nearly a hundred years, Philip IV of France had asserted
the rights of the State against the claims of the Papal monarchy.
The future was his, and his success was to be so great that for more
than seventy years the Papacy was altogether under the influence of
France, the first of the great nations of the Continent to become
self-conscious. Thus when Boniface died broken-hearted in 1303, it
was the medieval Papacy which lay in state beside him. Two years
later, after the pathetic and ineffectual nine months' reign of
Benedict XI, Clement V, Bertrand de Goth, an Aquitanian, was elected,
and, like his predecessor, fearful before the turbulent Romans and
the confusion of Italy, in 1305 fled away to Avignon, which King
Charles II of Naples held as Count of Anjou on the borders of the
French kingdom. The Papacy had abandoned the Eternal City and had
come under the influence of the French king. Yet in spite of every
disaster the Pope and the Emperor remained the opposed centres of
European affairs. No one as yet realised the possibility of doing
without them, but each power sought rather to use them for its own
end. In this political struggle France held the best position; the
Pope was a Frenchman and so her son; there remained as spoil, the

On May 1, 1308, Albert of Hapsburg had been murdered by his nephew;
the election of a new King of the Romans, the future Emperor, fell
pat to Philip's ambitions. He immediately supported the candidature
of his brother, Charles of Valois; but in this he reckoned without
the Pope, who with the Angevins in Naples and himself in Avignon had
no wish to see the Empire also in the hands of France. His position
forbade him openly to oppose Philip, but secretly he gave his support
to Henry of Luxemburg, who was elected as Henry VII on 27 November,

A German educated in France, the lord of a petty state, Henry, in
spite of the nobility of his nature, of which we hear so much and see
so little, had but feeble Latin sympathies and no real power of his
own. He dreamed of the universal empire like a true German, believing
that the feudal union of Germany and Italy which had always been
impossible was the future of the world. With this mirage before his
eyes he raised the imperial flag and set out southward; and for a
moment it seemed as though the stars had stopped in their courses.

For he was by no means alone in his dream. Every disappointed
ambition in Italy, noble and ignoble, greeted him with a feverish
enthusiasm. The Bianchi and the exiled Ghibellines joined hands,
enormous hopes were conceived, and in his triumph private vengeance
and public hate thought to find achievement. But when Henry entered
Italy in September, 1310, he soon found he had reckoned without the
Florentines, who had called together the Guelf cities, and, leaguing
themselves with King Robert the Wise of Naples, formed what was, in
fact, an Italian confederation to defend freedom and their common
independence. It is true that in these acts Florence thought only of
present safety: she was both right and fortunate; but in allying
herself with King Robert and espousing the cause of France and the
Pope she contributed to that triumph which was to prove for centuries
the most dangerous of all to Italian liberty and independence.

Bitter with loneliness, imprisoned in the adamant of his personality,
Dante, amid the rocks of the Casentino, hurled his curses on
Florence, and not on Florence alone. Is there, I wonder, anything but
hatred and abuse of the cities of his Fatherland in all his work?
He has judged his country as God Himself will not judge it, and he
kept his anger for ever. In the astonishing and disgraceful letters
written in the spring of 1311 he urged Henry to attack his native
city. Hailing this German king--and the Florentines would call him
nothing else--as the "Lamb of God Who taketh away the sins of the
world," he asks him: "What may it profit thee to subdue Cremona?
Brescia, Bergamo, and other cities will continue to revolt until thou
hast extirpated the root of the evil. Art thou ignorant perhaps where
the rank fox lurketh in hiding? The beast drinketh from the Arno,
polluting the waters with its jaws. Knowest thou not that Florence is
its name?..." Henry, however, took no heed as yet of that terrible
voice crying in the wilderness. He entered Rome before attacking
Florence, in May, 1312. He easily won the Capitol, but was fiercely
opposed by King Robert when he tried to reach S. Peter's to win
the imperial crown, and from Castel S. Angelo he was repulsed with
heavy loss. The Roman people, however, presently took his part, and
by threats and violence compelled the bishops to crown him in the
Lateran on June 29.

If Rome greeted him, however, she was alone. Florence remained
the head and front of the unbroken League. Those _scelestissimi
Florentini_, as Dante calls them, still refused to hail him as
anything but Enemy, German King and Tyrant. The fine political
sagacity of Florence, which makes hers the only history worth
reading among the cities of Central Italy, was never shown to better
advantage or more fully justified in the event than when she dared to
send her greatest son into exile and to proclaim his Emperor "German
king" and "enemy." "Remember," she wrote to the people of Brescia,
"that the safety of all Italy and all the Guelfs depends on your
resistance. The Latins must always hold the Germans in enmity, seeing
that they are opposed in act and deed, in manners and soul; not only
is it impossible to serve, but even to hold any intercourse with that

At last the Emperor decided to follow Dante's advice and "slay the
new Goliath." This was easier to talk of in the Casentino than to do.
From mid-September to the end of October the Imperial army lay about
the City of the Lily, never daring to attack. Then the Emperor raised
the siege and set out for Poggibonsi, his health ruined by anxiety
and hardship, and his army, as was always the case both before and
since, broken and spoiled by the Italian summer. He spent the winter
and spring between Poggibonsi and Pisa, then with some idea of
retrieving all by invading Naples, he set off southward in August to
meet his death on S. Bartholomew's Day, poisoned, as some say, at

And Florence announced to her allies: "Jesus Christ hath procured the
death of that most haughty tyrant Henry, late Count of Luxemburg,
whom the rebellious persecutors of the Church and the treacherous
foes of ourselves and you call King of the Romans and Emperor."

In the very year of Henry's death, as we suppose, Boccaccio was born
in Paris. The Middle Age had come to an end. The morning of the
Renaissance had already broken on the world.


[1] Mr. Berenson (_Burlington Magazine_, Vol. I (1903), p. 1 _et
seq._) gives these panels to Alunno di Domenico; Mr. Horne to
Botticelli. See CROWE and CAVALCASELLE (ed. E. Hutton), _A New
History of Painting in Italy_ (Dent, 1909), Vol. II, pp. 409 and 471,
and works there cited.

[2] The best study is that of J. A. Symonds's _Boccaccio as Man and
Author_ (Nimmo, 1896). It is unfortunately among the less serious
works of that scholar.



  PREFACE                                                     vii

  INTRODUCTION                                                 xi



  ENTRY ON THE STUDY OF CANON LAW                              15

  OF THEIR LOVE STORY                                          27

  BETRAYAL--THE RETURN TO FLORENCE                             41

  _FIAMMETTA_--THE _NINFALE FIESOLANO_                         61

  DUKE OF ATHENS                                               96



  IX. THE _RIME_--THE SONNETS TO FIAMMETTA                    130

  PETRARCH                                                    145

  XI. TWO EMBASSIES                                           162


  CONVERSION OF BOCCACCIO                                     189



  _COMENTO_                                                   249

  XVII. ILLNESS AND DEATH                                     279

  XVIII. THE _DECAMERON_                                      291


  AND OF HIS MEETING WITH FIAMMETTA                           319

  1336                                                        325

  GHERARDO, NEAR SETTIGNANO, FLORENCE                         335

  THE POEM TO FIAMMETTA                                       348

  V. THE WILL OF GIOVANNI BOCCACCIO                           350

  VI. ENGLISH WORKS ON BOCCACCIO                              355


  SOME WORKS TO BE CONSULTED                                  367

  IX. AN INDEX TO THE _DECAMERON_                             394

  INDEX                                                       409


  D'AQUINO)                                         _Frontispiece_

  From the frescoes in the Spanish Chapel at S. Maria Novella,
  Florence. Photogravure.

                                                    _To face page_

  THE BURNING OF THE MASTER OF THE TEMPLE                       6
  From a miniature in the French version of the _De Casibus
  Virorum_, made in 1409 by Laurent le Premierfait. MS. late
  XV century. (Brit. Mus. Showcase V, MS. 126.)


  From the fresco by Simone Martini in S. Lorenzo, Naples.

  POPE JOAN                                                    24
  A woodcut from the _De Claris Mulieribus_. (Berne, 1539.)
  (By the courtesy of Messrs. J. and J. Leighton.)

  LUCRECE                                                      30
  A woodcut from _De Claris Mulieribus_. (Berne, 1539.) (By
  the courtesy of Messrs. J. and J. Leighton.)

  BOCCACCIO AND MAINARDI CAVALCANTI                            36
  By the Dutch engraver called "The Master of the Subjects
  in the Boccaccio." _De Casibus Virorum._ (Strasburg, 1476.)

  By the Dutch engraver called "The Master of the Subjects in
  the Boccaccio." _De Casibus Virorum._ (Strasburg, 1476.)

  MANLIUS THROWN INTO THE TIBER                                48
  By the Dutch engraver called "The Master of the Subjects in
  the Boccaccio." _De Casibus Virorum._ (Strasburg, 1476.)

  ALLEGORY OF WEALTH AND POVERTY                               54
  From a miniature in the French version of the _De Casibus
  Virorum_, made in 1409 by Laurent le Premierfait. MS. late
  XV century. (Brit. Mus. Rothschild Bequest. MS. XII.)

  THE MURDER OF THE EMPEROR AND EMPRESS                        62
  From a miniature in the French version of the _De Casibus
  Virorum_, made in 1409 by Laurent le Premierfait. MS. late
  XV century. (Brit. Mus. Showcase V, MS. 126.)

  VIRORUM_). PARIS, 1515                                       68
  This cut originally appears in the _Troy Book_. (T. Bonhomme,
  Paris, 1484.) Unique copy at Dresden. (By the courtesy of
  Messrs. J. and J. Leighton.)

  An English woodcut from Lydgate's _Falles of Princes_.
  (Pynson, London, 1527.) It is a copy in reverse from the
  French translation of the _De Casibus_. (Du Pré, Paris,
  1483.) (By the courtesy of Messrs. J. and J. Leighton.)

  PARIS, 1538                                                  80
  (By the Courtesy of Messrs. J. and J. Leighton.)

  FRONTISPIECE OF THE _DECAMERON_. VENICE, 1492                86


  THE THEFT OF CALANDRINO'S PIG (_DEC._, VIII, 6)              98

  GHINO AND THE ABBOT (_DEC._, X, 2)                           98
  Woodcuts from the _Decameron_. (Venice, 1492.)

  THE DUKE OF ATHENS                                          104

  THE EXECUTION OF FILIPPA LA CATANESE                        104
  From miniatures in the French version of the _De Casibus
  Virorum_, made in 1409 by Laurent le Premierfait. Ms. Late
  XV century. (Brit. Mus. Rothschild Bequest. Ms. XII.)

  CIMON AND IPHIGENIA (_DEC._, V, 1)                          110
  From a miniature in the French version of the _Decameron_,
  made in 1414 by Laurent le Premierfait. MS. late XV century.
  (Brit. Mus. Rothschild Bequest. MS. XIII.)

  GULFARDO AND GUASPARRUOLO (_DEC._, VIII, 1)                 116
  From a miniature in the French version of the _Decameron_,
  made in 1414 by Laurent le Premierfait. MS. late XV century.
  (Brit. Museum. Rothschild Bequest, MS. XIV.)

  From a miniature in the French version of the _Decameron_,
  made in 1414 by Laurent le Premierfait. MS. late XV century.
  (Brit. Mus. Rothschild Bequest. MS. XIV.)

  From a miniature in the French version of the _Decameron_,
  made in 1414 by Laurent le Premierfait. MS. late XV century.
  (Brit. Mus. Rothschild Bequest. MS. XIV.)

  THE STORY OF GRISELDA (_DEC._, X, 10)                       138
  From the picture by Pesellino in the Morelli Gallery at

  THE STORY OF GRISELDA (_DEC._, X, 10)                       146
  i. The Marquis of Saluzzo, while out hunting, meets with
  Griselda, a peasant girl, and falls in love; he clothes her
  in fine things. From the picture in the National Gallery
  by (?) Bernardino Fungai.

  THE STORY OF GRISELDA (_DEC._, X, 10)                       152
  ii. Her two children are taken from her, she is divorced,
  stripped, and sent back to her father's house. From the
  picture in the National Gallery by (?) Bernardino Fungai.

  THE STORY OF GRISELDA (_DEC._, X, 10)                       158
  iii. A banquet is prepared for the new bride; Griselda is
  sent for to serve, but is reinstated in her husband's
  affections and finds her children. From the picture in the
  National Gallery by (?) Bernardino Fungai.

  THE PALACE OF THE POPES AT AVIGNON                          164

  MASETTO AND THE NUNS (_Dec._, iii, 1)                       174
  In 1538 this woodcut appears in Tansillo's _Stanze_. (By
  the courtesy of Messrs. J. and J. Leighton.)

  MASETTO AND THE NUNS (_Dec._, iii, 1)                       174
  A woodcut from _Le Cento Novelle_ in ottava rima. (Venice,
  1554.) (By the courtesy of Messrs. J. and J. Leighton.)

  MONNA TESSA EXORCISING THE DEVIL. (_Dec._, vii, 1)          184
  A woodcut from the _Decameron_. (Venice, 1525.)

  MONNA TESSA EXORCISING THE DEVIL. (_Dec._, vii, 1)          184
  Appeared in Sansovino's _Le Cento Novelle_ (Venice, 1571.)
  (By the courtesy of Messrs. J. and J. Leighton.)

  (By the courtesy of Messrs. J. and J. Leighton.)

  (VALLADOLID, 1539)                                          204
  (By the courtesy of Messrs. J. and J. Leighton.)

  DAY V                                                       214
  (By the courtesy of Messrs. J. and J. Leighton.)

  PETRARCH AND BOCCACCIO DISCUSSING                           224
  From a miniature in the French version of the _De Casibus
  Virorum_, made in 1409 by Laurent le Premierfait. MS. late
  XV century. (Brit. Mus. Showcase V, MS. 126.)

  POMPEIA, PAULINA, AND SENECA                                230
  A woodcut from the _De Claris Mulieribus_ (Ulm, 1473), cap.
  92. (By the courtesy of Messrs. J and J. Leighton.)

  EPITHARIS                                                   234
  A woodcut from the _De Claris Mulieribus_ (Ulm, 1493), cap.
  91. (By the courtesy of Messrs. J. and J. Leighton.)

  PAULINA, MUNDUS, AND THE GOD ANUBIS                         238
  A woodcut from the _De Claris Mulieribus_ (Ulm, 1473), cap.
  89. (By the courtesy of Messrs. J. and J. Leighton.)

  THE TORTURE OF REGULUS                                      244
  A woodcut from Lydgate's _Falle of Princes of John Bochas_.
  (London, 1494.)

  BOCCACCIO DISCUSSING                                        250
  From a miniature in the French version of the _De Casibus
  Virorum_, made in 1409 by Laurent le Premierfait. MS. late
  XV century. (Brit. Mus. Rothschild Bequest. MS. XII.)

  GIOVANNI BOCCACCIO                                          265
  From the fresco in S. Apollonia, Florence. By Andrea dal
  Castagno (1396(?)-1457).

  CERTALDO                                                    280

  BOCCACCIO'S HOUSE IN CERTALDO                               284

  ROOM IN BOCCACCIO'S HOUSE AT CERTALDO                       288

  From a miniature in the French version of the _Decameron_,
  made in 1414 by Laurent le Premierfait. MS. late XV century.
  (Brit. Mus. Rothschild Bequest. MS. XIV.)

  (The scene of the first two days of the _Decameron_.)

  VILLA PALMIERI, NEAR FLORENCE                               302
  (The scene of the third and following days of the

  LA VALLE DELLE DONNE                                        306
  From a print of the XVIII century in Baldelli's _Vita di
  Gio. Boccaccio_.

  _DECAMERON_ (ISAAC JAGGARD, 1620.)                          312





The facts concerning the life and work of Giovanni Boccaccio, though
they have been traversed over and over again by modern students,[3]
are still for the most part insecure and doubtful; while certain
questions, of chronology especially, seem to be almost insoluble. To
begin with, we are uncertain of the place of his birth and of the
identity of his mother, of whom in his own person he never speaks.
And though it is true that he calls himself "of Certaldo,"[4] a small
town at that time in the Florentine _contado_ where he had some
property, and where indeed he came at last to die, we have reason
to believe that it was not his birthplace. The opinion now most
generally professed by Italian scholars is that he was born in Paris
of a French mother; and, while we cannot assert this as a fact, very
strong evidence, both from within and from without his work, can
be brought to support it. It will be best, perhaps, to examine this
evidence, whose corner-stone is his assertion to Petrarch that he was
born in 1313,[5] as briefly as possible.

The family of Boccaccio[6] was originally from Certaldo in
Valdelsa,[7] his father being the Florentine banker and money-changer
Boccaccio di Chellino da Certaldo, commonly called Boccaccino.[8] We
know very little about him, but we are always told that he was of
very humble condition. That he was of humble birth seems certain,
but his career, what we know of his career, would suggest that he
was in a position of considerable importance. We know that in 1318
he was in business in Florence, the name of his firm being Simon
Jannis Orlandini, Cante et Jacobus fratres et filii q. Ammannati
et Boccaccinus Chelini de Certaldo. In the first half of 1324 he
was among the _aggiunti deputati_ of the _Arte del Cambio_ for the
election of the _Consiglieri della Mercanzia_;[9] in 1326 he was
himself one of the five Consiglieri; in the latter part of 1327 he
represented the Società de' Bardi in Naples, and was very well known
to King Robert;[10] while in 1332 he was one of the _Fattori_ for
the same _Società_ in Paris, a post at least equivalent to that of a
director of a bank to-day. These were positions of importance, and
could not have been held by a person of no account.

As a young man, in 1310, we know he was in business in Paris, for
on May 12 in that year fifty-four Knights Templars were slaughtered
there,[11] and this Boccaccio tells us his father saw.[12] That
there was at that time a considerable Florentine business in
France in spite of those years of disaster--Henry VII had just
entered Italy--is certain. In 1311, indeed, we find the Florentines
addressing a letter to the King of France,[13] lamenting that at
such a moment His Majesty should have taken measures hurtful to the
interests of their merchants, upon whom the prosperity of their city
so largely depended.

Boccaccio di Chellino seems to have remained in Paris in
business;[14] that he was still there in 1313 we know, for in that
year, on March 11, Jacques de Molay, Master of the Templars, was
executed, and Giovanni tells us that his father was present.[15] If,
then, Boccaccio was speaking the truth when he told Petrarch he was
born in 1313, he must have been conceived, and was almost certainly
born, in Paris.


_From a miniature in the French version of the "De Casibus Virorum,"
made in 1409 by Laurent le Premierfait. MS. late XV century. (Brit.
Mus. Showcase V, MS. 126.)_]

Let us now examine such evidence as we may gather from the allegories
of his own poems and plays, though there he speaks in parables. In
two of his works at least--the _Filocolo_ and the _Ameto_--Boccaccio
seems to be speaking of himself in the characters of Idalagos[16] and
Caleone and Ibrida. The _Ameto_, like the _Filocolo_, was written to
give expression to his love for Fiammetta, the bastard daughter of
King Robert of Naples. There he says that Caleone (whom we suppose
to be in some sort himself) was born not far from the place whence
Fiammetta's mother (whom he has told us was French) drew her origin.
Again, in another part of the same book the story is related of
a young Italian merchant, not distinguished by birth or gentle
breeding, who went to Paris and there seduced a young French widow.
The fruit of their intercourse was a boy, who received the name of
Ibrida. The evidence to be gathered from the _Filocolo_ is even more
precise, but, briefly, it may be said to confirm the story in the
_Ameto_.[17] We find there, however, that the name of the father was
Eucomos, which may be bad Greek for Boccaccio; that the name of the
mother was Gannai, which might seem to be an anagram for Giovanna or
Gianna; and that the father deserted the mother in order to marry
Gharamita,[18] which sounds like an anagram for Margherita, and in
fact we find that Boccaccio di Chellino did marry almost certainly
about 1314 Margherita di Gian Donato de' Martoli.[19]

The result then of these allegorical allusions in the _Ameto_ and
the _Filocolo_ is to support the theory based on the few facts we
possess, and to supplement it. That theory absolutely depends, so
far as we rely upon facts for its confirmation, on Boccaccio's own
statement, as reported by Petrarch, that he was born in 1313. If he
was born in 1313, he was conceived and born in Paris, for we know
that Boccaccio di Chellino was there in the years between 1310 and
1313. The _Filocolo_ and the _Ameto_ bear this out, and lead us to
believe that his mother was a certain Gianna or Gannai (Jeanne,
Giovanna), that he was born out of wedlock, and that his father
deserted his mother, and not long after married Gharamita, as we
suppose Margherita di Gian Donato de' Martoli.

Turning now to the evidence of his contemporaries, we shall find that
just this was the opinion commonly received, so much so that the
Italian translator of Filippo Villani's _Lives_ actually changed the
words of that author and forced him to agree with it. "His father,"
says this adapter,[20] "was Boccaccio of Certaldo, a village of the
Florentine dominion. He was a man distinguished by excellence of
manners. The course of his commercial affairs brought him to Paris,
where he resided for a season, and being free and pleasant in the
temper of his mind, was no less gay and well inclined to love by the
complexion of his constitution. There then it befell that he was
inspired by love for a girl of Paris, belonging to the class between
nobility and bourgeoisie, for whom he conceived the most violent
passion; and, as the admirers of Giovanni assert, she became his wife
and afterwards the mother of Giovanni."

As his admirers assert! But others were not slow to say that his
father and mother were never married; and indeed, this without doubt
was the ordinary opinion.

In the true version of Filippo Villani's _Lives_,[21] written in
Latin, we read that he was the son of his natural father,[22] and
that he was born at Certaldo. Domenico Aretino[23] agrees that
Certaldo was his birthplace, and adds that in his opinion Boccaccio
was a bastard. Again, Salvini and Manni, following perhaps the
well-known sonnet of Acquettino, say he was born in Florence.[24]
In all this confusion we are like to lose our way, and it is
therefore not surprising that modern scholars are divided in opinion.
Tiraboschi[25] remains undecided. Baldelli[26] thinks he was born
in Paris and was illegitimate; Ginguené, Witte, Carducci, Landau,
Hortis, Antona Traversi, and Crescini agree with Baldelli--and,
indeed, we find only two modern students who give Florence as his
birthplace, to wit Corazzini[27] and Koerting[28], who agree,
however, that he was a bastard.

It will thus be seen that the weight of opinion is on the side of
the evidence, and that it certainly seems to have been shown that
Boccaccio was born out of wedlock in Paris in 1313, and that his
mother's name was Jeannette or Jeanne[29]. It is probable that
Boccaccio was brought still a tiny baby to Florence, but we cannot
be sure of this, for though his father seems to have returned in
1314,[30] and almost at once to have married Margherita di Gian
Donato de' Martoli, it is not certain that Giovanni accompanied him.
Indeed the _Filocolo_ seems to suggest that he did not.[31] However
that may be, he was "in his first infancy" when he came to Tuscany,
as he tells us in the _Ameto_, "fanciullo, cercai i regni Etrurii."
The first river he saw was the Arno, "mihi ante alios omnes ab
ipsa infantia cognitus"; and his boyhood was spent on that little
hill described in the _Filocolo_, "piccolo poggio pieno di marine
chiocciole," and covered with "salvatichi cerri," in the house of his
father, "nel suo grembo," as he says in the _Fiammetta_.

Where was this hill dark with oaks where one might find sea-shells,
the tiny shells of sea-snails? We do not know for certain. Some have
thought it to be the hill of Certaldo,[32] but this seems scarcely
likely, for we know that old Boccaccio was resident in Florence in
1318, and Boccaccio himself tells us that his boyhood was spent not
in a house belonging to his father, but "nel suo grembo," literally
in his father's lap.[33] Again, the country which he loved best and
has described with the greatest love and enthusiasm is that between
the village of Settignano and the city of Fiesole, north and east
of Florence. As though unable to forget the lines of just those
hills, the shadows on the woods there, the darkness of the cypresses
over the olives, he returns to them again and again. The _Ninfale
Fiesolano_ is entirely devoted to this country, its woods and hills
and streams; he speaks of it also in the _Ameto_,[34] it is the
setting of the _Decameron_; while the country about Certaldo does not
seem to have specially appealed to him, certainly not in the way the
countryside of one's childhood never ceases to do.

It is, then, to the hills about Settignano, to the woods above the
Mensola and the valley of the Affrico, that we should naturally turn
to look for the scenes of his boyhood. And indeed any doubt of his
presence there might seem to be dismissed by a document discovered by
Gherardi, which proves that on the 18th of May, 1336, by a contract
drawn up by Ser Salvi di Dini, Messer Boccaccio di Chellino da
Certaldo, lately dwelling in the parish of S. Pier Maggiore and then
in that of S. Felicità, sold to Niccolò di Vegna, who bought for
Niccolò the son of Paolo his nephew, the _poderi_ with houses called
Corbignano, partly in the parish of S. Martino a Mensola and partly
in that of S. Maria a Settignano.[35] This villa of old Boccaccio's
exists to-day at Corbignano, and bears his name, Casa di Boccaccio,
and though it has been rebuilt much remains from his day--part of the
old tower that has been broken down and turned into a loggia, here
a ruined fresco, there a spoiled inscription.[36] Here, doubtless,
within sound of Mensola and Affrico, within sight of Florence
and Fiesole, "not too far from the city nor too near the gate,"
Giovanni's childhood was passed.

Of those early years we have naturally very little knowledge. Before
he was seven years old, as he himself tells us,[37] he was set to
learn to read and write. Then he was placed in the care of Giovanni
di Domenico Mazzuoli da Strada, father of the more famous Zanobi, to
begin the study of "Grammatica."[38] With Mazzuoli he began Latin
then,[39] but presently his father, who had already destined him for
the counting-house, took him from the study of "Grammatica" and, as
Giovanni tells us, made him give his time to "Arismetrica."[40] Then,
if we may believe the _Filocolo_, he took him into his business,
where he learned, no doubt, to keep books of account and saw some of
the mysteries of banking and money-lending. Against this mode of life
he conceived then a most lively hatred, which was to increase rather
than to diminish as he grew older. Such work, he assures us in his
_Commentary_ on the _Divine Comedy_, cannot be followed without sin.
Great wealth, he tells us in the _Filocolo_, prohibits, or at least
spoils virtue: there is nothing better or more honest than to
live in a moderate poverty; while in the _De Genealogiis Deorum_ he
says poverty means tranquillity of soul: for riches are the enemy of
quietness and a torment of the mind.


But we know nothing of his childhood, only it seems to have been
unhappy. Till his return from Naples many year later, in spite of
his hatred for business, he seems always to have got on well with
his father.[41] In remembering words which he then wrote concerning
him[42] we must remind ourselves that Boccaccino was at that time
an old man, and had probably lost those "excellent manners" of
which Villani speaks; and by then, too, Giovanni had altogether
disappointed him, by forsaking first business, and later the study
of Canon Law. His childhood seems to have been unhappy then not from
any fault or want of care on his father's part, though no doubt his
hatred of business had something to do with it; but the true cause of
the unhappiness, and even, as he says, of the fear which haunted his
boyhood, was almost certainly Margherita, his stepmother, with whom
he doubtless managed to live well enough till her son Francesco was

We have already relied so much on the _Filocolo_ and the _Ameto_
that it will only confuse us to forsake them now. In the former,[43]
he tells us that one day the young shepherd, Idalagos (himself),
following his father, saw two bears, who glared at him with fierce
and terrible eyes in which he saw a desire for his death, so that
he was afraid and fled away from the paternal fields to follow his
calling in other woods. These two bears who chased Giovanni from
home, not directly but indirectly, by causing the fear which hatred
always rouses in the young, were, it seems, Margherita and her son
Francesco, born about 1321.

It may well be that Boccaccino had come to the conclusion about this
time that Giovanni would never make a banker, and hoping yet to see
him prosperous in the Florentine manner, sent him to Naples to learn
to be a merchant. If we add to this inference the evidence of the
allegory of the two bears in the _Filocolo_, we may conclude that
his father, disappointed with him already, was not hard to persuade
when Margherita, loath to see the little bastard beside her own son
Francesco, urged his departure.

All this, however, is conjecture. We know nothing of Boccaccio's
early years save that his father sent him to Naples to learn business
while he was still young, as is generally believed in 1330, but as
we may now think, not without good reason, in 1323, when he was ten
years old.[44]


[3] For a full bibliography see GUIDO TRAVERSARI, _Bibliografia
Boccaccesca_ (Città di Castello, 1907), Vol. I (Scritti intorno al
Boccaccio e alla fortuna delle sue opere).

[4] He commonly signs himself "Joannes Boccaccius" and "Giovanni da
Certaldo." In his Will he describes himself as "Joannes olim Boccacii
de Certaldo," and in the epitaph he wrote for his tomb we read
"Patria Certaldum."

[5] See PETRARCA, _Senili_, VIII, i., Lett. del 20 luglio, 1366 (in
traduz. Fracassetti, p. 445): "Conciossiachè tu devi sapere, e il
sappian pure quanti non hanno a schifo quest' umile origine, che
nell' anno 1304 di quest' ultima età, cui dà nome e principio Gesù
Cristo fonte ed autore di ogni mia speranza, sullo spuntare dell'
alba, il lunedì 20 luglio io nacqui al mondo nella città di Arezzo,
e nella strada dell' Orto.... Ed oggi pure è lunedì, siamo pur oggi
al 20 di luglio e corre l' anno 1366. Conta sulle dita e vedrai che
son passati 62 anni da che toccai l' inquieta soglia di questa vita;
sì che oggi appunto, e in quest' ora medesima, io pongo il piede su
quel che dicono anno tremendo sessagesimo terzo, e se tu non menti,
e, secondo il costume che dissi de' giovani, qualcuno pure tu non te
ne scemi nell' ordine del nascere, io ti precedo di nove anni." Then
if Petrarch was born in 1304, Boccaccio was born in 1313. FILIPPO
VILLANI, _Le Vite d' uomini illustri Fiorentini_ (Firenze, 1826), p.
12, tells us that Boccaccio died in 1375, aged sixty-two.

[6] Cf. DAVIDSOHN, _Il Padre di Gio. Boccacci_ in _Arch. St.
It._, Ser. V, Vol. XXIII, p. 144. IDEM, _Forschungen zur
Geschichte von Florenz_ (Berlin, 1901), pp. 172, 182, 184, 187,
253. G. MINI, _Il Libro d' oro di Firenze Antica_ in _Giornale
Araldico-genealogico-diplomatico_ (1901), XXVIII, p. 156. And see for
the descendants of the family an interesting paper by ANSELMI, _Nuovi
documenti e nuove opere di frate Ambrogio della Robbia nelle Marche_
in _Arte e Storia_ (1904), XXIII, p. 154.

[7] He himself tells us this in _De Montibus, Sylvis, Lacubus_, etc.

[8] See the documents published by CRESCINI, _Contributo agli Studi
sul Boccaccio_ (Torino, 1887), esp. p. 258.

[9] See _Arch. di Stato Firenze, Mercanzia_, No. 137, _ad ann._, May

[10] In the carteggio of the _Signoria Fiorentina_ (missive iv. f.
37 of _Arch. di Stato di Firenze_) is to be found the copy of a
letter from the Priori to King Robert, which has been published. The
Signoria on April 12, 1329, write to King Robert that the lack of
corn in the city is so great as to cause fear of tumult; wherefore
they pray him to order the captains of his ships to send certain
galleys they had taken with corn to Talamone, where they might buy
what they needed. Under this letter is written: "Ad infra scriptos
mercatores. Predicta notificata sunt Boccaccio de Certaldo, Baldo
Orlandini et Acciaiolo de Acciaiolis, et mandatum est et scriptum,
quod litteras predictas domino regi presententur." It follows that
Boccaccino was among the first Florentine _negozianti_ then in
Naples. But see _infra_. He must have come into personal relations
with King Robert on this occasion, even though hitherto he had not
done so.

[11] Cf. HAVEMANN, _Geschichte des ausgangs des Tempelherrenordens_
(Stuttgart, 1846), pp. 261-3, and CRESCINI, _Contributo agli studi
sul Boccaccio_ (Torino, 1887), cap. i. p. 25. Crescini's book is

[12] He tells us this in the _De Casibus Illustrium Virorum_, Lib. IX.

[13] See DESJARDINS, _Négociations Diplomatiques de la France avec
la Toscane_, Vol. I, p. 12 _et seq._, and VILLARI, _The First Two
Centuries of Florentine History_ (Eng. trans., 1905), p. 554.

[14] That he was not a mere traveller between Tuscany and France
seems certain, for Boccaccio says: "Boccaccius genitor meus, qui tunc
forte Parisius negotiator, honesto cum labore rem curabat augere
domesticam," etc.

[15] BOCCACCIO, _De Cas. Ill. Vir._, Lib. IX. Cf. CRESCINI, _op. cit._

[16] Cf. CRESCINI, _op. cit._, cap. i; ANTONA TRAVERSI, _Della patria
di Gio. Boccaccio_ in _Fanfulla della Domenica_ (1880), II, and in
_Rivista Europea_ (1882), XXVI. See also B. ZUMBINI, _Il Filocolo del
Boccaccio_ (Firenze, 1879), esp. p. 58; and CRESCINI, _Idalagos_ in
_Zeitschrift für Rom. Phil._ (1885-6), IX, 457-9, X, 1-21.

[17] Cf. _Ameto_ in _Opere Minori_ (Milan, 1879), p. 186 _et seq._;
and _Filocolo_ in _Opere Volgari_, ed. Moutier (Firenze, 1827), Vol.
II, p. 236 _et seq._

[18] For a full discussion of these allusions and anagrams, cf.
CRESCINI, _Contributo agli studi sul Boccaccio_ (Torino, 1887), cap,
i. It will be seen that if our theory be correct, Giovanni Boccaccio
bears the names of both his parents--Giovanna and Boccaccio. It is
necessary to point out, however, that there is not much in this,
for a paternal uncle was called Vanni, and Giovanni may have been
named after him, as his brother was named after another uncle. Cf.
BALDELLI, _Vita di Gio. Boccaccio_ (Firenze, 1806), p. 274, note 1.

[19] In the _Filocolo_ (_ed. cit._, Vol. II, pp. 242-3) we read:
"Ma non lungo tempo quivi ricevuti noi dimorò, che abbandonata la
semplice giovane e l' armento tornò nei suoi campi, e quivi appresso
noi si tirò, e non guari lontano al suo natal sito la promessa fede
a Giannai ad un' altra, Garamita chiamata, ripromise e servò, di cui
nuova prole dopo piccolo spazio riceveo." Cf. BALDELLI, _Vita di Gio.
Boccaccio_ (Firenze, 1806), p. 275.

[20] See F. VILLANI, _Le Vite d' uomini illustri Fiorentini_
(Firenze, 1826). F. Villani was a contemporary of Boccaccio, and
succeeded him in the chair founded at Florence for the exposition of
the _Divine Comedy_.

[21] See Galletti, _Philippi Villani: Liber de Civitatis Florentiæ
famosis civibus ex codice Mediceo Laurentiano, nunc primum editus_,
etc. (Firenze, 1847), and on this CALÒ, _Filippo Villani e il Liber
de Origine civitatis_, etc. (Rocca S. Casciano, 1904), pp. 154-5.

[22] The son of his "natural father" may mean that Boccaccio di
Chellino was not his adoptive father, or it may mean that Giovanni
was a bastard. See on this CRESCINI, _op. cit._, p. 38 _et seq._, and
DELLA TORRE, _La Giovinezza di Gio. Boccaccio_ (Città di Castello,
1905), cap. i.

[23] Domenico Bandini Aretino says: "Boccatius pater ejus ... amavit
quamdam iuventulam Parisinam, quam prout diligentes Ioannem dicunt
quamquam alia communior sit opinio sibi postea uxorem fecit, ex qua
genitus est Ioannes." See SOLERTI, _Le vite di Dante, Petrarca e
Boccaccio scritte fino al secolo XVII_ (Milano, 1904). The lives
of Boccaccio constitute the third part of the volume; the second
of these is Domenico's. Cf. MESSERA, _Le più antiche biografie del
Boccaccio_ in _Zeitschrift für Rom. Phil._ (1903), XXVII, fasc. iii.
See also CRESCINI, _op. cit._, p. 16, note 1, and ANTONA TRAVERSI,
_op. cit._ in _Fansulia della Domencia_, II, 23, where many authors
of this opinion are quoted.

[24] Giovanni Acquettino da Prato was a bad poet. His sonnet says:
"Nacqui in Firenze al Pozzo Toscanelli." Pozzo Toscanelli was in the
S. Felicità quarter, close to the Via Guicciardini.

[25] _St. della Lett. Ital._ (1823), V, part iii. p. 738 _et seq._

[26] _Op. cit._, pp. 277-80.

[27] CORAZZINI, _Lettere edite e inedite di G. Boccaccio_ (Firenze,
1877), p. viii. _et seq._

[28] KOERTING, _Boccaccio's Leben und Werke_ (Leipzig, 1880), p.
67 _et seq._, and _Boccaccio Analekten_ in _Zeitschrift für Rom.
Phil._ (1881), v. p. 209 _et seq._ If Antona Traversi has disposed of
Corazzini's assertions, Crescini seems certainly to have demolished
the arguments of Koerting.

[29] All the dates and facts so carefully established by Crescini
and Della Torre are really dependent on the date of Boccaccio's
birth, 1313, being the true one. This is the corner-stone of their
structure. But the story of his illegitimacy and foreign birth was
current long before this date was established. It was the commonly
received opinion. Why? Doubtless because Boccaccio himself had
practically stated so in the _Filocolo_ and the _Ameto_. That Filippo
Villani's Italian translator was dependent on these allegories for
his story seems to be proved (cf. DELLA TORRE, _op. cit._, p. 30); so
probably was the general public. The question remains: Was Boccaccio
speaking the mere truth concerning himself in these allegories?
Filippo Villani himself, as we have seen, believed that he was born
at Certaldo; so did Domenico Aretino. For myself, I do not think that
enough has been allowed for the indirect influence of Fiammetta in
the _Filocolo_ and the _Ameto_. They were written for her--to express
his love for her. She was the illegitimate daughter of King Robert of
Naples by the wife of the nobleman Conte d'Aquino--a woman of French
extraction. It is strange, then, that Boccaccio's story of his birth
in the allegories should so closely resemble hers. She doubtless
thought herself a very great lady, and was probably prouder of her
royal blood than a legitimate princess would have been. But Boccaccio
was just the son of a small Florentine trader; and he was a Poet. To
proclaim himself--half secretly--illegitimate was a gain to him, a
gain in romance. How could a youthful poet, in love with a princess
too, announce himself as the son of a petty trader, a mere ordinary
bourgeois, to a lady so fine as the blonde Fiammetta? Of course he
could not absolutely deny that this was so, especially after his
father's visit (1327), and also we must remember that the Florentine
trader held, or is supposed to have held, quite a good social
position even in feudal Naples. Nevertheless his bourgeois birth did
not please the greatest story-teller of Europe. So he invented a
romantic birth--he too would be the result of a love-intrigue, even
as Fiammetta was. And because he loved her, and therefore wished to
be as close to her and as like her as possible, he too would have
a French mother. Suppose all this to be true, and that after all
Boccaccio is the son of Margherita, the wife of his father; that
he was born in wedlock in 1318; that he met Fiammetta not on March
30, 1331 (see Appendix I), but on March 30, 1336, and that he told
Petrarch he was born in 1313 because he knew his father was in Paris
at that date--this last with his usual realism to clinch the whole
story he had told Fiammetta.

[30] In 1318 Boccaccio di Chellino is spoken of as having been a
dweller in the quarter of S. Pier Maggiore for some four years. See
MANNI, _Istoria del Decameron_ (Firenze, 1742), p. 7, who gives the
document. This may mean little, however, for the residence may have
been purely formal, and have signified merely that a business was
carried on there in his name. But see CRESCINI, _op. cit._, pp. 40
and 41, Note 1, and DELLA TORRE, _op. cit._, pp. 7-14.

[31] Cf. _Filocolo_, _ed. cit._, Vol. II, pp. 242-3.

[32] DELLA TORRE, _op. cit._, p. 2.

[33] Moreover, as we shall see, the story of the "two bears" which
in his allegory followed his father and drove himself out of the
house--to Naples--seems to make it necessary that they should all
have been living together. See _infra_, p. 14.

[34] In the first page he says: "Vagabondo giovane i Fauni e le
Driadi abitatrici del luogo, solea visitare, et elli forse dagli
vicini monti avuta antica origine, quasi da carnalità costretto, di
ciò avendo memoria, con pietosi affetti gli onorava talvolta...."

[35] The document is given in full in Appendix II. The fact that the
parish of S. Pier Maggiore is mentioned proves that when Boccaccio
di Chellino was married, he was living therein, for the property was
part of the dowry of Margherita di Gian Donato his first wife.

[36] See my _Country Walks About Florence_ (Methuen, 1908), pp. 13-15
Casa di Boccaccio is within sight and almost within hail of Poggio
Gherardo, the supposed scene of the first two days of the _Decameron_.

[37] In the _De Genealogiis Deorum_, Lib. XV, cap. x., he says "Non
dum ad septimum annum deveneram ... vix prima literarum elementa
cognoveram...." At this time he was already composing verses, he says.

[38] Cf. MASSERA, _Le più antiche biografie_ in _Zeitschrift für Rom.
Phil._, XXVII, pp. 310-18. But see CRESCINI, _op. cit._, p. 48, note
3; and in reply DELLA TORRE, _op. cit._, p. 3, note 5.

[39] "Qui ... ferula ... ab incunabulis puellulos primum grammaticæ
gradum tentantes cogere consueverat," writes Boccaccio in the
letter to Iacobo Pizzinghe. See CORRAZINI, _Le Lett. ed. e ined.
di G. B._ (Firenze, 1877), p 196, and _Filocolo_, _ed. cit._, I,
75-6. It was probably the _Metamorphoses_ of Ovid that he read with
Mazzuoli, though in the _Filocolo_ he speaks of the _Ars Amandi_! The
_Metamorphoses_ were read for the sake of the mythology as well as
for the exercise in Latin. Cf. DELLA TORRE, _op. cit._, p. 4.

[40] Cf. HECKER, _Boccaccio Funde_ (Braunschweig, 1902), p. 288, and
MASSERA, _op. cit._, p. 310.

[41] DELLA TORRE, _op. cit._, pp. 5, 6.

[42] In the _Ameto_:--

    "Lì non si ride mai se non di rado,
    La casa oscura e muta, e molto trista
    Me ritiene e riceve a mal mio grado;
    Dove la cruda ed orribile vista
    D' un vecchio freddo, ruvido ed avaro
    Ogn' ora con affanno più m' attrista."

No doubt, after the gaiety of Naples and its court, the life with an
old and poor Florentine merchant seemed dull; and besides, Fiammetta
was far away.

[43] _Filocolo_, _ed. cit._, Vol. II, p. 243. He says: "Io semplice
e lascivo" (cf. _Paradiso_, v. 82-4) "come già dissi, le pedate
dello ingannator padre seguendo, volendo un giorno nella paternale
casa entrare, due orsi ferocissimi e terribili mi vidi avanti con
gli occhi ardenti desiderosi della mia morte, de' quali dubitando
io volsi i passi miei, e da quell' ora innanzi sempre d' entrare in
quella dubitai. Ma acciocchè io più vero dica, tanta fu la paura, che
abbandonati i paternali campi, in questi boschi venni l' apparato
uficio a operare." CRESCINI in _Kritischer Jahresbericht über
Fortschrifte der Rom. Phil._ (1898), III, p. 396 _et seq._, takes
these two bears to be old Boccaccio and Margherita, but DELLA TORRE,
_op. cit._, pp. 18-30, asks very aptly how could Boccaccio speak
thus of a father he allows in the _Fiammetta_ "per la mia puerizia
nel suo grembo teneramente allevata, per l' amor da lui verso di
me continuamente portato." Della Torre takes the two bears to be
Margherita and her son Francesco, born _ca._ 1321. See _op. cit._, p.
24, and document there quoted.

[44] See Appendix I, where the whole question is discussed. Cf. DELLA
TORRE, _op. cit._, p. 30, note 1, and caps. ii. and iii.; CASETTI,
_Il Boccaccio a Napoli_ in _Nuova Antologia_ (1875); and DE BLASIIS,
_La Dimora di Gio. Boccaccio a Napoli_ in _Arch. St. per le prov.
Nap._ (1892), XXII, p. 11 _et seq._




In the fourteenth century the journey from Florence by way of Siena,
Perugia, Rieti, Aquila, and Sulmona, thence across the Apennines at
Il Sangro, and so through Isernia and Venafro, through Teano and
Capua to Naples, occupied some ten or eleven days.[45] The way was
difficult and tiring, especially for a lad of ten years old, and it
seems as though Giovanni was altogether tired out, for, if we may
believe the _Ameto_,[46] as he drew near the city at last he fell
asleep on his horse. And as he slept, a dream came to him. Full
of fear as he was, lonely and bewildered, those "two bears" still
pursuing him, doubtless, in his heart, suddenly it seemed to him
that he was already arrived in the city. "The new streets," he says
in the _Ameto_,[47] "held my heart with delight, and as I passed on
my way there appeared to the eyes of my mind a most beautiful girl,
in aspect gracious and fair, dressed all in garments of green, which
befitted her age and recalled the ancient dress of the city; and with
joy she gave me welcome, first taking me by the hand, and she kissed
me and I her; and then she said sweetly, 'Come where you shall find
good luck and happiness.'"[48] It was thus Giovanni was welcomed into
Naples with a kiss.

Naples was then at the height of its splendour, under Robert the
Wise, King of Jerusalem and the Two Sicilies, Count of Provence.
If his titles had little reality, for that of Jerusalem merely
commemorated an episode of history, and Sicily itself had passed
into the hands of Aragon, as King of Naples and Count of Provence he
possessed an exceptional influence in the affairs of Europe, while
in Italy he was in some sort at the head of the triumphant Guelf
cause. The son of Charles I of Anjou, King of Naples, Duke Robert,
had seized the crown of Italy and Apulia, not without suspicion of
fratricide; for the tale goes that none knew better than he the cause
of the sudden illness which carried off his elder brother, Dante's
beloved Charles Martel. However that may be, in June, 1309, Duke
Robert went by sea from Naples to Provence to the Papal Court there,
"with a great fleet of galleys," Villani[49] tells us, "and a great
company, and was crowned King of Sicily and of Apulia by Pope Clement
on S. Mary's Day in September." A year later we find him in Florence
on his way back from Avignon. He stayed in the house of the Peruzzi
dal Parlagio, and Villani[50] says: "The Florentines did him much
honour and held jousts and gave him large presents of money, and he
abode in Florence until the 24th day of October to reconcile the
Guelfs together ... and to treat of warding off the Emperor." He was,
in fact, the great opponent, as we have seen, of Henry VII, and in
1312 Villani[51] records that he sent 600 Catalan and Apulian horse
to Rome to defend the City, while the people of Florence, Lucca, and
Siena, and of other cities of Tuscany who were in league with him,
sent help also; yet though they held half Rome between them, Henry
was crowned in the Lateran after all. It was in the very year of the
Emperor's death that the Florentines gave him the lordship of their
city, as did the Lucchese, the Pistoians, and the men of Prato.[52]
Later, after much fighting, the Genoese did the same; so that in the
year 1323 King Robert was in some sort drawing tribute from more than
half the Communes of Central Italy. The brilliancy of his statecraft,
or even, perhaps, of his statesmanship, added to the splendour of
Naples, whither his magnanimity and the brilliance of his court
attracted some of the greatest men of the time.[53]

      "Cernite Robertum
    Regem virtute refertum"

wrote Petrarch of him later--"full of virtue." While in a letter
written in 1340 to Cardinal Colonna he says that of all men he would
most readily have accepted King Robert as a judge of his ability.
Nor were they poets and men of learning alone whom he gathered about
him. In 1330 Giotto, who had known Charles of Calabria in Florence in
1328,[54] came to Naples on his invitation; while so early as 1310,
certainly, Simone Martini was known to him, and seems about that time
to have painted his portrait, later representing him in S. Chiara as
crowned by his brother S. Louis of Toulouse.[55] It was then into a
city where learning and the arts were the fashion that Boccaccio came
in 1323.

There were other things too: the amenity of one's days passed so
much in the open air, the splendour of a city rich and secure, the
capital of a kingdom, and the residence of a king--the only king in
Italy--above all, perhaps, the gaiety of that southern life in the
brilliant sunshine. Boccaccio never tires of telling us about this
city of his youth. "Naples," he says in the _Fiammetta_, "was gay,
peaceful, rich, and splendid above any other Italian city, full of
festas, games, and shows." "One only thought, how to occupy oneself,"
he says again, "how to amuse oneself, dancing to the sound of music,
discussing affairs of love, and losing one's heart over sweet words,
and Venus there was indeed a goddess, so that more than one who came
thither a Lucrece returned a Cleopatra. Sometimes," he continues,
"the youths and maidens went in the gayest companies into the woods,
where tables were prepared for them on which were set out all manner
of delicate meats; and the picnic over, they would set themselves
to dance and to romp and play. Some would glide in boats along the
shore, others, dispensing with shoes and stockings, and lifting high
their petticoats, would venture among the rocks or into the water
to find sea shells; others again would fish with lines." And then
there were the Courts of Love held in the spring, when the girls,
adorned with splendid jewels, he tells us in the _Filocolo_, tried to
outshine one another, and while the old people looked on, the young
men danced with them, touching their delicate hands. And seeing that
he was surrounded by a life like this, is it any wonder that he fell
in love with love, with beauty?


_From the fresco by Simone Martini in S. Lorenzo, Naples._


Of the first years of his sojourn in that beautiful southern place we
have only the vaguest hints.[56] In the _De Genealogiis_[57] he says
that "for six years he did nothing but waste irrecoverable time" with
the merchant to whom his father had confided him. He always hated
business, and precocious as he was in his love for literature, in
the gaiety and beauty of Naples he grew to despise those engaged in
money-making; for, as he says in the _Corbaccio_, they knew nothing
of any beautiful thing, but only how to fill their pockets.[58]
Indeed Boccaccio might seem to have had no taste or even capacity
for anything but study and the art of literature. He most bitterly
reproaches his father in the _De Genealogiis_[59] for having turned
him for so many years from his vocation. "If my father had dealt
wisely with me I might have been among the great poets," he writes.
"But he forced me, in vain, to give my mind to money-making, and
to such a paying thing as the Canon Law. I became neither a man
of affairs nor a canonist, and I lost all chance of succeeding in

Those six irrecoverable years had indeed almost passed away before
even in Naples he was able to find, unlearned as he was, "rozza
mente" as he calls himself, any opportunity of culture. It was in
1328,[60] it seems, that those _conversazioni astronomiche_ began
with Calmeta, which aroused in him the desire of wisdom.[61] By that
time his father was in Naples, having come thither in the autumn of
1327, and it may have been in his company that Giovanni first met
this the earliest friend of his youth. But who was this Calmeta,
this benefactor to whom, after all, we owe so much? Andalò di Negro,
says Crescini;[62] but as Della Torre reminds us, his work was done
in Latin, and Giovanni knew but little of the tongue. It will be
seen in the _Filocolo_, to which we must turn again for guidance,
that Calmeta and Idalagos have the same profession; they are both
shepherds, and it is in their leisure that Calmeta teaches Idalagos
astronomy. It seems then that Calmeta was also in business in Naples.
That such an one there was Della Torre proves by drawing attention to
a letter he will not allow to be apocryphal.[63] Calmeta, then, as we
see, like Giovanni, was inclined to study, and more fortunate than
he, had been able "tuam puerilem ætatem coram educatoribus roborare,
et vago atque interno intuiti elementa grammaticæ ruminare...." that
is to say, to finish his elementary course of study, which consisted
of grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric.

But this new friendship was not the only thing that about this
time helped to strengthen Giovanni's dislike of business and to
encourage him in his love of learning and literature. For in the
same year, 1328, it seems likely that he was presented at the court
of King Robert,[64] a court, as we have already said, full of gay,
delightful people and learned men.[65] It seems certain too that he
was presented by his father who, as we have seen, between September
and November, 1327, came to Naples as a member of the Società de'
Bardi.[66] Now old Boccaccio not only went frequently to court during
his sojourn in Naples, for he was very honourably received there, but
was probably one of the most considerable Florentine merchants in the
city,[67] and then he had known Carlo, Duke of Calabria, in Florence,
before setting out.[68] There can therefore be very little doubt as
to where Giovanni got his introduction.

Before his father left Naples, Giovanni, who was then about sixteen
years of age, had had the courage to tell him that he could not
pursue a business career.[69] His father seems at last to have been
convinced of this, and gave his consent for study in the Arts, but,
practical man as he was, he believed in a fixed profession, and
therefore set Giovanni in 1329[70] to study Canon Law, which might
well bring him a career. So his father left him.

Whatever his duties had been or were to be, neither they nor his
studies with his friend the young merchant occupied all his time.
He enjoyed life, entering with gusto into the gaiety of what was
certainly the gayest city in Italy then and later. He speaks often
of the beauty of the women[71] amid that splendour of earth and
sky and sea; and the beautiful names of two he courted and loved,
being in love with love, have come down to us, to wit Pampinea, that
white dove "bianca columba," and Abrotonia, the "nera merla" of the
_Filocolo_.[72] Like Romeo, Boccaccio had his Rosaline. These were
not profound passions, of course, but the sentimental or sensual
ardours of youth that were nevertheless an introduction to love
himself.[73] They soon passed away, though not without a momentary
chagrin, for if he betrayed the first, the second seems to have
forsaken him. After that disillusion he tells us he retired into
his room, and there, tired as he was, fell asleep half in tears.
And again, as once before, a vision came to him. He seemed to be
sitting, where indeed he was, all sorrowful, when suddenly Abrotonia
and Pampinea appeared to him. For some time they watched him weeping,
and then began to make fun of his tears. He prayed them to leave him
alone since they were the first and only cause of his grief, but the
two damsels redoubled their laughter, so that at last he turned to
them and said: "Begone, begone! Is your laughter then the price of my
verses in your honour and of all my trouble?"[74] But they answered
that it was for another that he had really sung. Then he awoke; it
was still night, and, tearful as he was, he rose to light the lamp,
and sat thus thinking for a time. But weary at last he returned to
bed, and presently falling asleep he dreamed again. Once more the two
girls stood before him, but with them was another, fairer far, all
dressed in green. Her they presented to him, saying that it was she
who would be the real "tyrant of his heart." Then he looked at her,
and behold, she was the same lady he had seen in the first vision
when, weary with the long roads, he first drew near to Naples; the
very lady indeed who bade him welcome and kissed him, and whom he
kissed again. So the dream ended.

What are we to think of these visions? Did they really happen, or
are they merely an artistic method of stating certain facts--among
the rest that Fiammetta was about to renew his life? But we have
gone too far to turn back now; we have already relied so much on the
allegories of the _Ameto_, the _Filocolo_, and the _Fiammetta_, that
we dare not at this point question them too curiously. The visions
are all probably true in substance if not in detail. We must accept
them, though not necessarily the explanations that have been offered
of them.[75]

[Illustration: POPE JOAN

_A woodcut from the "De Claris Mulieribus." (Berne, 1539.) (By the
courtesy of Messrs. J. & J. Leighton.)_]

All this probably happened at the end of 1329, and Fiammetta was
still more than a year away. By this time, however, Boccaccio
was already studying Canon Law. Who was his master? He does not
himself tell us. All he says is in the _De Genealogiis_,[76] and
many reading that passage have at once thought of Cino da Pistoja,
chiefly perhaps because it is so delightful to link together two
famous men.[77] But while it is true that Cino was a doctor of Law
in Naples in 1330,[78] we know that Boccaccio studied Canon Law, and
that Cino was a Doctor of Civil Law and a very bitter enemy of the
_Canonisti_.[79] It seems indeed impossible to name his master.[80]
Whoever he may have been, the study of Canon Law which presently
became so repugnant to Giovanni must have been at first, at any rate,
much more delightful than business. It probably gave him more liberty
for reading and for pleasure. He had, of course, begun to study Latin
again, and no doubt he read Ovid, whom he so especially loved--

    "Lo quale poetando
    Iscrisse tanti versi per amore
    Come acquistar si potesse mostrando."[81]

No doubt, too, he read the _Ars Amandi_, "in which," he says in the
_Filocolo_, "the greatest of poets shows how the sacred fire of Venus
may be made to burn with care even in the coldest," and knew it all
by heart.

We may believe too that he read the _Heroides_, which he imitated
later in the letters of Florio to Biancofiore and of Biancofiore to
Florio; and the _Metamorphoses_, which indeed we find on every page
of the _Filocolo_.[82]

Delia Torre thinks[83] that although Cino da Pistoja was not his
master, he certainly met him during his stay in Naples between
October, 1330, and July, 1331,[84] and it was possibly through him
that Boccaccio first read Dante. At any rate, he read him, and
shortly after he imitates and speaks of him.[85] He also studied at
this time under Andalò di Negro,[86] the celebrated astrologer,
one of the most learned men of his time, and we shall see to what
use he put the knowledge he acquired; but who was it who introduced
to him the French Romances? Perhaps it was one of the many friends
he doubtless had among the rich Florentine merchants and their sons
then in Naples;[87] but indeed he could hardly have failed to meet
with them in that Angevin Court. That he knew the romance of King
Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table we know,[88] but he knew
even better the legends of the Romans and the Trojans, which he told
Fiammetta, who now comes into his life never really to leave him


[45] It seems strange that Boccaccio did not follow the Via
Francigena for Rome, as Henry VII and all the emperors did, till we
remember that the Pope was in Avignon and the City a nest of robbers.
The route given above is, according to De Blasiis, the one he took,
though of course there is no certainty about it. Cf. DE BLASIIS, _op.
cit._, pp. 513-14.

There is also this to be considered that, according to Della Torre's
theory, which we accept, Boccaccio's journey took place in December,
1323. But Mr. Heywood informs me that at that date the country about
Perugia was in a state of war. Spoleto was then being besieged by the
Perugians, and the Aretine Bishop was perpetually organising raids
and incursions for her relief. In the autumn Città di Castello had
revolted and given herself to the Tarlati, and even if (owing to
the season of the year and the consequent scarcity of grass for the
horses of the _milites_) military operations were impossible on a
large scale in the open country, the whole _contado_ must still have
been full of marauding bands. This route then via Perugia would have
been dangerous if not impossible. The explanation may be that the
Florentines and Sienese were allied with the Perugians. Certainly in
the spring of 1324 there were Florentine troops in the Perugian camp
before Spoleto. Perhaps the boy found protection by travelling with
some of his military compatriots. In 1327 (see _infra_) the route
suggested by DE BLASIIS and accepted by DELLA TORRE would have been
reasonable enough.

[46] _Ameto_ (_Opere Minori_, Milano, 1879), p. 225.

[47] My translation is free; I give therefore the original: "... le
mai non vedute rughe con diletto teneano l' anima mia, per la quale
così andando, agli occhi della mente si parò innanzi una giovane
bellissima in aspetto, graziosa e leggiadra, e di verdi vestimenti
vestita ornata secondo che la sua età e l' antico costume della città
richiedono; e con liete accoglienze, me prima per la mano preso, mi
baciò, ed io lei; dopo questo aggiugnendo con voce piacevole, vieni
dove la cagione de' tuoi beni vedrai."

[48] One may contrast this vision of welcome with that which had
driven him away. Of such is the symmetry of Latin work. He himself
calls this a prevision of Fiammetta. We cannot help reminding
ourselves that the _Vita Nuova_ was already known to him when he
wrote thus.

[49] G. VILLANI, _Cronica_, Lib. VIII, cap. 112.

[50] _Ibid._, Lib. IX, cap. 8.

[51] _Ibid._, Lib. IX, cap. 39.

[52] _Ibid._, Lib. IX, cap. 56.

[53] Cf. DE BLASIIS, _op. cit._

[54] See CROWE and CAVALCASELLE, ed. E. Hutton (Dent, 1908), Vol. I,
p. 26.

[55] The picture, of life size, is still at Naples in S. Lorenzo
Maggiore. SCHULZ, _Denkmäler der Kunst des Mittelalters in
Unteritalien_, Vol. III, p. 165, publishes a document dated 13 July,
1317, by which King Robert grants Simone Martini a pension of twenty
gold florins.

[56] It is perhaps not altogether unlikely that for a boy the port
and Dogana would have extraordinary attractions. At any rate,
Boccaccio in the tenth novel of the eighth day of the _Decameron_
describes the ways of "maritime countries that have ports," how that
"all merchants arriving there with merchandise would on discharging
bring all their goods into a warehouse, called in many places

[57] Lib. XV, 10: "Sex annis nil aliud feci quam non recuperabile
tempus in vacuum terere." Note these six years, they will be valuable
to us when we come to decide as to the year in which he first met
Fiammetta, and thus to fix the date of his advent to Naples. See
Appendix I.

[58] "Laddove essi del tutto ignoranti, niuna cosa più oltre sanno,
che quanti passi ha dal fondaco, o dalla bottega alla lor casa; e
par loro ogni uomo, che di ciò egli volesse sgannare, aver vinto
e confuso quando dicono: all' uscio mi si pare, quasi in niun'
altra cosa stia il sapere, se non o in ingannare o in guadagnare."
_Corbaccio_ in _Opere Minori_ (Milano, 1879), p. 277. Cf. _Egloga_
xiii., where the same sentiments are expressed.

[59] Lib. XV, cap. x.

[60] Cf. DELLA TORRE, _op. cit._, pp. 109-11.

[61] Cf. _Filocolo_, _ed. cit._, Lib. IV, p. 244 _et seq._

[62] CRESCINI, _op. cit._, p. 47.

[63] This letter is printed in CORAZZINI, _Le Lett. edite e ined._
(Firenze, 1877), p. 457. "Te igitur carissime," writes Boccaccio,
"tam delectabilia tam animum attrahentia agentem cognovi, si recolis,
et tui gratia tantæ dulcedinis effectus sum particeps tuus, insimul
et amicus, in tam alto mysterio, in tam delectabili et sacro studio
Providentia summa nos junxit, quos æqualis animi vinctos tenuit,
retinet et tenebit...." This is the letter beginning "Sacræ famis et
angelicæ viro," which we shall allude to again.

[64] Cf. DE BLASIIS, _De Casibus_, _u.s._, IX, 26, and DELLA TORRE,
_op. cit._, p. 112.

[65] Cf. FARAGLIA, _Barbato di Sulmona e gli uomini di lettere della
Corte di Roberto d' Angiò_ in _Arch. St. Ital._, Ser. V, Vol. III
(1889), p. 343 _et seq._

[66] We fix the approximate date of Boccaccio's presentation at court
by his own words in the _De Casibus Illustrium Virorum_, Lib. IX,
cap. 26: "Me _adhuc adulescentulo_ versanteque Roberti Hierosolymorum
et Sicilicæ Regis in aula...." As we have seen, adolescence began,
according to the reckoning then, at fourteen years. To strengthen
this supposition, we know that Boccaccino was in Naples at that time,
and in relations with King Robert. See Appendix I.

[67] See _supra_ p. 5, n. 1.

[68] Cf. DE BLASIIS, _op. cit._, p. 506, note 1. DAVIDSOHN,
_Forschungen zur Geschichte von Florenz_ (Berlin, 1901), III, p.
182, note 911. DELLA TORRE, _op. cit._, pp. 117-18. "Boccaccius
de Certaldo de Societate Bardorum de Florencia, consiliarius,
cambellanus, mercator, familiaris et fidelis noster," wrote the king
of him. Cf. DAVIDSOHN, _op. cit._, III, p. 187, note 942; and IBID.,
_Il padre di Gio. Boccaccio_ in _Arch. St. It._, Ser. V, Vol. XXIII,
p. 144.

[69] Cf. _De Genealogiis_, XV, 10; "Quoniam visum est, aliquibus
ostendentibus inditiis, me aptiorem literarum studiis, issuit ... ut
pontificum sanctiones dives exinde futurus, auditurus intrarem."

[70] See _supra_, p. 19, n. 2, where, as we find in the _De
Genealogiis_, he says that for six years he did nothing but waste
irrecoverable time. Thus if he came to Naples in 1323 it was in 1329
that he began to study Law. The last we hear of his father in Naples
is in 1329.

[71] "E come gli altri giovani le chiare bellezze delle donne di
questa terra andavano riguardando, ed io" (_Ameto_, _ed. cit._, p.
225). In the _Filocolo_ (_ed. cit._, Lib. IV, p. 246) he tells us
that this was especially true in the spring.

[72] CRESCINI, _op. cit._, p. 50. Whether Abrotonia and Pampinea
were the earliest of his loves seems doubtful. Cf. RENIER, _La Vita
Nuova e Fiammetta_, p. 225 _et seq._ Who was the Lia of the _Ameto_,
and when did he meet her? Cf. ANTONIA TRAVERSI, _La Lia dell' Ameto_
in _Giornale di Filologia romanza_, n. 9, p. 130 _et seq._, and
CRESCINI, _Due Studi riguardanti opere minori del B._ (Padova, 1882).
Was she the same person as the Lucia of the _Amorosa Visione_? Or is
the Lucia of the _Amorosa Visione_ not a person at all? See CRESCINI,
_lucia non Lucia_ in _Giorn. St. della Lett. It._, III, fasc. 9, pp.
422-3. These are questions too difficult for a mere Englishman. An
excellent paper on Boccaccio's loves is that by ANTONA TRAVERSI, _Le
prime amanti di G. B._ in _Fanfulla della Domenica_, IV, 19.

[73] Della Torre finds these love affairs to have befallen 1329.
I have, as in almost all concerning the youth of Boccaccio, found
myself in agreement with him. But cf. HAUVETTE, _Une confession de
Boccace--Il Corbaccio_ in _Bull. Ital._, I, p. 5 _et seq._

[74] "O giovani schernitrici de' danni dati e di chi con sommo studio
per addietro v' ha onorate; levatevi di qui, questa noia non si
conviene a me per premio de' cantati versi in vostra laude, e delle
avute fatiche."

[75] Cf. CRESCINI, _op. cit._, p. 108, note 1.

[76] Lib. XV, cap. x.: "... jussit genitor idem, ut pontificum
sanctiones dives exinde futurus, auditurus intrarem et sub preceptore
clarissimo fere tantumdem temporis in cassum etiam laboravi."

[77] A letter forged probably by Doni, who posed as its discoverer,
would have confirmed this. The letter ran: "Di Pisa alli xix
di aprile, 1338--Giovanni di Boccaccio da Certaldo discepolo e
ubbidientissimo figliulo infinitamente vi si raccomanda." As is well
known, Cino da Pistoja died at the end of 1336 or beginning of 1337.

[78] Cf. H. COCHIN, _Boccaccio_ (Sansoni, Firenze, 1901), trad. di

[79] DE BLASIIS, _Cino da Pistoia nella Università di Napoli_ in
_Arch. St. per le prov. Nap._, Ann. XI (1886), p. 149. Again, the
course seems to have been for six years under the same master, and
although Cino was called to Naples in August, 1330, he was in Perugia
in 1332. Cf. DE BLASIIS, _op. cit._, p. 149.

[80] BALDELLI, _Vita_, p. 6, note 1, thinks this master was Dionisio
Roberti da Borgo Sansepolcro. He adds that this man was in Paris in
1329, and that Boccaccio _there in that year_ began work under him.
In defence of this theory he cites a letter from Boccaccio himself
to Niccola Acciaiuoli of 28th August, 1341, in which he says: "Nè
è nuova questa speranza, ma antica; perocchè altra non mi rimase,
poichè il reverendo mio padre e signore, maestro Dionigi, forse per
lo migliore, da Dio mi fu tolto." (Cf. CORAZZINI, _op. cit._, p.
18.) We may dismiss Baldelli's argument, for we have decided that
Boccaccio was in Naples in 1329, when he began the study of Canon
Law. But the conjecture itself gains a certain new strength from
the fact that Roberti was a professor in Naples. (See RENIER, _La
Vita Nuova e La Fiammetta_, Torino, 1879. Cf. GIGLI, _I sonetti
Baiani del Boccaccio_ in _Giornale St. della Lett. Ital._, XLIII
(1904), p. 299 _et seq._) In 1328, however, he proves to have been
in Paris, and in fact he did not arrive in Naples till 1338. As I
have said, the course lasted six years, and even though we concede
that Boccaccio began his studies under Roberti in 1338, we know
that three years later, in 1341, Roberti died (DELLA TORRE, _op.
cit._, p. 146). Besides, in 1341 Boccaccio had returned to Florence.
Roberti seems, indeed, to have been the protector rather than the
master of Boccaccio, even as Acciaiuoli was, and it is for this
reason that Boccaccio alludes to him in writing to Acciaiuoli in
1341 when Roberti was dead. The doctors in Naples in 1329 are named
by DE BLASIIS, _op. cit._, p. 149. Among them were Giovanni di
Torre, Lorenzo di Ravello, Giovanni di Lando, Niccola Rufolo, Biagio
Paccone, Gio. Grillo, Niccola Alunno.

[81] _Amorosa Visione_, v. 171-3.

[82] Cf. HORTIS, _Studi sulle Opere Latine di Gio. Boccaccio_, etc.
(Trieste, 1879), p. 399.

[83] DELLA TORRE, _op. cit._, p. 151. But the strongest proof that
Boccaccio and Cino were friends is furnished by VOLPI, _Una Canzone
di Cino da Pistoia nel "Filostrato" del Boccaccio_ in _Bull. St.
Pistoiese_ (1899), Vol. I, fasc. 3, p. 116 _et seq._, who finds a
song of Cino's in the _Filostrato_. It seems probable, then, since
they were in personal relations, that Cino introduced the works of
Dante to Boccaccio.

[84] DE BLASIIS, _op. cit._, p. 139 _et seq._

[85] In the _Filocolo_ (_ed. cit._), II, 377, begun according to our
theory in 1331. I quote the following: "Nè ti sia cura di volere
essere dove i misurati versi del Fiorentino Dante si cantino, il
quale tu, siccome piccolo servidore, molto dei reverente seguire."
Cf. DOBELLI, _Il culto del Boccaccio per Dante_ in _Giornale
Dantesca_ (1898), V, p. 207 _et seq._ See too the quotations from
Dante, for they are really just that in the _Filostrato_, part ii.
strofa 50, _et passim_, and see _infra_, pp. 77, n. 2, and 253, n. 5.

[86] Cf. BERTOLOTTO, _Il Trattato dell' Astrolabio di A. di N._ in
_Atti della Soc. Liguria di St. Pat._ (1892), Vol. XXV, p. 55 _et
seq_. Also the _De Genealogiis_, XV, 6, and HORTIS, _Studi_, p.
158 and notes 1-3. Andalò di Negro was born in 1260, it seems, at
Genoa. In 1314 he was chosen by the Signoria of Genoa as ambassador
to Alessio Comneno of Trebizond, and he carried out his mission
excellently. He had already travelled much, and after his embassy
seems to have gone to Cyprus (_Genealogiis, u.s._). He passed his
last years at the court of King Robert in Naples, who appointed him
astrologer and physician to the court. His pay was six ounces of gold
annually (BERTOLOTTO, _u.s._). He died in the early summer of 1334.
He was a learned astronomer and astrologer, and probably one of the
most remarkable men of his time.

[87] Cf. DE. BLASIIS, _op. cit._, p. 494.

[88] Cf. _Amorosa Visione_, cap. xxix.




For it was in the midst of this gay life, full of poetry and study,
that he met her who was so much more beautiful than all the other
"ninfe Partenopee," and who seemed to him "quella che in Cipri già fu
adorata," that is to say, Venus herself. He saw her first on a Holy
Saturday, on the Vigil of Easter, as he himself tells us, and as we
think on 30th March, 1331.[89] He had gone to Mass, it seems, about
ten o'clock in the morning, the fashionable hour of the day, rather
to see the people than to attend the service, in the church of S.
Lorenzo of the Franciscans. And there amid that great throng of all
sorts and conditions of men he first caught sight of the woman who
was so profoundly to influence his life and shape his work.

"I found myself," he says, "in a fine church of Naples, named after
him who endured to be offered as a sacrifice upon the gridiron.
And there, there was a singing compact of sweetest melody. I was
listening to the Holy Mass celebrated by a priest, successor to him
who first girt himself humbly with the cord, exalting poverty and
adopting it. Now while I stood there, the fourth hour of the day,
according to my reckoning, having already passed down the eastern
sky, there appeared to my eyes the wondrous beauty of a young woman,
come thither to hear what I too heard attentively. I had no sooner
seen her than my heart began to throb so strongly that I felt it in
my slightest pulses; and not knowing why nor yet perceiving what had
happened, I began to say, 'Ohimè, what is this?'... But at length,
being unable to sate myself with gazing, I said, 'O Love, most noble
Lord, whose strength not even the gods were able to resist,[90] I
thank thee for setting happiness before my eyes!'... I had no sooner
said these words than the flashing eyes of that lovely lady fixed
themselves on mine...."[91]

Fiammetta, for it was she, was tall and _slanciata_; her hair,
he tells us, "is so blonde that the world holds nothing like it;
it shades a white forehead of noble width, beneath which are the
curves of two black and most slender eyebrows ... and under these
two roguish eyes ... cheeks of no other colour than milk." This
description, even in the hands of Boccaccio, is little more than
the immortal "Item, two lips, indifferent red...."[92] Yet little
by little in his work Fiammetta lives for us. On that day she was
dressed in a _bruna vesta_,[93] and wearing a veil that fell from her
head crowned with a garland.[94] After her golden hair, it is her
eyes and her mouth that he loves best in her.

    "Due begli occhi luccan, sì che fiammetta
    Parea ciascun d' amore luminosa;
    E la sua bocca bella e piccioletta
    Vermiglia rosa e fresca somigliava."[95]

He seems to have asked one of his companions who she was, but he knew

    "Io stetti molto a lei mirar sospeso
    Per guardar s' io l' udissi nominare,
    O ch' io 'l vedessi scritto breve o steso
    Lì nol vid' io nè 'l seppi immaginare."[96]

When she saw that he continued to stare at her, she screened herself
with her veil.[97] But he changed his position and found a place by a
column whence he could see her very well--"dirittissimamente opposto,
... appoggiato ad una colonna marmorea"--and there, while the priest
sang the Office, "con canto pieno di dolce melodia,"[98] he drank
in her blonde beauty which the dark clothes made more splendid--the
golden hair and the milk-white skin, the shining eyes and the mouth
like a rose in a field of lilies.[99] Once she looked at him,--"Li
occhi, con debita gravità elevati, in tra la moltitudine de'
circostanti giovani, con acuto ragguardamento distesi."[100] So he
stayed where he was till the service was over, "senza mutare luogo."
Then he joined his companions, waiting with them at the door to see
the girls pass out. And it was then, in the midst of other ladies,
that he saw her for the second time, watching her pass out of S.
Lorenzo on her way home. When she was gone he went back to his room
with his friends, who remained a short time with him. These, as soon
as might be, excusing himself, he sent away, and remained alone with
his thoughts.

The morrow was Easter Day, and again he went to S. Lorenzo to see
her only. And she was there indeed, "di molto oro lucente"--"adorned
with gems and dressed in most fair green, beautiful both by nature
and by art."[101] Then remembering all things, he said to himself:
"This is that lady who in my boyhood (_puerizia_) and again not so
long ago, appeared to me in my dreams; this is she who, with a joyful
countenance and gracious, welcomed me to this city; this is she who
was ordained to rule my mind, and who was promised me for lady, in my
dreams."[102] From this moment began for him "the new life."

Who was this lady "promised to him in his dreams," whose love was
indeed the great prize of his youth? We know really very little
about her, though he speaks of her so often, but in three well-known
places, in the _Filocolo_, the _Ameto_, and the _Amorosa Visione_,
he tells us of her origin. It is in the _Ameto_ that he gives us
the fullest account of her. In that comedy[103] he tells us that
at the court of King Robert there was a gentleman of the wealthy
and powerful house of Aquino who held in Naples "the highest place
beside the throne of him who reigned there." This noble had married,
we learn, a young Provençal, "per bellezza da lodare molto," who
with her husband lived in the royal palace.[104] Of this pair
were born "some daughters whom Fiammetta called sisters,"[105]
and a son who was assassinated.[106] Fiammetta's own birth is, we
understand, surrounded by a kind of mystery, "voluttuoso e lascivo,"
corresponding, as we shall see, to her own temperament.[107]

[Illustration: LUCRECE

_A woodcut from "De Claris Mulieribus." (Berne, 1539.) (By the
courtesy of Mssrs. J. & J. Leighton.)_]

Boccaccio suggests that her birth is connected with the great _festa_
which celebrated the coronation of King Robert, that took place
in Avignon in September, 1309.[108] The king returned to Naples
by way of Florence, where he arrived on September 30, 1310;[109]
he was still there in October, and there was much fighting to be
done, for Henry VII was making war in Italy; so that it was not
till February 2, 1313,[110] that the king opened the first general
parliament in Naples after his coronation. Della Torre[111] thinks
that it was on this occasion the great _festa_ described by Boccaccio
took place. Its chief feature seems to have been a banquet of the
greatest magnificence, to which all the court as well as many of the
leading subjects of the Kingdom were bidden. Amid all this splendour
Boccaccio describes the king's gaze passing over a host of beautiful
women, to rest, always with new delight, on the beauty of the young
wife of D'Aquino, who, since her husband belonged to the court, was
naturally present. Well, to make a long story short, a little later
the king seduced this lady, but as it seems, on or about the same
night she slept also with her husband, so that when nine months
later a daughter was born to her, both the king and her husband
believed themselves to be the father. It is like a story out of the

This daughter, the Fiammetta of his dreams, was born, he tells us,
in the spring[112]--the spring then of 1314[113]--and was named
Maria.[114] Before very long she lost her mother, who however, before
she died, told her as well as she could, considering her tender
age, the mystery of her birth. Not long after, her father--or rather
her mother's husband--died also, leaving the _piccoletta_ "a vestali
vergini a lui di sangue congiunte ... acciocchè quelle di costumi
e d' arte inviolata servandomi, ornassero la giovanezza mia";[115]
which is Boccaccio's way of saying that she was placed in the care
of nuns, the nuns, as Casetti[116] supposes, of the Order of St.
Benedict, to whom belonged the very ancient church of S. Arcangelo
a Baiano.[117] There she grew up, and, like very many others of
an eager and sensuous temperament, totally unfitted for the life
of a religious, she desired too to be a nun, and this desire, we
learn, became definite in her after an ecstatic vision in which S.
Scholastica appeared to her[118] and invited her to take the vow. But
happily this was not to be. Her golden hair was not to fall under the
shears of the Church, but to be a poet's crown. She was too beautiful
for the cloister, and indeed already the fame of her beauty had gone
beyond the convent walls, which were in fact by no means very secure
or unassailable. In those days, people "in the world," men as well
as women, were received even by the "enclosed" in the parlour of the
convent, where it was customary to hold receptions.[119]

So, we learn, there presently began a struggle in Fiammetta's
heart--it was not of very long duration--between her resolution to
take the veil and her feminine vanity. Little by little she began
to adorn herself,[120] she received offers of marriage which by no
means shocked her, she became reconciled to the life of the world
for which she was so perfectly fitted by nature. Among the suitors,
and apparently they were many, was "uno dei più nobili giovani
... di fortuna grazioso, de' beni Giunonichi copioso, e chiaro di
sangue."[121] To him, as to the rest, she replied with a refusal, to
which she was doubtless encouraged by the nuns, who could not easily
suffer so well-born and powerful a pupil to escape them. The young
man, however--we do not know his name--was not easily discouraged,
and, renewing his suit, was accepted. So she was married perhaps when
she was about fifteen years old, in 1329.[122]

Her beauty[123] was famous, and she seems scarcely to have been
married when she gave herself up to all the voluptuousness of her
nature, more or less mute in the convent. That she could read we
know, for she read not only Giovanni's letters, but Ovid,[124]
probably a translation of the _Ars Amandi_, and the French
Romances.[125] She was greatly run after by the youth of the
Neapolitan court, who swore no _festa_ was complete without her.
Her husband's house, too, was in such a position that not only the
citizens, but strangers, who must on arrival or departure pass it
by, might spy her at her window or on her balcony.[126] Her excuse
is this universal admiration, and the eagerness of her temperament,
which allowed her to pass with ease from one lover to another.[127]
And then she also found that stolen waters are sweet, and bread
eaten in secret is pleasant.[128] She excuses herself for having
betrayed the husband who loved her so much, and can say: "What is
lawfully pursued is apt to be considered of small account, even
though it be most excellent, but what is difficult of attainment,
even if contemptible, is held in high esteem."[129] But, like all
vain and sensual natures, she was cruel, and encouraged her suitors
to squander their substance on her, giving them nothing in return,
and leading each to suppose that he was the only one she loved, and
that she was about to make him happy. "And I," she says to Boccaccio
in the character of Alleiram, "and I have laughed at them all,
choosing, however, those who took my fancy and who were judged apt
to give me pleasure. But no sooner was the fire spent than I broke
the vase which contained the water and flung away the pieces." These
words, so cynically moving, not only show us the cruelty of Maria's
nature, but cast a strange light on the general condition of society
in what was then, as later, the most corrupt city in Italy. Such,
then, was the blonde Fiammetta whom Boccaccio loved.

But how could he, a mere merchant's son, ever hope to reach the arms
of this disdainful, indifferent lady? By means of poetry? It seems
so. But before replying fully to this question it will be necessary
to establish the chronological limits and divisions of this love
affair, and this is the most difficult question in all the difficult
history of the youth of Boccaccio.

We may find, as it happens, two dates to begin with in the _Amorosa
Visione_. They have not escaped Crescini,[130] who, founding himself
on them, has concluded, though not too certainly, that between the
day of _innamoramento_ and that of _possesso completo_ 159 days
passed. He arrives at this tentative conclusion in the following
manner. In chapter xliv. of the _Amorosa Visione_ Boccaccio tells us
that when he became enamoured of Fiammetta, at first he marvelled
greatly, as though something incredible had befallen him. Then he
began to make fun of himself, "farsi beffa," for having thought of a
lady so far above him. But at last, when

    "Quattro via sei volte il sole
    Con l' orizzonte il ciel congiunto aveva ..."

it appeared that his courting pleased his lady, and he seemed to
understand from her that there was no distance however great, between
lover and beloved, that love could not annihilate. But, said she, one
ought to serve her only, and not to run after other ladies.

Crescini interprets this to mean that twenty-four days after
Boccaccio first saw Fiammetta, she gave him reason to hope. And he
arrives at this conclusion because he considers that the sun is in
conjunction with the horizon only once a day, whereas it might seem
to be so twice a day, at sunrise as at sunset. The other 135 days of
Crescini's chronology come from the following verses of chapter xlvi.
of the _Amorosa Visione_, in which Boccaccio tells us that he was
able to possess Maria after

    "Cinque fiate tre via nove giorni
    Sotto la dolce signoria di questa
    Trovato m' era in diversi soggiorni."

Thus, says Crescini, we have twenty-four days from the first meeting
to the acceptance of his court, and 135 days thenceforward to the
possession, that is 159 days.[131]

Della Torre,[132] however, will have none of this reckoning, and
seems to have proved that it is indeed inexact. To begin with,
according to the Ptolemaic system, the sun moved round the earth and
touched it as it were not only at its rising but also at its setting,
so that the twenty-four days become twelve. This, however, is but a
small matter, merely reducing the 159 days to 147. Crescini's chief
error, according to Della Torre, is that he has added the first
period of twelve (or twenty-four) days to the second of 135--making
them immediately consecutive. Let us examine this matter somewhat

In the _Ameto_ Boccaccio tells us that the happy night which came at
the end of the 135 days, the night in which he possessed Fiammetta,
fell "temperante Apollo i veleni freddi di Scorpione." Now at what
time precisely is the sun in the sign of the Scorpion? Andalò[133]
tells us that at the end of the 20th October the sun is three and a
half _gradi_ in Scorpio, and that by the 15th November it is already
entering Sagittarius. The sun then entered Scorpio on the 17th
October and left it on the 14th November.[134] Somewhere between
those two dates the loves of Giovanni and Fiammetta were consummated.


_By the Dutch engraver called "The Master of the Subjects in the
Boccaccio." "De Casibus Virorum." (Strasburg, 1476.)_]

Boccaccio tells us, if we interpret him aright, that twelve days
after his _innamoramento_ his lady showed him that she was pleased
by his love. He then passes on to describe the long and faithful
service he gave her:--

    "Lungamente seguendo sua pietate
    Ora in avversi ed ora in graziosi
    Casi reggendo la mia voluntate,"[135]

and so on. Then he says:--

    "Traendomi più là e con sommesso
    Parlar le chiesi, che al mio dolore
    Fine ponesse, qual doveva ad esso,
    Ognor servando quel debito onore
    Che si conviene a' suoi costumi adorni,
    Di gentilezza pieni e di valore,"[136]

and at last adds the lines already quoted,

    "Cinque fiate tre via nove giorni
    Sotto la dolce signoria di questa
    Trovato m' era in diversi soggiorni";


    "nella braccia la Donna pietosa
    Istupefatto gli parea tenere."

Taken thus we may divide the story of his love for Fiammetta into
three periods. The first of these ends twelve days after the first
meeting, and is the period of uncertainty. The second period is
that in which he is accepted as courtier, as it were, on his trial.
The third begins when his lady, moved by long service and repeated
proofs of his devotions, returns his love; it is the period of "dolce
signoria" and lasts one hundred and thirty-five days, at the end of
which she gives herself to him.[137]

Of these periods we know only the length, then, of the first and
the last. The first began on the 30th March and lasted till the
12th April, 1331, when the second began, to last how long? Well, at
least two months, it seems,[138] perhaps three. In that case all
three periods belong to the same year. If this be not so, the second
period was of longer duration than three months, perhaps much longer.
Boccaccio himself tells us that it was "non senza molto affanno lunga
stagione."[139] Now it seems reasonable to suppose that even so eager
a lover as Boccaccio cannot call three months "lunga stagione,"
though he were dying for her and each minute was an eternity. He can
scarcely have hoped to seduce a woman of his own class in less time.
Common sense, then, is on our side when reminding ourselves that
Maria d'Aquino was of the noblest family, married, too, to a husband
who loved her, and generally courted by all the golden youth of
Naples--while Giovanni was the son of a merchant--we insist that he
cannot mean a paltry three months when he speaks of a long time.[140]
But if the second period lasted more than three months, and so does
not belong to the year 1331, to what year or years does it belong?

Della Torre seems to have found a clue in the following sonnet, whose
authenticity, though doubted by Crescini,[141] he insists upon:--

    "_Se io potessi creder che in cinqu' anni
    Ch' egli è che vostro fui, tanto caluto
    Di me vi fosse, che aver saputo
    Il nome mio voleste_, de' miei danni
    Per ristorato avermi, de' miei affanni
    Potrei forse sperare ancora aiuto,
    Nè mi parrebbe il tempo aver perduto
    A condolermi de' miei stessi inganni...."[142]

which we may explain as "O my lady, I shall be the happiest of
mortals if in the five years that I shall pay you court, I should
break through your indifference...." Five years brings us from 30th
March, 1331, to 1336.

Now let us see whither the other facts we have will lead us.

In 1339 Boccaccio and Fiammetta had parted,[143] Boccaccio
having been "betrayed" by her, as he tells us in Sonnets iv. and
xxxiii.,[144] during the bathing season at Baia--the bathing season
then of 1338--whither she had forbidden him to accompany her. But
we know from Sonnets xlvii. and xlviii. that the end of the second
period and the beginning of the third took place during the bathing
season, and that there was also a season in which he accompanied her
to Baia as her acknowledged lover.[145] There must, then, have been
three seasons before April, 1339, and these three years lead us again
to the year 1336.

So we believe that the first period "of uncertainty" in his love
began on 30th March and ended on 12th April, 1331; that the second
period "of service" began on 12th April, 1331, and ended between 3rd
June and 2nd July, 1336, when the third period began, ending three
years later. This third period is divided, as we have seen, into
three parts, and comprises three bathing seasons. The first of these
falls between 3rd June--2nd July, 1336, and the 17th October to 15th
November, i.e. 135 days; an act of audacity on Giovanni's part, as we
shall see, giving him possession of Fiammetta. The second is a period
in which their love had become calmer: it fills the season of 1337 in
which he was her _cavaliere servente_. The third falls in 1338, when,
probably on account of the suspicions aroused by their intimacy,
Fiammetta forbade him to accompany her to Baia, where in his absence
she "betrayed" him.

Having thus found a chronology of Boccaccio's love-story, we must
consider more particularly his life during its three periods.


[89] See Appendix I.

[90] Cf. Sophocles, _Antigone_, 781 _et seq._

    "Ἔρως ἀνίκατε μάχαν
    Ἔρος ὃς ἐν κτήμασι πίπτεις,
    ὃς ἐν μαλακαῖς παρειαίς
    νεάνιδος ἐννυχεύεις,
    φοιτᾷς δ' ὑπερπόντιος ἔν τ' ἀγρονόμοις αὐλαῖς·
    καί σ' οὔτ' ἀθανάτων φύξιμος οὐδεὶς
    οὔθ' ἁμερίων ἐπ' ἀνθρώπων, ὁ δ' ἔχων μέμηνεν·"

Yet when he wrote the _Filocolo_ Boccaccio knew no Greek.

[91] See _Filocolo_, _ed. cit._, I, p. 5 _et seq._ The scene
is described also in the _Filostrato_, i. xxvi.-xxxiv. In the
_Fiammetta_, cap. i., it is described from Fiammetta's point of view.

[92] In the _Fiammetta_ (_Opere Minori_, Milano, 1879, p. 25)
Boccaccio thus describes himself on that morning through the eyes
of Fiammetta; it is in keeping with the topsy-turveydom of that
extraordinary work: "Dico che, secondo il mio giudicio, il quale
ancora non era da amore occupato, elli era di forma bellissimo, nelli
atti piacevolissimo ed onestissimo nell' abito suo, e della sua
giovinezza dava manifesto segnale la crespa lanugine, che pur ora
occupava le guancie sue; e me non meno pietoso che cauto rimirava tra
uomo e uomo."

[93] _Ameto_ (_ed. cit._), p. 228. We should have expected a green
dress to agree with the prevision; but it was Sabbato Santo. On
Easter Day she is in green. See _infra_.

[94] _Fiammetta_ (_ed. cit._), p. 23.

[95] _Amorosa Visione_, cap. xv.

[96] _Ibid._, cap. xvi.

[97] _Fiammetta_ (_ed. cit._), p. 24.

[98] _Filocolo_ (_ed. cit._), I, p. 5.

[99] _Ameto_ (_ed. cit._), pp. 65-6.

[100] _Fiammetta_ (_ed. cit._), p. 24.

[101] _Ameto_, _ed. cit._, p. 228.

[102] _Ibid._

[103] _Ibid._, pp. 221-3.

[104] _Filocolo_, _ed. cit._, I, p. 4.

[105] _Fiammetta_, _ed. cit._, pp. 114-17.

[106] _Ibid._, p. 101.

[107] Cf. DELLA TORRE, _op. cit._, p. 182.

[108] Cf. VILLANI, _Cronica_, Lib. VIII, cap. 112.

[109] VILLANI, _op. cit._, Lib. IX, cap. 8.

[110] Cf. _Arch. St. per le prov. nap._, Vol. VII, pp. 220-1.

[111] DELLA TORRE, _op. cit._, p. 183.

[112] Cf. _Fiammetta_, _ed. cit._, p. 21: "Nel tempo nel quale la
rivestita terra più che tutto l' altro anno si mostra bella."

[113] Cf. BALDELLI, _op. cit._, p. 362, and CASETTI, _Il Boccaccio a
Napoli, u s._, p. 573. So that Boccaccio's age did not differ much
from Fiammetta's.

[114] _Filocolo_, _ed. cit._, Vol. I, p. 4. In the _Fiammetta_,
_ed. cit._, p. 21, we learn that she was "in altissime delizie ...

[115] _Ameto_, _ed. cit._, pp. 222-3.

[116] CASETTI, _op. cit._, p. 575.

[117] See _Filocolo_, _ed. cit._, I, p. 6: "in un santo tempo del
principe de' celestiali uccelli nominato." Cf. _Catalogo di tutti
gli edifici sacri della città di Napoli_ in _Arch. St. per le prov.
nap._, VIII, p. 32.

[118] _Ameto_, _ed. cit._, p. 223.

[119] There are many examples of this.

[120] "Con sollecitudini ed arti." And again there came to her very
soon "dalla natura ammaestrata, sentendo quali disii alli giovani
possono porgere le vaghe donne, conobbi che la mia bellezza più
miei coetanei giovanetti ed altri nobili accese di fuoco amoroso."
(_Fiammetta_, _ed. cit._, p. 21).

[121] _Ameto_, _ed. cit._, p. 223.

[122] Cf. DELLA TORRE, _op. cit._, p. 188. As to these early
marriages, cf. _Decameron_, X, 10. Griselda was but twelve years
old, and Juliet, as we remember, was "not fourteen." Fiammetta when
Boccaccio first met her was seventeen years old, "dix-sept est
étrangement belle," and had already had time for more than one act of

[123] _Fiammetta_, _ed. cit._, p. 92.

[124] _Ibid._, pp. 52-4.

[125] _Ibid._, p. 130.

[126] _Filocolo_, _ed. cit._, II, pp. 260-1.

[127] Her excuse is also the morals of the time. There was temptation
everywhere, as the _Decameron_ alone without the evidence of the
other _novelle_ would amply prove. Every sort of shift was resorted
to. Procuresses, hired by would-be lovers, forced themselves into the
house of the young wife and compelled her to listen to them. They
deceived even the most jealous husbands. The priest even acted as a
pander sometimes and more often as a seducer. _Decameron_, III, 3,
and _Il Cortigiano di_ CASTIGLIONE, Lib. III, cap. xx. The society in
which she moved had no moral horror of this sort of thing; as to-day,
the sin lay in being found out. A woman's _onestà_ was not ruined by
secret vice, but by the exposure of it, which brought ridicule and

    "L' acqua furtiva, assai più dolce cosa
    È che il vin con abbondanza avuto;
    Così d' amor la gioia, che nascosa,
    Trapassa assai del sempre mai tenuto
    Marito in braccio...."

        _Filostrato_, parte ii. strofe 74.

[129] _Fiammetta_, _ed. cit._, p. 102. She thought poorly of
marriage, consoling herself when her lover marries by saying: "tutti
coloro che moglie prendono, e che l' hanno, l' amino siccome fanno
dell' altre donne: la soperchia copia, che le mogli fanno di sè a'
loro mariti, è cagion di tostano rincrescimento, quando esse pur nel
principio sommamente piacessero...." (_Fiammetta_, _ed. cit._, pp.

[130] CRESCINI, _op. cit._, pp. 127 and 130, note 2.

[131] CRESCINI, _op. cit._

[132] DELLA TORRE, _op. cit._, p. 192 _et seq._

[133] In his _Tabula ad situandos et concordandos menses cum signis
in dorso astrolabii_ in _Atti della soc. Ligure di Stor. Pat._
(1892), Vol. XXV, p. 59.

[134] CRESCINI thinks (_op. cit._) that Boccaccio first saw Fiammetta
on 11th April, 1338. Supposing, then, the date most favourable to
him, to wit, that Boccaccio possessed Fiammetta in the night of 17-18
October: 135 days before that was 3rd June, and twenty-four before
that was 10th May (twelve days before was 22nd May), not 11th April.
Suppose we take our own date, 30th March, we are in worse case still.
It seems then certain that between these two periods of 12 and 135
days there was an interval. To decide on its length is the difficulty.

[135] _Amorosa Visione_, cap. xlv.

[136] _Ibid._, cap. xlvi.

[137] Cf. _Filocolo_, _ed. cit._, II, pp. 261-2.

[138] Cf. _supra_, p. 36, n. 4.

[139] _Filocolo_, _ed. cit._, II, p. 248.

[140] Besides, all the romances are against it. How long did Lancelot
serve for Guinivere? And he was the best knight that there was in the
whole world.

[141] CRESCINI, _op. cit._, p. 185.

[142] Sonnet lxxxvi. in edition Moutier (_Opere Volgari di G. B._),
Vol. XVI (Firenze, 1834).

[143] On 3rd April, 1339, Boccaccio writes to Carlo Duca di Durazzo
that he cannot finish the poem he had asked for because his heart
is killed by a love betrayed. Here is the letter, or part of it:

"Crepor celsitudinis Epiri principatus, ac Procerum Italiæ claritas
singularis, cui nisi fallor, a Superis fortuna candidior, reservatur
ut vestra novit Serenitas, et pelignensis Ovidii reverenda testatur

    'Carmina proveniunt animo deducta sereno.'

Sed saevientis Rhamnusiæ causa, ac atrocitatis cupidinis importunæ:

    'Nubila sunt sibitis tempora nostra malis.'

prout parvus et exoticus sermo, caliopeo moderamine constitutus
vestræ magnificentiæ declarabit inferius; verum tamen non ad plenum;
quia si plene anxietates meas vellem ostendere nec sufficeret
calamus, et multitudo fastudiret animum intuentis; qui etiam me
vivum respiciens ulterius miraretur, quam si Ceæ Erigonis Cristibiæ,
vel Medeæ inspiceret actiones. Propter quod si tantæ dominationis
mandata, ad plenum inclyte Princeps, non pertraho, in excutationem
animi anxiantis fata miserrima se ostendant...." Cf. CORAZZINI, _op.
cit._, pp. 439-40.

[144] Sonnet xxxiii.:--

    "E che io vadia là mi è interdetto
    Da lei, che può di me quel che le piace."

[145] Cf. DELLA TORRE, _op. cit._, p. 207.




Of the first period of Giovanni's love-story, the period of
uncertainty which lasted but twelve days, we know almost nothing,
save that he was used to remind himself very often of his
unworthiness, and to tell himself that he was only the son of a
merchant, while Fiammetta, it was said, was the daughter of a king,
and at any rate belonged to one of the richest and most powerful
families in the Kingdom. That she was married does not seem to have
distressed him or appeared as an obstacle at all, for the court was
corrupt;[146] but he seems to have been disturbed by the knowledge
that she was surrounded by a hundred adorers richer, nobler, and with
better opportunities than himself. And so he seems to have come to
the conclusion that there was nothing to be done but to make fun of
himself for having entertained a thought of her. It was apparently in
these states of mind that he passed the days from Holy Saturday to
12th April, 1331, when he found suddenly to his surprise that she was
content he should love her if he would.

What happened is described in the forty-fourth chapter of the
_Amorosa Visione_. The twelve days were passed, he tells us in this
allegory, when he heard a voice like a terrible thunder cry to him:--

    "O tu ... che nel chiaro giorno
    Del dolce lume della luce mia,
    Che a te vago sì raggia d' intorno,
    Non ischernir con gabbo mia balìa
    Nè dubitar però per mia grandezza,
    La quale umil, quando vorrai, ti fia,
    Onora con amor la mia bellezza,
    Nè d' alcun' altra più non ti curare,
    Se tu non vo' provar mia rigidezza."

How can we interpret this? It seems that there was evidently
an occasion in which Fiammetta gave him to understand that
she was not averse from his love. What was this occasion?
Della Torre[147]--certainly the most subtle and curious of his
interpreters--thinks he has found it: that he can identify it with
that in which Fiammetta bade him write the _Filocolo_.


_By the Dutch engraver called "The Master of the Subjects in the
Boccaccio." "De Casibus Virorum." (Strasburg, 1476.)_]

In the prologue to that romance Boccaccio tells us that after leaving
the temple of S. Lorenzo with full heart, and having sighed many
days, he found himself by chance--he does not remember how--with some
companions "in un santo tempio del Principe de' celestiali uccelli
nominato": that is to say, as Casetti interprets it, in the convent
of S. Arcangelo a Baiano, where Fiammetta had been. I have said that
it was quite usual for nuns to receive visitors, both men and women,
from the outside; the _Fiammetta_[148] itself confirms it if need be.
The convents were in some sort fashionable resorts where one went to
spend an hour in talk. On some such occasion Boccaccio went to S.
Arcangelo with a friend, and finding Fiammetta there, probably told
her stories from the French romances "del valoroso giovane Florio
figliuolo di Felice grandissimo Re di Spagna," or of Lancelot and
Guinivere, "con amorose parole," stuffed with piteous words. When he
had finished, she, altogether charmed, turned to the young poet
and bade him write such a romance as that--for her--"a little book in
which the beginning of love, the courtship, and the fortune of the
two lovers even to their death shall be told." Well, what could he
do but obey gladly? "Hearing the sweetness of the words which came
from that gracious mouth," he tells us, "and remembering that never
once till this day had that noble lady asked anything of me, I took
her prayer for a command, and saw therein hope for my desires";[149]
so he answered that he would do his best to please her. She thanked
him, and Boccaccio, "costretto più da ragione che da volontà," went
home and began at once to compose his romance.[150] So ends the first
period of his love-story, and the second, the period of courtship,

The first result of this interview and of the hope and fear it gave
him--for whatever may have been the case with Fiammetta now and
later, Giovanni was genuinely in love--was that he wandered away
"dall' usato cammino" from the highway that had brought him so far
and abandoned "le imprese cose," things already begun.[151] And if
we ask ourselves what was this highway, we may answer his way of
life; and the things already begun--his study of the Canon Law. About
this time, then, he began to go more to court, to enter eagerly into
the joy of Neapolitan life in search of Fiammetta. At the same time
his studies suffered--he neglected them to the dismay, as we shall
see, not only of his father, but of his friends.

Something has already been said of the life at the court of King
Robert. The very soul of it was the three ladies: Agnes de Perigord,
wife of Jean D'Anjou, brother of King Robert; Marie de Valois, wife
of Charles, Duke of Calabria, son of the king; and Catherine de
Courteney, who at twelve years of age had married Philip of Taranto,
another of the King's brothers.[152] The luxury in the city was by
far the greatest to be found in Italy. The merchants of Florence,
Lucca, Venice, and Genoa furnished to the court "scarlatti di Gant,"
"sciamiti, panni ricamati ad uso orientale," "oggetti d' oro ed
argento," and "gemmas et lapides pretiosas ad camere regie usum."
Boccaccio himself describes Naples: "Città, oltre a tutte l' altre
italiche, di lietissime feste abbondevole, non solamente rallegra
i suoi cittadini o con le nozze o con li bagni o con li marini
liti, ma, copiosa di molti giuochi, sovente or con uno, or con un
altro letifica la sua gente: ma tra l' altre cose, nelle quali essa
appare splendidissima, è nel sovente armeggiare."[153] Or again of
the spring there: "I giovani, quando sopra i correnti cavalli con
le fiere armi giostravano, e quando circondati da' sonanti sonagli
armeggiavano, quando con ammaestrata mano lieti mostravano come gli
arditi cavalli con ispumante freno si debbano reggere. Le giovani
donne di queste cose vaghe, inghirlandate di nuove frondi, lieti
sguardi porgevano ai loro amanti, ora dall' alte finestre ed ora
dalle basse porte; e quale con nuovo dono, e quale con sembiante, e
quale con parole confortava il suo del suo amore."[154]

If he thus spent his time in play and love there can have been little
enough left, when the _Filocolo_ was laid aside, for study. We find
his father complaining of his slackness. Old Boccaccio had already
been grievously disappointed when Giovanni abandoned trade, and now
that he threw up or was not eager to pursue his law studies, he was
both distressed and angry; nor were Giovanni's friends more content.
All the Florentines at Naples, he tells us, seemed to speak with his
father's voice. It was well to be in love, they told him, even better
to write poetry, but to ruin oneself for love, _Monna mia!_ what
madness, and then poetry never made any one rich.[155]

So spoke and thought the practical Tuscan soul, and the English have
but echoed it for centuries. However, Giovanni only immersed himself
more in Ovid, and doubtless the throb of hexameter and pentameter
silenced the prose of the merchants. Later, about 1334, he began to
read Petrarch;[156] their personal friendship, however, did not
begin till much later, in 1350.[157] His reading then, like his love,
inspired him to write verses, and as he tells us, when the days of
uncertainty were over, "Under the new lordship of love I desired to
know what power splendid words had to move human hearts."[158] And
these _ornate parole_ were all in honour of his love. How he praises

    "Ed io presumo in versi diseguali
    Di disegnarle in canto senza suono?
    Vedete se son folli i pensier miei!"[159]

Presumptuous or no, he tells us very eloquently and sweetly that her
teeth were candid Eastern pearls, her lips, living rubies clear and
red, her cheeks, roses mixed with lilies, her hair, all gold like an
aureole about her happy face:--

    "E l' altre parti tutte si confanno
    Alle predette in proporzione eguale
    Di costei ch' i ver angioli simiglia."[160]

And then her eyes, it is always them he praises best:--

    "L' angelico leggiadro e dolce riso
    Nel qual quando scintillan quelle stelle
    Che la luce del ciel fanno minore
    Par s' apra 'l cielo e rida il mundo tutto."[161]

But he speaks of her beauty in a thousand verses in a thousand
places, in many disguises.

This burning and eager love was, however, hindered in one thing--he
had the greatest difficulty in seeing Fiammetta:--

    "Qualor mi mena Amor dov' io vi veggia
    Ch' assai di rado avvien, sì cara sete...."[162]

For at this time certainly Fiammetta does not seem to have
considered his love of any importance to her, so that she gave him
very few opportunities of seeing her, and then in everything he had
to be careful not to rouse her husband's suspicions.[163] Sometimes,
too, she went far away into the country to some property of her
family, whither he could not follow, and always every year to Baia
for the season; so that we find him writing:--

    "... colla bellezza sua mi spoglia
    Ogn' anno nella più lieta stagione
    Di quella donna ch' è sol mio desire;
    A sè la chiama, ed io, contra mia voglia
    Rimango senza il cuore, in gran quistione,
    Qual men dorriemi il vivere o 'l morire."[164]

He managed to see her, however, sometimes in church, or at her
window, or in the gardens, and once he followed her to Baia, but only
to see her "a long way off." Yet, as he reminds himself, he always
had her, a vision in his heart:--

    "Onde contra mia voglia, s' io non voglio
    Lei riguardando, perder di vederla,
    In altra parte mi convien voltare.
    Oh grieve caso! ond' io forte mi doglio;
    Colei qui cerco di poter vederla
    Sempre non posso poi lei riguardare."[165]

Then there were moments of wild hope, till the indifference of
Fiammetta put it out; and he would resolve to break the "love
chains," but it was useless. He humiliated himself, and at last came
to despair. It was in some such moment, during her absence, we may
think, that he began the _Filostrato_,[166] and at length finally
abandoned those studies which in some sort his love had killed.

In this feverish state of mind, of soul, sometimes hopeful, sometimes
in despair, Boccaccio passed the next five years of his life, from
the spring of 1331 to the spring of 1336. It was during this time,
in 1335[167] it seems, that with his father's unwilling permission he
discontinued the law studies he had begun in 1329, but had for long
neglected, and gave himself up to literature, "without a master,"
but not without a counsellor--his old companion in the study of
astronomy, Calmeta. Other friends, too, were able to assist him,
among them Giovanni Barrili, the jurisconsult, a man of fine culture,
later Seneschal of King Robert for the kingdom of Provence,[168] and
Paolo da Perugia, King Robert's learned librarian, elected to that
office in 1332. Him Boccaccio held in the highest veneration, and no
doubt Paolo was very useful to him.[169]

We know nothing of his first literary studies, but we may be sure he
continued to read Ovid, and now read or re-read Virgil--these if only
for the study of versification. As for prose, it is possible that he
now read the _Metamorphoses_ of Apuleius, which he certainly knew and
admired. However that may be, his work at this time cannot have been
very severe or serious, for his mind was full of uneasiness about
Fiammetta, and this excitement no doubt increased in the early summer
of 1336, when she grew "kinder," and deigned even to encourage him;
he met her "con humil voce e con atti piacenti."[170]


_By the Dutch engraver called "The Master of the Subjects in the
Boccaccio." "De Casibus Virorum." (Strasburg, 1476.)_]

What was the real cause of this "kindness" it seems impossible we
should ever know. Perhaps at the moment Fiammetta lacked a lover,
though that is hard measure for her. Some cause there must have been,
for a woman does not surely let a lover sigh for five years unheard,
and then for no reason at all suddenly requite him. Certainly
Giovanni had made many beautiful verses for her, but when did that
touch a woman's heart? Yet, be the cause what it may, in the summer
of 1336 she would suddenly grow pale when he passed her by, and then
as suddenly turn her "starry eyes" on him languidly, voluptuously:--

    "Amor, se questa donna non s' infinge
    La mia speranza al suo termine viene...."

All this seems to have come to pass at Baia, perhaps, as Boccaccio
seems himself to suggest, one day in the woods of Monte Miseno
whither they were gone with a gay company holding festa there in
the golden spring weather.[171] And there were other days too: long
delicious noons in the woods, still evenings by the seashore, where,
though not alone, he might talk freely to her, by chance or strategy,
or in a low voice whisper his latest verses beating with her heart.
Giovanni, we may be sure, was no mean strategist; he was capable of
playing his part in the game of hide-and-seek with the world.[172]
He seems eagerly to have sought the friendship of her husband and
of her relations and Fiammetta herself tells us in the romance that
bears her name that filled "non solamente dello amoroso ardore, ma
ancora di cautela perfetta il vidi pieno; il che sommamente mi fu a
grado. Esso, con intera considerazione vago di servare il mio onore e
adempiere, quando i luoghi e li tempi il concedessero, li suoi desii
credo non senza gravissima pena, usando molte arti, s' ingegnò d'
aver la familiarità di qualunque mi era parente, ed ultimamente del
mio marito: la quale non solamente ebbe, ma ancora con tanta grazia
la possedette, che a niuno niuna cosa era a grado, se non tanto
quanto con lui la comunicava...."[173]

Well, the one hundred and thirty-five days had begun.[174] There
were difficulties still to be overcome, however, before he won that
for which, as he says, he had always begged. Fiammetta, like a very
woman, denied it him over and over again, though very willingly she
would have given it to him. Expert as he had become in a woman's
heart--in this woman's heart at least--Giovanni guessed all this
and knew besides that she could not give him what he desired unless
he took it with a show at least of violence. Such, even to-day, are
Italian manners.[175] He awaited the opportunity. It seems to have
come during the absence of the husband in Capua.[176] Screwing his
courage to the sticking-point, he resolved to go to her chamber, and
to this end persuaded or bribed her maid to help him.[177]

It was in the early days of November probably, days so pensive in
that beautiful southern country, that it befell even as he had
planned. Led by the maid into Fiammetta's chamber, he hid himself
behind the curtains of the great marital bed. Presently she came
in with the maid, who undressed her and put her to bed, and left
her, half laughing, half in tears. Again he waited, and when at
last, desperate with anxiety and hope, he dared to come out of his
hiding, she was sleeping as quietly as a child. For a time he looked
at her, then trembling and scarce daring to breathe the while, he
crept into the great bed beside her, in verity as though he were her
newly wedded husband. Then softly he kissed her, sleeping still, and
drawing aside the curtain that hid the light,[178] discovered to his
amorous eyes "il delicato petto, e con desiderosa mano toccava le
ritonde mammelle, bacciandola molte volte," and already held her in
his arms when she awakened. She opened her mouth to cry for help, he
closed it with kisses; she strove to get out of bed, but he held her
firm, bidding her have no fear. She was defeated, of course, but that
her yielding might not seem too easy she reproached him[179] in a
trembling voice--trembling with fear and pleasure--for the violence
with which he had stolen what she had always denied him; adding that
all was quite useless as she did not wish it.

Then Giovanni, putting all to the proof, drew a dagger from his
belt, and retiring to a corner of the bed, in a low and distressed
voice said--we find the words in the _Ameto_--"I come not, O lady,
to defile the chastity of thy bed, but as an ardent lover to obtain
relief for my burning desires; thou alone canst assuage them, or tell
me to die: surely I will only leave thee satisfied or dead, not that
I seek to gratify my passion by violence or to compel any to raise
cruel hands against me; but if thou art deaf to my entreaties with my
dagger I shall pierce my heart."

To kill himself--there. O no, Giovanni! Certainly she did not want
that. What then? Well, not a dead man in her room, at any rate, for
all the world to talk about.[180] Yes, she was paid in her own coin.
She was conquered; her silence gave consent. "O no, Giovanni!"

"Donna mia," he whispered, "I came thus because it was pleasing to
the gods...."[181]

"Thou lovest me so?" she answered. "And when then, and how, and why
... and why?" So he told her all over again from the beginning, and
she, yielding little by little, seemed doubtful even yet. Then he
asked again, "Che farò O Donna? Passerà il freddo ferro il solecito
petto o lieto sarà dal tuo riscaldato?" At this renewed menace the
poor lady, without more ado, reached for the iron and flung it away.
Then he, putting his arms about her and kissing her furiously,
whispered: "Lady, the gods, my passion, and thy beauty, have wounded
my soul, and thus as was already told thee in dreams I shall for
ever be thine: I do not think I need implore thee to be mine, but if
necessary I pray thee now once for all...."

That night was but the first of a long series, as we may suppose.
"Oh," says Fiammetta, in the romance which bears her name, "how he
loved my room and with what joy it saw him arrive. He held it in
greater reverence than any church (temple). Ah me, what pleasant
kisses! What loving embraces! How many nights passed as though they
had been bright days in sweet converse without sleep! How many
delights, dear to every lover, have we enjoyed there in those happy

So autumn passed into winter and the long nights grew short, and
all the world was at the spring; and for them too it was the golden
age--so long ago. Well, do we not know how they spent their lives?
It was ever Giovanni's way to kiss and tell. Has he not spoken of
the festas and the jousts, and the rare encounters that in Naples
greeted Primavera?[183] We see him with Fiammetta at the Courts of
Love, in the deep shade of the gardens, in the joyful fields,[184]
on the seashore at Baia,[185] and at the Bagno beside the lake of
Avernus,[186] while we may catch a glimpse of them too at a wedding
feast.[187] So passed what proved to be the one happy year of their
love, and perhaps the happiest of Giovanni's life.

       *       *       *       *       *

That year so full of wild joy soon passed away. With the dawn of
1338 his troubles began. At first jealousy. He found it waiting to
torture him on returning from a journey we know not whither,[188] in
which he had encountered dangers by flood and field; a winter journey
then, doubtless. He came home to find Fiammetta disdainful, angry,
even indifferent. All the annoyance of the road came back to him

        "... non ch' alcun tormento
    Mi desser tornand 'io, ma fur gioconde,
    Tanta dolce speranza mi recava
    Spronato dal desio di rivederti,
    Qual ver me ti lasciai, Donna, pietosa.
    Or, oltre, a quel che io, lasso! stimava,
    Trovo mi sdegni, e non so per quai merti;
    Per che piange nel cor l' alma dogliosa,
    E maledico i monti, l' alpe e 'l mare,
    Che mai mi ci lasciaron ritornare."[190]

Whose fault was it? Perhaps there is not much need to ask. Fiammetta
was incapable of any stability in love, and Giovanni could never
help looking at "altre donne."[191] As we have seen, Fiammetta was
surrounded by admirers who were not, be sure, more scrupulous than
Boccaccio. So that his suspicions were aroused, and he must have
found it difficult to obey her when she forbade him to follow her
to Baia in 1338. Perhaps he had compromised her, and for that cause
alone she had ceased to care for him--it would perhaps be after her
nature; but however it may have been, it was no marvel that he was
jealous, angry, and afraid.[192]


_From a miniature in the French version of the "De Casibus Virorum,"
made in 1409 by Laurent le Premierfait. MS. Late XV century. (Brit.
Mus. Rothschild Bequest. MS. XII.)_]

And his fears prophesied truly--he was betrayed. He did not know it
when she first returned to Naples after the summer was gone. She took
care of that,[193] but she gave him excuses instead of kisses,
which only roused his angry jealousy the more. "Il geloso," she told
him, "ha l' animo pieno d' infinite sollecitudini, alle quali nè
speranza nè altro diletto può porgere conforto o alleviare la sua
pena.... Egli vuole e s' ingegna di porre legge a' piedi e alle mani,
e a ogni altro atto della sua donna,"[194] and so on and so forth.
These hypocritical and eloquent commonplaces did not soothe him, but
rather increased his anxiety. We must remember that though Giovanni
would gad after other beauties, he loved Fiammetta then and always.
It is not surprising, then, that his jealousy became a wild anger.
"Nel cuore mi s' accese un' ira sì ferocissima, che quasi con lei non
mi fece allora crucciare, ma pur mi ritenni."[195] Little by little
suspicion grew to certainty; he guessed he was betrayed, he knew it,
he suspected the very man, his supplanter, his friend; and he sees
him, as it were in a dream, on the "montagne vicine a Pompeano," like
a great mastiff who devours the hen pheasant at a mouthful.[196] What
could he do, what could he say? "Let Thy name perish, Baia...."

    "Perir possa il tuo nome, Baia, e il loco;
    Boschi selvaggi le tue piagge sieno,
    E le tue fonti diventin veneno,
    Nè vi si bagni alcun molto nè poco:
    In pianto si converta ogni tuo gioco,
    E suspetto diventi il tuo bel seno
    A' naviganti; il nuvolo e 'l sereno
    In te riversin fumo solfo e fuoco;
    Che hai corrotto la più casta mente
    Che fosse in donna colla tua licenza,
    Se il ver mi disser gli occhi non è guari.
    Là onde io sempre viverò dolente,
    Come ingannato da folle credenza;
    Or fuss' io stato cieco non ha guari!"[197]

After rage, humiliation. He tells himself that in spite of all he
will love her always, more and more, yes, more than his own life or
honour. He will persist, he will not be easily beaten, he will regain
her. And yet it is all quite useless, as he knows.[198] Was it not in
this hour that he wrote the following beautiful lines:--

    "La lagrime e i sospiri e 'l non sperare,
    A quella fine m' han si sbigottito
    Ch' io me ne vo per via com' uom smarrito:
    Non so che dire e molto men che fare.
    E quando avvien che talor ragionare
    Oda di me, che n' ho talvolta udito,
    Del pallido colore, e del partito
    Vigore, e del dolor che di fuor pare,
    Una pietà di me stesso mi vene
    Sì grande, ch' io desio di dir piangendo
    Che sia cagion di tanto mio martiro:
    Ma poi, temendo non aggiugner pene
    Alle mie noie, tanto mi difendo,
    Ch' io passo in compagnia d' alcun sospiro."[199]

But fate was not content, as he himself says,[200] with this single
blow. Till now he had wanted for nothing; he had had a home of his
own, and had been able to go to court when, and as, he would, and
to enter fully into the life of the gay city. Now suddenly poverty
stared him in the face. His father, from whom all that was stable
and good in his life hitherto had proceeded, was ruined.[201] But
even in his fall he remembered his son, and though Giovanni was
now twenty-five years of age, he maintained him, at considerable
inconvenience doubtless, from 1st November, 1338, to 1st November,
1339, by buying for him the produce of a _podere_ near Capua, "i beni
della chiesa di S. Lorenzo dell' Arcivescovato di Capua," which cost
him twenty-six florins.[202] Della Torre thinks that the wretched
youth was compelled to visit the place (possibly this was his fateful
journey) and to deal with a _fattore di campagna_ and the wily
_contadini_ of whom Alberti has so much to tell us a century later.
With them he would have to take account of the grain, the grapes, the
olives, the swine, and so forth, while trying to write romances and
to save his love from utter disaster.

As though the ills he suffered were not enough, it was at this time
he lost a friend and protector from whom he expected very much.
Niccolò Acciaiuoli, whom he had known since 1331, left Naples on 10th
October, 1338, and two years later Boccaccio writes to him on his
return from the Morea: "Nicola, if any trust can be placed in the
miserable, I swear to you by my suffering soul that the departure of
Trojan Æneas was not a deeper sorrow to the Carthaginian Dido than
was yours to me: not without reason, though you knew it not: nor
did Penelope long for the return of Ulysses more than I longed for

And then all his companions forsook him owing to his change of
fortune; one by one they fell away. He who had consorted with nobles
and loved a king's daughter was left alone; not in his own dwelling,
but outside the city now, "sub Monte Falerno apud busta Maronis," as
he dates his letters: close then to the tomb of Virgil. Was it now,
at the lowest ebb of his fortunes, in all this tempest of ill, that
he turned to the verse of the Mantuan who has healed so many wounds
that the Church may not touch; and so, dreaming beside his sepulchre
at Posilippo, remembering the wasted life, the irrecoverable years,
made that vow which posterity has so well remembered, sworn as it was
on Virgil's grave, to give himself to letters, to follow his art for

Henceforth his life belongs to literature. "Every cloud," says the
proverb, "has a silver lining," and the miseries of youth, though
not the least bitter, differ, in this at least, from those of old
age, that one has time to profit by them. So it was with Giovanni.
The tempest which had destroyed so much that he valued most highly
was in some sort his salvation. To love is good, they had told him,
to write verses even better; but to ruin oneself for love----! What
madness! Yet it was just that he had done, and like many others who
have practised his art, he found in ruin the highway of the world.

Driven by poverty outside the city, deprived alike of its pleasures
and the excitement and distractions of his love, he had nothing left
but his art, and for the first time in his life he seems to have set
himself to study and to practise it with all his might. Deserted
by his companions, he reminded himself that he was a poet and that
solitude was his friend. He seems to have read much, studying in the
shadow of Virgil's tomb the works of that poet[204] and the writings
of the ever-delightful Apuleius, while in the letter to Calmeta we
find--and this is most interesting in regard to his own work--that he
was already reading the _Thebais_ of Statius.[205] Helpers, too, of
a sort he had, among them Dionigi Roberti da Borgo Sansepolcro,[206]
who, as Della Torre thinks, made him write to Petrarch, a thing
Boccaccio no doubt had long wished, but hesitated, to do. The first
extant communication between them, however, dates from 1349.

In the midst of this resurrection of energy in which, as we learn,
he had already grown calm enough to see _Fiammetta_ afar off without
flinching and even with a sort of pleasure, his father, widowed by
the death of Margherita, "full of years, deprived by death of his
children," summoned him home.[207] When did Boccaccio obey this
summons? That he was in Naples in 1340 is proved by the letter "Sacro
famis et angelice viro," dated "sub Monte Falerno apud busta Maronis
Virgilii, Julii Kal IIII.," i.e. 28th June, and, as the contents
show, of the year 1340.[208] He was still there in October, for
on 1st November the renewal of the contract of the _podere_ of S.
Lorenzo fell due, but by 11th January, 1341, we know him to have been
in Florence.[209] He left Naples, then, between 1st November, 1340,
and 11th January, 1341,[210] and as the journey took eleven days or
so he must have set out in the end of the year. By so doing, as it
happened, he just missed seeing Petrarch, who, invited to his court
by King Robert, left Avignon on 16th February, 1341, in the company
of Azzo da Correggio, to reach Naples in March.[211]

So Giovanni came back into the delicate and strong Florentine
country, along the bad roads, through the short days, the whole world
lost in wind and rain, neither glad nor sorry, but thoughtful, and,
yes, homesick after all for that ghost in his heart.


[146] And such was the fashion.

[147] DELLA TORRE, _op. cit._, p. 213.

[148] _Fiammetta_, _ed. cit._, pp. 63-4.

[149] I give the Italian, my translation being somewhat free:--"Un
piccolo libretto, volgarmente parlando, nel quale il nascimento, lo
innamoramento, e gli accidenti delli detti due infino alla lor fine
interamente si contenga.... Io sentendo la dolcezza delle parole
procedenti dalla graziosa bocca _e pensando che mai, cioè infino a
questo giorno, di niuna cosa era stato dalla nobil donna pregato, il
suo prego in luogo di comandamento mi reputai, prendendo per quello
migliore speranza nel futuro de' miei disii_."

[150] In the _Amorosa Visione_ we learn that she told him no longer
to make fun of himself and to think no more of the social difference
between them. In the _Filocolo_ he tells us that he first began to
hope after this interview. No doubt she wished to play with him as
with the rest. Certainly he was not easy in his mind. "Quelle parole
più paura d' inganno che speranza di futuro frutto mi porsero," he
tells us in the _Filocolo_, _ed. cit._, II., p. 248. Then come the
words I for one find so suspicious concerning his birth. In order,
he says, to bring her nearer to him, he thinks of his birth which,
different in social position as they are, was not unlike hers in
its romance. His mother was noble, he tells her, and he feels this
nobility in his heart. "Ma la nobilità del mio cuore tratta non
dal pastor padre, ma dalla reale madre mi porse ardire e dissi:
'Seguirolla e proverò se vera sarà nell' effetto come nel parlar si
mostra volonterosa."

[151] _Filocolo_, _ed. cit._, II, 86.

[152] See on this subject DE BLASIIS, _Le Case de' Principi Angioni_
in _Arch. St. per le prov. nap._, Ann. XII, pp. 311-12.

[153] _Fiammetta_, _ed. cit._, p. 84. I translate: "A city more
addicted to joyous festivals than any other in Italy, her citizens
were not only entertained with marriages, or country amusements, or
with boat-races, but abounding in perpetual festivities she diverted
her inhabitants now with one thing, now with another; among others
she shone supreme in the frequent tournaments."

[154] _Fiammetta_, _ed. cit._, pp. 119-20. "The youths when jousting
with potent weapons on galloping horses or to the sound of clashing
bells in miniature warfare, showed joyously how with a light hand on
the foam-covered bridle fiery horses were to be managed. The young
women delighting in these things, garlanded with spring flowers,
either from high windows or from the doors below, glanced gaily at
their lovers; one with a new gift, another with tender looks, yet
another with soft words assured her servant of her love."

[155] Cf. _De Genealogiis_, XIV, 4, and XV, 10. Giovanni's reply will
be found in the _Filocolo_, _ed. cit._, II, pp. 84-6, "Chi mosse
Vergilio? Chi Ovidio? Chi gli altri poeti a lasciare di loro eterna
fama ne' santi versi, li quali mai ai nostri orecchi pervenuti non
sarieno se costui non fosse?" and so forth.

[156] So it seems we ought to understand his letter to Franceschino
da Brossano, where he says: "Et ego quadraginta annis, vel amplius
suis (that is, of Petrarch) fui" (CORAZZINI, _op. cit._, p. 382).

[157] "Sono quarant' anni," he writes in 1374, "e più che io amo
ed onoro il Petrarca"; cf. DOBELLI and MANICARDI AND MASSERA:
_Introduzione al testo critico del "Canzoniere" del Boccaccio_
(Castel Fiorentino, 1901), pp. 62-4.

[158] _Filocolo_, _ed. cit._, II, p. 248.

[159] _Rime_ (Moutier), XVIII.

[160] _Ibid._, III.

[161] _Ibid._, LXXXIX.

[162] _Ibid._, LXXXIII.

[163] _Fiammetta_, _ed. cit._, p. 28.

[164] _Rime_ (Moutier), XXXIV.

[165] _Ibid._, XXV.

[166] Cf. CRESCINI, _op. cit._, pp. 186-208; DELLA TORRE, _op. cit._,
p. 245.

[167] See DELLA TORRE, _op. cit._, pp. 259 and 260. Cf. also
_De Genealogiis_, Lib. XV, cap. x (HECKER, _Boccaccio Funde_,
Braunschweig, 1902, p. 289). "Attamen jam fere maturus etate et mei
juris factus, nemine impellente, nemine docente, imo obsistente patre
et studium tale damnante, quod modicum novi poetice, sua sponte
sumpsit ingenium eamque summa aviditate secutus sum, et, precipua cum
delectatione, auctorum eiusdem libros vidi legique, et, uti potui,
intelligere conatus sum." So he seems to have won over his father by
telling him he was of an age to decide for himself.

[168] See ZENATI, _Dante e Firenze_ (Firenze, 1903), p. 251, note 1,
and the works there cited. FARAGLIA, _Barbato di Sulmona e gli uomini
di lettere della corte di Roberto d' Angiò_ in _Arch. St. It._,
Ser. V, Vol. III, p. 343. IDEM: _I due amici del Petrarca, Giovanni
Barrili e Barbato di Sulmona_ in _I miei studi storici delle cose
abruzzesi_ (Rocca Carabba, 1893), and DELLA TORRE, _op. cit._, p. 261
_et seq._

[169] Cf. ZENATI, _op. cit._, p. 275, note 1.

[170] See MANICARDI MASSERA, _op. cit._, p. 71, note 1, and DELLA
TORRE, _op. cit._, p. 262.

[171] Boccaccio praises especially Monte Miseno in Sonnet xlviii.:--

    "Ben lo so io, che in te ogni mia noia
    Lasciai, e femmi d' allegrezza pieno
    Colui ch' è sire e re d' ogni mia gloria";

and even more especially in Sonnet xlvii., where he speaks of it:--

    "Nelle quai si benigno Amor trovai
    Che refrigerio diede a' miei ardori
    E ad ogni mia noia pose freno."

But see also ANTONA TRAVERSI, _Della realtà dell' amore di Boccaccio_
in _Propugnatore_ (1883-4), Vols. XVI and XVII, and in _Rivista
Europea_ (1882-3), Vols. XXIX and XXXI.

[172] As to his strategy, hear him in the _Fiammetta_: "Quante volte
già in mia presenza e de' miei più cari, caldo di festa e di cibi
e di amore, fignendo Fiammetta e Panfilo essere stati greci, narrò
egli come io di lui, ed esso di me, primamente stati eravamo presi,
con quanti accidenti poi n' erano seguitati, alli luoghi ed alle
persone pertinenti alla novella dando convenevoli nomi! Certo io ne
risi più volte, e non meno della sua sagacità che della semplicità
delli ascoltanti; e talvolta fu che io temetti, che troppo caldo non
trasportasse la lingua disavvendutamente dove essa andare non doveva;
ma egli, più savio che io non pensava, astutissimamente si guardava
dal falso latino...." Maria was doubtless a good scholar, already very

[173] _Fiammetta_, _ed. cit._, p. 37 _et seq._; cf. CRESCINI,
_op. cit._, pp. 151-2. I translate: "filled not only with amorous
ardour, but also with infinite caution, which pleased me mightily,
desirous above all things to shield my honour and yet to attain
whenever possible his desire, not, I think, without much trouble,
he used every art and studied how to gain the friendship, first of
any who were related to me, and then of my husband: in this he was
so successful that he entirely won their good graces, and nothing
pleased them but what was shared by him."

[174] See _supra_, p. 40.

[175] On this point see an incident related by LINA DUFF GORDON in
her charming _Home Life in Italy_ (Methuen, 1908), p. 157.

[176] See _Ameto_, _ed. cit._, p. 224 _et seq._; cf. CRESCINI, _op.
cit._, pp. 80-2, and DELLA TORRE, _op. cit._, p. 270.

[177] For all these particulars and the following see _Filocolo_,
_ed. cit._, II, pp. 168-9, 174, 178-9. Without doubt these passages
are biographical. See CRESCINI, _op. cit._, p. 82, and DELLA TORRE,
p. 270 _et seq._

[178] Fiammetta was afraid of the dark since her childhood; she
always had a light in her room. Cf. _Fiammetta_, _ed. cit._, p. 55.

[179] "Col tuo ardito ingegno, me presa nella tacita notte secura
dormendo ... prima nelle braccia m' avesti e quasi la mia pudicizia
violata, che io fossi dal sonno interamente sviluppata. E che doveva
io fare, questo veggendo? doveva io gridare, e col mio grido a me
infamia perpetua, ed a te, il quale io più che me medesima amava,
morte cercare?"--_Fiammetta_, _ed. cit._; p. 67. Not so argued
"Lucrece of Rome town."

[180] It was a cowardly threat from our point of view, but probably
not an idle one. Men go to bed in Sicily and die of love in the
night. And then, too, this violence was part of the etiquette, and in
some sort is so still, in Southern Italy, at any rate.

[181] _Filocolo_, _ed. cit._, II, p. 180. In the _Ameto_, _ed. cit._,
p. 225, he says it was Hecate who brought him in.

[182] _Fiammetta_, _ed. cit._, p. 39.

[183] Cf. _Fiammetta_, _ed. cit._, pp. 84-8.

[184] _Filocolo_, _ed. cit._, II, p. 27 _et seq._; cf. also DELLA
TORRE, _St. della Accademia Platonica di Firenze_ (Firenze, 1902),
p. 164 _et seq._; and PIO RAJNA, _L' Episodio delle Questioni d'
amore nel "Filocolo"_ in _Raccolta di studi critici per A. d' Ancona_
(Firenze, 1901).

[185] Sonnet xxxii., _Rime_, _ed. cit._

[186] Cf. HORTIS, _Accenni alle Scienze naturali nelle opere di
G. B._ (Trieste, 1877), p. 49 _et seq._; and PERCOPÒ, _I bagni di
Pozzuoli_ in _Arch. St. per le prov. nap._, XI, pp. 668, 703-4.

[187] _Fiammetta_, pp. 77-80.

[188] Cf. CRESCINI, _op. cit._, p. 182, note 1.

[189] Cf. DELLA TORRE, _op. cit._, p. 289.

[190] Sonnet lix., _Rime_, _ed. cit._

[191] See Madrigal ii. (Moutier) and Sonnet xxiv. (Moutier), where
he excuses himself. As for Fiammetta, we know her, and she says,
in the _Fiammetta_, "Quanti e quali giovani d' avere il mio amore
tentassero, e i diversi modi, e l' inghirlandate porte dagli loro
amori, le notturne risse e le diurne prodezze per quelli operate."
In the _Filocolo_ he describes how in a vision Florio is shown how
strenuously he ought to defend his love from her admirers.

[192] See Sonnet lxix., in which he says (but see the whole sonnet):--

    "Ed io lo so, e di quinci ho temenza,
    Non con la donna mia si fatti sienvi,
    Che 'l petto l' aprano ed entrinsi in quello."

[193] _Filocolo_, _ed. cit._, II, p. 70-1; CRESCINI, _op. cit._, pp.
76-7: DELLA TORRE, _op. cit._, pp. 294-5.

[194] I translate: "The jealous lover's soul is ever filled with
infinite terrors and his pangs are not to be alleviated by hope or
by any other joy. He insists on inventing and dictating laws for the
feet and hands, and for every act of his mistress."--_Filocolo_, _ed.
cit._, II, p. 73.

[195] _Filocolo_, _ed. cit._, II, p. 71. I translate: "My heart was
filled with such furious anger that I almost broke away from her, yet
I restrained myself."

[196] _Filocolo_, _ed. cit._, II, pp. 25-6.

[197] Sonnet iv.; cf. also Sonnet lv. "Che dolore intollerabile
sostengo," he writes in the _Filocolo_. See also Madrigal iii., and
DELLA TORRE, _op. cit._, pp. 297-9.

[198] Cf. _Filocolo_, _ed. cit._, II, p. 262. "Come di altri molti,"
he says, "avea fatto, cosi di lui feci gittandolo dal mio senno.
Questa cosa fatta, la costui letizia si rivolse in pianto. E,
brevemente, egli in poco tempo di tanta pietà il suo viso dipinse,
che egli in compassione di sè moveva i più ignoti. Egli mi si
mostrava, e con preghi e con lagrime tanto umile quanto più poteva,
la mia grazia ricercando...."

[199] Sonnet lxxxvii.

[200] _Filocolo_, _ed. cit._, II, 26.

[201] We know nothing of the cause of Boccaccino's ruin. It is
interesting to remember, however, that he was connected with the
Bardi who in 1339 had, with the Peruzzi, lent Edward III of England
1,075,000 florins. As we know, this sum was never repaid, and the
transaction ruined the lenders. Boccaccino himself seems to have been
already short of money in 1336, when he sold Casa di Boccaccio.

[202] The church is situated, according to Della Torre, in the
village of S. Maria Maggiore. See DELLA TORRE, _op. cit._, pp. 309-13.

[203] CORAZZINI, _op. cit._, p. 17.

[204] That Boccaccio considered Virgil in some sort a magician is
certain. Cf. HORTIS, _Studi_, etc., pp. 394, 396-8.

[205] Not being able to understand it, he asks for an example with
glosses. Cf. CORAZZINI, _op. cit._, p. 465.

[206] Cf. the letter to Niccolò Acciaiuoli, dated from Florence,
August 23, 1341, where he speaks of "il reverendo mio padre e
signore, Maestro Dionigi," CORAZZINI, _op. cit._, p. 18. Possibly
Dionigi made him read Seneca. Cf. DELLA TORRE, _op. cit._, pp. 323-4.

[207] Boccaccino had lost almost everything, including the _dote_
of his wife. Giovanni declares this was the justice of heaven upon
him for the desertion of his (Giovanni's) mother. Cf. _Ameto_, _ed.
cit._, pp. 187-8. He never forgave his father for this. Yet, like a
good son, he obeyed the summons, and says later that "we ought to
learn to bear the yoke of our fathers, and should honour with the
greatest reverence their trembling old age." We believe Margherita
died in 1339. The last document we have which speaks of her is,
however, of 1337. When Francesco died we cannot say.

[208] Cf. DELLA TORRE, _op. cit._, p. 339. This letter is, as I have
already said, considered apocryphal by many scholars, though not by
Della Torre.

[209] _Ibid._, p. 343. See document there given, which equally proves
that on 11th January, 1341, Boccaccio was already in Florence.

[210] _Fiammetta_, _ed. cit._, p. 40, where he says Panfilo (himself)
left Naples "essendo il tempo per piove e per freddo noioso."

[211] Della Torre seems to have proved that Boccaccio left Naples
in December, 1340, and was in Florence early in the new year, 1341.
For the most part he is in agreement with Crescini and Landau. Cf.
CRESCINI, _op. cit._, p. 86 _et seq._, and LANDAU, _op. cit._, 70 and
40 (Italian edition) also pp. 181-2. KOERTING, _op. cit._, p. 164,
says 1339 or 1340.



I have written at some length and in some detail of the early
years of Boccaccio and of the circumstances attending his love for
Fiammetta, because they decided the rest of his life, and are in
many ways by far the most important in his whole career. But the ten
years which follow his return to Florence are even more uncertain and
obscure that those which preceded them, while we are without any of
those semi-biographical allegories to help us. It will be necessary,
therefore, to deal with these years less personally, and to regard
them more strictly from the point of view of the work they produced.
And to begin with, let us consider the work already begun before
Boccaccio left Naples, or at any rate worked on during the years
1341-4, which were spent in and around Florence.

That his life was far from happy on his return from Naples we know
not only from the bitter and cruel verses he has left us, in which he
speaks of his home--

    "Dove la cruda ed orribile vista
    D' un vecchio freddo, ruvido ed avaro
    Ogn' ora con affanno più m' attrista----"[212]

but also from the letters he sent to Niccolò Acciaiuoli,[213] in
which he says: "I can write nothing here where I am in Florence,
for if I should, I must write not in ink, but in tears. My only hope
is in you--you alone can change my unhappy fate." That he was very
poor we may be certain, and though he was not compelled to work at
business, the abomination of his youth, no doubt he had to listen
to the regrets, and perhaps to the reproaches, of an old man whom
misfortune had soured. His father, however, seems to have left him
quite free to work as he wished, satisfying himself with his mere
presence and company. And then the worst was soon over, for, by what
means we know not, by December, 1342, he was able to buy a house in
the parish of S. Ambrogio, and to live in his own way.[214]

This period, then, materially so unfortunate, not for Boccaccio
alone, as we shall see, is nevertheless the most fruitful of his
existence. For it is in the five years which follow his return from
Naples that we may be sure he was at work on the _Filocolo_, the
_Ameto_, the _Teseide_, the _Amorosa Visione_, the _Filostrato_, and
wrote the _Fiammetta_ and the _Ninfale Fiesolano_, and somewhat in
that sequence; though save with regard to the _Filocolo_ perhaps, we
have no notice or date or hint even of the order of their production,
either from himself or any of his contemporaries.

It was at this time, too, that he perfected himself in the Latin
tongue and read the classics, of which he shows he had a marvellously
close if uncritical knowledge. His state of soul is visible in his
work, which is so extraordinarily personal. A single thought seems to
fill his mind: he had loved a princess, and had been loved in return;
she had forsaken him, but she remained, in spite of everything, the
lode-star of his life. He writes really of nothing else but this.
Full of her he sets himself to glorify her, and to tell over and over
again his own story.


_From a miniature in the French version of the "De Casibus Virorum,"
made in 1409 by Laurent le Premierfait. MS. late XV century. (Brit.
Mus. Showcase V, MS. 126.)_]

It was the story of Florio and Biancofiore, popular enough in Naples,
that had charmed Fiammetta at first hearing in the convent parlour at
S. Arcangelo a Baiano, and it is round this tale that the _Filocolo_
is written.[215] As he tells us himself in the first page, this was
the first book he made to please her, and it was therefore probably
begun in the summer of 1331.[216] The work thus undertaken seems to
have grown on his hands, and can indeed have been no light task: it
is the longest of his works after the _Decameron_, and the weakest
of all. The book, indeed, as we now have it, must have demanded
years of labour; as he himself exclaims: "O piccolo mio libretto a
me più anni stato graziosa fatica";[217] and it is certain that it
was still unfinished when he returned to Florence, and probable that
it remained so for some years. The narrative is complicated, and the
relation very long drawn out and even tiresome.

There live in Rome, we learn, Quinto Lelio Africano and Giulia
Tropazia his wife, who have been married for five years, and yet, to
their sorrow, have no children. Lelio is descended from the conqueror
of Carthage, Scipio Africanus, and Giulia from the Julian stock.
They are both pious Christians and vow a pilgrimage to S. James of
Compostella if, in answer to the prayers of that saint, God will
vouchsafe them a child. Their prayers are heard, and with a great
company they set out on pilgrimage to Spain in fulfilment of their

Now this pilgrimage has especially infuriated the ancient enemy
of mankind, here half Satan, half Pluto, and he is resolved to
hinder it. In the form of a knight he appears before King Felice of
Spain, who is descended in direct line from Atlas, the bearer of the
heavens, and tells him how his faithful city of Marmorina has been
assailed by the Romans, how it was sacked and its inhabitants put to
the sword without mercy.

Much moved to anger by this tale, King Felice sets out against the
Romans, and meeting Lelio with his people on pilgrimage, takes
them for his enemies and attacks them. The little Roman company
defends itself with the courage of despair, but ends by succumbing
to overwhelming force. All the Romans are killed on the field and
their women made prisoners; but not before the King understands how
maliciously he has been deceived by the devil, and how the folk
he has killed were but innocent pilgrims. So he leads Giulia and
Glorizia her friend to his wife in Seville, where a great fête is
given in his honour.

And as it happens Giulia and the Queen give birth in the same day
to a daughter and a son respectively, who are given the names of
Biancofiore and Florio. Giulia, however, dies in child-bed, and her
daughter Biancofiore is educated by the Queen with her son Florio.
The two children learn to read in the "santo libro d' Ovidio," in
which Boccaccio tells us the poet shows, "come i santi fuochi di
Venere si deano ne' freddi cuori con sollecitudine accendere." And
this reading is not without its effect; the two children fall in
love, Love himself appearing to them.

There follows what we might expect. The King is angered at their
love, and refuses to permit the union of his son with an unknown
Roman girl. He sends the fifteen-year-old Florio to Montorio,
ostensibly to study philosophy, but really to forget Biancofiore.
After the parting, charmingly told, in which Florio calls on the gods
and heroes, and Biancofiore gives him a ring which will always tell
him of her safety, he departs. The King, however, profiting by his
absence, plots against Biancofiore with the assistance of Massamutino
the seneschal. At a sumptuous banquet given in the castle the girl is
accused of having tried to poison him. She is condemned to the stake,
and Massamutino is to execute the sentence.

Meanwhile Florio has been disquieted by the sudden tarnishing
of the ring. Suddenly Venus appears to him, and bids him go to
the assistance of his mistress. Armed with arms terrestrial and
celestial, accompanied by Mars, Florio hastens to Marmorina. He
frees Biancofiore, and in a sort of duel conquers the seneschal,
and having obtained from him a confession of the conspiracy, proves
the innocence of Biancofiore and kills him. During all this he is
incognito. Then, without heeding her prayers, he gives her once
more into the care of the King and returns to Montorio without
declaring who he is. There he is tempted to be false to his love by
two girls who offer him every sort of love and pleasure, and it is
only with difficulty he keeps his faith. He is then assaulted by
jealousy, however, for he knows that a young knight, Fileno by name,
altogether noble and valorous, is fallen in love with Biancofiore.
Florio resolves to kill him, but the youth is advised in a dream of
his danger and flies into Tuscany, where, by reason of his continual
weeping, he is changed into a fountain near a temple.

The persecutions of Biancofiore, however, are not over. King Felice,
wishing to be rid of her, sells her one day to some merchants, and
these take her at length to Alexandria in Egypt. Florio, returning,
is told she is dead; he tries to kill himself on her pretended tomb,
but his mother prevents him and tells him the truth. He resolves to
set out through the world in search of his love. Here the first part
of the story may be said to end.

The second part is concerned with Florio's adventures. He travels
unknown under the name of Filocolo,[218] that is to say Fatica d'
Amore. With his companions he voyages first towards Italy, and, blown
by a tempest to Partenope (Naples), meets there in a garden the
beautiful Fiammetta and her lover Galeone amid a joyful and numerous
company, each member of which recounts an amorous adventure, and
closes the narrative with a demand for the solution of the _Questione
d' Amore_ which arises out of it.

Meanwhile Biancofiore has been sold to the admiral of the Sultan
of Babylon in Alexandria, who makes a collection of beauties for
his lord. This treasure is kept well guarded, but with every
consideration, at the top of a lofty and beautiful tower by Sadoc,
a ferocious old Arab, who, however, has two weaknesses--his love of
money and his love of chess. Florio allows him to win at a game of
chess, and at the same time bribes him generously. Having thus won
his good will he has himself carried to Biancofiore in a great basket
of flowers. She rewards him for all his labour. The admiral, however,
learns of this, and, furious at the spoliation of his property,
condemns both Florio and his mistress to be burned alive. But when
they are at the stake, Venus makes their bodies invulnerable, and
inspires Florio's companions to heroic deeds. In admiration of their
courage, the admiral is reconciled with them; and, in fact, when
Florio, Filocolo till now, declares who he is, he finds that the old
admiral is his uncle. Then follows the marriage and the marriage

Here the book might well have ended; but Boccaccio has by no means

On the way back to Spain, Florio, Biancofiore and their companions
pass through Italy. In Naples they find Galeone abandoned by
Fiammetta. They visit the places round about, the baths of Baia, the
ancient sepulchre of Misenum,[219] Cuma, the Mare Morto and Pozzuoli.
Florio fishes in the bay and hunts in the woods. One day following a
stag, he shoots an arrow that not only wounds the animal, but also
strikes the root of a tall pine, and, wonderful to relate, Florio
and Biancofiore see blood spring from the wounded tree and hear a
mournful voice cry out in pain. This being, changed into a tree,
proves to be Idalagos, who, questioned by Florio, tells him all his
history, the history, as we have seen,[220] of Boccaccio himself, for
it is his own story he tells in the name of Idalagos.

After these adventures Florio, with Biancofiore and his companions,
goes on to Rome, where, like a modern tourist, he visits all the
sights. In the Lateran he meets the monk Ilario, who discourses on
religion, dealing severely with paganism, and recounting briefly
the contents of the Old and New Testaments. He speaks also of the
history of the Greeks and Romans, and at last converts Florio and his
companions to Christianity.[221] Then follows the reconciliation with
Biancofiore's relations and the return to Spain, where, Felice being
dead, Florio inherits his kingdom, and with Biancofiore lives happily
ever after.

Such, in the most meagre outline, is the main story of the
_Filocolo_; but Boccaccio is not really concerned with it in its
integrity, and in the construction of it he does not show himself
to be the future composer of the _Decameron_. He collects in haste,
and without much discernment, all sorts of episodes and adventures,
and tells them, not without some confusion, solely to serve his own
ends, to express himself and his love. Sometimes he copies the French
poems from which in part he had the story,[222] though probably his
real sources were tradition; sometimes he invents his own story, as
in the tale of Idalagos. But as a work of art the _Filocolo_ is now
intolerable, and is, in fact, even in Italy, quite unread. For when
we have followed the hero in detail from birth to the unspeakable
happiness which is the finality of all such creations, we know
nothing of his character. He is not a man, but a shadow; the ghost of
a ghost. And as it is with Florio, so it is with Biancofiore: they
are pure nothing. But, as it seems, Boccaccio was too young and too
eager to care about anything but flattering Fiammetta and telling her
he loved her. The story, in so far as it is a story, is an imitation
of the endless medieval tales told by word of mouth in the streets
and piazzas up and down Italy. Yet now and again, even in this
wearying and complicated desert of words, we may find hints of the
author's attitude of mind towards the great things of the world,
while once certainly we find a prophecy not only of a great artist,
but of the _Decameron_ itself.


_This cut originally appears in the "Troy Book." (T. Bonhomme, Paris,
1484.) Unique copy at Dresden. (By the courtesy of Messrs. J. & J.

In the course of the book Boccaccio makes all sorts of excursions
into mythology, and towards the end into religion. If we examine
these pages we find that for him the gods of Greece once reigning in
Olympus are now devils and demons according to the transformation
of the Middle Age. The monk who converts Florio and teaches him
Christian doctrine speaks with the same faith of Saturn and the
Trojan war, while Mars and Venus are never named without the epithet
of _Santi_, and S. James of Compostella is "il Dio che viene adorato
in Galizia."

In spite, however, of its faults of prolixity and preciosity, the
_Filocolo_ has, as I have said, this much interest for us to-day,
that in the finest episode, that of the _Questioni d' Amore_,
it prophesies the _Decameron_. In the course of his search for
Biancofiore, Florio, it will be remembered, comes to Naples, where
in a beautiful garden he finds Fiammetta and her lover Galeone.
There, amid a joyful company, he assists at a festa given in his
honour, where thirteen questions are proposed by four ladies--Cara,
Pola, and Graziosa, and one dressed in _bruni vestimenti_; and nine
gentlemen--Filocolo, Longanio, Menedon, Clonico, Galeone, Feramonte,
Duke of Montorio, Ascalione, Parmenione, and Massalino.[223] It is
Fiammetta's task to resolve these questions. Neither the tales nor
the questions which rise out of them are entirely new. For instance,
Galeone asks: "Whether a man for his own good ought to fall in
love or no?" Feramonte demands: "Whether a young man should love a
married woman, a maiden, or a widow?" It is not indeed so much in the
questions as in the stories and the assembly we are interested, for
they announce the _Decameron_, the whole of which, as Bartoli[224]
says, is contained in the _Questioni d' Amore_.[225]

The first edition of the _Filocolo_ was published in Venice in 1472
by Gabriele di Piero, with a life of Boccaccio written by Girolamo
Squarciafico. A French translation appeared in 1542 by Adrien Sevin.
It was translated again in 1554 by I. Vincent (Paris, 1554, Michel

       *       *       *       *       *

The _Filocolo_ was written in prose. In his next venture[226]
Boccaccio, who had no doubt already written many songs for Fiammetta,
attempted a story in verse. It is written in _ottave_, and was begun
during the earlier and brighter period of his love.[227] "You are
gone suddenly to Samnium," he writes in the dedication to Fiammetta,
"and ... I have sought in the old histories what personage I might
choose as messenger of my secret and unhappy love, and I have found
Troilus son of Priam, who loved Criseyde. His miseries are my
history. I have sung them in light rhymes and in my own Tuscan, and
so when you read the lamentations of Troilus and his sorrow at the
departure of his love, you shall know my tears, my sighs, my agonies,
and if I vaunt the beauties and the charms of Criseyde you will know
that I dream of yours." Well, the intention of the poem is just
that. It is an expression of his love. He is tremendously interested
in what he has suffered; he wishes her to know of it, he is eager
to tell of his experiences, his pains and joys. The picture is the
merest excuse, a means of self-expression. And yet in its exquisite
beauty of sentiment and verse it is one of the loveliest of his
works. The following is an outline of the narrative.

During the siege of Troy, Calchas, priest of Apollo, deserts to the
Greek camp,[228] and leaves his daughter Criseyde, the young and
beautiful widow, in Troy.[229] Troilus sees her there in the temple
of Minerva,[230] and falls in love. By good luck he finds that
Criseyde is a cousin of his dear friend Pandarus, whom he immediately
makes his confidant,[231] obtaining from him the promise that he will
help him.[232] Pandarus goes slowly and cautiously to work. He first
persuades Criseyde to let herself be seen by Troilus,[233] and when
this does not satisfy his friend he shows himself rich in resource.
At his suggestion Troilus writes to Criseyde and he bears the letter.
He spares no way of persuading her, who at first swearing "per la
mia salute" that she will never consent, consents and makes Troilus

Almost all the third Canto is devoted to a description of the
happiness of the two lovers.

    "Poi che ciascun sen fu ito a dormire,
    E la casa rimasta tutta cheta,
    Tosto parve a Griseida di gire
    Dov' era Troilo ni parte segreta,
    Il qual, com' egli la sentì venire,
    Drizzato ni piè, e con la faccia lieta
    Le si fe' incontro, tacito aspettando,
    Per esser presto ad ogni suo comando.

    "Avea la donna un torchio in mano acceso,
    E tutta sola discese le scale,
    E Troilo vide aspettarla sospeso,
    Cui ella salutò, poi disse, quale
    Ella potè: signor, se io ho offeso,
    In parte tale il tuo splendor reale
    Tenendo chiuso, pregoti per Dio,
    Che mi perdoni, dolce mio disio.

    "A cui Troilo disse: donna bella
    Sola speranza e ben della mia mente,
    Sempre davanti m' è stata la stella
    Del tuo bel viso splendido e lucente,
    E stata m' è più casa particella
    Questa, che 'l mio palagio certamente;
    E dimandar perdono a ciò non tocca;
    Poi l' abbracciò e baciaronsi in bocca.

    "Non si partiron prima di quel loco
    Che mille volta insieme s' abbracciaro
    Con dolce festa e con ardente gioco,
    Ed altrettante vie più si baciaro,
    Siccome que' ch' ardevan d' ugual foco,
    E che l' un l' altro molto aveva caro;
    Ma come l' accoglienze si finiro,
    Salir le scale e'n camera ne giro.

    "Lungo sarebbe a raccontar la festa
    E impossibile a dire il diletto
    Che insieme preser pervenuti in questa:
    E' si spogliarono e entraron nel letto;
    Dove la donna nell' ultima vesta
    Rimasa già, con piacevole detto
    Gli disse: speglio mio, le nuove spose
    Son la notte primiera vergognose.

    "A cui Troilo disse: anima mia,
    I' te ne prego, sì ch' io t' abbia in braccio
    Ignuda sì come il mio cor disia.
    Ed ella allora: ve' che me ne spaccio;
    E la camicia sua gittata via,
    Nelle sue braccia si raccolse avaccio
    E strignendo l' un l' altro con fervore,
    D' amor sentiron l' ultimo valore.

    "O dolce notte, e molto disiata,
    Chente fostu alli due lieti amanti!"[235]

       *       *       *       *       *

But the happiness of the Trojan prince does not last. Calchas, who
desires to see his daughter, contrives that she shall come to him
in an exchange of prisoners. Inexpressible is the sorrow of Troilus
when he learns of this design.[236] He prays the gods, if they wish
to punish him, to take from him his brother Hector or Polissena, but
to leave him his Criseyde.[237] Nor is Criseyde less affected.[238]
Pandarus, when appealed to, suggests that Troilus shall take the
girl, if need be, by force: a marriage seems to have been out of the

    "Pensato ancora avea di domandarla
    Di grazia al padre mio che la mi desse;
    Poi penso questo fora un accusarla,
    E far palese le cose commesse;
    Nè spero ancora ch' el dovesse darla,
    Sì per non romper le cose promesse,
    E perchè la direbbe diseguale
    A me, al qual vuol dar donna reale."[239]

In fact, Cassandra has already discovered that her brother is in
love with a lady of no birth, the daughter of a wretched and vulgar
priest. So Troilus decides to have a last meeting with Criseyde
before she goes, to contrive with her what is to be done. At this
meeting the lovers swear eternal fidelity[240] and Criseyde promises
to return to him in Troy in ten days' time. Then in that same day
Diomede delivers one prisoner and takes Criseyde back with him to the
Greek camp.

Now Troilus is alone with his sorrow. He visits all the places that
remind him of Criseyde, and this pilgrimage is described in some of
the most splendid verses of the poem:--[241]

    "Quindi sen gì per Troia cavalcando
    E ciascun luogo gliel tornava a mente;
    De' quai con seco giva ragionando:
    Quivi rider la vidi lietamente;
    Quivi la vidi verso me guardando:
    Quivi mi salutò benignamente;
    Quivi far festa e quivi star pensosa,
    Quivi la vidi a? miei sospir pietosa.

    "Colà istava, quand' ella mi prese
    Con gli occhi belli e vaghi con amore;

       *       *       *       *       *

    "Colà la vidi altiera, e là umile
    Mi si mostrò la mia donna gentile."

So he passes the time. In vain Pandarus seeks to distract him;[242]
in vain he seeks to comfort himself with making verses; the
longing to see Criseyde again is stronger than anything else.


_An English woodcut from Lydgate's "Falles of Princes." (Pynson,
London, 1527.) It is a copy in reverse from the French translation of
the "De Casibus." (Du Pré, Paris. 1483.) (By the courtesy of Messrs.
J. & J. Leighton.)_]

At last the ten days pass, and Criseyde ought to return to Troy.
Troilus awaits her at dawn at the gate of the city; but in vain: she
does not come. He consoles himself, however, by thinking that perhaps
she has forgotten to count the days and will come to-morrow. But
neither does she come on the morrow. Thus he awaits her for a whole
week in vain at the gate of the city, till at last in despair he
resolves to take his own life.[243]

Meanwhile Criseyde, from the day of her departure, has passed the
time much better than Troilus. For in truth she has consoled herself
with Diomede, who, after the first four days, has easily made her
forget the Trojan. She does not wish, however, that Troilus should
know she has broken faith. She answers his letters and puts him off
with words and excuses.

    "My love with words and errors still she feeds,
    But edifies another with her deeds."[244]

This sort of deception, however, cannot last long. Troilus grows
more and more suspicious, till one day Deiphebus having fought with
Diomede, he brings into Troy a clasp taken from the Greek which
Troilus recognises as the same he had given to Criseyde, and is
persuaded of her falsity.[245] So he resolves to avenge himself on
Diomede. In every encounter he rushes headlong on the foe, achieving
miracles of valour, seeking everywhere for Diomede; but fate is
against him even here, and he falls at last unavenged, but at least
by the noble hand of Achilles.[246]

    "The wraththe, as I began yow for to seye
    Of Troilus, the Grekes boughten dere;
    For thousands his hondes maden deye
    As he that was with-outen any pere,
    Save Ector, in his tyme, as I can here.
    But weylaway save only goddes will
    Dispitously him slough the fiers Achille."[247]

Thus ends this simple work. In it we see an extraordinary advance
on the _Filocolo_ and the _Teseide_, both of which were possibly
planned and begun before the _Filostrato_ and finished later, for
there is a fine unity about the last which suggests that it was begun
and ended without intervention. Certainly here Boccaccio has freed
himself from all the mythological nonsense of those works as well as
from the lay figures and ghosts of knights who take antique names and
follow impossible ways. Here are real people of flesh and blood, and
among them nothing is finer than the study of Criseyde. She is as
living as any figure in the _Decameron_ itself. We see her first as a
widow mourning for a husband she has altogether forgotten; yet when
Pandarus makes his first overtures, she pleads her bereavement, while
she reads with delight the letters Troilus sends her, and is already
contriving in her little head how and when she shall meet him. She
tries to make Pandarus think she is doing everything out of pity, but
in her mind she has already decided to give everything to her lover,
although she writes him that she is "desirous to please him so far
as she may with safety to her honour and chastity." Then, as soon
as she has left Troy weeping, and Diomede has revealed his love to
her, she forgets Troilus because the Greek "was tall and strong and

    "Egli era grande e bel della persona,
    Giovane fresco e piacevole assai
    E forte e fier siccome si ragiona....
    E ad amor la natura aveva prona."[248]

So she takes him, but even to him she lies, for she tells him she
has loved and been loved by no one but her dead husband, whom she
served loyally:--

    "Amore io non conobbi, poi morio
    Colui al qual lealmente il servai,
    Sì come a marito e signor mio;
    Nè Greco nè Troian mai non curai
    In cotal fatto, nè me m' è in disio
    Curarne alcuno, nè mi fia giammai...."[249]

This character, vain, false, and light, but absolutely living and a
very woman, is opposed to the loyal character of Pandarus, and is
doubtless subtly modelled without too much exaggeration on that of
Fiammetta. In direct contrast to it is the character of Troilus, the
most beautiful in the poem: so eager, so ardent, so perfectly youth
itself. He knows no country, no religion, no filial affection, but
lives and sees only Criseyde. Every day he will thrust himself into
the thickest of the fight in search of glory that he may lay it at
her feet and win her praise. It is love that has made him a hero,
as it made Boccaccio a poet: but both Criseyde and Fiammetta were
women; what should they care for that? Troilus is a real creation,
the first of those marvellous living figures who later people the
_Decameron_: the first and the most charming, the most youthful, the
most beautiful. But the whole poem is marvellously original alike in
its characters and in its versification.

As for the story, Boccaccio, it seems, got it partly from Benoît
de Sainte-More, whose _Roman de Troie_ had been composed from the
uncertainly dated works of "Dictys Cretensis" and "Dares Phrygius,"
and partly from the prose Latin _Hystoria Troiana_ of Guido delle
Colonne; there is certainly nothing of the _Iliad_ there. But the
_Filostrato_ is really an original composition, owing little or
nothing to any previous work. If there be any imitations to be found
in it they are not of the _Roman de Troie_ or of Guido delle Colonne,
but of Dante:[250] the _Divine Comedy_ even at this time having cast
its shadow over Boccaccio.

In the ninth and last book of the poem, which is not indeed a part of
it, but rather a sort of epilogue, he dedicates his work to Fiammetta,

    "Alla donna gentil della mia mente,"

and tells her that she may find there his own tears and sighs because

    "De' suoi begli occhi i raggi chiari,
    Mi si occultaron per la sua partenza
    Che lieto sol vivea di lor presenza."

These words to some extent date the poem, which was apparently
finished before Fiammetta had betrayed him, and it seems likely even
that he had not as yet obtained from her the favours he valued so
highly and of which she was so generous to so many. These are the
reasons why I have considered the _Filostrato_ so early a work in
spite of its perfection.

The poem was published for the first time about 1480 by Luca Veneto
in Venice; it was translated into French[251] by Louis de Beauveau,
Seneschal d'Anjou, and as we shall see, Chaucer drew from it his
exquisite poem _Troilus and Criseyde_.

       *       *       *       *       *

In turning now to the _Teseide_ we come apparently to the third work,
in point of time, of Boccaccio's youth. In the _Filocolo_, itself a
labour of love, he has told us of his first joy; in the _Filostrato_
of his hopes, torments, doubts, and waiting; in the _Teseide_ we see
the agonies of his jealousy. It was written to some extent under the
influence of Virgil as we should suppose, since it was begun, as we
may think, in the shadow of his tomb when Boccaccio had left the
city of Naples,[252] and it proves indeed to be written in twelve
books, and to have precisely the same number of lines as the _Æneid_,
namely 9896; it is therefore about twice as long as the _Filostrato_.
It is prefaced by a letter "To Fiammetta," in which he tells us why
he has written the poem, while "thinking of past joy in present
misery." The work professes to be a story of ancient times, and to
be concerned with the love two brothers in arms, Palemon and Arcite,
bear Emilia; but this is merely an excuse. "It is to please you," he
tells Fiammetta, "that I have composed this love story." Was it with
some idea of winning back her love by this stupendous manuscript?
How charming and how naive, how like Giovanni too; but how absurd to
dream of thus influencing Fiammetta. Did she ever read these nine
thousand odd verses? _Che! che!_

The story is meagrely as follows:--

In the barbarous land of Scythia,[253] on the shores of the Black
Sea, dwelt the Amazons under Ippolyta, their queen. Now certain
Greeks cast up on that coast in a tempest had been ill-treated there,
and Theseus, Duke of Athens, undertakes a war of vengeance against
that kingdom, and in spite of a valorous defence conquers it.[254]
His price of peace is absolute submission and the hand of the Queen
Ippolyta. And it was so, and many of the Greeks too, longing for
women after the campaign, married also. And when Theseus had lived in
peace there with his wife Ippolyta for more than a year,[255] scarce
thinking of Athens, his friend Peritoo appeared to him in a dream
urging his return. So he set out and came to Athens with Ippolyta and
her younger sister Emilia.

Scarcely is he come to Athens when he is urged by a deputation of
the Greek princesses to declare war on Creon, who will not permit
the burial rites to be performed for those who fell in the war of
succession. Theseus conquers Thebes and Creon is killed, the bodies
of the Greek princes are solemnly burned and their ashes conserved.

So far the introduction, in which Boccaccio has followed tradition
with an almost perfect faithfulness: now begins his own work, to
which these adventures of Theseus are but the preface.

Two youths of the royal Theban stock, Palemon and Arcite, have been
made prisoners by Theseus and taken to Athens. There they see from
the window of their prison the beautiful Emilia of the blonde hair,
sister of the Amazonian queen. She is walking in the garden when they
see her and she them. She quickly finds that she likes to be admired,
and in all innocence coquets with the two young prisoners,[256] who
for six months lament their love without hope.

Now as it happens, by the help of Peritoo, Arcite is set at liberty,
on condition that he goes into exile and only returns to Athens under
pain of death. Profoundly sorrowful to leave Emilia, he sets out in
company with some esquires as a knight-errant, and wanders all over
Greece, until at last his love compels him to return to Athens.[257]
Once more in Athens, he enters the service of Theseus, undiscovered
and unknown, but that the little Emilia recognises him, though she
does not betray him. He is, however, discovered and betrayed by
his own imprudence. For he arouses the jealousy of Palemon, who
escapes from his prison, and finding his friend and rival in a wood,
forces him to fight in order to decide who shall have Emilia.[258]

(PARIS, 1538)

_(By the courtesy of Messrs. J. & J. Leighton)_]

While they were calling on Mars, Venus, and Emilia,[259] in the
same way as the Christian knights called on Madonna and their lady,
suddenly Emilia, who was hunting in that very wood, came upon them,
and they, made fiercer by her presence, start in earnest.[260] But at
last Theseus arrives called by Emilia, to end the combat and learn
the cause of the quarrel. Hearing it he pardons them, for he himself
has been young and has loved too, but he attaches to his pardon a
condition, to wit, that each of them, aided by a hundred knights,
shall combat in public for Emilia's hand.[261]

The young lovers must send into all lands messengers to enrol two
hundred knights,[262] and these at last are gathered together in the
place of combat. Among the rest came Peleus, still a youth, the great
twin brethren Castor and Pollux, Agamemnon and Paris, Narcissus,
Nestor, Ulysses, Pygmalion, prince of Tyre, Sichæus, Minos, and
Rhadamanthus, who have abandoned their judgment seats in Orcus to
witness the fight. Indeed, as Landau has well said, if Homer had been
there, he would certainly have been delighted to find again so many
he had known of old, but he would also have marvelled to find among
them so many _jongleurs_.

Before beginning the struggle Theseus, Palemon, and Arcite hold long
discourses; the two rivals and Emilia recite long prayers.

The prayer of Arcite is to Mars, who lives in the mists of Thrace
amid snow and ice. There in a thick wood of stout oaks stands his
palace of iron with gates of diamond, at which mount guard Mad Fury,
Murder, and Eternal Anger red as fire.

On the other hand, Palemon's prayer is to Venus, who lives in a
garden full of fountains and streams and singing birds. There meet
Grace, Courtesy, Delight, Beauty, Youth, and Mad Ardour. At the
entrance sits Madonna _Pace_ (Peace), and near her Patience and
Cunning in Love. Within, however, Jealousy tortures his victims;
while the door which leads to the sanctuary where Venus reposes
between Bacchus and Ceres is guarded by Riches.[263]

The tourney is then described in the usual way, and ends in the
defeat of Palemon. However, as Arcite only asked Mars for victory,
he cannot enjoy it or its fruit. Palemon, it seems, asked not for
victory, but that he might have Emilia. So the gods decide it. And
therefore Venus sends a Fury who throws Arcite, and he is mortally
wounded after his victory.[264] Before his death, however, he is
married to Emilia,[265] makes his will, in which he leaves his wife
and fortune to his friend and rival, and ends by swearing to him
that he has only had of Emilia a single kiss.[266] After this Arcite
is buried with great pomp, and tourneys are held in his honour, and
there follows the marriage of Emilia and Palemon.[267]

What are we to make of such a work as this? Ambitious and complicated
though it be, it is out of all comparison feebler than the simple
tale of Troilus and Criseyde. Nor has it the gift of life, nor the
subtle characterisation of the _Filostrato_. The two youths Palemon
and Arcite are alike in their artificiality; they have never breathed
the air we breathe, and we care nothing for or against them. And it
would be the same with Emilia, but that her absolute stupidity angers
us, and we soon come to find her unbearable. She is always praying
the gods to give her the man she loves for a husband, but she herself
is absolutely ignorant which of the two he may be. But it might seem
that the last thing Boccaccio thought of here was the creation of an
impersonal work of art. His intention was rather to express his own
sufferings. In the agonies of Palemon and Arcite he wished Fiammetta
to see his own misery; and it may be that in the protection of Venus
by which Palemon got at last what he most desired, he wished to tell
Fiammetta that he too expected to triumph, even then, by virtue of
his passion, the singleness of his love. Certainly, he seemed to say,
you are worthy of the love of heroes, but it is the heart of a poet
that Venus protects and satisfies; then give me your grace, since
I am so faithful. That something of this sort was in his mind is
obvious from the dedicatory letter to Fiammetta.[268]

As for the sources from which Boccaccio had the tale, we have
seen that he certainly knew the _Thebais_ of Statius,[269] but
it was not only from Statius that he borrowed; he used also, as
Crescini[270] has proved, the _Roman de Thèbes_, especially towards
the end of his poem. Nor must we altogether pass over the influence
of the _Æneid_, in which he found not only the form, but often the
substance of his work.[271] The first edition of the _Teseide_,
full of faults, was published in Ferrara in 1475 by Pietro Andrea
Bassi. As for translations, there have been many, the first being a
Greek version issued in Venice in 1529. There followed an Italian
prose paraphrase published in Lucca in 1579; while in 1597 a French
version was published in Paris. The most famous translation or rather
paraphrase was made, however, by Chaucer for the Knight's Tale in the
_Canterbury Tales_; and of this I speak elsewhere.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the shadow of Virgil's tomb, in a classic country still full of
an old renown, Boccaccio had followed classic models, had written
two epics and a romance in the manner of Apuleius; but in Tuscany,
the country of Dante and Petrarch, he came under the influence of
different work, and we find him writing pastorals. The _Ameto_ is a
pastoral romance written in prose scattered with verses, and to the
superficial reader it cannot but be full of weariness. The action
takes place in the country about Florence under the hills of Fiesole
in the woods there, and begins with the description of the rude
hunter Ameto (ἄδμητος), who only thinks of the chase and of the way
through the forest[272]. Then he comes upon a nymph, Lia by name, and
scarcely has he seen her and heard her sing than he loves her. After
many pages of description of the love of Ameto, the struggle between
his love and his timidity, he tells Lia at last that he loves her,
and makes her accompany him in the chase. Winter comes, however, and
separates them. But in the spring Ameto finds her again near a temple
in which are gathered a company of fauns, dryads, satyrs, and naiads.
There too in a private place a party of nymphs and shepherds meet
close to Ameto and Lia. Many pages of description follow concerning
each of the six nymphs, Mopsa, Emilia, Fiammetta, Acrimonia, Agapes,
and Adiona. These descriptions are very wearying, for they are
almost exactly alike, so like, indeed, that we may think Boccaccio
was describing one woman and that Fiammetta. One after another these
nymphs tell their amorous adventures, and each closes her account
with a song in _terza rima_. Then Venus appears in the form of a
column of fire,[273] and Ameto not being able to support the sight of
the goddess, the nymphs come to his aid. When he is himself again, he
prays the goddess to be favourable to his love.

Till now the pagan and sensual character of the book is complete, but
here Ameto suddenly sees the error of his ways, all is changed in a
moment, the spiritual beauty of the nymphs seems to him to surpass
altogether their physical beauty. He understands that their loves
are not men; the gods and temples about which they discourse are not
those of the Pagans, and he is ashamed to have loved one of them as
he might have loved any mortal girl. Then suddenly he breaks into
a hymn in honour of the Trinity, and they all return to their own
homes. Thus the work ends without telling us of the fate of Ameto or
the nymphs.

The book, however, full as it is of imitations of Dante, is an
allegory within an allegory. The nymphs and shepherds are not real
people, but it seems personifications of the four cardinal virtues
and the three theological virtues and their opposites. Thus Mopsa
is Wisdom, and she loves Afron, Foolishness; Emilia is Justice, and
she loves Ibrida, Pride; Adiona is Temperance, and she loves Dioneo,
Licence; Acrimonia is Fortitude, and she loves Apaten, Insensibility;
Agapes is Charity, and she loves Apiros, Indifference; Fiammetta is
Hope, and she loves Caleone, Despair; Lia is Faith, and she loves
Ameto, Ignorance. In their songs the seven nymphs praise and exalt
the seven divinities that correspond to the seven virtues which they
impersonate; thus Pallas is praised by Mopsa (Wisdom), Diana by
Emilia (Justice), Pomona by Adiona (Temperance), Bellona by Acrimonia
(Fortitude), Venus by Agapes (Charity), Vesta by Fiammetta (Hope),
and Cibele by Lia (Faith). The whole action of the work then becomes
symbolical, and Boccaccio, it has been said, had the intention of
showing that a man, however rude and savage, can find God only by
means of the seven virtues which are the foundation of all morals.
If such were his intention he has indeed chosen strange means of
carrying it out. The stories of the seven nymphs are extremely
licentious, and all confess that they do not love their husbands
and are seeking to make the shepherds fall in love with them. All
this is, as we see, obscure, medieval, and far-fetched. Let it be
what it may be. It is not in this allegory we shall find much to
interest us, but in certain other allusions in which the work is
rich. Thus we shall note that Fiammetta is Hope, and that she gives
Hope to Caleone, who is Despair. That Caleone is Boccaccio himself
there can be no manner of doubt. We see then that at the time the
_Ameto_ was written he still had some hope of winning Fiammetta
again. In fact in the _Ameto_ Fiammetta has the mission of saving
Caleone from death, for he is resolved to kill himself. I have
spoken of the autobiographical allusions in the _Ameto_, however,
elsewhere.[274] It will be sufficient to say here that the _Ameto_
was written, as Boccaccio himself tells us, in order that he might
tell freely without regret or fear what he had seen and heard. It is
all his life that we find in the stories of the nymphs. Emilia tells
of Boccaccino's love for Jeanne (Gannai), his desertion of her, his
marriage, and his ruin. Fiammetta tells how her mother was seduced by
King Robert, who is here called Midas.[275] Then she describes the
passion of Caleone (Boccaccio), his nocturnal surprise of her, and
his triumph. The work is in fact a complete biography; and since this
is so, there are in fact no sources from which it can be said to be
derived. We find there some imitations of the _Divine Comedy_, some
hints from Ovid and Virgil, of Moschus and Theocritus. The _Ameto_
was dedicated to Niccola di Bartolo del Bruno, his "only friend in
time of trouble." It was first published in small quarto in Rome in
1478. It has never been translated into any language.


       *       *       *       *       *

There follows the _Amorosa Visione_, which was almost certainly begun
immediately after the _Ameto_; at any rate, all modern authorities
are agreed that it was written between 1341 and 1344. It recalls
the happier time of his love, and Fiammetta is the very soul of
the poem. Written in _terza rima_, not its only likeness to the
_Divine Comedy_, it is dedicated to Maria d'Aquino (Fiammetta) in
an acrostic, which is solved by reading the initial letters of the
first verse of each _terzina_; the result being two sonnets and a
ballata.[276] The name of "Madonna Maria" is formed by the initials
of the twelfth to the twenty-second _terzine_ of chapter x, and the
name "Fiamma" by those of the twenty-fifth to the thirty-first of
chapter xiii. Here is no allegory at all, but a clear statement; the
three last lines of the first sonnet reading:--

    "Cara Fiamma, per cui 'l core ò caldo,
    Que' che vi manda questa Visione
    Giovanni è di Boccaccio da Certaldo."

As the title proclaims, the poem is a Vision--a vision which Love
discovers to the poet-lover. While he is falling asleep a lady
appears to him who is to be his guide. He follows her in a dream, and
together they come to a noble _castello_; there by a steep stairway
they enter into the promised land, as it were, of Happiness, choosing
not the wearying road of Good to the left, but passing through a
wide portal into a spacious room on the right, whence come delicious
sounds of _festa_. Two youths, one dressed in white, the other in
red, after disputing with his guide, lead him into the _festa_, where
he sees four triumphs--of Wisdom, of Fame, of Love, and of Fortune.
In the triumph of Wisdom he sees all the learned men, philosophers,
and poets of the world, among them Homer, Virgil, and Cicero,
Horace, Sallust, Livy, Galen, Cato, Apuleius, Claudian, Martial, and
Dante.[277] In the triumph of Fame he sees all the famous heroes and
heroines of Antiquity and the Middle Age, among them Saturn, Electra,
Baal, Paris, Absalom, Hecuba, Brutus, Jason, Medea, Hannibal,
Cleopatra, Cornelia, Giulia, and Solomon, Charlemagne, Charles of
Apulia, and Corradino.[278] The uniformity of the descriptions is
pleasantly interrupted by certain apparitions, among them Robert of
Naples[279] and Boccaccino,[280] besides a host of priests.[281] Once
in speaking of the sufferings of poverty he seems to be writing of
his own experiences:--

    "Ha! lasso, quanto nelli orecchi fioco
      Risuona altrui il senno del mendico,
      Nè par che luce o caldo abbia 'l suo foco.
    E 'l più caro parente gli è nemico,
      Ciascun lo schifa, e se non ha moneta,
      Alcun non è che 'l voglia per amico."[282]

After all, it is the experience of all who have been poor for a

There follows the triumph of Love, in which he sees all the fortunate
and unfortunate lovers famous in poetry from the mythology of Greece
to Lancelot and Guinevere, and Tristram and Iseult; and among these
he sees Fiammetta.

So we pass to the triumph of Fortune, in which we learn the stories
of Thebes, of Troy, of Carthage, of Alexander, of Pompey, of Niobe,
and we are told of the inconstancy of terrestrial things.[283] And
thus disillusioned, the poet makes the firm resolve to follow his
guide in spite of every temptation. Yet almost at once a certain
beautiful garden destroys his resolve. For he enters there and finds
a marvellous fountain of marble, and a company of fair women who are
presented to him under mysterious pseudonyms.[284] Among these are
the _bella Lombarda_, the Lia of the _Ameto_, and finally the lady
who writes her name in letters of gold in the heart of the poet.[285]
And this lady he chooses for his sun, with the approval of his guide,
who seems to have forgotten, as he has certainly done, the resolves
so lately taken. However, the guide now discreetly leaves him in a
somewhat compromising position; and it is thus Fiammetta who leads
him into the abandoned road of virtue.[286] These _Trionfi_ were
written before the _Trionfi_ of Petrarch, and their true source is to
be found not in any of Petrarch's work, but in the _Divine Comedy_
and in the sources Dante used.[287] Boccaccio has evidently studied
the great poem very closely. He imitates it not only in motives and
symbols and words, but, as we have seen, in the form of his verse,
and to some extent in the construction of his poem, which consists of
fifty _capitoli_, each composed of twenty-nine _terzine_ and a verse
of _chiusa_, that is of eighty-eight verses in each.

The first edition was published in Milan in 1521 with an _Apologia
contro ai detrattori della poesia del Boccaccio_ by Girolamo Claricio
of Imola. No translation has ever been made.[288]

       *       *       *       *       *

We turn now to the _Fiammetta_,[289] which must have been the last
of the works directly concerned with his passion for Maria d'Aquino.
Crescini[290] thinks it was written in 1343, but others[291] assure
us that it is later work.[292] Crescini's argument is, however, so
formidable that we shall do better to accept his conclusions and to
consider the _Fiammetta_ as a work of this first Florentine period.
Though concerned with the same subject, his love, the allegory
is worth noting, for while in all the other books concerned with
Fiammetta he assures us he was betrayed by her, here he asserts that
Panfilo (himself) betrayed Fiammetta! Moreover, he warns us that here
he speaks the truth,[293] but in fact it is only here he is a liar.
It is impossible to believe that every one had not penetrated his
various disguises, and he must have known that this was, and would
be, so. Wishing, then, both to revenge and to vindicate himself--for
his "betrayal" still hurt him keenly--and guessing that Fiammetta
would read the book, he tells us that it was he who left her, not she
him. The book then is very amusing for us who are behind the scenes,
as it was, doubtless, for many of those who read it in his day.

The action is very simple, the story being told by Fiammetta as
though it were an autobiography. It begins with a dream in which
Fiammetta is warned that great unhappiness is in store for her. She
knows Panfilo,[294] and suddenly there arises between them an eager
love. Warned of the danger they run in entertaining so impetuous a
passion, they yet take no heed; till quite as suddenly as it had
begun, their love is broken. Panfilo must go away, it seems, being
recalled to Florence by his old father. In vain Fiammetta tries to
detain him; she can only obtain from him a promise that he will
return to Naples in four months. The ingenious lying in that!

All alone she passes her days and nights in weeping. The four months
pass and Panfilo does not come back to her. One day she hears from a
merchant that he has taken a wife in Florence. This news increases
her agony, and she asks aid of Venus. Then her husband, seeing her
to be ill, but unaware of the cause of her sufferings, takes her to
Baia; but no distraction helps her, and Baia only reminds her of the
bygone days she spent there with Panfilo. At last she hears from
a faithful servant come from Florence that Panfilo has not taken
a wife, that the young woman in his house is the new wife of his
old father; but it seems though he be unmarried he is in love with
another lady, which is even worse. New jealousy and lamentations
of Fiammetta. She refuses to be comforted and thinks only of death
and suicide, and even tries to throw herself from her window, but
is prevented. Finally the return of Panfilo is announced. Fiammetta
thanks Venus and adorns herself again. She waits; but Panfilo does
not come, and at last she is reduced to comforting herself by
thinking of all those who suffer from love even as she. The work
closes with a sort of epilogue.

As a work of art the _Fiammetta_ is the best thing Boccaccio has
yet achieved. The psychology is fine, subtle, and full of insight,
but not so dramatic nor so simple and profound as that in the
_Filostrato_. He shows again that he understands a woman's innermost
nature, her continual doubts of herself, her gift of introspection.
The torment of soul that a deserted woman suffers, the helpless fury
of jealousy, are studied and explained with marvellous knowledge and
coolness. The husband, who, ignorant of all, is so sorry for his
wife's unhappiness, and seeks to console and comfort her, really
lives and is the fine prototype of a lot of base work done later in
which the cruel absurdity of the situation and the ridiculous figure
he cuts who plays his part in it are insisted on. In fact, in the
_Fiammetta_ we find many of the finest features of the _Decameron_.
It is the first novel of psychology ever written in Europe.


The sources of the _Fiammetta_ are hard and perhaps impossible
to trace. It seems to have no forbears.[295] One thinks of Ovid's
_Heroides_, but that has little to do with it. Among the minor works
of Boccaccio it is the one that has been most read. First published
in Padova in 1472, it was translated into English in 1587 by B.

       *       *       *       *       *

From this intense psychological novel Boccaccio seems to have turned
away with a sort of relief, the relief the poet always finds in mere
singing, to the _Ninfale Fiesolano_. Licentious, and yet full of a
marvellous charm, full of that love of nature, too, which is by no
means a mere convention, the _Ninfale Fiesolano_ is the most mature
of his poems in the vulgar tongue.

"Basterebbe," says Carducci,[297] "Basterebbe, io credo, il _Ninfale
Fiesolano_ perchè non fosse negato al Boccaccio l' onore di poeta
anche in versi." It was probably begun about 1342 in Florence, and
finished in Naples in 1346. The theme is still love:

    "Amor mi fa parlar che m' è nel core
    Gran tempo stato e fatto m' ha suo albergo,"

he tells us in the first lines. The story tells how the shepherd
Affrico falls in love with Mensola, nymph of Diana,[298] and how
the nymph, penitent for having broken her vow of chastity, abandons
the poor shepherd.[299] In desperation, Affrico kills himself on
the bank of the brook that has witnessed their happiness and that
is now called Affrico after him;[300] and Mensola, after bearing a
son, is changed too into the stream Mensola hard by.[301] Pruneo,
their offspring, when he is eighteen years old, enters the service of
Atlas, founder of Fiesole, who marries him to Tironea. She receives
as _dote_ the country between the Mensola and the Mugnone.[302]

The sources he drew from for this beautiful poem, so full of
learning, but fuller still of a genuine love of nature, prove to
us that it was, in its completeness, a mature work. It is derived
in part from the _Metamorphoses_ of Ovid, from the _Æneid_, and
from Achilles Tatius, a Greek romancer of Alexandria who lived in
the fifth century A.D.[303] Moreover, the _Ninfale_ is a pastoral
poem that is in no way at all concerned with chivalry; it is wholly
Latin, full of nature and the bright fields, expressed with a Latin
rhetoric. Curiously enough it has never had much success, especially
out of Italy; and though it be voluptuous, it is by no means the
immoral book it has been called.

This, as we have seen, is the third poem which Boccaccio wrote in
_ottave_, and it has been stated, not without insistence, that he was
in fact the inventor, or at any rate the renewer, of that metre in

The truth seems to lie with Baldelli. The Sicilians had written
_ottave_, but they had but two _rime_, and were akin to those of the
Provençals. What Boccaccio did was to take this somewhat arid scheme
and give it life by reforming it out of all recognition. Moreover, if
he was not actually the first poet to write _ottave_ in Italian, he
was the first to put them to epic use. There are in fact, properly
speaking, no Italian epics before the poems of Boccaccio.

As for the _Ninfale Fiesolano_, it was first published in Venice
in 1477 by Bruno Valla and Tommaso d' Alessandria. It has only
been translated once--into French--by Anton Guercin du Crest, who
published it in Lyons in 1556 at the shop of Gabriel Cotier. This was
apparently the last poem on which Boccaccio was engaged--though it
may have been put aside for the sake of the _Fiammetta_, and taken up
again--before, about 1344, it seems, he returned to Naples.


[212] _Ameto_, _ed. cit._, p. 254.

[213] Cf. CORAZZINI, _op. cit._, p. 17. This letter seems to be a
translation from the Latin.

[214] Possibly on the occasion of his father's second marriage (cf.
_Fiammetta_, _infra_), which was probably made for purely financial
reasons. The lady died possibly in the Black Death of 1348, certainly
before 1349. See _infra_.

[215] I write _Filocolo_ rather than _Filocopo_: see A. GASPARY,
_Filocolo oder Filocopo_ in _Zeitschrift für Rom. Phil._, III, p. 395.

[216] See _supra_, p. 43, and Appendix I. The view that it was
begun in 1336 is defended by RENIER, _La Vita Nuova e la Fiammetta_
(Torino, 1879), p. 238 _et seq._ That this was his first book we
might assert from the evidence of its form and style. He himself,
however, says in the Introduction: "E se le presenti cose a voi
giovani e donzelle generano ne' vostri animi alcun frutto o dilletto,
non siate ingrati di porgere divote laudi a Giove e al nuovo autore"
(_Filocolo_, _ed. cit._, Lib. I, p. 9).

[217] _Filocolo_, _ed. cit._, ii., Lib. V, p. 376.

[218] He takes the name of Filocolo because, as he tells us at the
end of Book III, _Filocolo_, _ed. cit._, I, 354, "such a name it
is certain suits me better than any other." He goes on to explain:
"Filocolo è da due greci nomi composto, da _philos_ e da _colos_;
_philos_ in greco tanto viene a dire in nostra lingua quanto amatore;
e _colos_ in greco similmente tanto in nostra lingua resulta quanto
fatica: onde congiunto insieme, si può dire trasponendo le parti,
Fatica d' Amore: e in cui più che in me fatiche d' amore sieno state
e siano al presente non so; voi l' avete potuto e potete conoscere
quante e quali esse sieno state, sicchè chiamandomi questo nome l'
effetto suo s' adempierà bene nella cosa chiamata, e la fama del
mio nome cosi s' occulterà, nè alcuno per quello spaventerà: e se
necessario forse in alcuna parte ci fia il nominarmi dirittamente,
non c' è però tolto."

[219] Cf. VIRGIL. _Æneid_, VI, 232 _et seq._

    "At pius Æneas ingenti mole sepulcrum
    Inponit, suaque arma viro remumque tubamque
    Monte sub aereo, qui nunc Misenus ab illo
    Dicitur æternumque tenet per sæcula nomen."

[220] _Supra_, p. 6 _et seq._ See _Filocolo_, _ed. cit._, II, Lib. V,
236 _et seq._

[221] In the French romance on which the _Filocolo_ is founded the
hero on his return imposes Christianity on his people, and those who
will not be converted he burns and massacres. Boccaccio has none of
this barbarism. Italy has never understood religious persecution. It
has always been imposed on her from outside--by Spain, for instance.
I do not forget the rubrics _de hereticis_ in so many of the Statutes
of the free Communes.

[222] _Floire et Blanceflor, poèmes du XIII. siècle, pub. d'après
les MSS._, etc., par EDÉLESTAND DU MÉRIL (Paris, 1856). I say from
whom he had the story, because it seems to me certain that in Naples
he must have seen or heard these poems. The Provençal troubadours,
especially Rambaldo di Vaqueiras, sang the loves of Florio and
Biancofiore, and Boccaccio himself in the _Filocolo_ affirms that
the legend was known and popular in Naples. It has been contended by
CLERC, _Discours sur l'état des lettres au XIV. siècle_ in _Hist.
Littér._, II, 97, that Boccaccio's work is only an imitation of the
French poems. This cannot be upheld. The legend was everywhere in
the Middle Age. It was derived from a Greek romance, and many of the
happenings and descriptions used by Boccaccio are to be found in the
Greek romances. Cf. ZUMBINI, _Il Filocolo_, in _Nuova Antologia_,
December, 1879, and January, 1880.

[223] It is perhaps unnecessary to remind the reader that it is seven
ladies and three gentlemen who tell the tales of the _Decameron_. Cf.
RAJNA, _L' Episodio delle Questioni d' Amore nel "Filocolo" del B._
in _Romania_, XXXI (1902), pp. 28-81.

[224] BARTOLI, _I precursi del B._ (Firenze, 1876), p. 64.

[225] An English translation of these _Questioni_ appeared in 1567
and was reprinted in 1587. The title runs: "Thirteen | Most pleasaunt
and | delecable Que | stions: entituled | a Disport of Diverse |
noble Personages written in Itali | an by M. John Boccacce Flo |
rentine and poet Laure | at, in his booke | named | Philocopo: |
English by H. G[rantham] | Imprinted at Lon | don by A.J. and are |
to be sold in Paules Church | yard, by Thomas | Woodcocke | 1587."

[226] The order of the production of these youthful works is
extremely uncertain. I do not believe it possible to give their true
order, because they were not necessarily begun and finished in the
same sequence. We may be sure that the _Filocolo_ is the first work
he began: it seems almost equally certain that the _Filostrato_ is
the first of his long poems. That no work was completed in Naples I
think equally certain; but it is possible that the _Ameto_, begun
in Florence, was finished before any other book. The _Filostrato_
was begun in Naples, but it s so much finer than the _Filocolo_ or
the _Ameto_, and is perhaps the finest work of his youth, that many
critics have wished to place it later.

[227] He writes in the dedication: "Filostrato è il titolo di questo
libro; e la cagione è, perchè ottimamente si confà cotal nome con l'
effetto del libro. Filostrato tanto viene a dire, quanto uomo vinto
ed abbattuto d' amore come vedere si può che fu Troilo, dell' amore
del quale in questo libro si racconta: perciocchè egli fu da amore
vinto si fortemente amando Griseida, e cotanto si afflisse nella sua
partita, che poco mancò che morte non le sorprendesse."

[228] _Filostrato_ (ed. Moutier), parte i. ott. viii.-ix. p. 14.

[229] _Ibid._, p. i. ott. xi.

    "Una sua figlia vedova, la quale
    Sì bella e si angelica a vedere
    Era, che non parea cosa mortale,
    Griseida nomata, al mio parere
    Accorta, savia, onesta e costumata
    Quanto altra che in Troia fosse nata."

[230] So had Boccaccio seen Fiammetta in S. Lorenzo di Napoli.
Criseyde was also "_in bruna vesta_," ott. xix.

[231] _Filostrato_, _ed. cit._, p. ii. ott. xix.-xx., pp. 37-8.

[232] _Ibid._, p. ii. ott. xxiii.-xxiv., p. 39.

[233] _Ibid._, p. ii. ott. lxiv.-lxvi., pp. 52-3.

[234] _Filostrato_, _ed. cit._, p. ii. ott. cxxxvi. _et seq._ Her
protestations, too long to quote here, are exquisite. They might be
Fiammetta's very words, or any woman's words.

[235] _Filostrato_, _ed. cit._, part iii. ott. xxvii-xxxii. pp.
88-90, and cf. CHAUCER, _Troilus and Criseyde_ (_Complete Works_, ed.
SKEAT, Oxford, 1901), Bk. III, st. 169-189.

[236] _Filistrato_, _ed. cit._, part iv. ott. xiv.-xviii. pp. 117-18.

[237] _Ibid._, part iv. ott. xxx.-xxxii. pp. 122-3.

[238] _Ibid._, part iv. ott. xciii.-xcv. pp. 143-4.

[239] _Filostrato_, _ed. cit._, part iv. ott. lxix. p. 135.

[240] _Ibid._, part iv. clxii.-clxiii. pp. 166-7.

[241] _Ibid._, part v. liv. _et seq._ The same idea is to be found
in the _Teseide_ and the _Fiammetta_. It is more than worth while
comparing these passages.

[242] _Ibid._, part v. xxxiv.-xlii.

[243] _Filostrato_, _ed. cit._, part vii. ott. vi., xi., xvi.,
xxxii.-xxxiii. pp. 208, 210, 212, 217.

[244] SHAKESPEARE, _Troilus and Cressida_, V, 3.

[245] _Filostrato_, _ed. cit._, part viii. xii.-xvi. pp. 247-8.

[246] _Ibid._, part viii. xxvii.

[247] CHAUCER, _Troilus and Criseyde_, Book V, st. 258.

[248] _Filostrato_, _ed. cit._, part vi. ott. xxxiii. p. 205.

[249] _Filostrato_, _ed. cit._, p. vi, ott. xxix. p. 204.

[250] Cf. e.g. _Filostrato_, _ed. cit._, p. iii. ott. i. p. 80, with
_Paradiso_, i. 13-27; or _Filostrato_, _ed. cit._, p. viii. ott.
xvii. p. 249, with _Purgatorio_, vi. 118-20. There are, however, very
many Dantesque passages. See _infra_, p. 253 _et seq._

[251] Cf. HORTIS, _Studi sulle op. Latine del B._ (Trieste, 1879), p.

[252] See _supra_, p. 58.

[253] _Teseide_ (ed. Moutier), Lib. I, ott. 6, p. 11.

[254] _Ibid._, Lib. I, ott. 74-6, p. 34.

[255] _Ibid._, Lib. II, ott. 2, p. 57.

[256] _Teseide_, _ed. cit._, Lib. III, ott. 28-9, pp. 99-100.

[257] _Ibid._, Lib. IV, ott. 37, p. 131.

[258] _Ibid._, Lib. V, ott. 48, p. 166.

[259] _Teseide_, _ed. cit._, Lib. V, ott. 75, p. 175.

[260] _Ibid._, Lib. V, ott. 80, p. 177.

[261] _Ibid._, Lib. V, ott. 97, p. 182.

[262] _Ibid._, Lib. VI, ott. 11, p. 190.

[263] Cf. POLIZIANO, _Stanze_, Lib. I, st. 69-76.

[264] _Teseide_, _ed. cit._, Lib. IX, ott. 2-8, pp. 306-8.

[265] _Ibid._, Lib. IX, ott. 83, p. 333.

[266] _Ibid._, Lib. X, ott. 43, p. 348.

[267] _Ibid._, Lib. XII, ott. 69, p. 426.

[268] He says there: "E ch' ella da me per voi sia compilata, due
cose fra le altre il manifestano. L' una si è, che ciò che sotto il
nome dell' uno de' due amanti e della giovine amata si conta essere
stato, ricordandovi bene, e io a voi di me, e voi a me di voi (se non
mentiste) potrete conoscere essere stato fatto e detto in parte."
And consider the closing words of the letter: "Io procederei a molti
più preghi, se quella grazia, la quale io ebbi già in voi, non se
ne fosse andata. Ma perocchè io del niego dubito con ragione, non
volendo che a quell' uno che di sopra ho fatto, e che spero, siccome
giusto, di ottenere, gli altri nocessero, e senza essermene niuno
conceduto mi rimanessi, mi taccio; ultimamente pregando colui che mi
vi diede, allorachè io primieramente vi vidi, che se in lui quelle
forze sono che già furono, raccendendo in voi la spenta fiamma a me
vi renda, la quale, non so per che cagione, inimica fortuna mi ha

[269] _Supra_, p. 58 _et seq._ Cf. the letter of 1338 or 1339 in
which he asks for a codex of the Thebais with a gloss: P. SAVI-LOPEZ,
_Sulle fonti delle Teseide_ in _Giornale Stor. della Lett. Ital._,
An. XXIII, fasc. 106-7; and CRESCINI, _op. cit._, pp. 220-47.

[270] CRESCINI, _op. cit._, pp. 234-5.

[271] In looking for the sources of the _Teseide_ one must not forget
what Boccaccio himself writes in the letter dedicatory to Fiammetta:
"E acciocchè l' opera sia verissimo testimonio alle parole,
ricordandomi che già ne' dì più felici che lunghi io vi sentii vaga
d' udire, e talvolta di leggere e una e altra storia, e massimamente
le amorose, siccome quella che tutta ardeva nel fuoco nel quale io
ardo (e questo forse faciavate, acciocchè i tediosi tempi con ozio
non fossono cagione di pensieri più nocevoli); come volonteroso
servidore, il quale non solamente il comandamento aspetta del suo
maggiore, ma quello, operando quelle cose che piacciono, previene:
trovata una antichissima storia, e al più delle genti non manifesta,
bella sì per la materia della quale parla, che è d' amore, e sì per
coloro de' quali dice che nobili giovani furono e di real sangue
discesi, in latino volgare e in rima acciocchè più dilettasse, e
massimamente a voi, che già con sommo titolo le mie rime esaltaste,
con quella sollecitudine che conceduta mi fu dell' altre più gravi,
desiderando di piacervi, ho ridotta."

[272] _Ameto_ (in _Opere Minori_, Milano, 1879), pp. 147-8.

[273] _Ibid._, pp. 246-7.

[274] See _supra_, p. 6.

[275] King Robert is always spoken of as living, so that one may
suppose the _Ameto_ to have been finished before January, 1343, for
the king died on the 19th. This, however, by no means certainly

[276] See Appendix IV.

[277] _Amorosa Visione_ (Moutier), cap. v. pp. 21-5.

[278] _Ibid._, caps. vii.-xii.

[279] _Ibid._, cap. xiii. p. 53.

[280] _Ibid._, cap. xiv. p. 58.

[281] _Ibid._, cap. xiv. p. 57.

[282] _Amorosa Visione_, _ed. cit._, cap. xiv. p. 59.

[283] _Ibid._, cap. xxxiii. p. 135.

[284] _Ibid._, caps. xl-xliv. For an explanation consult CRESCINI,
_op. cit._, pp. 114-41.

[285] _Ibid._, cap. xlv. p. 151

[286] "Ecco dunque," says CRESCINI (_op. cit._, p. 136), "il fine
della _mirabile visione_: mostrare che Madonna Maria è dal poeta
ritenuta un essere celeste sceso dall' alto alla salute di lui, che
errava perduto e sordo a' consigli delle ragione fra le mondane
vanità. Per farsi degno dell' amore di lei e delle gioie di questo
amore, egli ormai seguirà una virtù finora negletta, la fortezza
resisterà, cioè alle passioni e alle vanità mondane; e così per l'
influsso morale della sua donna procederà sulla strada faticosa, che
mena l' uomo al cielo."

[287] He borrows from Brunetto Latini's _Tesoretto_ (_ca._ 1294)
certain inventions and moral symbols. Cf. DOBELLI, _Il culto del B.
per Dante_ (Venezia, 1897), pp. 51-9.

[288] But see LANDAU, _op. cit._ (Ital. Trans.), p. 155.

[289] Note the beautiful names Boccaccio always found; especially the
beautiful women's names. We shall find this again in the _Decameron_.

[290] CRESCINI, _op. cit._, p. 154.

[291] _e.g._ LANDAU (_op. cit._, pp. 346, 404) and KOERTING (_op.
cit._, pp. 170-1, 568).

[292] BALDELLI (_op. cit._) thinks, however, that it was written
1344-5, after B.'s return to Naples, and RENIER (_La Vita Nuova e La
Fiammetta_, Torino, 1879, pp. 245-6) agrees with him.

[293] "... Quantunque io scriva cose verissime sotto si fatto ordine
l' ho disposte, che eccetto colui che così come io le sa, essendo
di tutto cagione, niuno altro, per quantunque avesse acuto l'
avvedimento, potrebbe chi io mi fossi conoscere" (cap. i.).

[294] "Pamphilius," writes Boccaccio, "græce, latine totus dicatur
amor"; cf. CORAZZINI, _op. cit._, p. 269. Panfilo also appears, as
does Fiammetta, in the _Decameron_, as we shall see; cf. GIGLI, _Il
Disegno del Decamerone_ (Livorno, 1907), p. 24, note 4.

[295] CRESCINI, _op. cit._, pp. 155-6.

[296] "Amorous Fiammetta, where is sette doune a catalogue of all and
singular passions of Love and Jealosie incident to an enamoured young
gentlewoman" ... done into English by B. Giovano [_i.e._ B. Young].
London, 1587. The only example I can find of this translation is in
the Bodleian Library; the British Museum has no copy.

[297] CARDUCCI, _Ai Parenteli di G. B._ in _Discorsi Letterari e
Storici_ (Bologna, 1889), p. 275.

[298] _Ninfale Fiesolano_ (Moutier), p. 1. ott. xiv.-xxxiii.

[299] _Ibid._, p. vi. ott. i.-v.

[300] _Ninfale Fiesolano_, _ed. cit._, p. vi. ott. xxx.-xlv.

[301] _Ibid._, p. vii. ott. iii.-vi. and ix.-xiii. The Mensola and
the Affrico are two small streams that descend from Monte Ceceri, one
of the Fiesolan hills, and are lost in the Arno, one not far from the
Barriera Settignanese, the other by Ponte a Mensola, near Settignano.

[302] _Ibid._, p. vii. ott. xxxiii.-xlix.

[303] See his romance, _Leucippe and Clectophon_, Lib. VIII, cap. 12.

[304] For the _ottava_ in Italy see RAJNA, _Le fonti dell' Orlando
Furioso_ (Sansoni, Florence, 1900), pp. 18-19. BALDELLI, _op. cit._,
p. 33, however, did not go so far as Trissino and Crescimbeni in such
an assertion, contenting himself with assuring us that Boccaccio
"colla Teseide aperse la nobile carriera de' romanzeschi poemi,
degli epici, per cui posteriormente tanto sopravanzò l' Italiana
ogni straniera letteratura. Il suo ingegno creatore correggendo, e
migliorando l' ottava de' Siciliani, che non usavan comporla con più
di due rime e una terza aggiungendone, per cui tanto leggiadramente
si chiude e tanto vaga si rende, trovò quel metro su cui cantarono e
gli Ariosti, e i Tassi vanamente sperando trovarne altro più adeguato
agli altissimi e nobilissimi loro argomenti."




Those years which Boccaccio spent in Florence between 1341 and
1345, and which would seem for the most part to have been devoted
to literature, the completion of the works already begun in Naples,
the composition of the _Amorosa Visione_, the _Fiammetta_, and the
_Ninfale Fiesolano_, were personally among the most unhappy of his
life, while publicly they brought the republic of Florence to the
verge of ruin. And indeed he was an unwilling victim. That he hated
leaving Naples might seem obvious from his own circumstances at that
time; nor were the political conditions of Florence encouraging. He
had left a city friendly to men of letters, full of all manner of
splendour, rich, peaceful, and, above all, governed by one authority,
the king, for a distracted republic divided against itself and
scarcely able to support a costly foreign war.[305] Nor were the
conditions of his father's house any more pleasing to him. Soured by
misfortune, Boccaccino seems at this time to have been a melancholy
and hard old man. The picture Giovanni gives us of him is perhaps
coloured by resentment, and indeed he had never forgiven his father
for the desertion of the girl he had seduced, the little French girl
Jeanne, Giovanni's mother;[306] but it is with a quite personal
sense of resentment he describes the home to which he returned from
Naples--that house in the S. Felicità quarter which Boccaccino had
bought in 1333:[307] "Here one laughs but seldom. The dark, silent,
melancholy house keeps and holds me altogether against my will, where
the dour and terrible aspect of an old man frigid, uncouth, and
miserly continually adds affliction to my saddened mood."[308] That
was in 1341 one may think; and no doubt the loss of Fiammetta, his
own poverty, and the confusion of public affairs in Florence added to
his depression; and then he was always easily cast down. But as it
happened, things were already improving for him.

It will be remembered that in the romance which passes under her
name Fiammetta tells us that Panfilo (Giovanni), when he deserted
her, promised to return in four months. Later[309] she says, when
the promised time of his return had passed by more than a month, she
heard from a merchant lately arrived in Naples that her lover fifteen
days before had taken a wife in Florence.[310] Great distress on the
part of Fiammetta; but, as she soon learnt, it was not Giovanni, but
his father, who had married himself.


[Illustration: GHINO AND THE ABBOT (DEC. X, 2)

_Woodcuts from the "Decameron." (Venice, 1492.)_]

Is there any truth in this story? Assuredly there is. We know,
indeed, that Boccaccino did marry a second wife, whose name was
Bice de' Bostichi, and that she bore him a son, Jacopo;[311] but
we do not know when either of these events happened. If we may
trust the _Fiammetta_, which says clearly that Giovanni's father
married again about five months after his son returned home, and if
we are right in thinking that that return took place in January,
1341, then Boccaccino married his second wife in the spring, or
more precisely in May, 1341. That they were man and wife in May,
1343,[312] we know, for, thanks to Crescini, we have a document which
proves it. Beyond that fact all is conjecture in this matter. Yet
it is significant that we find Boccaccino, on December 13, 1342,
acquiring half a house in the popolo di S. Ambrogio in Florence,[313]
and yet, as we know from the document just quoted,[314] in May,
1343, he was still living in popolo di S. Felicità.[315] For what
possible reason could Boccaccino, ruined as he was, want half a house
in which he did not propose to live? Had family history repeated
itself? Was Giovanni in some sort again turned out of his father's
house by his second stepmother as he had been by the first, and for
a like reason--the birth of a legitimate son? It was for him, then,
that Boccaccino bought the half-house in popolo di S. Ambrogio, and
the occasion was the birth of Jacopo his son by Madonna Bice? It is
possible, at any rate; and when we remember the efforts the old man
had already made in his poverty for the comfort of a son who had
disappointed him in everything, it seems more than likely. Nor can
we but accuse Giovanni of ingratitude when we think of his constant
allusions to his father's avarice and remember these benefits.[316]

Such, then, are the few and meagre personal events that have in any
way come down to us of Boccaccio's life while he was writing all or
nearly all those works of his youth which we have already examined,
between his return to Florence in January, 1341, and his departure
once more for Naples in 1344 or 1345. These years, materially
none too happy for him but full after all of successful work, were
disastrous for Florence. That tranquillity and internal peace which
so happily followed the death of Castruccio Castracani and of Charles
of Calabria in 1328, in which, among other splendid things, Giotto's
tower was built, had been broken in 1340, when the _grandi_, who
held the government, having grown oppressive, a rebellion headed by
Piero de' Baldi and Bardo Frescobaldi was only crushed by a rising
of the people. Things were quiet then for a moment, but the _grandi_
would heed no warning, and as one might expect, their insolence grew
with their power. Nor was it only at home that things were going
unhappily for Florence. When Louis of Bavaria, who claimed the empire
against the will of the Pope, left Italy--it was the Visconti who
had called him across the Alps in fear of the House of Anjou--some
of his Germans, after Castruccio's death, seized Lucca and offered
to sell it to the Florentines, who refused it. They repented later;
and when it had come into the hands of Martino della Scala of Verona
and Parma, who, in straits himself on account of Visconti, offered
to sell it again, they found a competitor in Pisa, who was ready to
dispute the city with them. Nevertheless they bought it, only to find
that the Pisans, knowing the wealth of Florence and expecting this,
had sat down before it. A war followed in which nothing but dishonour
came the way of Florence, and Lucca fell into the hands of Pisa.
This so enraged the Florentines that they rose against the _grandi_,
who, at their wits' end what to do, asked their old ally Robert of
Naples for help. This was in 1341. It was not, therefore, to a very
prosperous or joyful city that Boccaccio returned from Naples; the
words he put into the mouth of Fiammetta[317] were fully justified.

King Robert, however, did not send help to Florence at once. He
was thinking always of Sicily and had been busy with the conquest
of the Lipari Islands,[318] but when he did send it, in the person
of Walter, Duke of Athens and Count of Brienne, a French baron, it
proved to be the worst disaster of all. Yet at first the Florentines
rejoiced, for they knew Walter of old, who had been vicegerent in
Florence for Charles of Calabria in 1325, and as Machiavelli tells
us, his behaviour had been so modest that every one loved him. That
was not his attitude now, nor does it tally with Boccaccio's lively
account of him,[319] which certainly reads like the work of an
eye-witness and supports our belief that he was in Florence during
1342 and 1343--those disastrous years.

For as it happened, the Duke arrived in Florence at the very time
when the enterprise of Lucca was utterly lost. The _grandi_, however,
hoping to appease the people, at once made him Conservator and later
General. But they had alienated every one. The _nobili_, long since
their enemies, had always maintained a correspondence with the Duke
ever since he had been vicegerent for Charles of Calabria; they
thought now that their chance was come when they might be avenged
alike on the _grandi_ and the people; so they pressed him to take
the government wholly into his hands. The people, on the other
hand, smarting under new taxes and oppression and insolence and
defeat, to a large extent joined the _nobili_ against the _grandi_.
In this conspiracy we find all the names of the great popular
families, Peruzzi, Acciaiuoli, Antellesi, and Buonaccorsi, whom the
unsuccessful war, among other things, had ruined, and who hoped thus
to free themselves from their creditors.

The Duke's ambition, being thus pampered and exasperated,
over-reached itself. To please the people he put to death those who
had the management of the war, Giovanni de' Medici, Nardo Rucellai,
and Guglielmo Altoviti, and banished some and fined others. And thus
his reputation was increased, and indeed a general fear of him spread
through the city, so that to show their affection towards him people
caused his arms to be painted upon their houses, and nothing but the
bare title was wanting to make him their Prince.

Being now sure of his success, he caused it to be signified to the
Government that for the public good he judged it best that they
should transfer their authority upon him, and that he desired their
resignation. At first they refused, but when by proclamation he
required all the people to appear before him in the Piazza di S.
Croce (for he was living in the convent as a sign of his humility),
they protested, and then consented that the government should be
conferred upon him for a year with the same conditions as those with
which it had been formerly given to Charles of Calabria.

So on September 8, 1342, the Duke, accompanied by Giovanni della
Tosca and many citizens, came into the Piazza della Signoria with
the Senate, and, mounting on the Rhingiera, he caused the articles
of agreement between him and the Senate to be read. Now when he who
read them came to the place where it was written that the government
should be his for a year, the people cried out, "For his life. For
his life." It is true, Francesco Rustichesi, one of the Signori, rose
up and tried to speak, but they would not hear him. Thus the Duke
was chosen lord by consent of the people not for a year, but for
ever; and afterwards he was taken and carried through the multitude
with general acclamation. Now the first thing he did was to seize
the Palazzo della Signoria, where he set up his own standard, while
the Palazzo itself was plundered by his servants; and all this was
done to the satisfaction of those who maliciously or ignorantly had
consented to his exaltation.

The Duke was no sooner secure in his dominion than he forbade
the Signori to meet in the Palazzo, recalled the Baldi and the
Frescobaldi, made peace with the Pisans, and took away their bills
and assignments from the merchants who had lent money in the war of
Lucca. He dissolved the authority of the _Signori_ and set up in
their place three _Rettori_, with whom he constantly advised. The
taxes he laid upon the people were great, all his judgments were
unjust, and all men saw his cruelty and pride, while many citizens
of the more noble and wealthy sort were condemned, executed, and
tortured. He was jealous of the _nobili_, so he applied himself to
the people, cajoling them and scheming into their favour, hoping thus
to secure his tyranny for ever. In the month of May, for instance,
when the people were wont to be merry, he caused the common people
to be disposed into several companies, gave them ensigns and money,
so that half the city went up and down feasting and junketing, while
the other half was busy to entertain them. And his fame grew abroad,
so that many persons of French extraction repaired to him, and he
preferred them all, for they were his faithful friends; so that in a
short while Florence was not only subject to Frenchmen, but to French
customs and garb, men and women both, without decency or moderation,
imitating them in all things. But that which was incomparably the
most displeasing was the violence he and his creatures used to the
women. In these conditions it is not surprising that plots to get rid
of him grew and multiplied. He cared not. When Matteo di Morrozzo,
to ingratiate himself with the Duke, discovered to him a plot which
the Medici had contrived with others against him, he caused him to be
put to death. And when Bettone Cini spoke against the taxes he caused
his tongue to be pulled out by the roots so that he died of it. Such
was his cruelty and folly. But indeed this last outrage completed
the rest. The people grew mad, for they who had been used to speak
of everything freely could not brook to have their mouths stopped up
by a stranger. "When," asks Machiavelli, "did the Florentines know
how to maintain liberty or to endure slavery?" However, things were
indeed at such a pass that the most servile people would have tried
to recover its freedom.

Many citizens of every sort, we hear, resolved to destroy him, and
out of this hatred grew three serious conspiracies by three sorts of
people: the _grandi_, the people, and the _arti_. The _grandi_ hated
him for he had robbed them of the government, the people because
he had not given it to them, the _arti_ because they were ruined.
With the first were concerned the Bardi, Rossi, Frescobaldi, Scali,
Altoviti, Mazalotti, Strozzi, and Mancini, with the Archbishop
of Florence; with the second, Manno and Corso Donati, the Pazzi,
Cavicciulli, Cerchi, and Albizzi; with the third, Antonio Adimari,
the Medici, Bordini, Rucellai, and Aldobrandini.

The plan was to kill him on the feast of S. John Baptist, June 24,
1343, in the house of the Albizzi, whither, as it was thought, he
would go to see the _palio_.[320] But he went not and that design
was lost. The next proposal was to kill him as he walked in the
streets, but that was found difficult, because he was always well
armed and attended and, moreover, very uncertain. Then it was debated
to slay him in the Council, but this too was dangerous, for even
should they succeed they would remain at the mercy of his guards.
Suddenly all was discovered. The Duke learnt of the plots through
the quite innocent action of a Sienese. He was both surprised and
angry; and that is strange. At first he proposed to kill every man
of all the families I have named; but he had not force enough to do
it openly, so he in his turn plotted. He called the chief citizens
to council, meaning to slay them there. But they got wind of it, and
knowing not whom to trust, confessed at last to one another their
three conspiracies and swore to stand together and get rid of the

[Illustration: THE DUKE OF ATHENS]


_From miniatures in the French version of the "De Casibus Virorum."
made in 1409 by Laurent le Premierfait. MS. late XV century. (Brit.
Mus. Rothschild Bequest. MS. XII.)_]

Their plan was this: the next day, as it happened, was the feast of
S. Anne, July 26, 1343, and they decided that then a tumult should
be raised in the Mercato Vecchio, upon which all were to take arms
and excite thepeople to liberty. And the next day, the signal
being given by sounding a bell as had been agreed, all took arms
and, crying out, "Liberty, liberty," excited the people, who took
arms likewise. The Duke, alarmed at this noise, fortified himself
in the Palazzo and then, calling home his servants who were lodged
through the city, set forth with them to the Mercato. Many times were
they assaulted on the way and many too were slain, so that though
recruited with three hundred horse he knew not himself what to do.
Meantime the Medici, Cavicciulli, and Rucellai, who were afraid lest
he should attack, drawing together a force, advanced so that many
of those who had stood for the Duke rallied over to their side, and
though the Duke was again reinforced, yet was he beaten and went
backward into the Palazzo. Meanwhile Corso and Amerigo Donati with
part of the people broke up the prisons, burned the records of the
Potestà, sacked the houses of the _rettori_, and killed all the
Duke's officers they could meet with. And the Duke remained besieged
in the Palazzo. Has not Boccaccio told us the story:--

    "Upon a day they armyd in stele bright
    Magnates first with comons of the toun
    All of assent roos up anon right
    Gan to make an hydous soun:
    Late sle this tyrant, late us pull him doun.
    Leyde a syege by mighty violence
    A forn his paleys where he lay in Florence."[321]

While the Duke was thus besieged, the citizens to give some form to
their government met in S. Reparata (S. Maria del Fiore) and created
fourteen of their number, half _grandi_ half people, to rule with
the Bishop. Then the Duke asked for a truce. They refused it, except
Guglielmo of Assisi, with his son, and Cerrettieri Bisdomini, who
had always been of his party, should be delivered into their hands.
This for long the Duke refused, but at last, seeing no way out, he
consented. "Greater, doubtless," says Machiavelli, "is the insolence
and contumacy of the people and more dreadful the evils which they do
in pursuit of liberty than when they have acquired it." So it proved
here. Guglielmo and his son were brought forth and delivered up among
thousands of their enemies. His son was a youth of less than eighteen
years; yet that did not spare him nor his beauty neither. Those who
could not get near enough to do it whilst he was alive wounded him
when he was dead; and as if their swords had been partial and too
moderate, they fell to it with their teeth and their hands, biting
his flesh and tearing it in pieces. And that all their senses might
participate in their revenge, having feasted their ears upon groans,
their eyes upon wounds, their touch upon the bowels of their enemies
which they rent out of their bodies with their hands, they regaled
their taste also. Those two gentlemen, father and son, were eaten in
the Piazza; only Cerrettieri escaped, for the people, being tired,
forgot him altogether and left him in the Palazzo not so much as
demanded, and the next night he was conveyed out of the city.

Satiated thus with blood, they suffered the Duke to depart peacefully
on August 6, attended by a host of citizens who saw him on the way
to the Casentino, where, in fact, though unwillingly it seems, he
ratified the renunciation.

And all these things befell in Florence while Giovanni Boccaccio was
writing in the popolo di S. Felicità and in the popolo di S. Ambrogio
in the years 1341, 1342, and 1343. In 1344, as we may believe,
Boccaccio returned to Naples.


[305] Cf. _Fiammetta_, _ed. cit._, cap. ii. p. 45, where by the
mouth of Fiammetta his apprehensions are expressed. "La tua città
[Florence]," she says to him, "as you yourself have already said, is
full of boastful voices and of cowardly deeds, and she serves not a
thousand laws, but even as many, it seems, as she has men. She is
at war within and without, so that a citizen is like a foreigner,
he trembles. She is furnished with proud, avaricious, and envious
people, and full of innumerable anxieties. And all this your soul
abhors. Now the city you would leave is, as you know, joyful,
peaceful, rich, and magnificent, and lives under one sole king; the
which things I know well are pleasing to you. And besides all these,
I am here; but you will not find me whither you go."

[306] In _Ameto_, _ed. cit._, p. 187, when Ibrida tells his story,
he says his father was unworthy of such a mistress: "Ma il mio
padre siccome indegno di tale sposa traendolo i fati, s' ingegnò d'
annullare i fatti sacramenti, e le 'mpromesse convenzioni alla mia
madre. Ma gli Iddii non curantisi di perdere la fede _di sì vile
uomo_, con abbondante redine riserbando le loro vendette a giusto
tempo, il lasciarono fare; e quello che la mia madre gli era si fece
falsamente d' un altra nelle sue parti. La qual cosa non prima sentì
la sventurata giovane, dal primo per isciagurata morte, e dal secondo
per falsissima vita abbandonata, che i lungamente nascosi fuochi
fatti palesi co' ricevuti inganni, chiuse gli occhi e del mondo a lei
mal fortunoso, si rendè agli Iddii. Ma Giunone nè Imeneo non porsero
alcuno consentimento a' secondi fatti, benchè chiamati vi fossero;
anzi esecrando la adultera giovane con lo 'ngannevole uomo, e verso
loro con giuste ire accendendosi, prima privatolo di gran parte
de' beni ricevuti da lei, e dispostolo a maggiore ruina a morte la
datrice, la data e la ricevuta progenie dannarono con infallibile
sentenzia, visitando con nuovi danni chi a tali effetti porse alcuna
cagione." Cf. also _Ameto_, _ed. cit._, p. 252 _et seq._, and
_Fiammetta_, _ed. cit._, cap. ii. p. 42.

[307] On the different houses of Boccaccino in Florence, see an
unpublished MS. by GHERARDI, _La Villeggiatura di Maiano_, which I
believe to be in the Florentine archives. A copy is in the possession
of Mrs. Ross, of Poggio Gherardo, near Florence. From this copy I
give cap. iv. of the MS. in Appendix III.

[308] _Ameto_, _ed. cit._, p. 254.

[309] _Fiammetta_, _ed. cit._, cap. v. p. 63: "Quando di più d' un
mese essendo il promesso tempo passato."

[310] _Ibid._, p. 64. Fiammetta asks: "How long ago had you news of
him?" "It is about fifteen days," says the merchant, "since I left
Florence." "And how was he then?" "Very well; and the same day that
I set out, newly entered his house a beautiful young woman who, as I
heard, had just married him."

[311] Cf. BALDELLI, _op. cit._, p. 276, n. 1: "26 Januarii, 1349
[i.e. 1350 according to our reckoning]. Dominus Ioannes quondam
Boccacci, populi Sanctæ Felicitatis, tutor Iacobi pupilli ejus
fratris, et filii quondam et heredis Dominiæ Bicis olim matris suæ,
et uxoris q. dicti Boccaccii et filiæ q. Ubaldini Nepi de Bosticcis."
This document, which gives us the name of Boccaccino's second wife,
tells us also that Giovanni was his brother's guardian and governor
in January, 1350. CRESCINI had already suggested (_op. cit._, p.
102 n.), following Baldelli, that the Lia of the _Ameto_ was a
Baroncelli when SANESI (_Un documento inedito su Giovanni Boccaccio_
in _Rassegna Bibliografica della Lett. Ital._ (Pisa, 1893), An. I,
No. 4, p. 120 _et seq._) proved it to be so, giving a genealogical

      Donna Love = Baldino di Nepo de' Bostichi
         |                      |
       Gherardo               Bice = Boccaccino

[312] Cf. CRESCINI, _op. cit._, p. 155, note 3. _Arch. Stat. Fior._
(Archivio della Grascia Prammatica del 1343): "1343. die Maij
Domina Bice uxor Boccaccij de Certaldo populi S. Felicitatis habet
guarnaccham de camecha coloris purpurini," etc.

[313] See Appendix III, MS. of Gherardi.

[314] See _supra_, n. 1.

[315] Boccaccino still possessed the house in popolo di S. Felicità
when he died. See _supra_, p. 98, n. 3.

[316] It must be remembered that in 1343 Giovanni was thirty years

[317] Cf. _Fiammetta_, _ed. cit._, cap. ii. p. 45, already quoted
_supra_, p. 96, note 1.

[318] GIO. VILLANI, Lib. XI, cap. 137.

[319] See the _De Casibus Virorum Illustrium_, Lib. IX, cap. 24; cf.
HORTIS, _Studi, etc._, pp. 127-8. A translation in verse of the _De
Casibus_ was made by LYDGATE, _The Fall of Princes_, first printed
by Pynson in 1494; later editions, 1527, 1554 (Tottel), and John
Wayland's, 1558. There is no modern edition. It is a disgrace to our
two universities that no modern edition of Lydgate has been published.

[320] Cf. W. HEYWOOD, _Palio and Ponte_ (Methuen, 1904), pp. 7-9.
These races or _palii_ seem to have originated in the thirteenth
century (cf. VILLANI, _Cronica_, Lib. I, cap. 60, and DANTE,
_Paradiso_, XVI 40-2). Benvenuto da Imola says, "Est de more
Florentiæ, quod singulis annis in festo Iohannis Baptistæ currant
equi ad brevium in signum festivæ laetitiæ...." He goes on to say
that the race was run from S. Pancrazio, the western ward of the
city, through the Mercato Vecchio, to the eastern ward of S. Piero.
Goro di Stazio Dati, who died in 1435, thus describes the _palio_ of
S. John in Florence. I quote Mr Heywood's excellent redaction from
DATI'S _Storia di Firenze_ (Florence, 1735), pp. 84-9, in his _Palio
and Ponte, u s_ "... Thereafter, dinner being over, and midday being
past, and the folk having rested awhile according to the pleasure
of each of them; all the women and girls betake themselves whither
the horses which run the palio will pass. Now these pass through
a straight street, through the midst of the city, where are many
dwellings, beautiful, sumptuous houses of good citizens, more than in
any other part thereof. And from one end of the city to the other,
in that straight street which is full of flowers, are all the women
and all the jewels and rich adornments of the city; and it is a great
holiday. Also there are always many lords and knights and foreign
gentlemen, who come every year from the surrounding towns to see the
beauty and magnificence of that festival. And there, through the
said Corso, are so many folk that it seemeth a thing incredible,
the like whereof he who hath not seen it could neither believe nor
imagine. Thereafter, the great bell of the Palagio de' Signori is
tolled three times, and the horses, ready for the start, come forth
to run. On high upon the tower, may be seen, by the signs made by
the boys who are up there, that is of such an one and that of such
an one (_quello è del tale, e quello è del tale_). And all the most
excellent race-horses of the world are there, gathered together from
all the borders of Italy. And that one which is the first to reach
the Palio is the one which winneth it. Now the Palio is borne aloft
upon a triumphal car, with four wheels, adorned with four carven
lions which seem alive, one upon every side of the car, drawn by two
horses, with housings with the emblem of the Commune thereon, and
ridden by two varlets which guide them. The same is a passing rich
and great Palio of fine crimson velvet in two palii, and between the
one and the other a band of fine gold a palm's width, lined with fur
from the belly of the ermine and bordered with miniver fringed with
silk and fine gold; which, in all, costeth three hundred florins or
more.... All the great piazza of S. Giovanni and part of the street
is covered with blue hangings with yellow lilies; the church is a
thing of marvellous form, whereof I shall speak at another time...."
Boccaccio must often have seen these races. Cf. _Decameron_, Day VI,
Nov. 3.

[321] LYDGATE, _op. cit._, Lib. IX.




Those three years of tumult in Florence cannot but have made a
profound impression on a man like Boccaccio. "Florence is full of
boastful voices and cowardly deeds," he writes in the _Fiammetta_,
while his account of the Duke in the _De Casibus Virorum Illustrium_
tells us clearly enough what he thought of that business. Was it the
public confusion in Florence that sent him back to Naples in 1344
or 1345,[322] on an invitation from Niccolò Acciaiuolo, or just a
hope of seeing once more Madonna Fiammetta, whom, as we have seen,
even amid the dreadful excitement of those three years, he had never
been able really to forget for a moment? We shall never know; but
if it were any expectation of peace or hope of finding in that far
city the old splendour and gaiety he had once enjoyed there, he
must indeed have been disappointed. Already, before he returned
to Florence in 1341, the rule of King Robert, who was then in his
last years, had weakened; and factions were already forming which,
when the wise king passed away, were not slow to divide the city
against itself. No doubt the splendid reception offered to Petrarch,
the gaiety of all that, served to hide the dangerous condition of
affairs, which was not rendered less insecure by the fact that King
Robert's heir was a girl still in her first youth, Giovanna the
beautiful, daughter of Charles of Calabria.

    "Giovanna Regina
    Grassa nè magra, bella el viso tondo
    Dotata bene de la virtù divina
    D' animo grato, benigno, jocondo."[323]

So sang the poets, and that the painters were not less enthusiastic
is proved by the frescoes in S. Maria dell' Incoronata.

In 1342 Giovanna was entering her seventeenth year, while Andrew of
Hungary, her betrothed, was but fifteen. On Easter Day in that year
King Robert invested him with the insignia of knighthood, and four
days later he was to have been married to the Princess, but the death
first of Pope Benedict (April 25th), and then of the King of Hungary,
his father (July 15th), prevented the ceremony, so that it was not
till August that it could take place, and then quite suddenly King
Robert the Wise died, aged sixty-four, on January 19th, 1343. In the
frock of a Franciscan tertiary they buried him in S. Chiara, behind
the high altar, and Sancius and Johannes of Florence presently built
there the great and beautiful tomb we know.[324]

    "Pastorum Rex Argus erat: cui lumina centum
    Lyncea, cui centum vigiles cum sensibus aures
    Centum artes, centumque manus, centumque lacerti
    Lingua sed una fuit."[325]

So said Petrarch.

Now by his Will, as was inevitable, Robert appointed his
granddaughter Giovanna his successor and heiress to all his
dominions--including Provence and most of his Piedmontese
possessions; he left her too the unrestored island of Sicily and
the title of Jerusalem. In case of her death all was to pass to
Maria her sister, who later married the Duke of Durazzo. During
Giovanna's minority and that of her husband Andrew of Hungary,
which were to last till they were twenty-five, the Will vested the
government in a Supreme Council which was in fact dominated by the
Dowager Queen Sancia, and was composed of Philip de Cabassoles,
Bishop of Cavaillon, vice-chancellor of the realm on behalf of the
suzerain Holy See, Charles d'Artois, Count of S. Agata, natural son
of King Robert, Goffredo Marzano, Count of Squillace, admiral of the
Kingdom, and Filippo di Sanguinetto, Count of Altomonte, seneschal in
Provence. It thus appears that the intention of the King was to keep
the throne in his own line, certainly not to make Andrew of Hungary
king in Naples. The two branches of his house had had, it will be
remembered, almost equal rights to the throne, and if Clement V for
his own good had decided in favour of the younger branch, that is in
favour of Robert, though Charles Martel of Hungary, Andrew's father,
submitted to the Papal decision, Robert had thought it prudent to
make voluntarily a kind of composition of his rights and the claims
of his brothers in arranging the marriage between Andrew his nephew
and his granddaughter Giovanna. It will thus be seen that Giovanna's
marriage was a political act designed to establish peace between the
descendants of Charles d'Anjou.[326] That no peace but a sword came
of it we shall see.

[Illustration: CIMON AND IPHEGENIA. (DEC. V, 1)

_From a miniature in the French version of the "Decameron," made in
1414 by Laurent le Premierfait. MS. late XV century. (Brit. Mus.
Rothschild Bequest. MS. XIII)_]

King Robert had not been dead many months when the Hungarians, sure
of Andrew's protection, began to flock to Naples. They angered
those who surrounded the Queen and even the Queen herself by their
insolence, and thus the court was divided into two parties, or rather
there were two courts in one palace.

In the autumn of 1343 Petrarch was once more in Naples. In a letter
to Barbato di Sulmona he pays an eloquent tribute to King Robert, and
at the same time states his reasons for anxiety as to the condition
of the Kingdom. "I fear as much from the youthfulness of the Queen
and her consort as from the age and ideas of the Queen Dowager; but I
am especially afraid of the administration and manners of the court.
Perhaps I am a bad prophet: I hope so. But I seem to see two lambs
in the care of a pack of wolves...." Touching on the administration,
Petrarch gives the following account of Fra Roberto, the Franciscan
confessor of Andrew. "I encountered a deformed creature, barefooted,
hoodless, vainglorious in his poverty, degenerate through his
sensuality; in fact, a homunculus, bald and rubicund, with bloated
limbs.... Would you hear his revered name? He is called 'Robert.'
Yes, in the place of the noblest of kings, till lately the glory of
our age, has arisen this Robert who, on the contrary, will disgrace
it. Nor will I henceforth hold it a fable they relate of a serpent
able to be generated from a buried corpse, since from the royal
sepulchre has issued this reptile." And indeed of all the court he
has a good word for Philip de Cabassoles only: "he who alone stands
up on the side of justice."

So much for the administration; nor were the manners he found there
any better, in his judgment. The whole city was divided against
itself, and life was altogether insecure. The council is "compelled
to end its sittings at sunset, for the turbulent young nobles make
the streets quite unsafe after dark. And what wonder if they are
unruly and society corrupt, when the public authorities actually
countenance all the horrors of gladiatorial games? These disgusting
exhibitions take place in open day before the court and populace in
this city of Italy with more than barbaric ferocity."[327]

The vicious life of this and the following years in Naples is usually
attributed to the example and influence of Queen Giovanna. In fact
nothing can be further from the truth. In King Robert's time the
court life was, as we have seen, very far from being exemplary, but
Giovanna herself was not weak and abandoned. Already Hungary was
pressing the claims of Andrew to equal if not superior power to hers.
She never flinched for a moment; from the hour she perceived the way
things were drifting she determined to win.

At first things seemed altogether against her. In June, 1344, she
wrote to Charles of Durazzo, her sister's husband, telling him that
Cardinal Aimeric, the Papal Legate, had entered her kingdom without
her leave, and that therefore she and Andrew were gone to Aversa to
meet him. There she made peace, acknowledged the Cardinal as Regent,
and admitted her crown to be held from the Holy See. Andrew signed
her proclamation as a mere witness.[328] But this intrusion of the
Papacy by no means improved chances of peace.

The coming of Andrew, with his Hungarian pretensions and those crowds
of needy foreign place-hunters, angered the Neapolitan people it
is true, but it infuriated the long-established group of domestic
functionaries in Castel Nuovo, who in some sort had been confirmed
in their offices by the Will of King Robert. The head of this court
party, as whole-heartedly against Andrew as it was against the Pope,
was Filippa la Catanese, now quite an old woman. Among her family
were Raimondo the seneschal, Sancia de Cabannis, Contessa di Morcone,
her granddaughter, wife of Carlo di Gambatesa, Roberto de Cabannis,
grand seneschal of the Kingdom, and his wife. This group sided with
Giovanna, and in its own interest pushed her claims against those of
Aimeric and Andrew. They were supported more or less in secret by
Catherine of Taranto and her sons Robert and Louis.

A storm was obviously brewing, and it must have been about this time
that Boccaccio returned to Naples, perhaps on the invitation of
Niccolò Acciaiuoli, secretary and protégé of Catherine of Taranto.
No doubt he hoped to see Fiammetta--no doubt he did see her, though
what came of it we shall never know; but he found no more peace in
Naples than in Florence.

In February, 1345, the Pope removed Aimeric, who he declared had
succeeded in governing _pacifice et quiete_.[329] The Cardinal
returned to Avignon, and moved in the Consistory that Andrew be
crowned king. He was supported by Durazzo. Giovanna appealed.
The Pope listened, but ordered that Filippa la Catanese, Sancia,
Margherita, and others should be dismissed. From that moment the
Catanesi plotted to murder Andrew.

It was the custom of the court (then, as it happened, in mourning for
the Dowager Queen Sancia, who died July 28, 1345) to spend the summer
at one of the royal palaces outside Naples. In July Giovanna, then
with child, had gone with the court to Castellamare; in September
she moved to Aversa. On the night of the 18th, the anniversary of
Andrew's arrival in Naples, the Queen had retired early, and Andrew
too had gone early to his room, when Tommaso, son of Mambriccio di
Tropea, summoned him from his chamber into a passage leading toward
the garden, on the pretence, as it is said, that messengers had
arrived from Naples with important despatches. In that passageway
he was seized, gagged, and strangled, and his body thrown into the
garden, where it was discovered by his Hungarian nurse.[330] It was
at once whispered that the Queen was concerned in the murder, and
this rumour has been accepted as the truth even in our own day;[331]
but, in fact, there is little or nothing to substantiate it. Her
account[332] scarcely differs from that of the Pope, but adds that a
man had been seized and executed for the crime. Then, after a day or
two, the Queen left Aversa for Naples. Andrew's nurse remained in her
service and nursed her through her confinement in December.

The murder of Andrew, whose handiwork soever, effectually divided
the Kingdom into two parties, to wit those of Durazzo and Taranto;
the former demanding punishment of the murderers. Two Cardinals, di
S. Clemente and di S. Marco, were appointed by the Pope to rule in
Naples and to exact vengeance. The Queen was helpless. On December
25th her son was born and named Charles Martel. As time went on and
none of the assassins were brought to justice, the Hungarians became
furious, and at last requested the custody of the young prince;
and this request became a demand when it was known that Giovanna
was being sought in marriage by Robert of Taranto, who, with his
mother and his half-brother Louis, had been covertly associated with
the Catanesi. Something had to be done, and early in 1346 we find
Charles of Durazzo with Robert of Taranto and Ugo del Balzo seizing
Raimondo the seneschal, as one of the guilty persons. Under torture
he confessed that he had knowledge of the plot and assisted those who
committed the murder. Among his accomplices he named the Count of
Terlizzi, Roberto de Cabannis, Giovanni and Rostaino di Lagonessa,
Niccolò di Melezino, Filippa Catanese, and Sancia de Cabannis.

Charles of Durazzo and Robert of Taranto therefore determined to hunt
down the Catanese family and offer it as a peace-offering to the King
of Hungary, who already threatened to descend upon the Kingdom. At
Durazzo's instigation an armed mob surrounded Castel Nuovo hunting
for the murderers. A few had been wise enough to flee, but most of
those denounced were arrested, imprisoned in Castel Capuano, and put
to torture. In vain the Queen protested against the princes' action.
They achieved their purpose and the Pope, in a Bull of March 19th,
1346, pardoned them, asserting that God had moved them to it.

The Queen, as might be expected, had now no further wish to marry
Robert of Taranto; and, indeed, finding that she could not depend on
him for help, she had already promised herself to his half-brother
Louis. In this second marriage she begged for the favour of the Holy
See. The Pope, though not averse, bullied by Hungary, temporised.

Now, behind Louis of Taranto was the most astute mind of that age,
Boccaccio's old friend, Niccolò Acciaiuoli, the Florentine. He
resolved to win for his patron both the Queen of Naples and the
crown. Nor was he easily discouraged. Yet, at first certainly
things looked black enough for him.


_From a miniature in the French version of the "Decameron," made in
1414 by Laurent le Premierfait. MS. late XV century. (Brit. Museum.
Rothschild Bequest, MS. XIV.)_]

Early in August, 1346, there had been erected along the shore by the
Castello dell' Ovo a palisade encircling a raised platform. Here,
under Ugo del Balzo, the public torture of the suspected began.
Whatever else Boccaccio may have seen or done in Naples, it seems
certain that he was a witness of this dreadful orgie.[333]

But in Naples confusion followed on confusion. Without waiting for
the Pope's leave, risking an interdict, Louis of Taranto married
Giovanna in the Castel Nuovo in August, 1347, while already King
Louis of Hungary was creeping down through the Abruzzi to invade the
Kingdom and seize the city. On January 15, 1348, the Queen, with a
few friends, leaving her child behind, sailed for Provence. Not long
after Louis of Taranto and Acciaiuoli reached Naples, and, finding
her departed, took ship for Tuscany. With them, according to Witte,
went Boccaccio. However that may be, when next we hear of him he is
in Romagna at the court of Ostasio da Polenta. Louis of Taranto and
Acciaiuoli, with or without him, landed at Porto Ercole of the Counts
Orsini of Sovana, and two days later del Balzo surrendered Castel
dell' Ovo with the young Prince Charles Martel. King Louis was then
at Aversa, where he captured Philip of Taranto and Louis of Durazzo
who had come to treat with him. Then Charles of Durazzo was seized,
tried for the murder of Andrew, and condemned: and they took him to
Aversa and struck off his head on the scene of the crime. But even
the Neapolitans, who had in fact taken little part in the war, if a
war it can be called, being busy with their own feuds, grew weary of
the invasion, so that when King Louis demanded ransom from them,
posing as a conqueror, they proved to him that it would be wiser
to withdraw. And there were other arguments: for the Black Death
fell on his army and he fled, leaving only enough troops to prevent
Giovanna from returning. She, poor Queen, without soldiers or money,
was compelled to cede Avignon to the Holy See for 80,000 florins, on
condition that the Pope declared her innocent of the murder of her
husband and proclaimed the legality of her second marriage. Thus the
Church was the only gainer by these appalling crimes and treasons.
Once more Israel had spoiled the Egyptians. It was not till 1352,
after the second invasion of King Louis, that Giovanna was able to
return to Naples.


[322] We do not know when, if at all at this time, Boccaccio returned
to Naples. The only testimony by which Baldelli, Witte, and Koerting
hold that he was in Naples in 1345 is the passage in the _De Casibus
Virorum Illustrium_, Lib. IX, cap. 25, where he narrates, as though
he had been present on the occasion, the terrible end of Philippa
la Catanese (see _infra_). Witte, however, wishes to support this
evidence by an interpretation of certain words in the letter to
Zanobi, _Longum tempus effluxit_ (see CORRAZINI, _op. cit._, p.
33). Hortis, Gaspary, and Hauvette, however, assert that in the _De
Casibus, u.s._, Boccaccio does not actually say he was present on the
occasion mentioned, but only says, _quæ fere vidi_, while the passage
in the letter to Zanobi, they say, refers to Acciaiuoli. Lastly,
Hecker observes that the words of Boccaccio seem to prove that he was
in Naples in 1345. In fact, speaking of the condemnation and torture
of the Catanese as accomplice in the assassination of King Andrew he
says: "quædam auribus, quædam oculis sumpta meis describam."

[323] See _Arch. St. per la prov. Nap._, An. V, p. 617. For an
excellent account of King Robert's reign, as of Giovanna's, see
BADDELEY, _King Robert the Wise and His Heirs_ (Heinemann, 1881). It
is a good defence of the Queen.

[324] Gio. Villani, who did not love the Angevins, tells us that King
Robert was full of every virtue, admitting, however, that in his last
years he was very avaricious; and in this he agrees with Boccaccio.
He says, however, that he was the wisest monarch of Christendom after
Charlemagne. Boccaccio too calls him Solomon. In a poem attributed to
Convenevole da Prato he is hailed as the sovereign of United Italy.
But it is to Petrarch he owes his fame. Robert was a great patron
of the Franciscans, then utterly rotten. Boccaccio doubtless saw
enough in Naples to give him justification for his stories later. See

[325] Petrarch, _Egloga_, II.

[326] Here is the genealogical table:--

                       Charles I of Anjou, K. of Naples (1226-85)
                       Charles II == Mary of Hungary (1285-1309)
       |               |               |              |            |
    Hungary          Naples         Durazzo        Taranto     Provence
       |               |               |              |
    Charles Martel   Robert       John, D. of   Philip, P. of
       |           (1309-43)         Durazzo       Taranto
       |               |               |              |
    Charles Robert  Charles            |              |
       |               |               |              |
   +---+---+       +---+---+       +---+---+      +---+-------+
   |       |       |       |       |       |      |           |
 Louis  Andrew==Giovanna  Maria==Charles  Louis  Louis        |
                     (1343-82)     |       |   m. Giovanna    |
                                   |       |   after Andrew's |
                                   |       |   death          |
                                   |       |                Philip
                              Margaret==Charles III       m. Maria
                                        K. of Naples      after Charles
                                                          of Durazzo's

[327] I quote Mr. Hollway-Calthrop's redaction in his _Petrarch_
(Methuen, 1907), p. 112. He adds: "Knowing nothing of what he was to
see, Petrarch was taken to a spectacle attended by the sovereigns in
state; suddenly, to his horror, he saw a beautiful youth killed for
pastime, expiring at his feet, and putting spurs to his horse, he
fled at full gallop from the place." These gladiatorial games took
place in Carbonara.

[328] BADDELEY, _op. cit._

[329] He received beside his board and lodging 19,000 florins of gold
as salary. These were not paid by the Pope, whose servant he was, but
by Queen Giovanna and the wretched Neapolitans. The amount was fixed
by the Pope. Cf. BADDELEY, _op. cit._

[330] Cf. BADDELEY, _op. cit._, p. 344. The Pope's account is as
follows: "Immediately he was summoned by them he went into the
gallery or promenade which is before the chamber. Then certain men
placed their hands over his mouth so that he could not cry out, and
in this act they so pressed their iron gauntlets that their print
and character were manifest after death. Others placed a rope round
his neck in order to strangle him, and this likewise left its mark;
others 'vero receperunt eum pro genitalia, et adeo traxerunt, quod
multi qui dicebant se vidisse retulerunt mihi quod transcendebant
genua', while others tore out his hair, dragged him, and threw him
into the garden. Some say with the rope with which they had strangled
him they swung him as if hanging over the garden. It was further
related to us that they intended to throw him into a well, and
thereafter to give it out he had left the Kingdom ... and this would
have been carried out had not his nurse quickly come upon the scene."
Cf. BALUZIUS, _Vitæ Paparum Avenonensium_, 1305-94, Vol. II, p. 86,
and BADDELEY, _op. cit._, p. 344 _et seq._

[331] e.g. another account states that "a conspiracy was formed
against the young Andrew, and it is said, with some truth, that
the Queen was the soul of it. One evening in September, 1345, the
court being at the Castello of Aversa, a chamberlain entered the
royal apartment, where Andrew was with the Queen, to announce to
them that despatches of great importance were arrived from Naples.
Andrew went out immediately, and as he passed through the salon which
separated his room from the Queen's, he was seized and hanged from
the window of the palace by a golden rope said to have been woven by
the Queen's hands, and there he was left for two days. The Queen, who
was, or pretended to be, stupefied with horror, returned to Naples.
No real attempt, even at the behest of the Pope, was made to find
the assassins." The Queen was within three months of the birth of
her child when the murder occurred. She gained nothing by Andrew's
death but exile. The murderers, so far as we can judge now, were
undoubtedly the Catanese group in danger of losing their positions at

[332] Giovanna's own account is given in BADDELEY, _op. cit._, p.
345, n. 2. Mr. Baddeley is her ablest English defender. See also
a curious book by AMALFI, _La Regina Giovanna nella Tradizione_
(Naples, 1892).

[333] See _supra_, p. 108, n. 1. All sorts of stories have been
current as to Boccaccio's personal relations with Queen Giovanna.
By some he is said to have been her lover, by others to have been
in her debt for the suggestion of the scheme of the _Decameron_ so
far as it is merely a collection of merry tales. These tales he is
supposed to have told her. No evidence is to be found for any of
these assertions. But cf. HORTIS, _op. cit._, p. 109 and n. 1.




The few notices we have of Boccaccio's life at this time are almost
entirely mere hints which enable us to assert that in such a year he
was in such a place: they in no way help us to discover why he was
there or what he was doing. Thus we are able to affirm that probably
between 1344 and 1346, certainly in 1345, he was in Naples, but why
he went there, unless it were for the sake of Fiammetta, we cannot
suggest, for if Florence was a shambles, so was Naples. In much the
same way we know that he was in Ravenna with Ostasio da Polenta
not later than 1346; for in a letter Petrarch wrote him in 1365 he
reminds him that he was in Ravenna "in the time of the grandfather
of him who now rules there."[334] But why Boccaccio went to Ravenna,
unless it were that, finding Naples too hot to hold him and Florence
impossible, he took refuge with some relations he had there, or with
the Polenta who had befriended Dante, we do not know. Nor do we know
what he did there. It may be that during his stay in Naples he had
already begun to think of writing a life of Dante; and hearing that
the great poet had left a daughter Beatrice in Ravenna he set out to
see her. This, however, is but the merest conjecture. Baldelli,[335]
indeed, thinks that Boccaccio was at this time in Romagna as
ambassador for Florence. For Ravenna was not the only place he
visited about this time. If we may believe the third _Eclogue_, he
was also the guest of Francesco degli Ordelaffi, the great enemy of
the Church in Romagna and of King Robert the Wise.[336]

In the third _Eclogue_ Palemone reproves Pamfilo for idly reposing in
his cave while all around the woods ring with the cries of Testili
infuriated against Fauno. Now Fauno, as Boccaccio tells us in his
letter to Frate Martino da Signa,[337] where he explains some of
the disguises of the _Eclogues_, is Francesco degli Ordelaffi,
and Testili, although Boccaccio does not say so, is without doubt
the Church, which had in fact no greater enemy in all Romagna than
Ordelaffo, the usurper, if you will, of the ecclesiastical dominion,
who held in contempt the many excommunications launched against him,
replying always by an attack on some bishop, and by making continual
war on the legates sent against him.[338]

Those cries, and the anger which causes them, fill the first part
of the _Eclogue_. In the second part, it is clearly recounted how
King Louis of Hungary came down into Italy to avenge the murder of
his brother Andrew. Argo, the head shepherd worthy to be praised by
all, has perforce abandoned the sheep.[339] Argo is Robert King of
Naples,[340] wise as King Solomon, who follows the Muses. Alexis is
Andrew of Hungary and Naples, who, made free of the woods by Argo,
being careless and without caution, has been assailed by a she-wolf,
pregnant and enraged, that is by Queen Giovanna; for here, at any
rate, Boccaccio eagerly sides with the rabble and accepts the guilt
of the Queen as fact. They say, he adds, that the woods held many
cruel wild beasts and lions, and that Alexis met the death of Adonis.
Now Tityrus, that is King Louis of Hungary, the brother of the dead
Alexis, heard of this beyond Ister or the Danube, and set forth with
innumerable hunters to punish the wolf and the lions.[341] And many
Italians joined with Tityrus, says Boccaccio; among them was Faunus,
although Testili threatened him and cursed him sore.[342]

What this means is obvious. The Pope, dismayed by the descent of King
Louis into Italy,[343] having tried unsuccessfully in a thousand ways
to turn him from his purpose, hindered him as best he could when
he had once set out. The Vicar in Romagna, Astorgio di Duraforte,
was ordered not to allow him to enter any city; a papal legate met
him at Foligno, forbidding him on pain of excommunication to enter
the Kingdom. In spite of the papal prohibition the _signorotti_ of
Romagna gladly entertained the king. Francesco Ordelaffi above all,
as Villani tells us,[344] "bade him welcome, and went out to meet him
in the _contado_ of Bologna with two hundred horse and a thousand
foot, all under arms. On December 13 he received him in Forlì with
the greatest honour, furnishing his needs and those of all his
people. And there they sojourned three days with much feasting and
dancing of men and women, and the king made knights of the lord of
Forlì and of his two sons."

This, however, did not content Ordelaffo, for with three hundred of
his best horse he followed King Louis to help him in his undertaking
on December 17, 1347.[345] Now Ordelaffo was not only a lover of
the chase and of war, but in his way a humanist also, who, like
Sigismondo Malatesta later, surrounded himself with poets and men
of letters. Among his friends and counsellors was that Cecco da
Meleto who was the friend of Petrarch and Boccaccio.[346] He was a
great admirer of Petrarch, and merited the title Boccaccio gave him
in that letter to Zanobi: _Pieridum hospes gratissimus_. If that
letter is authentic,[347] then Boccaccio not only met King Louis
of Hungary[348] at Forlì, but accompanied him and Francesco degli
Ordelaffi into the Kingdom in the end of the year 1347 and the
beginning of 1348.[349] His sentiments with regard to the murder and
the war which followed it are clearly expressed there. He speaks
of the King's arms as "_arma justissima_," and though it surprises
us to find Boccaccio on that side, the letter only states clearly
the sentiments already set down in allegory in the third and eighth
_Eclogues_, and clearly but more discreetly stated in the _De
Casibus Virorum_. In the fourth _Eclogue_, however, he commiserates
the unhappy fate of Louis of Taranto, and hymns his return. Can
it be that, at first persuaded of the Queen's guilt, he learned
better later? We do not know. The whole affair of the murder, as of
Boccaccio's actions at this time and of his sentiments with regard to
it, are mysterious. If in the third and eighth _Eclogues_ he tells
us that Giovanna and Louis of Taranto were the real murderers of
Andrew and wishes success to the arms of the avenger; in the fourth,
fifth, and sixth _Eclogues_ he sympathises with Louis and tells of
the misery of the Kingdom after the descent of the Hungarians, and at
last joyfully celebrates the return of Giovanna and her husband.[350]
And this contradiction is emphasised by his actions. So far as we
may follow him at all in these years, we see him in Naples horrified
and disgusted at the state of affairs, leaving the city after the
torture and death of the Catanesi and repairing to the courts of
the Polenta and of the Ordelaffi, the enemies of the Church which
held Giovanna innocent, and of the champions of the Church, Robert
and Naples. Nor does he stop there, but apparently follows Ordelaffo
in his descent with King Louis on Naples in the end of 1347 and the
beginning of 1348. Yet in 1350 he was in Naples, and in 1352 he
was celebrating the return of those against whom he had sided and
written. The contradiction is evident, and we cannot explain it; but
in a manner it gives us the reason why, when Frate Martino da Segna
asked for an explanation and key to the _Eclogues_, he supplied him
with one so meagre and imperfect.[351]


_From a miniature in the French version of the "Decameron," made in
1414 by Laurent le Premierfait. MS. late XV century. (Brit. Mus.
Rothschild Bequest. MS. XIV.)_]

King Louis of Hungary, as we know, had not been many months in the
Kingdom when he was forced to fly for his life, not by a mortal foe,
but by the plague--the Black Death of 1348. It was brought to Italy
by two Genoese galleys which had been trading in the East and had
touched at Pisa. In April it had spread to Florence, a month later
to Siena, before Midsummer all Italy was in its grip, and by the
following year the greater part of Europe. No chronicler of the time
in Italy but has more than enough to say of this "judgment of God";
and beside the wonderful description by Boccaccio in the introduction
to the _Decameron_, there is scarcely a novelist who does not recount
some tale or other concerning it.[352]

Perhaps Tuscany suffered most severely. "In our city of Florence,"
writes Matteo Villani,[353] for old Giovanni Villani perished in the
pestilence--"in our city of Florence the plague became general in the
beginning of April of the year 1348, and lasted till the beginning
of September. And there died in the city, the _contado_, and the
district, of both sexes and of all ages, three out of every five
persons and more, for the poor suffered most, since it began with
them who were utterly without aid, and more disposed by weakness to
be attacked." Already Giovanni Villani had noted that in 1347 "there
began in Florence and in the _contado_ a sort of sickness which
always follows famine and hunger, and this especially fell on women
and children among the poor."[354] Giovanni Morelli[355] tells us
that in Florence it was a common thing to see people laughing and
talking together, and then in the same hour to see them dead. People
fell down dead in the streets, and were left where they fell. "Many
went mad and cast themselves into wells or out of windows into the
Arno by reason of their great pain and horrible fear. Vast numbers
died unnoticed in their houses, and were left to putrefy upon their
beds. Many were buried before they were actually dead. Priests went
bearing the cross to accompany a corpse to burial, and before they
reached the church there were three or four biers following them.
The grass grew in the streets. So completely were all obligations of
blood and of affection forgotten, that men left their nearest and
dearest to die alone rather than incur the danger of infection."[356]
Nor was this all. Every sort of moral obligation was forgotten.
Boccaccio more than hints at this, and we have evidence from many
others. In the continual fear of death men and women often forgot
everything but the present moment, which they were content to enjoy
in each other's arms, even though they were strangers. Ah, poor
souls! Amid the terror and loneliness of the summer, when the hot
sunshine was more terrible than the darkness, which at least hid the
shame, the disorder, and the visible horror, there was no lack of
opportunities. All social barriers were gone, and rich and poor, bond
and free, took what they might desire. It was the same in Siena; and
if in Naples and the Romagna the deaths were less numerous, what are
a few thousands when the lowest mortality was more than two in every
five? People said the end of the world was come. In a sense they were
right. It was the end of the Middle Age.

In Florence there perished among the rest Giovanni Villani, as I have
said, and, as we may believe, Bice, the second wife of Boccaccino. In
Naples it seems certain that Fiammetta died.

But where was Boccaccio during those dreadful five months of 1348?
Was he with Fiammetta in Naples? Did he perhaps close her eyes
and bear her to the grave? Or was he in Florence with his father,
or in Forlì with the Ordelaffi? All we know is that he was not in
Florence,[357] and it therefore seems certain that he was either
in Naples, though we cannot say with Fiammetta, or in Forlì with
Ordelaffo. Wherever he was, he did not escape the terrible sights
that the plague brought in its train. He tells us of one of these
which he himself had seen in the Introduction to the _Decameron_. On
the whole, however, it seems likely that Boccaccio was in Naples at
this time, and Baldelli even cites the letter to Franceschino de'
Bardi, which he tells us bears the date of May 15, 1349,[358] and
which was certainly written in Naples. Wherever he may have been,
however, he was recalled to Florence by the death of his father,
which befell not in the plague, for in July, 1348, he added a codicil
to his Will,[359] but between that date and January, 1350, when, as
Manni proved, Giovanni was appointed tutor to his brother Jacopo.[360]

In that year, 1350, Boccaccio was thirty-seven years old, and,
save for his stepbrother Jacopo, he was now alone in the world.
His father was dead, his stepbrother Francesco had long since been
in the grave, and now Fiammetta also was departed. And those last
ten years, which had robbed him of so much, of his youth also, had
been among the most terrible that even Italy can ever have endured.
He had seen Florence run with blood, and every sort of torture and
horror stalk abroad in Naples. Rome, if he ventured there, can have
appeared to him but little less than a shambles. Rienzi, with all
that hope, had come and vanished like a ghost. The fairest province
in Italy lay under the heel of a barbarian invader. And as though
to add a necessary touch of irony to the tragedy that had passed
before his eyes, he had taken refuge and found such peace as he
enjoyed among the unruly and riotous _signorotti_ and bandits of
the Romagna, where properly peace was never found, but which amid
the greater revolutions on the western side of the Apennines seemed
perhaps peaceful enough. And then had come the pestilence, which
cared nothing for right or wrong, innocent or guilty, young or old,
bond or free, but slew all equally with an impartial and appalling
cruelty that was like a vengeance--the vengeance of God, men said.
In that vengeance, whether of God or of outraged nature, all that he
loved or cared for had been lost to him. That he always loved his
mother, dead so long ago, better than his father goes for nothing;
that he loved his father as all men love him who has given them life
is certain, he could not choose but love him. But in spite of the
easy laugh, too like a sneer to be quite true or sincere, at the
beginning of the _Decameron_, the wound he felt most nearly, that he
never really forgot or quite forgave, was the death of Fiammetta,
whom he had loved at first sight, with all the eagerness and fire of
his youth, with all his heart, as we might say, ruthlessly keeping
nothing back. From this time love meant nothing to him; there were
other women doubtless in his life, mirages that almost lured him to
despair or distraction, for he was always at the mercy of women; but
the passion, if we may so call it, which henceforth fills his life is
that of friendship--friendship for a great and a good man which, with
all its comfort, left him still with that vain shadow, that emptiness
in his heart--

    "The grief which I have borne since she is dead."


[334] See Lett. 19 del Lib. XXIII, _Epist. Familiarum_. FRACASSETTI
has translated this letter into Italian: see _Lettere di Fr. Petrarca
volgarizz. Delle Cose Fam._, Vol. V, p. 91 _et seq._ Petrarch says:
"Adriæ in litore, ea ferme ætate, qua tu ibi agebas cum antiquo plagæ
illius domino eius avo qui nunc præsidet." It is Fracassetti who
dates this letter 1365 (Baldelli dates in 1362, and Tiraboschi in
1367). If, as we believe, Fracassetti is right, then Boccaccio must
have been in Ravenna in 1346, for in 1365 Guido da Polenta ruled
there, the son of Bernardino who died in 1359, the son of Ostasio,
who died November 14, 1346. Boccaccio had relations in Ravenna. In
the proem to the _De Genealogiis_ he tells us that Ostasio da Polenta
induced him to translate Livy.

[335] Yet there may be something in it. Baldelli tells us that
he wrote the _Vita di Dante_ in 1351, and in 1349 we find him in
communication with Petrarch. That Beatrice di Dante was in Ravenna
in 1346 seems certain. PELLI, _Memorie per servire alla vita di
Dante_ (Firenze, 1823), p. 45, says: "As for the daughter Beatrice
... one knows that she took the habit of a religious in the convent
of S. Stefano detto dell' Uliva in Ravenna." We know from a document
seen by Pelli that in 1350 the Or San Michele Society sent Beatrice
ten gold florins by the hand of Boccaccio. What I suggest is that
Boccaccio found her in Ravenna in 1346 very poor. He represented the
facts to the Or San Michele Society, who, after the Black Death of
1348, had plenty of money in consequence of all the legacies left
them and, as is well known, were very free with their plenty.

I give the document Pelli saw as he quotes it. He says he found it in
"un libro d' entrata ed uscita del 1350 tra gli altri esistenti nella
cancelleria de' capitani di Or San Michele risposto nell' armadio
alto di detta cancelleria." There, he says, is written the following
disbursement in the month of September, 1350: "A Messer Giovanni
di Bocchaccio ... fiorini dieci d' oro, perchè gli desse a suora
Beatrice figliuola che fu di Dante Alleghieri, monaca nel monastero
di S. Stefano dell' Uliva di Ravenna," etc. See also BERNICOLE in
_Giornale Dantesco_, An. VII (Series III), Quaderno vii (Firenze,
1899), p. 337 _et seq._, who rediscovered the document which is
republished by BIAGI and PESSERINI in _Codice Diplomatico Dantesco_,
Disp. 5 (1900).

[336] Cf. FERRETUS VICENTINUS, Lib. VII, in _R. I. S._, Tom. IX.

[337] CORAZZINI, _op. cit._, p. 268. "Tertiæ vero Eclogæ titulus
est _Faunus_, nam cum eiusdam causa fuerit Franciscus de Ordolaffis
Forolivii Capitaneus, quem cum summe sylvas coleret et nemora, ob
insitam illi venationis delectationem ego sæpissime Faunum vocare
consueverim, eo quod Fauni sylvarum a poetis nuncupentur Dei, illam
Faunum nominavi. Nominibus autem collocutorum nullum significatum
volui, eo quod minime videretur opportunum."

[338] See HORTIS, _Studi sulle opere Latine del B._ (Trieste, 1879),
p. 5 _et seq._

[339] Here is part of the _Eclogue_ which will be useful to us:--

      "Fleverunt montes Argum, flevere dolentes
    Et Satyri, Faunique leves, et flevit Apollo.
    Ast moriens silvas juveni commisit Alexo,
    Qui cautus modicum, dum armenta per arva trahebat,
    In gravidam tum forte lupam, rabieque tremendam
    Incidit impavidus, nullo cum lumine lustrum
    Ingrediens, cujus surgens sævissima guttur
    Dentibus invasit, potuit neque ab inde revelli,
    Donec et occulto spirasset tramite vita.
    Hoc fertur, plerique volunt quod silva leones
    Nutriat haec, dirasque feras, quibus ipse severus
    Occurrens, venans mortem, suscepit Adonis
    . . . . . . . sed postquam Tityrus ista
    Cognovit de rupe cava, quæ terminat Istrum,
    Flevit, et innumeros secum de vallibus altis
    Danubii vocitare canes, durosque bubulcos
    Infrendes coepit, linquensque armenta, suosque
    Saltus, infandam tendit discerpere silvam
    Atque lupam captare petit, flavosque leones,
    Ut poenas tribuat meritis, nam frater Alexis
    Tityrus iste fuit. Nunquid vidisse furentum
    Stat menti, ferro nuper venabula acuto
    Gestantem manibus, multos et retia post hunc
    Portantes humeris, ira rabieque frementes,
    Hac olim transire via."

_Eclog. III_, p. 267 (ed. Firenze, 1719).

[340] Petrarch also calls him Argo in his third _Eclogue_. See
HORTIS, _op. cit._, p. 6, n. 2.

[341] The lions--_biondi leoni_--according to Hortis, refer to
Niccolò Acciaiuoli, whose coat was a lion, but for me they are the
Conti della Leonessa. Cf. VILLANI, _op. cit._, Lib. XII, cap. 51.
When then did Boccaccio quarrel with Acciaiuoli?


    "... multi per devia Tityron istum
    Ex nostris, canibus sumptis, telisque sequuntur.
    Inter quos Faunus, quem tristis et anxia fletu
    Thestylis incassum revocat, clamoribus omnem
    Concutiens silvam. Tendit tamen ille neglectis
    Fletibus...." _Eclog. III_, p. 268, _ed. cit._

[343] It is well known, of course, that King Louis made two descents
into Italy: one in 1347 before the Black Death, and one after it in
1350. Hortis tells us that this _Eclogue_ is certainly dated 1348
(_op. cit._, p. 5, n. 4). It therefore must allude to the first
descent. This is confirmed, as Hortis points out, by the poems
themselves. (1) By the chronological order in which Boccaccio treats
of events in the _Eclogues_. The first two deal with his love, and
those immediately following the third, of the events of 1348. (2) By
the contents of the third _Eclogue_ itself, which deals first with
the happiness of Naples under King Robert, with his death, the murder
of Andrew, and the descent of King Louis, his passage, as we shall
see, through Forlì in 1347, whence Francesco degli Ordelaffi set out
with him for Lower Italy: all of which happened not in the second,
but in the first (1347) descent of King Louis.

[344] VILLANI, _Cronica_, Lib. XII, cap. 107.

[345] Cf. _Annales Cæsenates R. I. S._, Tom. XIV, col. 1179,
and HORTIS, _op. cit._, p. 8, n. 3. The latter argues long and
successfully for the departure of Ordelaffo with King Louis at
this date: to which he also ascribes the letters of Boccaccio to
Zanobi (_Quam pium, quam sanctum_), by some considered apochryphal
(CORAZZINI, _op. cit._, p. 447), where Boccaccio says: "Varronem
quidem nondum habui: eram tamen habiturus in brevi, nisi itinera
instarent ad illustrem Hungariæ regem in estremis Brutiorum et
Campaniæ quo moratur, nam ut sua imitetur arma iustissima meus
inclitus dominus et Pieridum hospes gratissimus cum pluribus Flamineæ
proceribus præparetur; quo et ipse, mei prædicti domini jussu non
armiger, sed ut ita loquar rerum occurrentium arbiter sum iturus, et
præestantibus Superis, omnes in brevi victoria habita et celebrato
triumpho dignissime proprias [_sic_] revisuri." The letter is dated

[346] Cf. FRACASSETTI, in a note to Lett. 3 of Lib. XXI, _Lett. Fam._
of Petrarch; and as regards Boccaccio, see BALDELLI, in note to
Sonnet xcix., written for Cecco (Moutier, Vol. XVI, p. 175).

[347] Cf. HORTIS, _op. cit._, pp. 8 and 267-77. Cf. CORAZZINI, _op.
cit._, p. 447.

[348] That he met King Louis is certain. In the third _Eclogue_ he

    "Nunquid vidisse furentem
    Stat menti."

[349] In the letters to Zanobi, spoken of above, beginning _Quam
pium, quam sanctum_, he says he is going to the illustrious King of
Hungary in the confines of the Abruzzi and of Campania: "Ad illustrem
Hungariæ regem in estremis Brutiorum et Campaniæ."

[350] VILLANI, _op. cit._, Lib. XII, cap. 51, believed in the guilt
of Giovanna, but he was writing from hearsay. He says the Queen lived
in adultery with Louis of Taranto and with Robert of Taranto and with
the son of Charles d'Artois and with Jacopo Capano.

[351] Boccaccio was and remained all his life a keen Guelf and
supporter of the House of Anjou. Of that no doubt is possible. Cf.
HORTIS, _op. cit._, p. 109.

[352] See especially SACCHETTI, Nov. XXI and CLVIII.

[353] M. VILLANI, _Cronica_, Lib. I, cap. ii.

[354] Cf. G. VILLANI, Lib. XII, cap. 84. After the horrible
slaughters and wars in Florence, and indeed in all Tuscany, the
disgraceful state of affairs in Naples, it is not wonderful that
pestilence broke out and found a congenial soil.

[355] G. MORELLI, _Cronica_, p. 280. Cf. G. BIAGI, _La vita privata
dei Fiorentini_ (Milano, 1899), pp. 77-9.

[356] W. HEYWOOD, _The Ensamples of Fra Filippo_ (Torrini Siena,
1901), p. 80 _et seq._

[357] In the Commentary on the _Divine Comedy_ (Moutier, Vol. XI, p.
105) he says: "E se io ho il vero inteso, perciocchè in que' tempi io
non ci era, io odo, che in questa città avvenne a molti nell' anno
pestifero del MCCCXLVIII, che essendo soprappresi gli uomini dalla
peste, e vicini alla morte, ne furon più e più, i quali de' loro
amici, chi uno e chi due, e chi più ne chiamò, dicendo, vienne tale e
tale; de' quali chiamati e nominati assai, secondo l' ordine tenuto
dal chiamatore, s' eran morti, e andatine appresso al chiamatore...."
This might seem evidence enough that Boccaccio was not in Florence
in 1348, for he expressly says so. There is a passage, however, in
the _Decameron_ Introduction where he seems to say that he was in
Florence; but as we shall see, we misunderstand him. He says: "So
marvellous is that which I have now to relate that had not many, _and
I among them_, observed it with their own eyes I had hardly dared to
credit it...." He then goes on to tell us (assuring us again that he
had seen it himself) that one day two hogs came nosing among the rags
of a poor wretch who had died of the disease, and immediately they
"gave a few turns and fell down dead as if from poison...." But this
might have happened in Naples or Forlì quite as well as in Florence.
It is only right to add that the Moutier edition of the _Comento
sopra Dante_ notes that the MS. from which it is printed reads 1340
instead of 1348 in the passage already quoted. This may or may not be
an error. There was a plague in Florence in 1340. See VILLANI, _op.
cit._, Lib. XII, cap. lxxiii.

[358] See the letter in CORAZZINI, _op. cit._, p. 23. It is written
in the Neapolitan dialect, and in all the versions I have been able
to see bears the date of no year at all. It is signed thus: "In
Napoli, lo juorno de sant' Anniello--Delli toi Jannetto di Parisse
dalla Ruoccia."

[359] Cf. MANNI, _Istoria del Decamerone_ (Firenze, 1742), p. 21.
See also KOERTING, _op. cit._, p. 179, and especially CRESCINI, _op.
cit._, p. 257 _et seq._

[360] Cf. MANNI, _u.s._



Fiammetta was dead. It must have been with that sorrow in his heart
that Boccaccio returned once more from Naples into Tuscany, to settle
the affairs of his father and to undertake the guardianship of his
stepbrother Jacopo. That the death of Fiammetta was very bitter to
him there are many passages in his work to bear witness; her death
was the greatest sorrow of his life; yet even as there are persons
who doubt Shakespeare's love for the "dark lady" and would have it
that those sonnets which beyond any other poems in any literature
kindle in us pity and terror and love are but a literary exercise,
so there is a certain number of professional critics who would deny
the reality of Boccaccio's love for Fiammetta. I confess at once
that with this kind of denial I have no sympathy whatever. It seems
to me the most ridiculous part of an absurd profession. We are told,
for instance, in the year 1904 that Sir Philip Sidney, who died in
1586, did not love his Stella; and this is suddenly asserted with the
air of a medieval Pope speaking _ex cathedra_, no sort of evidence
in support of the assertion being vouchsafed, and all the evidence
that could be brought to prove the contrary ignored in a way that is
either ignorant or dishonest. Sidney spent a good part of his life
telling us he did love Stella; his best friend, Edmund Spenser, in
two separate poems on his death asserts in the strongest way he can
that this was true; and all this apparently that some hack in the
twentieth century should find them both liars. Such is "criticism"
and such are the "critics," who do not hesitate to explain to us
as fluently as possible the psychology of a poet's soul. The whole
method both in its practice and in its results is a fraud, and would
be dangerous if it were not ridiculous.

This very method which in regard to Shakespeare and Sidney has
brought us to absurdity has been applied, though with some excuse, to
Boccaccio in regard to his love for Fiammetta. It has been necessary,
apparently, to defeat the heresiarchs with their own weapons, to
write pamphlets to prove that Boccaccio's love for Fiammetta was a
real passion[361] and not a figment of his imagination, and this
in spite of the fact that he tells us over and over and over again
almost every detail of that love which was the sunlight and shadow
of his youth, the consolation and the regret of his manhood and
age. Yes, say the dissenters, we must admit that; but on the other
hand you must allow that Boccaccio carefully wraps everything up in
mystery; he gives us not a single date, and in his own proper person
he says nothing, or almost nothing, about it. Well, there is some
truth in that; but Boccaccio did not write an autobiography, and if
he had, it would scarcely have been decent then, whatever it may be
thought now, to proclaim himself, actually in so many words with
names and dates, the lover of a married lady, and this would have
been almost impossible if that lady were the daughter of a king.
Thus on the face of it, the last thing we ought to expect is a frank
statement of such facts as these.

But then, the dissenters continue, none of the contemporary
biographers, such as Villani and Bandino,[362] say anything of
the matter. Our answer to that is that they had nothing to say
for the same reason that a modern biographer would have or should
have nothing to say in similar circumstances. But in spite of the
diversity of opinion which we find for these and similar reasons,
we must suppose, that even to-day, to every type of mind and soul
save the critic of literature it must be evident that the love of
Boccaccio for Fiammetta was an absolutely real thing, so real that it
made Boccaccio what he was, and led him to write those early works
which we have already examined and to compose the majority of the
poems which we are now about to consider and to enjoy.[363]


_From a miniature in the French version of the "Decameron," made in
1414 by Laurent le Premierfait. MS. late XV century. (Brit. Mus.
Rothschild Bequest. MS. XIV.)_]

But before we proceed to consider in detail these sonnets and songs
of Boccaccio, we must decide which of all those that from time to
time have passed under his name are really his. And here we will say
at once that no English writer, no foreign writer at all, has a right
to an opinion. Such a question, involving as it does the subtlest and
most delicate rhythm of verse, cannot be solved by any one who is not
an Italian, for to us the most characteristic and softest music of
the Tuscan must ever pass unheard. So the French have made of Poe a
very great poet because they, being foreigners, can hear, and not
too easily, his melody; while the music of Herrick, for instance, is
too subtle for them in the foreign tongue. No, for us there remains
the received canon of Boccaccio's _Rime_ to which no doubt can
attach, and that consists of one hundred and four sonnets, namely,
Nos. 1-101 and 107, 109, and 110 in Baldelli's edition,[364] and a
poem which Baldelli refused to print because he thought it obscene,
though in fact it is not, _Poi, Satiro se' fatto sì severo_--all
these conserved in Prof. Cugnoni's codex of the _Rime_.[365] We may
add the two _ballate_, the first _madrigale_, the _capitolo_ on the
twelve beautiful ladies, and the _ballata_ which Baldelli mistakenly
calls a _canzone_ from the Livorno collection. To these we may add
again four sonnets and a _ternario_ from the codex Marciana (Venice,
it cl. ix. 257), and finally the madrigal _O giustizia Regina_ in
codex Laurenziana (Florence, xl. 43).[366]

Having thus decided on our text, let us try to get it into some sort
of order. Baldelli's collection, which has been twice reprinted, is
itself an utter confusion,[367] a mere heap of good things. If we
are to make anything of these poems we must arrange them in some
sort of sequence, either of date or of contents. No one can possibly
arrange them in the order in which they were written, and therefore,
though there are _lacunæ_, for we cannot suppose that we are in
possession of all Boccaccio's verse, or if we were that he would
consciously have written a story in sonnets, we shall try to arrange
them in accordance with their subjects. In this I follow for the
most part the work of the Signori Manicardi and Massera. They were
not, however, the first to try their hands at it. The learned Signore
Antona Traversi[368] had already suggested a method of grouping these
sonnets, when they began to bring a real order out of chaos.

To make a long story short, Signor Antona Traversi thought he could
distinguish four sonnets which were written before any of those
he wished to give to Fiammetta. He found seventy-eight which were
inspired by her, nine of which were concerned with her death. Two
others he thought were composed for the widow of the _Corbaccio_.[369]

The sonnets to Fiammetta, sixty-nine of which were written to her
living and nine to her dead, he arranges in a sort of categories,
thus: twenty-six sonnets he calls "ideal"--these were written to
her in the first years that followed Boccaccio's meeting with her;
nineteen he calls "sensual"--these were composed before he possessed
her at Baia; twenty-three he calls "very sensual"--these were written
in the fullness of his enjoyment, when his most impetuous desires
had been satisfied. Finally, Signor Antona Traversi finds one sonnet
where we may see his sorrow at having lost his mistress.

But this method is almost the same as that we found so absurd in
the dissenters, who eagerly deny the reality of any love which man
has cared to express. Its success depends entirely on our absolute
knowledge of the psychology of man's heart, of a poet's heart. What
knowledge, then, have we which will enable us to divide what is ideal
love here from what is base love, the false from the true? Is the
parable of the tares and the wheat to go for nothing? And again,
can we divide love, the love of any man for any woman, if indeed it
be love, into "sensual," "ideal," and so forth? Indeed, for such a
desperate operation one would need a knowledge of man beside which
that of Shakespeare would be as a rushlight to the sun. Canst thou
bind the sweet influences of Pleiades or loose the bands of Orion?
Who shall divide love into periods of the soul? These are things
too wonderful for me, which I know not. Are not "idealism" and
"sensuality" moods of the same passion, often simultaneous and always
interchangeable? Or do the critics speak of affection? But I speak
not of affection. I speak of love--a flame of fire. And whatever
Boccaccio's love may have been, good or bad as you will, I care not
what you decide to think, this at least it was, a passion, a passion
which mastered him and destroyed in him much that was good, much that
was bad, but that made of him a poet and the greatest story-teller
in the world. Such a passion was composed of an infinite number of
elements spiritual and physical, in which the sensual presupposes the
ideal even as the ideal does the sensual. Who may divide what God has
joined together? And if one might--what disaster!

As though this difficulty were not enough to stagger even the most
precise among us, we have to take this also into account, that for
the first time in modern literature, love, human love, is freely
expressed in Boccaccio's sonnets. It is true Dante had sung of
Beatrice till she vanishes away into a mere symbol, far and far from
our world in the ever-narrowing circles of his Paradise. So Petrarch
had sung of Laura till the coldness of her smile--ah! in the sunshine
of Provence--has frozen his song on his lips, so that it is as smooth
and as brittle as ice. It is not of such as these that Boccaccio
sings, but of a woman mean and lovely, beautiful as the sea and as
treacherous, infinitely various, licentious, sentimental, of two
minds in a single heart's beat, who smiled his soul out of his body
in a short hour on a spring morning in church, who passed with him
for her own pleasure in the shadow of the myrtles at Baia, whom he
took by the hair, and kissed cruelly, thirsty for kisses, on the
mouth, and who, being weary, as women will be, threw him aside for no
cause but for this, that she had won his love. No man but Dante could
have loved Beatrice, for he made her; and for Laura, she is so dim,
so mere a ghost, I only know her name; but for Fiammetta, which of us
would not have staked his eternal good, since in her we recognise the
very truth; not "every woman"--God forbid--but woman, and if, as the
dissenters would assert, she is a myth, a creation of Boccaccio's,
then indeed he was an artist only second to the greatest, for she is
only less human, less absolute than Cleopatra.

We may take it then, first, that Boccaccio's love was a reality, and
not a "literary exercise" that he performed in these sonnets; and
then, that if we are to get any order at all out of those which deal
with so profound and difficult a subject as love, we must not hope to
do it by dividing them into certain artificial categories, such as of
"ideal love," of "sensual love," of "very sensual love."

Let us begin with certainties. We can dispose of certain of the poems
at once. Sonnet xcvii. to Petrarch, who is dead, must have been
written after July 20, 1374. Sonnets vii., viii., ix., which deal
with certain censures which had been passed on his Exposition of
Dante, were certainly written after August, 1373, when Boccaccio was
appointed to lecture on the _Divine Comedy_. In sonnets i., xxvi.,
xlii., lxiv., lxviii., and xciii. he alludes to the fact that he
is growing old.[370] In sonnet ciii. he says he is sorry to depart
without hope of seeing his lady again:--

    "Ma ciò mai non avviene, e me partire
    Or convien contra grado, nè speranza
    Di mai vederti mi rimane alcuna.
    Onde morrommi, caro mio disire,
    E piangerò, il tempo che m' avanza,
    Lontano a te, la mia crudel fortuna."

If this refers to Fiammetta, as seems certain, it should have been
written in 1340-1. Finally, it is natural to suppose that the greater
part of the sonnets written to Fiammetta living were composed between
1331 and 1341, while those to Fiammetta dead were written after 1348.
From these facts I pass on to make the only possible distribution of
the _Rime_ that our present knowledge allows.

Let us begin by distinguishing the love poems from the rest, which
for the most part belong to Boccaccio's old age. There are thirty-two
poems which are not concerned with love, namely, twenty-nine sonnets:
Nos. i., vi.-xii., xxvi.-xxviii., xxxvi., xlii., xlix., lvi.,
lxviii., lxxiv., lxxviii., xci.-xcvi., xcix., ci., _Poi Satiro_,
_Saturna al coltivar_, _Allor che regno_, and to these we may add the
_capitolo_, the _ballata_ of the beautiful ladies, and the madrigal
_O giustizia regina_.

There are nine, if not eleven, sonnets written _in morte di Madonna
Fiammetta_: (xix.?), xxi., xxix., li., (lviii.?), lx., lxvii.,
lxxiii., lxxxviii., xc., xcviii.

All the rest are love poems. Let us begin with them. And the
first question that must be answered is: Were they all written to
Fiammetta, or were some of them composed for one or other of the
women with whom Boccaccio from time to time was in relations?

Crescini tells us that it is only just to admit that atleast the
greater part of the love poems of Boccaccio refer to Fiammetta.
Landau is more precise, and Antona Traversi follows him in naming
sonnets c. and ci. (the latter we do not call a love poem) as written
for Pampinea or Abrotonia. To these Antona Traversi adds sonnets xii.
and xvii. (the former we do not call a love poem), which he thinks
were written for one of the ladies Boccaccio loved before he met
Fiammetta.[371] I give them both in Rossetti's translation:--

    "By a clear well, within a little field
    Full of green grass and flowers of every hue,
    Sat three young girls, relating (as I knew)
    Their loves. And each had twined a bough to shield
    Her lovely face; and the green leaves did yield
    The golden hair their shadow; while the two
    Sweet colours mingled, both blown lightly through
    With a soft wind for ever stirred and still.
    After a little while one of them said
    (I heard her), 'Think! If, ere the next hour struck,
    Each of our lovers should come here to-day,
    Think you that we should fly or feel afraid?'
    To whom the others answered, 'From such luck
    A girl would be a fool to run away.'"

That might seem to be just a thing seen, perfectly expressed, so that
we too feel the enchantment of the summer day, the stillness and the
heat; but if indeed it be written for any one, it might seem to be
rather for the blonde Fiammetta than for any other lady.

[Illustration: THE STORY OF GRISELDA. (DEC. X, 10)

_From the picture by Pesellino in the Morelli Gallery at Bergamo._


Sonnet xvii., however, is, it seems to me as it seemed to Rossetti,
clearly Fiammetta's. Is it not a reminiscence of happiness at

    "Love steered my course, while yet the sun rode high,
    On Scylla's waters to a myrtle grove:
    The heaven was still and the sea did not move;
    Yet now and then a little breeze went by
    Stirring the tops of trees against the sky:
    And then I heard a song as glad as love,
    So sweet that never yet the like thereof
    Was heard in any mortal company.
    'A nymph, a goddess or an angel sings
    Unto herself, within this chosen place,
    Of ancient loves'; so said I at that sound.
    And there my lady, 'mid the shadowings
    Of myrtle trees, 'mid flowers and grassy space,
    Singing I saw, with others who sat round."

Of the rest the following seem to be doubtfully addressed to
Fiammetta:[372] Sonnet xxxv. may refer to his abandonment by
Fiammetta; cix. seems to refer to the same misfortune; lxxxi. was
possibly written before he possessed her; but these two and xlv.,
lxiv., lxv., and c. seem to Manicardi and Massera too much of the
earth for Fiammetta, and they regard them as later work. As we have
already said,[373] in sonnet lxiv. he speaks of growing grey.

When we have disposed of these, the rest seem to belong to
Fiammetta. If we would have nothing but certainties, however, we
must distinguish. In lxvii. and lxx. (the first _in morte_) her name
occurs, while in xl., xli., xlvi., lxiii., in the ternaria, _Amor che
con sua forza_ (verse 18), and the fragment of the sestina, her name
is clearly hinted at, as it probably is in sonnet lxxxiii. (verse
11).[374] Again in iv., xv., xxxiii., lxix., Baia is spoken of; and
in xxxiv., xlvii., xlviii., Miseno. In v. and lii. Naples is named as
Parthenope; in xxxii. and liii. the scene is on the sea, and near it
in xxxi.[375] In sonnet xxxviii. we see him falling in love:--

    "All' ombra di mille arbori fronzuti,
    In abito leggiadro e gentilesco,
    Con gli occhi vaghi e col cianciar donnesco
    Lacci tendea, da lei prima tessuti
    De' suoi biondi capei crespi e soluti
    Al vento lieve, in prato verde e fresco,
    Un' angioletta, a' quai giungeva vesco
    Tenace Amor, ed ami aspri ed acuti;
    Da quai, chi v' incappava lei mirando,
    Invan tentava poi lo svilupparsi;
    Tant' era l' artificio ch' ei teneva,
    Ed io lo so, che me di me fidando
    Più che 'l dovere, infra i lacciuoli sparsi
    Fui preso da virtù, ch' io non vedeva."

While in sonnets iii., xviii., xxiv., xxv., xxx., xl., xli., lxi. he
praises who but Fiammetta:--

    "Le bionde trecce, chioma crespa e d' oro
    Occhi ridenti, splendidi e soavi...."

These sonnets were written to Fiammetta before the betrayal, and to
them I would add sonnets xxii. and lxxxvi.--

    "Se io potessi creder, che in cinqu' anni ..."

which I have already referred to and used in suggesting that five
years passed between the _innamoramento_ and the possession in
Boccaccio's love affair.[376]

I now turn to the sonnets, which, in their dolorous complaint, would
seem to belong to the period after his betrayal. In sonnets lxxix.
and lxxx. he reproves Love, in lxx. he swears that love is more than
honour, in lvii. he invokes death as his only refuge, in lxxvii. he
burns with love and rage:--

    "Ed io, dolente solo, ardo ed incendo
    In tanto fuoco, che quel di Vulcano
    A rispetto non è ch' una favilla."

In sonnets iv., v., xliii., lv., and ballata i. he is altogether
desperate. In iv. we have the splendidly bitter invective against
Baia already quoted.[377]

It is true that we should not have recognised the soul of Fiammetta
as the "chastest that ever was in woman"; but that Boccaccio could
think so is not only evidence that he had been blind, as he says,
but also of the eagerness of his passion. If we had any doubt of the
reason of his misery, however, it is removed by sonnets xliii., lv.,
and ballata i., where his betrayal is explicitly mentioned.[378] In
sonnet xvi. a thousand ways of dying present themselves to him; in
cv. he hopes, how vainly, to win her back again:--

    "Questa speranza sola ancor mi resta,
    Per la qual vivo, ingagliardisco e tremo
    Dubbiando che la morte non m' invole...."

With these sonnets we should compare xxxvii., xxxix., xlvi., lxxv.,
lxxxvii., and ciii. Sonnet lxxxvii. is perhaps the most beautiful of
these poems written in despair: it has been quoted above.[379]

In sonnets xiv. and lxxi. he tries to rouse himself, to free himself,
in vain, from love;[380] while in sonnet lxxii. he likens himself to
Prometheus. He bemoans his fortune again and again in sonnets ii.,
xxx., lii., cx.; while in xx. and cvii. he tries to hope in some
future. Whether that future ever came we do not know. There is no
hint of it in the sonnets, and on the whole one is inclined to think
it did not.[381] His last sight of Fiammetta, recorded after her
death, we may find in the beautiful sonnet so marvellously translated
by Rossetti:--[382]

    "Round her red garland and her golden hair
    I saw a fire about Fiammetta's head;
    Thence to a little cloud I watched it fade,
    Than silver or than gold more brightly fair;
    And like a pearl that a gold ring doth bear,
    Even so an angel sat therein, who sped
    Alone and glorious throughout heaven, array'd
    In sapphires and in gold that lit the air.
    Then I rejoiced as hoping happy things,
    Who rather should have then discerned how God
    Had haste to make my lady all His own,
    Even as it came to pass. And with these stings
    Of sorrow, and with life's most weary load
    I dwell, who fain would be where she is gone."

Fiammetta's death is nowhere directly recorded in the sonnets, but
in those which he made for her dead we find, as we might expect,
that much of his bitterness is past, and instead we have a sweetness
and strength as of sorrow nobly borne. Was not death better than
estrangement, for who will deny anything to God, who robs us all?
And so in that prayer to Dante we have not only the best of these
sonnets, but the noblest too, the strongest and the most completely
human. No one will to-day weep with Dante for Beatrice, or with
Petrarch for Madonna Laura, but these tears are our own:--

    "Dante, if thou within the sphere of love,
    As I believe, remain'st contemplating
    Beautiful Beatrice, whom thou didst sing
    Erewhile, and so wast drawn to her above;--
    Unless from false life true life thee remove
    So far that love's forgotten, let me bring
    One prayer before thee: for an easy thing
    This were, to thee whom I do ask it of.
    I know that where all joy doth most abound
    In the Third Heaven, my own Fiammetta sees
    The grief that I have borne since she is dead.
    O pray her (if mine image be not drown'd
    In Lethe) that her prayers may never cease
    Until I reach her and am comforted."[383]

Again in sonnet lxxiii. he sees her before God's throne among the

    "Sì acceso e fervente è il mio desio
    Di seguitar colei, che quivi in terra
    Con il suo altero sdegno mi fe' guerra
    Infin allor ch' al ciel se ne salio,
    Che non ch' altri, ma me metto in oblio,
    E parmi nel pensier, che sovent' erra,
    Quella gravezza perder che m' atterra,
    E quasi uccel levarmi verso Dio,
    E trapassar le spere, e pervenire
    Davanti al divin trono infra i beati,
    E lei veder, che seguirla mi face,
    Sì bella, ch' io nol so poscia ridire,
    Quando ne' luoghi lor son ritornati
    Gli spiriti, che van cercando pace."

Like Laura, it is true, but more like herself,[384] she visits her
lover in a dream (sonnets xix., xxix., and lxxxviii.).[385] All these
sonnets were not necessarily or even probably written immediately
after Fiammetta's death. The thought of her was present with
Boccaccio during the rest of his life,[386] and it is noteworthy and
moving that at the age of sixty-one he should thus address Petrarch
dead in a sonnet (xcvii.):--

    "Or sei salito, caro Signor mio
    Nel regno, al qual salire ancora aspetta
    Ogn' anima da Dio a quello eletta,
    Nel suo partir di questo mondo rio;
    Or se' colà, dove spesso il desio
    Di tirò già per veder Lauretta
    Or sei dove la mia bella Fiammetta
    Siede cui lei nel cospetto di Dio ...

       .   .   .   .   .

      Deh! se a grado ti fui nel mondo errante,
    Tirami dietro a te, dove giojoso
    Veggia colei, che pria di amor m' accese."

Such was the poet Boccaccio.

In turning now for a moment to look for his masters in verse, we
shall find them at once in Dante and Petrarch. In his sonnets he
followed faithfully the classic scheme, and only three times did he
depart from it, adding a _coda_ formed of two rhyming hendecasyllabic
lines. Nor is he more original in the subject of his work. Fiammetta
is, up to a certain point, the sister of Beatrice and of Laura, a
more human sister, but she remains always for him la mia Fiammetta,
never passing into a symbol as Beatrice did for Dante or into a
sentiment as Laura for Petrarch.

Finally, in considering his place as a poet, we must admit that it
has suffered by the inevitable comparison of his work with that of
Dante and of Petrarch. Nevertheless, in his own time the fame of his
poems was spread throughout Italy. Petrarch thought well of them, and
both Bevenuto Rambaldi da Imola and Coluccio Salutati hailed him as a
poet: it was the dearest ambition of his life and that about which he
was most modest. Best of all, Franco Sacchetti, his only rival as a
novelist, if indeed he has a rival, and a fine and charming poet too,
hearing of his death, wrote these verses:--

    "Ora è mancata ogni poesia
    E vote son le case di Parnaso,
    Poichè morte n' ha tolto ogni valore.
    S' io piango, o grido, che miracolo fia
    Pensando, che un sol c' era rimaso
    Giovan Boccacci, ora è di vita fore?"


[361] Cf. ANTONA TRAVERSI, _Della realtà e della vera natura dell'
amore di Messer Gio. Boccaccio_ (Livorno, 1883), and IBID., _Della
verità dell' amore di Gio. Boccaccio_ (Bologna, 1884); also RENIER,
_Di una nuova opinione sull' amore del B._ in _Rassegna Settimanale_,
Vol. VI, No. 145, pp. 236-8.

[362] Villani says B. wrote in the vulgar tongue in verse and prose
"in quibus lascivientis iuventutis ingenio paullo liberius evagavit."
Bandino says almost as little; but see CRESCINI, _op. cit._, p. 164,
n. 3. Manetti says: "in amores usque ad maturam fere ætatem vel paulo
proclivior." Squarciafico speaks of the various opinions current on
the love of B. for Fiammetta, but does not give an opinion himself;
he seems doubtful, however, whether the daughter of so great a king
could be induced to forget her honour by mere verses and letters.
Sansovino, however, thinks B. was a successful lover of Fiammetta.
Betussi came to think the same, so did Nicoletti, and so did Zilioli.
Mazzuchelli, however, does not believe it. Tiraboschi does not
believe the so-called confessions of B. Baldelli, however, does
believe them (_op. cit._, p. 364 _et seq._).

[363] I confess that the dissenters seem to me to be merely absurd.
They are not worth any fuller answer than that given above. Of
course, in speaking of Fiammetta, I mean Maria d'Aquino. It would
seem to be impossible to doubt her identity after the acrostic of the
_Amorosa Visione_. I do not hope to convert the dissenters by abusing
them. I would not convert them if I could. They are too dangerous to
any cause.

[364] BALDELLI, _Rime di Messer Gio. Boccacci_ (Livorno, 1802). This
text was reprinted in _Raccolta di Rime Antiche Toscane_ (Palermo,
1817), Vol. IV, pp. 1-157, which was used by Rossetti for his
translation of six of the sonnets, and again in the _Opere Volgari_
(Moutier, 1834), Vol. XVI.

[365] Cf. MANICARDI E MASSERA, _Introduzione al testo critico del
Canzoniere di Gio. Boccacci con rime inedite_ (Castelfiorentino,
La Società Stor. di Valdelsa, 1901), p. 20. This book contains the
best explanation we yet have of the sonnets and their order. It is a
masterly little work. On it cf. CRESCINI in _Rassegna bibliogr. della
letter. it._, Vol. IX, p. 38 _et seq._

[366] Cf. MANICARDI E MASSERA, _op. cit._, p. 21.

[367] Cf. MANICARDI E MASSERA, _op. cit._, p. 27, note i.

[368] See ANTONA TRAVERSI, _Di una cronologia approssimativa delle
rime del Boccaccio_ in _Preludio_ (Ancona, 1883), VII, p. 2 _et seq._

[369] See _infra_, p. 181 _et seq._

[370] In sonnet xlii. he says the arch of his age is passed:--

    "Perchè passato è l' arco de' miei anni,
    E ritornar non posso al primo giorno;
    E l' ultimo già veggio s' avvicina."

MANICARDI E MASSERA, _op. cit._, think this would mean he was
thirty-five; but in my opinion it would mean he was already forty or
forty-five. For according to an old writer of 1310 (Cod. Nazionale di
Firenze, II, ii. 84), "They say the philosophers say there are four
ages; they are adolescence, youth, age, and old age. The first lasts
till twenty-five or thirty, the second till forty or forty-five, the
third till fifty-five or sixty, the fourth till death. Cf. DELLA
TORRE, _op. cit._, p. 87. In sonnet lxiv. B. says he, growing grey,

          "... ed ora ch' a imbiancare
    Cominci, di te stesso abbi mercede."

[371] As to sonnet ci., both Crescini and Koerting point out that
it is written to a widow (perhaps the lady of the _Corbaccio_, see
_infra_, p. 181 _et seq._); but they consider it a mere fantasy,
not referring to any real love affair. Cf. CRESCINI, _op. cit._, p.
166, note 2. Cf. a similar question to that put in the sonnet in
_Filocolo_ (Moutier), Lib. IV, p. 94. Sonnet c. also deals with a
widow: "il brun vestire ed il candido velo." Who this widow really
may be is an insoluble problem. If it be the lady of the _Corbaccio_,
she would seem to be the wife of Antonio Pucci, for sonnet ci. is
dedicated "ad Antonio Pucci." Sonnets lxiv., lxv., seem to refer to
the same affair. As to sonnets xii. and xvii., the first is a fantasy
and the second refers to Fiammetta in my judgment.

[372] Cf. MANICARDI E MASSERA, _op. cit._, p. 37.

[373] _Supra_, p. 136, n. 1.

[374] In xl. he writes, "Quella splendida fiamma"; in xli., "Quindi
nel petto entrommi una fiammetta"; in xlvi., "Se quella fiamma"; in
lxiii., "Amorosa fiamma"; in lxxxiii., "Accese fiamme attingo a mille
a mille."

[375] Sonnets xxxi., xxxii., liii. refer without doubt to Fiammetta,
but are indeterminate in time.

[376] See _supra_, p. 38.

[377] See _supra_, p. 55.

    "Dunque piangete, e la nemica vista
    Di voi spingete col pianger più forte,
    Sì ch' altro amor non possa più tradirvi."

        Sonnet xliii.

    "Che dopo 'l mio lungo servire invano
    Mi preponesti tal ch' assai men vale:
    Caggia dal ciel saetta, che t' uccida."

        Sonnet lv.

    "... Veggendomi per altri esser lasciato;
    E morir non vorrei, che trapassato
    Più non vedrei il bel viso amoroso,
    Per cui piango, invidioso
    Di chi l' ha fatto suo e me ne spoglia."

        Ballata i.

[379] See _supra_, p. 56.

[380] Note the "occhi falsi" in sonnet xiv.

[381] But see sonnet lviii.

[382] Sonnet lxvii.

[383] Sonnet lx. Cf. DANTE, _Paradiso_, iv. 28-39.

[384] Cf. _supra_, p. 16.

[385] Cf. CRESCINI, _op. cit._, p. 167, note 3.

[386] Cf. sonnets xxi., li., lxxvii., lxxxiii., and cf. MANICARDI E
MASSERA, _op. cit._, p. 50.




As we have seen, Boccaccio returned to Florence probably in the end
of 1349. His father, who was certainly living in July, 1348, for he
then added a codicil to his Will,[387] seems still to have been alive
in May, 1349,[388] but by January, 1350, he is spoken of as dead and
Giovanni is named as one of his heirs.[389] And in the same month
of January, 1350, on the 26th of the month, Boccaccio was appointed
guardian of his brother Jacopo,[390] then still a child. But these
were not the only duties which fell to him in that year, which, as
it proved, was to mark a new departure in his life. It is in 1350
that we find him, for the first time as we may think, acting as
ambassador for the Florentine Republic, and it is in 1350 that he
first met Petrarch face to face and entertained him in his house in

The condition of Italy at this time was, as may be easily understood,
absolutely anarchical. While Florence and Naples were still in the
throes of revolution and war, the Visconti of Milan had not been
idle. Using every discontent that could be found in Italy, chiefly
of Ghibelline origin, they were in the way to threaten whatsoever
was left of liberty and independence. In the worst of this confusion
the plague had suddenly appeared in 1348 with the same result as an
earthquake might have caused. Old landmarks were overthrown, wealth
was, as it were, redistributed, and the whole social condition, often
bad enough, became indescribably confused.

[Illustration: THE STORY OF GRISELDA. (DEC. X, 10.)

_i. The Marquis of Saluzzo, while out hunting, meets with Griselda, a
peasant girl, and falls in love; he clothes her in fine things. From
the picture in the National Gallery by (?) Bernardino Fungai._]

The economical results of that awful catastrophe, not only for Italy,
but for Europe, were not easily defined or realised anywhere, and
least of all perhaps in Italy, where the conditions of life were so
complex. An enormous displacement of riches had taken place. All
those in any way concerned with the ministration to the sick or
the burial of the dead were, if they survived, greatly enriched;
and among these was such a society as that of the Or San Michele.
But individuals also found themselves suddenly wealthy: doctors
and druggists, undertakers, drapers, and poulterers, and such, all
who had been able to render help were seemingly benefited, but the
farmers and the merchants were ruined. Something perhaps of the awful
transformation brought about by the plague may berealised when we
consider that, according to Boccaccio, Florence lost three out of
every five[391] of her inhabitants, that is about 100,000 persons,
that at Pisa six out of every seven died, that Genoa lost 40,000
people, Siena 80,000, while every one died at Trapani, in Sicily, not
a soul escaping. Old Agnola de Tura, the Sienese historian, tells
us that he buried five of his sons in the same grave, and this was
not extraordinary. The economic result of such disaster may then
be better imagined than described in detail. No one realised what
had happened: it was inconceivable. Even the governments did not
understand the new position. They saw the needy suddenly rich, those
who had been clothed in rags went in silks and French fashions,
and they came to the conclusion that the state was suffering from
too great wealth: they revived sumptuary laws, raised taxes, fixed
prices, and did, in fact, no good, but much harm. The problem to be
solved was that of population and the prices of production. The moral
condition was as disastrous as the economic and left a more lasting

In this helpless and disastrous condition of the major part of Italy,
from which indeed some of the communes never wholly recovered,[392]
we find what in fact we might have expected, that those who had
suffered least threatened to become dominant. Now, as it happened, of
all Italy upper and lower Milan had escaped most easily, and it was
in fact a domination of Milan that, with Naples in the grip of the
invader and Tuscany almost depopulated, Florence had to face.

Things came to a head when the Visconti, in October, 1350, possessed
themselves of Bologna. In such a case Florence might have expected
help or at least resentment, one might think, from the Romagna, but
the unruly barons of that region were fighting for their lives and
their lordships with Duraforte, whom the Pope had sent to bring them
to order. Nor were Venice and Genoa able to render her aid, for they
had entered on a mortal duel and cared for nothing else. Naples of
course was helpless, and Siena and Perugia, the one stricken almost
to death by the plague, the other confident in her mountain passes,
thought themselves too far for the ambition of Milan.

So Florence faced the enemy alone, and while we admire her courage
we must admit that she had no choice, for she would never have
moved at all, nor in her condition would she have been justified in
moving, but that she was directly threatened; for with Bologna in
the hands of Milan her northern trade routes were at the mercy of
the enemy. Thus it became necessary before all else to secure the
Apennine passes, and this she foresaw so well that in February, 1350,
she bought Prato from the Queen of Naples, who held her rights by
inheritance from her father, Charles of Calabria; and not content
with this, for Prato was no use without Pistoia, she tried to
seize Pistoia also. There, however, she was not wholly or at first
successful, but she was allowed to garrison the citadel as well as
two important fortified places after guaranteeing full freedom to
the Pistolese. In the former of these transactions, the donation
of Prato, carried out by Niccolò Acciaiuoli, we catch a glimpse of
Boccaccio, who was present as a witness in Florence.[393]

Just before the sale of Bologna to the Visconti we find Boccaccio in
Romagna at Ravenna, whither he had gone apparently in September, as
we have seen,[394] on the delicate and honourable mission entrusted
to him by the Society of Or San Michele, of presenting a gift of
ten gold florins to the daughter of Dante, a nun in the convent of
S. Stefano dell' Uliva in that city. Thence he seems to have gone
as ambassador for the republic to Francesco degli Ordelaffi of
Forlì, who was of course already known to him. This, however, is
unfortunately but conjecture. We know in fact almost nothing of
what, for reasons which will presently appear, I consider to have
been Boccaccio's first embassy. All that we can assert is that
before November 11, 1350, he went as ambassador into Romagna, and
this we know from a document cited by the Abate Mehus,[395] bearing
that date which says, "Dominus Johannes Boccacci olim ambasciator
transmissus ad partes Romandioliæ."[396] Baldelli tells us[397]
without supporting his assertions by a single document that Boccaccio
went three times as ambassador for the republic into Romagna: first
in the time of Ostasio da Polenta; later in October, 1350; and again
a few months after. The first of these embassies, that to Ostasio, he
bases on Petrarch's letter of 1365, which we have already quoted and
used.[398] There Petrarch says: "Ortus est Adriæ in litore ea ferme
ætate, nisi fallor, qua tu ibi agebas cum antiquo plagæ illius Domino
ejus avo, qui nunc præsidet." That is to say, he says to Boccaccio:
"Unless I am mistaken, you were on the shores of the Adriatic in the
time of the grandfather of him who now rules there." He is speaking
of Ravenna, not of Rimini, and quite apart from the fact that he
says, "unless I am mistaken"--and he may have been mistaken--there
is no mention there of an embassy, but only of a visit, a visit to
Ostasio da Polenta, who died in 1346, and was the grandfather of
Guido da Polenta, who ruled in Ravenna when that letter was written
in 1365. We have already used this letter to prove the date of that
visit, in doing which we are making legitimate use of it, but to try
to prove an embassy from it is to use it improperly.

The second embassy, Baldelli tells us, was to Francesco degli
Ordelaffi, in October, 1350, "after the sale of Bologna on the 14th
of that month." This again is pure conjecture, the only document
which supports it being that quoted above, discovered by Mehus.
We have, however, reason to suppose that Baldelli may be right
here,[399] and may possibly have been in possession of a document or
documents since lost to us, which unfortunately he has not quoted
or even named. We know at least that Boccaccio was ambassador in
Romagna before November 11, 1350. Now until late in 1349 we have
seen him in Naples, and in January and February, 1350, in Florence.
In October, 1350, we know him to have been in Florence again, for he
there entertained Petrarch, as he did in December. What was he doing
between February and October in that year? Well, in September he was
in Romagna, in Ravenna fulfilling his mission from the Or San Michele
to the daughter of Dante. It seems likely, therefore, that it was at
this time he was acting as Florentine ambassador at the court of the
Ordelaffi of Forlì.

As to the third embassy of which Baldelli speaks, that to Bernardino
da Polenta "a few months after" the second, we know nothing of it,
and it remains absolutely in the air--a mere conjecture.[400]

Putting aside Baldelli's assertion, we may take it on the evidence
as most probable that Boccaccio was the ambassador of Florence in
Romagna at some time between March and October, 1350. If we are
right in thinking so, his mission was of very great importance. What
Florence feared, as we have seen, was the growing power of Milan,
and, after the sale of Bologna, the loss of her trade routes north,
and finally perhaps even her liberty. Already, in the latter part of
1349,[401] she had offered again and again to mediate between the
Pope and Bologna and Romagna, fearing that in their distraction Milan
would be tempted to interfere for her own ends. In the first months
of 1350 she had written to the Pope, to Perugia, Siena, and to the
Senate of Rome, that they should send ambassadors to the congress
at Arezzo to form a confederation for their common protection.[402]
In September she wrote the Pope more than once explaining affairs
to him; but he had touched Visconti gold, and far away in Avignon
cared nothing and paid but little heed. The sale of Bologna, however,
brought things to a crisis so far as the policy of Florence was
concerned, and having secured Prato, Pistoia, and the passes, her
ambassadors in Romagna had apparently induced the Pepoli to replace
Bologna under the protection of the communes of Florence, Siena,
and Perugia, till the Papal army was ready to act. But the Papal
army was not likely to be ready so long as Visconti was willing to
pay,[403] and we find the Pope, while he thanks Florence effusively,
refusing to acknowledge the claim of the League to protect Bologna.
The sale of Bologna to Milan, its seizure by the Visconti, brought
all the diplomacy of Florence to naught for the moment, and in
another letter, written on November 9, 1350,[404] she returns once
more to plead with the Pope and to point out to him the danger of the
invasions of the Visconti in Lombardy and in Bologna, which placed in
peril not only the Parte Guelfa, but the territories of the Church
and the Florentine _contado_. By the time that letter was written
Boccaccio was back in Florence, and it must have been evident to
the Florentines that the Pope had no intention of giving them any
assistance and that they must look elsewhere for an ally.

That year, so troubled in Italy, incongruous as it may seem to us,
had been proclaimed by the Pope a year of Jubilee, not without some
intention that the Papal coffers should benefit from the faithful,
then eager to express their piety and their thankfulness for the
passing of the plague. To gain the indulgence of the Jubilee it was
necessary to spend fifteen days in Rome. On April 17, 1350, the
commune of Florence prayed the Papal Legate, partly, no doubt, on
account of the unsettled condition of the City, and partly, perhaps,
that Florence itself might not be long without as many citizens
as possible, to reduce the term of fifteen days to eight for all
Florentines and for those who dwelt in the _contado_.[405]

[Illustration: THE STORY OF GRISELDA. (DEC. X, 10.)

_ii. Her two children are taken from her, she is divorced, stripped,
and sent back to her father's house. From the picture in the National
Gallery by (?) Bernardino Fungai._]

Now Petrarch, always a man of sincere piety, and especially at this
time when he was mourning for Laura, had spent the earlier months
of the year in Padua, Parma, and Verona. On February 14, the feast
of S. Valentine, he had been present at the translation of the body
of S. Anthony of Padua from its first resting-place to the church
just built in its honour--Il Santo. On June 20 he had taken formal
possession of his archdeaconry in Parma; and so it was not till the
beginning of October that he set out, alone, on pilgrimage for Rome
to win the indulgences of the Jubilee. As it happened, he travelled
by way of Florence, entering that city for the first time about the
middle of the month, and there, as is generally supposed, for the
first time too, he met Boccaccio face to face.[406]

Petrarch, born in Arezzo on July 20, 1304, was nine years older
than Boccaccio, and differed from him so much both in intellect and
character that the two friends may almost be said to complement
one another. Of a very noble nature, Petrarch was nevertheless
introspective, jealous of his reputation, and absolutely personal in
his attitude towards life, of which, as his work shows, he was in
many ways so shy. Nor was he without a certain puritanism which was
his weakness as well as his strength. As a scholar he was at this
time, as he always remained, incomparably Boccaccio's superior. For
Boccaccio the ancient world was a kind of wonder and miracle that had
no relation to himself or to the modern world. But Petrarch regarded
antiquity almost as we do, and, though necessarily without our
knowledge of detail, such as it is, with a real historic sense--as
a living thing with which it was possible, though hardly, to hold
communion, by which it was possible to be guided, governed, and
taught, a reality out of which the modern world was born. Moreover,
in 1350, at the time of his meeting with Boccaccio, Petrarch was
indubitably the most renowned poet and man of letters in Europe.
Every one knew his sonnets, and his incoronation as Laureate on the
Capitol had sufficed in the imagination of the world, quite apart
from the intrinsic and very real value of his work, to set him above
all other poets of his time. He was the Pope's friend, and was
honoured and welcomed in every court in Italy--at the court, for
instance, of King Robert of Naples, where he had left so splendid a
memory on his way to the triumph of the Capitol, at the courts of
the _signorotti_ of the Romagna. The youth of Italy had his sonnets
by heart; all women read with envy his praise of Madonna Laura;
the learned reverenced him as the most learned man of his time and
thought him the peer of Virgil and of Cicero. Nor was the Church
behind in an admiration wherein all the world was agreed, for she saw
in the lettered _canonico_ the glory of the priesthood, and would
gladly have led him forward to the highest honours.[407] It was this
man, one of the most famous and as it happened one of the best of
the age, that Boccaccio met in Florence in 1350.

Petrarch himself gives us an account of their first meeting.[408]

"In days gone by," he says in a letter to Boccaccio,[409] "I was
hurrying across Central Italy in midwinter; you hastened to greet me,
not only with affection, the message of soul to soul, but in person,
impelled by a wonderful desire to see one you had never yet beheld,
but whom nevertheless you were minded to love. You had sent before
you a piece of beautiful verse, thus showing me first the aspect of
your genius and then of your person. It was evening and the light was
fading, when, returning from my long exile, I found myself at last
within my native walls. You welcomed me with a courtesy and respect
greater than I merited, recalling the poetic meeting of Anchises
with the king of Arcadia, who, "in the ardour of youth," longed to
speak with the hero and to press his hand.[410] Although I did not,
like him, stand "above all others," but rather beneath, your zeal
was none the less ardent. You introduced me, not within the walls of
Pheneus, but into the sacred penetralia of your friendship. Nor did
I present you with a "superb quiver and arrows of Lycia," but rather
with my sincere and unchangeable affection. While acknowledging my
inferiority in many respects, I will never willingly concede it in
this either to Nisus or to Pythias or to Lælius.--Farewell."

Thus began a friendship that lasted nearly twenty-five years. They
were, says Filippo Villani, "one soul in two bodies."

But Petrarch did not remain long in Florence; after a few days he
hurried on to Rome, whence he wrote to Boccaccio on his arrival:--

"... After leaving you I betook myself, as you know, to Rome, where
the year of Jubilee has called--sinners that we are--almost all
Christendom. In order not to be condemned to the burden of travelling
alone I chose some companions for the way; of whom one, the oldest,
by the prestige of his age and his religious profession, another
by his knowledge and talk, others by their experience of affairs
and their kind affection, seemed likely to sweeten the journey that
nevertheless was very tiring. I took these precautions, which were
rather wise than happy as the event proved, and I went with a fervent
heart, ready to make an end at last of my iniquities. For, as Horace
says, 'I am not ashamed of past follies, but I should be, if now I
did not end them.'[411] Fortune, I hope, has not and will not be able
to alter my resolution in anything...."[412]

But as he himself seems to have feared, he was unlucky that day,
for as he passed with his companions up the hillside out of Bolsena
he was kicked badly on the leg by his companion's horse and came to
Rome with difficulty, suffering great pain all the time he was there.
He seems to have reached the City on November 1, and to have left
it again early in December for Arezzo, his birthplace, where he was
received with extraordinary honour. Thence he returned to Florence,
where he again saw Boccaccio with his friends Lapo da Castiglionchio
and Francescho Nelli, whose father had been Gonfalonier of Justice
and who himself became Secretary to Niccolò Acciaiuoli when he was
Grand Seneschal of Naples. Nelli was in Holy Orders and Prior of SS.
Apostoli. Lapo was a man of great learning; he now presented Petrarch
with a copy of the newly discovered _Institutions_ of Quintillian.
In the New Year Petrarch left Florence, and three months later we
find Boccaccio visiting him in Padua as ambassador for the republic,
which, no doubt to his delight and very probably at his suggestion,
wished to offer the great poet a chair in her new university. For
partly in rivalry with Pisa, partly to attract foreigners and even
new citizens after the plague,[413] the republic had founded a new
university in Florence at the end of 1348, to which, in May, 1349,
Pope Clement VI had conceded all the privileges and liberties of
the universities of Paris and Bologna. For some reason or another,
however, the new university had not brought to Florence either the
fame or the population she desired. It was therefore a brilliant and
characteristic policy which prompted her to invite the most famous
man of learning of the day to accept a chair in it; for if Petrarch
could have been persuaded to accept the offer, the university of
Florence would have easily outshone any other then in existence: all
Italy and half Europe might well have flocked thither.

The offer thus made, and if at Boccaccio's suggestion, then so far
as he was concerned in all good faith, was characteristic in its
impudence or astonishing in its generosity according to the point of
view, for it will be remembered that Florence had banished Petrarch's
father and confiscated his goods and all such property as it could
lay its hands on two years before the birth of his son in 1302.
With him into exile went his young wife. They found a refuge in the
Ghibelline city of Arezzo, where for this cause Petrarch was born.
Even in 1350, the year in which the poet entered Florence for the
first time, the decree of banishment was in force against him; had he
been less famous, less well protected, he would have been in peril of
his life. As it was, Florence dared not attack him; nor, seeing the
glory he had won, did she wish to do anything but claim a share in
it. It was doubtless this consideration and some remembrance of her
humiliation before the contempt of that other exile who had died in
Ravenna, that prompted Florence, always so business-like, to try to
repair the wrong she had done to Petrarch. So she decided to return
him in money the value of the property confiscated from his father,
and to send Boccaccio on the delicate mission of persuading him to
accept the offer she now made him of a chair in her university.[414]
With a letter then from the Republic, Boccaccio set out for Padua in
the spring of 1351, meeting Petrarch there, as De Sade tells us, on
April 6, the anniversary of the day of Petrarch's first meeting with
Laura and of her death.

[Illustration: THE STORY OF GRISELDA. (DEC. X, 10.)

_iii. A banquet is prepared for the new bride; Griselda is sent for
to serve, but is reinstated in her husband's affections and finds her
children. From the picture in the National Gallery by (?) Bernardino

The letter which Boccaccio took with him was from the Prior of the
_Arti_: Reverendo Viro D. Francisco Petrarcha, Canonico Padoano,
Laureato Poetæ, concivi nostro carissimo, Prior Artium Vexillifer
Justitiæ Populi et Communis Florentiæ. It was very flattering,
laudatory, and moving. It greeted Petrarch as a citizen of Florence,
spoke of his "admirable profession," his "excellent merit in
studies," his "utter worthiness of the laurel crown," his "most rare
genius which shall be an example to latest posterity," etc. etc.
etc. Then it spoke of the offer. "No long time since," it said,
"seeing our city deprived of learning and study, we wisely decided
that henceforth the arts must flourish and ought to be cultivated
among us, and that it would be necessary to introduce studies of
every sort into our city so that by their help our Republic, like
Rome of old, should be glorious above the other cities of Italy and
grow always more happy and more illustrious. Now our fatherland
believes that you are the one and only man by whom this result can be
attained. The Republic prays you, then, as warmly as it may, to give
yourself to these studies and to make them flourish...." So on and so
forth, quoting Virgil, Sallust, and Cicero, with allusions to that
"immortal work the _Africa_ which...." Boccaccio was to do the rest.
"Other things," the letter ends, "many and of infinitely greater
consideration, you will hear from Giovanni Boccaccio, our citizen,
who is sent to you by special commission...."[415]

With this letter in his pocket Boccaccio made his way to Padua,
where, as we know, he was delighted to come, nor was Petrarch less
happy to see him. And when he returned he bore Petrarch's answer
to the Republic: "Boccaccio, the bearer of your letter and of your
commands, will tell you how I desire to obey you and what are
my projects." No doubt while Boccaccio was with him, seeing his
sincerity, Petrarch felt half inclined to accept; but he was at
all times infirm of purpose. "If I break my word that I have given
to my friends," he writes,[416] "it is because of the variation of
the human spirit, from which none is exempt except the perfect man.
Uniformity is the mother of boredom, that one can only avoid by
changing one's place." However that may be, when later in the year he
left Padua, it was to return not to Florence, but to France.

If we know nothing else of this embassy, we know, at least, that
this sojourn in Padua passed pleasantly for Boccaccio. In a letter
written to Petrarch from Ravenna, in July, 1353,[417] he reminds his
"best master" of his visit. "I think," he writes, "that you have not
forgotten how, when less than three years ago I came to you in Padua
the ambassador of our Senate, my commission fulfilled, I remained
with you for some days, and how that those days were all passed in
the same way: you gave yourself to sacred studies, and I, desiring
your compositions, copied them. When the day waned to sunset we left
work and went into your garden, already filled by spring with flowers
and leaves.... Now sitting, now talking, we passed what remained of
the day in placid and delightful idleness, even till night."

Some of that talk was doubtless given to Letters, but some too fell,
as it could not but do, on politics. For that letter, so charming
in the scene it brings before us of that garden at nightfall, goes
on to speak in a transparent allegory of the affairs of Italy
and of Petrarch's sudden change of plans, for whereas in 1351 he
had promised to enter the service of Florence and had cursed the
Visconti, when he returned to Italy in 1353, it was with these very
Visconti he had taken shameful service--with the enemies of "his
own country" Florence, whom he had spurned, and who in return had
repealed the repeal of his banishment and refrained from returning
to him the money value of his father's possessions. Is it in revenge
for this, Boccaccio asks, that he has taken service with the enemy?
He reproaches him in the subtlest and gentlest way, yet with an eager
patriotism that does him the greatest honour, representing him to
himself even as a third person, one Sylvanus, who "had been of their
company" in Padua. Yet Boccaccio does not spare him, and though he
loved and revered him beyond any other living man, he bravely tells
him his mind and points out his treachery, when his country is at

That Sylvanus, it seems--Petrarch himself really--had lamented
bitterly enough the unhappy state of Italy, neglected by the Emperors
and the Popes, and exposed to the brutality and tyranny of the
Archbishop Giovanni Visconti of Milan. More and more he cursed the
tyrants, and especially the Visconti, and "how eagerly you agreed
with him!... But now," the letter continues,[418] "I have heard that
this Sylvanus is about to enter the service of those very Visconti,
who even now menace his country. I would not have believed it had
not I had a letter from him in which he tells me it is so himself.
Who would ever have suspected him of so much mobility of character,
or as likely to forswear his own faith out of greediness? But he has
done so perhaps to avenge himself on his fellow-citizens who have
retaken the property of his father, which they had once returned
to him. But what man of honour, even when he has received a wrong
from his country, would unite himself with her enemies? How much has
Sylvanus mystified and compromised, by these acts, all his admirers
and friends...."

Just here we come upon something noble and firm in the character of
Boccaccio, something of the "nationalism" too which was to be the
great force of the future, to which Petrarch was less clairvoyant
and which Dante had never perceived at all. The Empire was dead; in
less than a hundred years men were to protest they did not understand
what it meant. The Papacy then too seemed almost as helpless as it
is to-day. Internationalism--the latest cry of the modern decadent
or dreamer--was already a mere ghost frightened and gibbering in
the dawn, and the future lay in the growth of nationalities, in the
variety and freedom of the world, perhaps in the federation of Italy.
Were these the thoughts that occupied the two pioneers of the modern
world on those spring nights in that garden at Padua?


[387] See _supra_, p. 128.

[388] See CRESCINI, _op. cit._, p. 258. He quotes the following
from Libro Primo del Monte, Quartiere S. Spirito, cap. 162: "Anno
mcccxlviij [=1349 n.s.] Ind j^a die nono mensis Maij positum est
dictum creditum ad aliam rationem dicti Boccaccij sive Boccaccini in
presenti quarterio ad car 110, ad instantiam eiusdem Bocchaccij per
me dinum M^l Attaviani notarium."

[389] Cf. CRESCINI, _op. cit._, p. 258. He quotes the following from
the Libro Primo above, cap. 110^b: "Mcccxlviiij, Ind iij^a die XXV
Ianuarij, de licencia domini Iohannis filij et heredis, ut dixit,
dicti Boccaccij hereditario nomine concessa dicto per me Bartalum
maççatelli notarium positum est dictum creditum in libro quarterij
S^e Crucis et carta 50."

[390] The document is quoted by MANNI, _op. cit._, p. 21. It is as
follows: "Mcccxlviiij 26 Ianuarii D. Ioannes q. Boccacci pop. S.
Felicitatis tutor Iacobi pupilli eius fratris, et filii quondam, et
heredis D. Bicis olim matris suæ, et uxoris q. dicti Boccaccii, et
filiæ q. Ubaldini Nepi de Bosticcis."

SANESI, in _Rassegna Bib. della Lett. It._ (Pisa, 1893), Vol. I,
No. 4, p. 120 _et seq._, publishes a document dated May 17, 1351,
in which certain "actores, factores et certos numptios speciales"
are appointed to act with Giovanni as guardians of Jacopo, viz. Ser
Domenico di Jacopo and Ser Francesco di Vanello _notari fiorentini_.
This leads Sanesi to suggest that Boccaccio was a failure as a
guardian. The document, however, by no means deposes him and on the
same day he inscribed himself in the Matricoli dell' Arte dei Giudici
et Notari. The document speaks of "Iacobi ... pupilli majoris tamen
infante," which leads Sanesi to think that Jacopo was out of his
infancy. CRESCINI in _Rassegna Bib._, _cit._, An. I, Nos. 8-9, pp.
243-5, disputes Sanesi's conclusions as to the incapacity of Giovanni
and the age of Jacopo. I agree with Crescini.

[391] This was about the average loss throughout Europe.

[392] Siena never really recovered, nor did Pisa.

[393] Cf. TANFANI, _Niccolò Acciaiuoli, studi storici_ (Firenze,
1863), p. 82.

[394] _Supra_, p. 120, n. 1.

[395] MEHUS, _Ambrosii Traversarii Vita_ (Firenze, 1759).

[396] It has been said by Hortis that the "olim" is unlikely to have
referred to so recent an embassy, one which, in fact, was only in
being two months before. I do not see the force of this. The "olim"
is used in our sense of late, "the late ambassador." In November, as
we shall see, Boccaccio was back in Florence. In the sense of "late"
we find the "olim" used in the document already quoted in which
Giovanni is appointed guardian of his brother Jacopo (_supra_, cap.
x. n. 4): "... et heredis D. Bicis olim matris suæ," _i.e._ "and heir
of Donna Bice, his late mother."

[397] BALDELLI, _op. cit._, p. 377. Baldelli seems here to have
confused himself--at any rate he expresses himself badly. It is
difficult to see clearly what he means. He is wrong too when he gives
the commission from the Or San Michele as being of the month of
December; Landau follows him in this. The commission was of the month
of September. See _supra_, p. 120, n. 1.

[398] See _supra_, p. 119, n. 1.

[399] CIAMPI, _Monumenti di un Manoscritto autografo di Messer G. B._
(Firenze, 1827), goes further than Baldelli and is in evident error.
He connects this embassy of 1350 with the descent of King Louis of
Hungary. This is impossible. That Boccaccio did meet King Louis in
Forlì, and that he accompanied him with "suo signore" Francesco degli
Ordelaffi into Campania is certain, as we have seen (_supra_, p.
124); but that was in 1347, not in 1350, and when he was a visitor
at Forlì, not when he was Florentine ambassador there. How could he
call Ordelaffo "suo signore" when he was the servant of Florence? And
how could he follow Ordelaffo and the King, when he was ambassador,
without the permission of Florence? Moreover, according to Ciampi,
all this occurred, not in 1347, but in 1350. Now in May, 1350, King
Louis was in Aversa, and from February, 1350, Ordelaffo was fighting
the Papal arms in Romagna, which had been turned against him on
account of the rebellion of the Manfredi of Faenza, which he was
supposed to have instigated. We see him victor in fight after fight;
he took Bertinoro in May, Castracaro in July, Meldola in August,
and the war continued throughout 1351 and longer. In 1350 then
neither did the King descend into Italy nor did Ordelaffo accompany
him. These things happened in 1347. Besides, in February, 1350,
Boccaccio was in accord with Niccolò Acciaiuoli and, as we have seen,
assisted as witness at the donation of Prato. Cf. TANFANI, _Niccolò
Acciaiuoli_, pp. 79-82.

[400] Of course, Boccaccio was in Ravenna in September, 1350, and
probably saw Bernardino there, for he must have known him very well.

[401] See the letter to the Pope of September 10, 1349, given in
_Arch. Stor. Ital._, Series I, Appendix, Vol. VI, p. 369.

[402] See the letters of February 17, February 23, February 28, 1350,
in _Arch., cit., u.s._, pp. 373-4.

[403] "The luxury, vice, and iniquity of Avignon during the Papal
residence became proverbial throughout Europe; and the corruption of
the Church was most clearly visible in the immediate neighbourhood of
its princely head. Luxury and vice, however, are costly, and during
the Pope's absence from Italy the Papal States were in confusion and
yielded scanty revenues. Money had to be raised from ecclesiastical
property throughout Europe, and the Popes in Avignon carried
extortion and oppression of the Church to an extent it had never
reached before." (CREIGHTON, _History of the Papacy_, Vol. I, p. 51.)

[404] Letter of November, 1350, in _Arch., cit., u.s._, p. 378.

[405] _Arch. Stor. It., u.s._, p. 376.

[406] It seems certain that they had been in correspondence for some
years, perhaps for more than fifteen. In the letter to Boccaccio of
January 7, 1351, Petrarch speaks of a poem that Boccaccio had long
since sent him (? 1349) (_Famil._, XI, 1); while in the letter to
Franceschino da Brossano, written after Petrarch's death in 1374,
Boccaccio says "I was his for forty years or more" (CORAZZINI, _op.
cit._, p. 382). This would seem to mean he had loved his work for so
long, and brings us to 1341-4. It still seems to me just doubtful
whether this meeting in Florence in 1350 was their first encounter.
As I have said, Petrarch came to Florence in October; by November 2
he was in Rome, whence he wrote Boccaccio on that date an account
of his journey. Now as we shall presently see, in a letter written
much later (_Epist. Fam._, XXI, 15), he distinctly says that he
first met Boccaccio, who had come to meet him when he was hurrying
across Central Italy _in midwinter_. No one, least of all an Italian
and a somewhat scrupulous scholar, would call October 15 midwinter.
Perhaps then it will be said that he met him on his return from Rome
in December. But already in November he is writing to Boccaccio--we
have the letter--in the most familiar and affectionate terms. Can
it be that they met after all (see _supra_, pp. 60 and 111) in 1341
or perhaps in 1343? The problem seems insoluble on our present

[407] Cf. HORTIS, _op. cit._, pp. 509-10.

[408] I have already shown (_supra_, p. 153, n. 2) that it is
possible to doubt whether the meeting in Florence was their first
meeting. It is, however, generally accepted as the first by modern
scholars. Cf. Landau and Antona Traversi.

[409] Cf. _Epistol. Famil._, Lib. XXI, 15.

[410] See _Æneid_, VIII, 162 _et seq._

[411] HORACE, _Epistolæ_, Lib. I, 14.

[412] _Epistol. Famil._, Lib. XI, 1.

[413] Cf. M. VILLANI, in _R. I. S._, XIV, 18.

[414] The chair was to be in any faculty Petrarch chose. D. ROSETTI
insists that it was offered at Boccaccio's suggestion (_Petrarca,
Giulio Celso e Boccaccio_ (Trieste, 1823), p. 351), and asserts that
the short biography of Petrarch which he attributes to Boccaccio was
composed to persuade the Government of Florence to repair Petrarch's
wrongs. TIRABOSCHI (_op. cit._, Vol. II, pp. 253-4), with tears
in his voice, cannot decide whether the affair did more honour to
Petrarch or to Florence. So far as Florence is concerned, I see no
honour in the affair at all. She was asking Petrarch to do her an
inestimable service by bolstering up her third-rate university. In
order to get him to do this, she was willing to pay back what she
had stolen and (a poor gift when she was begging for foreigners as
citizens) to repeal the edict of banishment against him. Petrarch
treated the whole impudent attempt to get round him in the right
way. And Florence, when she found nothing was to be got out of him,
repealed the repeal. But surely we know the Florentines!

[415] CORAZZINI, _op. cit._, p. 391 and HORTIS, _Boccaccio
Ambasciatore in Avignone_ (Trieste, 1875)

[416] _Epist. Famil._, II, xii.

[417] Cf. CORAZZINI, _op. cit._, p. 47.

[418] CORAZZINI, _op. cit._, p. 47. Letter of July, 1353. Petrarch in
May-June, 1353, had accepted the patronage of Giovanni Visconti.




Boccaccio did well to be anxious. The greed of the Visconti, the
venality and indifference of the Pope, threatened the very liberty of
Tuscany, and though Boccaccio had till now held no permanent public
office in Florence, we have seen him as a witness to the donation
of Prato, as ambassador for the Republic in Romagna, and as its
representative offering Petrarch a chair in the new university. He
was now to be entrusted with a more delicate and serious mission.
But first, on his return from Padua in January-February, 1351, he
became one of the Camarlinghi del Comune.[419] During the remainder
of that year we seem to see him quietly at work in Florence,[420]
most probably on the _Decameron_, and then suddenly in December he
was called upon to go on a mission to Ludwig of Brandenburg, Count
of Tyrol.[421] Florence was tired of appealing to the Pope always
in vain and had at last looked for another champion against the
Visconti. Deserted by the Church, at war with the Visconti, Florence
had either to submit or to find a way out for herself, and with her
usual astuteness she hoped to achieve the latter by calling to her
aid the excommunicated Ludwig. The moment was well chosen. Ludwig was
just reconciled with Charles IV, King of the Romans, the greatest
enemy of his house. He was poor and in need of money, little loved
in his own country, and not indisposed to try any adventure that
offered. So Boccaccio set out. The letters given to him December
12, 1351, were directed to Conrad, Duke of Teck, who had already
visited Florence in 1341, and to Ludwig himself.[422] We know,
however, nothing personal to Boccaccio with regard to this mission.
In fact save that it was so far successful that Ludwig sent Diapoldo
Katzensteiner to Florence to continue the overtures we know little
about it at all. Katzensteiner's pretensions, however, proved to be
such that the Florentines would not accept them, and communications
were broken off.[423] That was in March, 1352. On May 1 a new project
was on foot. Florence decided to call the prospective Emperor Charles
IV, the grandson of her old enemy Henry VII, into Italy to her

That a Guelf republic should turn for assistance to the head of
the Ghibelline cause seems perhaps more strange than in fact it
was. Guelf and Ghibelline had become mere names beneath which local
jealousies hid and flourished, caring nothing for the greater but
less real quarrel between Empire and Papacy. Charles, however, was to
fail Florence; for at the last moment he withdrew from the treaty,
fearing to leave Germany; when he did descend later, things had
so far improved for her that she was anything but glad to see him
especially when she was forced to remember that it was she who had
called him there. After these two failures Florence was compelled to
make terms with the Visconti at Sarzana in April, 1353, promising
not to interfere in Lombardy or Bologna, while Visconti for his part
undertook not to molest Tuscany.[425] But by this treaty the Visconti
gained a recognition of their hold in Bologna from the only power
that wished to dispute it. They profited too by the peace, extending
their dominion in Northern Italy. In this, though fortune favoured
them, they began to threaten others who had looked on with composure
when they were busy with Tuscany. Among these were the Venetians,
who made an alliance with Mantua, Verona, Ferrara, and Padua, and
were soon trying to persuade Florence, Siena, and Perugia to join
them.[426] Nor did they stop there, for in December, 1353, they too
tried to interest Charles IV in Italian affairs. When it was seen
that Charles was likely to listen to the Venetians the Visconti too
sent ambassadors to him, nor was the Papacy slow to make friends.


In 1352 Clement VI had died, and in his stead Innocent VI reigned
in Avignon. He was determined to assert his claims in Italy, and
especially in the Romagna, and to this end despatched Cardinal
Albornoz, the redoubtable Spaniard, to bring the unruly barons
of that region to order. The whole situation was delicate and
complicated. Florence was in a particularly difficult position. She
had called Charles into Italy without the Pope's leave--she, the
head of the Guelf cause. He had not come. Now when she no longer
wanted him he seemed to be coming in spite of her and with the Pope's
goodwill. She seems to have doubted the reality of that, as well
she might. Moreover, though she and her allies would have been glad
enough to join the Venetians, the situation was too complicated for
hurried action, especially as a treaty only two years old bound them
not to interfere in Lombardy and Bologna so long as they were left

Charles's own position can have been not less difficult. Now that he
seemed really eager to enter Italy, both sides seemed eager for him
to do so. Should he enter Italy as the "Imperatore de' Preti," and so
make sure of a coronation, or descend as the avenger of the imperial
claims? He hesitated. In these circumstances it seemed to the
Florentines that there was but one thing to do--to inform themselves
of the real intentions of the Pope, and when these were known, to
decide on a course of action. In these very delicate missions his
countrymen again had recourse to Boccaccio. He set out on April 28,
1354.[427] His instructions were to find out whether the Emperor
was coming into Italy with consent of His Holiness, to speak of the
loyalty of Florence to the Holy See, and to protest her willingness
to do whatever the Pope desired. At the same time he had to obtain
at least this, that the Pope should exert himself to save the honour
and independence of the republic. Again, if the Pope pretended that
heknew nothing of the advent of Charles, but asked the intentions of
Florence in case he should enter Italy, Boccaccio was instructed to
say that he was only sent to ask the intentions of His Holiness. In
any case he was to return as quickly as possible.

The Pope's answer seems to have been far from clear. Boccaccio
returned, but a few months later Dietifeci di Michele was sent as
ambassador to Avignon with almost the same instructions and with the
same object in view.

Can it be that Florence really did not understand the situation as
we see it, or was that situation in reality very dangerous to her
liberty? It is difficult to understand how she can have failed to
see that the Pope had already won. It was obvious that he had come
to some arrangement with Charles, which proved to be that the Church
would crown him on condition that he only spent the day of his
incoronation in Rome and respected the sovereignty of the Pope in the
states of the Church. Moreover, if this were not enough, as Florence
knew, the presence of Albornoz in Romagna had already drawn the teeth
of the Visconti so far as they were dangerous to Tuscany. However,
it seems to have been in considerable fear and perplexity that she
saw Charles enter Padua early in November, 1354. Now if ever, some
thought doubtless, the White Guelf ideal was to be realised. Among
these idealists was, alas, Petrarch, whose hymn, not long written
perhaps, _Italia Mia_, surely dreamed of quite another king than a
German prince. Boccaccio was, as I think, better advised. In his
seventh Eclogue he mercilessly ridicules Charles, who in fact, though
not maybe in seeming, was the instrument of the Pope. He entered
Italy by the Pope's leave. Padua received him with honour, but Cane
della Scala of Verona clanged to his gates, and the Visconti with
bared teeth waited to see what he would do. He went to Mantua and
Gonzaga received him well. There he expected the ambassador of
Tuscany, but as the Pope's friend the Ghibellines knew him not, they
smiled bitterly at the "Priests' Emperor," only Pisa pathetically
stretching out her hands to Cæsar's ghost, while, as claimant of the
imperial title the Guelf republics would have none of him. Florence
need have had no fear, the Church had out-manœuvred her enemies as in
old time.

Charles, however, was not contemptible. Simple German as he was,
he soon grasped the situation. He made friends in some sort with
Visconti, and in this doubtless Petrarch, who had urged him on, was
able to assist him. From them he received the iron crown, though not
indeed at Monza, but in Milan, in the church of S. Ambrogio, and at
their hands. That must have been a remarkable and unhappy time for
the King of the Romans, in spite of Petrarch's talk and friendship.
Presently he set out for Pisa and so to Rome, where he received the
imperial crown on April 4, 1355, and, returning to Pisa, as though
in irony of Petrarch's enthusiastic politics, crowned the grammarian
Zanobi da Strada poet laureate. Yet this was surely but a German
joke. As for Florence, still trembling it seems, she took as firm a
stand as she could, and asked only the protection and friendship of
the Emperor, offering no homage or subordination. The Sienese, on
the other hand, in spite of their treaty with Florence, offered him
their lordship. Others followed their example, and Pisa was filled
with Ghibellines claiming the destruction of Florence, the head and
front of the Guelf faction. Charles, however, refused to adventure.
He demanded from Florence only money, as a fine, by paying which she
was to be restored to his favour, and that her magistrates should be
called Vicars of the Empire. She forfeited nothing of her liberty and
none of her privileges as a free republic. Yet at first she refused
to acquiesce. It was only after an infinite number of explanations
that she was brought to consent. Indeed, we read that the "very
notary who read out the deed broke down, and the Senate was so
affected that it dissolved. On the next day the Act was rejected
seven times before it was passed. The bells were the only merry folk
in Florence, so jealous were her citizens of the liberty of their


[419] Cf. CRESCINI, _op. cit._, p. 258. I quote the document.
_Camarlinghi del Comune_ Quad. 75 and 76 Gennaio-Febbraio 1350-1.
"In dei nomine amen. Hic est liber sive quaternus In se continens
solutiones factas tempore Religiosorum virorum fratris Benedicti
caccini et fratris Iacopi Iohannis de ordine fratrum sancti marci de
flor. Et discretorum virorum domini Iohannis Bocchaccij de Certaldo
pro quarterio S^i Spiritus et Pauli Neri de bordonibus pro quarterio
S^e Marie novelle laicorum, civium florentinorum, camerariorum camere
comunis florentie pro duobus mensibus initiatis die primo mensis
Ianuarij Millesimo trecentesimo quinquagesimo [1351, n.s.] Ind iiij,"
etc. etc.

[420] In May, as we have seen, he was inscribed in the Arte dei
Giudici e Notai. Cf. _supra_, p. 145, n. 4.

[421] Cf. HORTIS, _Boccaccio Ambasciatore_, _cit._, p. 8, n. 4, and
Docs. 2, 3, 4, 5.

[422] Cf. HORTIS, _op. cit._, p. 9. n. 1. BALDELLI, _op. cit._, pp.
112-13, and WITTE are wrong in supposing Ludwig to be Ludovico il
Romano, as Hortis shows.

[423] Florence broke off communications after consulting Siena and
Perugia. Cf. _Arch. Stor. Ital._, Ser. I. App. VII, p. 389.

[424] Cf. _Arch. Stor. Ital._, _u.s._, p. 389.

[425] Cf. MATTEO VILLANI, Lib. IV. In July (see letter quoted
_supra_) we know Boccaccio to have been in Ravenna. He says to
Petrarch, "Pridie quidem IIII ydus julii forte Ravennam urbem
petebam, visitaturus civitatis Principem et ut ferebat iter Livii
forum intravi...." He arrived, then, on July 12, and it was a
friend he met in Forlì (Livii) who told him that Petrarch had
entered the service of the Visconti. He reproaches him, as we have
seen. Nelli, whom he here calls Simonides, was also in Ravenna. He
upbraids Petrarch, as we have seen, in allegory, asking how Sylvanus
(Petrarch) can desert and betray the nymph Amaryllis (Italy) and go
over to the oppressor Egon (Visconti), the false priest of Pan (the
Pope), a monster of crime. Cf. CORAZZINI, _op. cit._, p. 47.

[426] See docs. cited in _Arch. Stor. Ital._, _u.s._, pp. 392-4.

[427] Baldelli, Hortis, Landau, and Koerting are all in agreement
that this mission took place in April, 1354, not April, 1353. The
instructions of the Republic, which I quote _infra_, were published
by Canestrini in _Arch. St. It., u.s._, p. 393, but under the
erroneous date of April 30, 1353. In April, 1353, Charles was not
about to set out.

The letter of instruction is as follows:--

"Nota agendorum in Romana Curia cum domino Summo Pontifice, pro
parte suorum et Ecclesie devotorum, Priorum artium et Vexillifero
Iustitie Populi et Comunis Florentie, et ipsius Comunis per providum
virum dominum Iohannem Bocchaccii de Certaldo, ambaxiatorum Comunis

"Primo quidem, idem orator eosdem Priores et Vexilliferum et Comune,
ea qua videntur, prelatione debita et devota, Sanctitati Apostolice
humiliter commendabit.

"Secundo, narrabit Sanctitati Sue quod Illustris Romanorum et
Boemie Rex, per suas licteras, et nuncios Comuni Florentino et eius
Regiminibus, advenctum suum ad partes Italicas fiendum in proximo
nuntiavit: que annuntiatio miranda venit auditui predictorum, pro eo
quod, nunquid descendat de Summi Pontificis conscientia vel non, in
Comuni Florentie non est clarum. Quod Comune, devotum Sancte Romane
Ecclesie intendens, ut consuevit, hactenus a Sancta Matre Ecclesia,
in nichilo deviare, certiorari cupit die Apostolica conscientia ut
in agendis procedat cauctius, et suis possit, favore apostolico,
negotiis providere. Cuius Summi Pontificis si responsum fuerit, se
et Ecclesiam Romanam de eiusdem Imperatori descensu esse contentos,
tunc subiungat supplicando, quod Populum et Comune Florentie
dignetur recommendatos habere tamquam devotos Ecclesie et Apostolice
Sanctitatis, ut in devotione solita possint idem Comune et populus
erga Sanctam Matrem Ecclesiam libere conservari.

"Si vero idem dominus Summus Pontifex eiusdem discensus diceret se
conscium non esse, et vellet de intentione Comunis Florentie ab eodem
oratore perquirere; dicat se non habere mandatum, nisi sciscitandi
Summi Pontificis voluntatem.

"Et qualequale precisum et finale responsum ad promissa datum fuerit
per Apostolicam Sanctitatem, idem ambaxiator festinis gressibus

"Insuper, exposita eidem Sanctitati devotione qua floruerunt hactenus
nobiles de Malatestis de Arimino ... Ceterum, dominum Clarum de
Peruzziis, episcopum Feretranum et Sancti Leonis....

"Particulam quoque, que advenctus Romani Regis in Ytaliam agit
seperius mentionem, nulli pandat orator affatus, nisi quatenus
iusserit deliberatio Apostolice Sanctitatis."

The entry in the Libri d' uscita della Camera dei Camerlinghi del
Comune--Quaderno del Marzo-Aprile, 1354, under date April 29, is
given by CRESCINI as follows:--

  "Domino Iohanni del Boccaccio
  Bernardo Cambi.

honorabilibus popularibus civibus Florentinis ambaxiatoribus
electis ad eundum pro dicto Comuni ad dominum summum pontificem,
cum ambaxiata eisdem per dominos priores et vexilliferum Imponenda,
pro eorum et cujusque ipsorum salario quadragintaquinque dierum
Initiandorum ea die qua iter arripient de civitate Florentie ad
eundum pro dicto Comuni in ambaxiatam predictam, ad rationem:
librarum quatuor et solidorum decem flor. parv., cum tribus equis
pro dicto domino Iohanne; et solidorum viginti flor. parv. cum uno
equo pro dicto Bernardo, per diem quamlibet, vigore electionis
de eis facte per dictos dominos priores et vexilliferum Iustitie
cum deliberatione et consensu officij Gonfaloneriorum sotietatis
populi, et duodecim bonorum virorum dicti Comunis; ac etiam vigore
provisionis et stantiamenti facti per dictos dominos priores et
vexilliferum Iustitie una cum off^o duodecim bonorum virorum
dicti Comunis, publicati et scripti per ser Puccinum ser Lapi
notarium, scribam officij dictorum priorum et vexilliferi et vigore
apodixe transmisse per dictos dominos priores et vexilliferum per
dictum ser Puccinum notarium, in summam inter ambos ... libro
ducentasquadraginta septem, solidos decem fl. parv."




Those embassies, for the most part so unsuccessful one may think,
which from time to time between 1350 and 1354 Boccaccio had
undertaken at the request of the Florentine Republic, heavy though
his responsibility must have been in the conduct of them, had by no
means filled all his time or seriously prevented the work, far more
important as it proved to be, which he had chosen as the business of
his life. Between 1348 and 1353, as we shall see, he had written the
_Decameron_; in 1354-5 he seems to have produced the _Corbaccio_, and
not much later the _Vita di Dante_; while in the complete retirement
from political life, from the office of ambassador at any rate,
which followed the embassy of 1354 and lasted for eleven years, till
indeed in 1365 he went again to Avignon on business of the Republic,
he devoted himself almost entirely to study and to the writing of
those Latin works of learning which his contemporaries appreciated so
highly and which we have perhaps been ready too easily to forget.

It is generally allowed[428] that Boccaccio began the _Decameron_
in 1348, but that it did not see the light in its completeness till
1353, and this would seem reasonable, for it is surely impossible
that such a work can have been written in much less than four years.
That a considerable time did in fact divide the beginning from the
completion of the book Boccaccio himself tells us in the conclusion,
at the end of the work of the Tenth Day, where he says: "Though now
I approach the end of my labours, it is long since I began to write,
yet I am not oblivious that it was to none but to ladies of leisure
that I offered my work...."

That the _Decameron_ was not begun before 1348 would seem to be
certain, for even if we take away the Prologue, the form itself is
built on the dreadful catastrophe of the Black Death.[429] If the
book was begun between that year and 1351, it cannot, however, have
been suggested, as some have thought, by Queen Giovanna of Naples,
for she was then in Avignon. In 1348 Boccaccio was thirty-five
years old, and whether at that time he was in Naples or in Forlì
with Ordelaffo is, as we have seen, doubtful, though that he was in
Naples would appear more likely; but wherever he was he had ample
opportunity of witnessing the appalling ravages of the pestilence
which he so admirably describes, and which is the contrast of
and the excuse for his book, for save in Lombardy and Rome the
pestilence was universal throughout Italy. In 1353, however, we
know him to have been resident in Florence, and if we accept the
tradition, which there is no reason at all to doubt, it was in that
year that the complete _Decameron_ first saw the light.[430] It was
known, however, in part, long before that, and would seem indeed
to have been published--if one may so express it--in parts; not
perhaps ten stories at a time--a day at a time--as Foscolo[431] has
conjectured, but certainly in parts, most likely of various quantity
and at different intervals. This would seem to be obvious from the
introduction to the Fourth Day, where Boccaccio speaks of the envy
and criticism that "these little stories" had excited, and proceeds
to answer his detractors. It is obvious that he could not at the
beginning of the Fourth Day have answered criticisms of his work if
some of it had not already seen the light and been widely read.

It must have been then when he was about forty years old that he
finished the _Decameron_, that extraordinary impersonal work in
which in the strongest contrast with his other books he has almost
completely hidden himself from us. He might seem at last in those
gay, licentious, and profoundly secular pages, often so delightfully
satirical and always so full of common sense, so sane as we might
say, to have lost himself in a joyous contemplation and understanding
of the world in which he lived, to have forgotten himself in a love
of it.

I speak fully of the _Decameron_ elsewhere, and have indeed only
mentioned it here for two reasons--to fix its date in the story
of his life, and to contrast it and its mood with the work which
immediately followed it, the _Corbaccio_ and the _Vita di Dante_.

We cannot, I think, remind ourselves too often in our attempts--and
after all they can never be more than attempts--to understand the
development of Boccaccio's mind, of his soul even, that he had but
one really profound passion in his life, his love for Fiammetta.
And as that had been one of those strong and persistent sensual
passions which are among the strangest and bitterest things in the
world,[432] his passing love affairs--and doubtless they were not
few--with other women had seemed scarcely worth recounting.[433]
That he never forgot Fiammetta, that he never freed himself from her
remembrance, are among the few things concerning his spiritual life
which we may assert with a real confidence. It is true that in the
Proem to the _Decameron_ he would have it otherwise, but who will
believe him? There he says--let us note as we read that even here he
cannot but return to it--that: "It is human to have compassion on
the afflicted; and as it shows very well in all, so it is especially
demanded of those who have had need of comfort and have found it in
others: among whom, if any had ever need thereof or found it precious
or delectable, I may be numbered; seeing that from my early youth
_even to the present_,[434] I was beyond measure aflame with a most
aspiring and noble love, more perhaps than were I to enlarge upon it
would seem to accord with my lowly condition. Whereby, among people
of discernment to whose knowledge it had come, I had much praise and
high esteem, but nevertheless extreme discomfort and suffering, not
indeed by reason of cruelty on the part of the beloved lady, but
through superabundant ardour engendered in the soul by ill-bridled
desire; the which, as it allowed me no reasonable period of
quiescence, frequently occasioned me an inordinate distress. In which
distress so much relief was afforded me by the delectable discourse
of a friend and his commendable consolations that I entertain a very
solid conviction that I owe it to him that I am not dead. But as it
pleased Him who, being infinite, has assigned by immutable law an
end to all things mundane, my love, beyond all other fervent, and
neither to be broken nor bent by any force of determination, or
counsel of prudence, or fear of manifest shame or ensuing danger, did
nevertheless in course of time abate of its own accord, in such wise
that it has now left naught of itself in my mind but that pleasure
which it is wont to afford to him who does not adventure too far
out in navigating its deep seas; so that, whereas it was used to be
grievous, now, all discomfort being done away, I find that which
remains to be delightful ... now I may call myself free."

His love is not dead, but is no longer the sensual agony, the
spiritual anguish it had once been, but it "remains to be
delightful." That it remained, though perhaps not always "to be
delightful," that it remained, is certain. For though he "may now
call myself free," that Proem tells us that after all we owe the
_Decameron_ itself indirectly to Fiammetta. And who reading those
tales can believe in his vaunted emancipation, if by that is meant
his forgetfulness of her? She lives everywhere in those wonderful
pages. Is she not one of the seven ladies of the _Decameron_? That is
true, it will be said, but she has no personality there, she is but
one of ten protagonists who are without life and individuality. Let
it be granted. But whereas the others are in fact but lay figures,
she, Fiammetta, though she remains just an idol if you will, is to be
worshipped, is to be decked out with the finest words, to be honoured
and glorified. Her name scarcely occurs but he praises her; he is
always describing her; while for the others he seldom spares a word.
Who can tell us what Pampinea, Filomena, Emilia, Neifile, or Elisa
were like? But for Fiammetta--he tells us everything; and when, as in
the Proem we have just discussed or in the Conclusion to the Fourth
Day, he speaks for himself, it is her he praises, it is of her he
writes. She is there crowned as queen. It is Filostrato who crowns
her: "taking the laurel wreath from his own head, and while the
ladies watched to see to whom he would give it, set it graciously
upon the blonde head of Fiammetta, saying: 'Herewith I crown thee,
as deeming that thou, better than any other, will know how to make
to-morrow console our fair companions for the rude trials of to-day.'
Fiammetta, whose wavy tresses fell in a flood of gold over her white
and delicate shoulders, whose softly rounded face was all radiant
with the very tints of the white lily blended with the red of the
rose, who carried two eyes in her head that matched those of the
peregrine falcon, while her tiny sweet mouth showed a pair of lips
that shone as rubies...."

[Illustration: MASETTO AND THE NUNS. (DEC. III, 1)

_In 1538 this woodcut appears in Tansillo's "Stanze" (By the courtesy
of Messrs. J. & J. Leighton.)_]

[Illustration: MASETTO AND THE NUNS. (DEC. III, 1)

_A woodcut from "Le Cento Novelle" in ottava rima. (Venice, 1554.)
(By the courtesy of Messrs. J. & J. Leighton.)_]

And it is the same with the Conclusion of the book, which in fact
closes with her name, and with the question Boccaccio must have asked
her living and dead his whole life long: "Madonna, who is he that you

That he never forgot her, then, is certain; but Fiammetta was dead,
and for Boccaccio more than for any other man of letters perhaps,
love with its extraordinary bracing of the intellect as well as
of the body was in some sort a necessity. Never, as we may think,
handsome, in 1353, at forty years of age, he was already past his
best, fat and heavy and grey-haired. The death of Fiammetta, his
love affair with her, had left him with a curious fear of marriage,
ill-disguised and very characteristic. If he had ever believed in
the perfection of woman in the way of Dante and Petrarch and the
prophets of romantic love--and without thereby damning him it is
permissible to doubt this--he had long ceased to hold any such creed
or to deceive himself about them. Woman in the abstract was for him
the prize of life; he desired her not as a friend, but as the most
exquisite instrument of pleasure, beyond the music of flutes or the
advent of spring. In the _Decameron_, though we are not justified
in interpreting all the sentiments and opinions there expressed as
necessarily his own, the evidence is too strong to be put altogether
aside. He loves women and would pleasure them, but he is a sceptic
in regard to them; he treats them always with an easy, tolerant, and
familiar condescension, sometimes petulant, often ironical, always
exquisite in its pathos and humanity; but beneath all this--let us
confess it at once--there is a certain brutality that is perhaps
the complement to Petrarch's sentiment. "The Muses are ladies," he
says,[435] speaking in his own person--he had, as we have seen, been
accused of being too fond of them--"and albeit ladies are not the
peers of the Muses, yet they have their outward semblance, for which
cause, if for no other, it is reasonable that I should be fond of
them. Besides which ladies have been to me the occasion of composing
some thousand verses, but of never a verse that I made were the Muses
the occasion."

He loves women then, but he is not deluded by them--or rather, as
we should say, because he loves them he does not therefore respect
them also. He considers them as fair or unfair, or as he himself has
it,[436] "fair and fit for amorous dalliance" or "spotted lizards."
He does not believe in them or their virtue--their sexual virtue that
is--nor does he value it very highly.[437] It is a thing for priests
and nuns, and even there rare enough. But in the world----!

In one place in the _Decameron_[438] he speaks of the "insensate
folly of those who delude themselves ... with the vain imagination
that, while they go about the world, taking their pleasure now of
this, now of the other woman, their wives, left at home, suffer not
their hearts to stray from their girdles, as if we who are born of
them and live among them could be ignorant of the bent of their
desires." Moreover, he considers that "a woman who indulges herself
in the intimate use with a man commits but a sin of nature; but if
she rob him or slay him or drive him into exile, her sin proceeds
from depravity of spirit." Thus, as the story shows, to deny him the
satisfaction of his desire would be a greater sin than to accord it
to him.

Again, in another tale,[439] we see his insistence upon what
he considers--and not certainly without reason--as the reality
of things, to deny which would be not merely useless, but even
ridiculous. Certain "very great merchants of Italy, met in Paris,"
are "discussing their wives at home...."[440] "I cannot answer for
my wife," says one, "but I own that whenever a girl that is to my
mind comes in my way, I give the go-by to the love I bear my wife and
take my pleasure of the new-comer to the best of my power." "And so
do I," said another, "because I know that whether I suspect her or
no my wife tries her fortune, and so it is 'do as you are done by.'"
All agree save a Genoese, who stakes everything on his wife's virtue.
He proves right, his wife is virtuous; but the whole company is
incredulous, and when one of them tells him he is talking nonsense,
and that the general opinion of women's virtue "is only what common
sense dictates," he carries the whole company with him. He admits
that "doubtless few [women] would be found to indulge in casual
amours if every time they did so a horn grew out on the brow to
attest the fact; but not only does no horn make its appearance, but
not so much as a trace or vestige of a horn, so only they be prudent;
and the shame and dishonour consist only in the discovery; wherefore
if they can do it secretly they do it, or are fools to refrain. Hold
it for certain that she alone is chaste who either had never a suit
made to her, or suing herself was repulsed. And albeit I know that
for reasons true and founded in nature this must needs be, yet I
should not speak so positively thereof as I do had I not many a time
with many a woman verified it by experience."

It is not that in the _Decameron_ virtue is not often rewarded in
the orthodox way, but that such cases are not to the point; they are
as unreal, as merely poetical or fictional as they are to-day. But
where real life is dealt with--and in no other book of the fourteenth
century is there so much reality--the evidence is what we have seen.
It was not that woman as we see her there is basely vicious; but that
she is altogether without ideality, light-hearted and complacent,
easily yielding to caprice, to the allure of pleasure, to the first
solicitation that comes to her in a propitious hour, and this rather
because of a certain _gaminerie_, a lightness, an incorrigible
naughtiness, than because of a real depravity. Like all Italians--the
great exceptions only prove the rule--she is without a fundamental
moral sense. She sins lightly, easily, without regret, dazzled by
life, by the pleasure of life.

Such, then, was the attitude of Boccaccio towards woman at the
time when he was writing the _Decameron_, that is to say, from his
thirty-fifth to his fortieth year. And we may well ask whether he had
always thought as he did then, and if not, what had been the cause of
his disillusion and what was to be the result of it?

It is difficult to answer the first of these questions with any
certainty. And yet it might seem incredible that in his youth he
had already emancipated himself from an illusion--if illusion it
be--that seems proper to it in all ages, and that was so universal
in the Middle Age as to inform the greater part of its secular
literature--the illusion that woman was something to be worshipped,
something almost sacred, to be approached in great humility, with
gentleness and reverence.

In reading the early romances of Boccaccio, it must be confessed that
while his attitude towards woman is not so assured, nor so masterful
in its realism and humour as in the _Decameron_, it is nevertheless
much the same in character. In the _Filocolo_, as in the _Ameto_,
he thinks of her always as a prize, as something to be hunted or
cajoled, yes, like a barbarian; nor are his early works less sensual
than the _Decameron_. The physical reality is for him--and not only
in regard to woman--so much more than the spiritual.

Yet in spite of the general character of his work, we observe from
time to time, and more especially in the _Rime_, a certain idealism,
still eagerly physical, if you will, but none the less ideal on that
account, which centres in Fiammetta and his thoughts concerning her.

We have already traced that story from its beginning to its end,
we shall but return to it here to repeat that whatever we may come
to think of it, this at least is assured and certain: that it was
a genuine and sincere passion in which Boccaccio's whole being was
involved--inextricably involved--soul as well as body. To a nature
such as Boccaccio's, so lively and full of energy, that awakening,
so far as his physical nature was concerned, came not without
preparation--he had had other loves before he saw Fiammetta--but
spiritually it seems to have been in the nature of an unexpected
revelation. It made him a poet, as we have seen, and one cannot read
the _Rime_ without being convinced that something more was involved
in his love for his lady than the body.

It would seem, then, that we have here under our hands a history,
logical and inevitable, developed by the character of the man in
the circumstances which befell him. Like all the men of his day,
he was in love with love. Without the profound spiritual energy of
Dante, but with a physical vitality greater far than Petrarch's,
Boccaccio was inevitably in youth at the mercy of the lust of the
eye, following woman because she was beautiful and because he desired
her with all the fresh energy of his nature. He met Fiammetta and
loved her. And then, though his desire abated no jot, there was
added to it a certain idealism in which to some extent, sometimes
greater, sometimes less, the spirit was involved to his joy and his
sorrow. So, when Fiammetta forsook him, she wounded him not only in
his pride, but in his soul, a wound that might never altogether be
healed. That at least might seem certain, for had he loved her only
as he had loved the others, to forget her would have been easy; but
he could not forget.

Well, this wound, as we might say, grew angry and festered, poisoning
his whole being with its bitterness. Thus in the years which follow
his betrayal by Fiammetta we see him regarding woman now with a
furious bitterness and anger, as in the subtle cruelty of the
_Fiammetta_, now merely sensually as the instrument and means of the
pleasure of man--a flower to be plucked in the garden of life, worn a
little and thrown away e'er one grow weary of it.

But this phase, mixed of too bitter and too sweet, unhealthy too
and without the capacity of laughter, presently passed away before
the essential virility and energy of his nature. In the fullness
of his youth from thirty-three to forty, busy with important work,
engaged in responsible missions, the friend of great men of action as
well as of poets and scholars, almost all that bitterness and anger
passes away from him, and instead he assumes the pose we see in the
_Decameron_, to which all his knowledge of the world, his tolerance
of life, his sense of humour, and in some sort his sanity, must have
urged him. He has lost every illusion with regard to woman save that
she is able to give him pleasure. He may "call himself free" from
her, he says, and he shows her to us, well, as the realist sees her,
as she appears, that is, to the bodily eye, and as we find her in the

Let it be granted if you will that such an attitude as that of the
poets of romantic love was ridiculous, and that like all illusion and
untruth it entailed in some sort a denial of life and brought its
own penalty. But was Boccaccio's attitude really, fundamentally any
nearer the truth? And if not, must not it too be paid for? Assuredly.
Life will not be denied. If woman be nothing but the flesh, however
we may glorify her, she is but dust, and our mouth, eloquent with
her praises, full of ashes. So it was with Boccaccio. All his early
works, including the _Decameron_, had been written to please women.
In the _Corbaccio_ we see the reaction.

It seems that during the time he was writing the _Decameron_, towards
his forty-first year, he found himself taken by a very beautiful
woman, a widow, who pretended to encourage him, perhaps because of
his fame, provoked his advances, allured him to write to her, and
then laughing at this middle-aged and obese lover, gave his letters
to her young lover, who scattered them about Florence.

Boccaccio had already been hurt, as we have seen, by the criticisms
some had offered on his work.[441] This deception by the widow
exasperated him, his love for women turned to loathing, and he
now composed a sort of invective against them, which was called
the _Corbaccio_, though whether he so named it himself remains
unknown.[442] The story is as follows: A lover finds himself lost
in the forest of love, and is delivered by a spirit. The lover is
Boccaccio, the spirit is the husband of the widow who has returned
from hell, where his avarice and complaisance have brought him. In
setting Boccaccio in the right way, the spirit of the husband reveals
to him all the imperfections, artifices and defects, the hidden vices
and weaknesses of his wife with the same brutality and grossness
that Ovid had employed in his _Amoris Remedia_. "Had you seen her
first thing in the morning with her night-cap on, squatting before
the fire, coughing and spitting.... Ah, if I could tell you how many
different ways she had of dealing with that golden hair of hers, you
would be amazed. Why, she spent all her time treating it with herbs
and washing it with the blood of all sorts of animals. The house
was full of distillations, little furnaces, oil cups, retorts, and
such litter. There wasn't an apothecary in Florence or a gardener
in the environs who wasn't ordered to send her fluid silver or wild

Such was Boccaccio's revenge. But he was not content with this fierce
attack on the foolish woman who had deceived him; he involved the
whole sex in his contempt and ridicule. "Women," he says, "have
no other occupation but in making themselves appear beautiful and
in winning admiration; ... all are inconstant and light, willing and
unwilling in the same heart's beat, unless what they wish happens
to minister to their incorrigible vices. They only come into their
husband's house to upset everything, to spend his money, to quarrel
day and night with the servants or with his brothers and relations
and children. They make out that they are timid and fearful, so that
if they are in a lofty place they complain of vertigo, if in a boat
their delicate stomachs are upset, if we must journey by night they
fear to meet ghosts, if the wind rattles the window or they hear a
pebble fall they tremble with fright; while, as you know, if one
tries to do anything, to go anywhere without warning them, they are
utterly contrary. But God only knows how bold and how ready they are
in things to their taste. There is no place so difficult, precipices
among the mountains, the highest palace walls, or the darkest night,
that will stop them. Their sole thought, their only object, there one
ambition is to rob, to rule, and to deceive their husbands, and for
this end they will stoop to anything."[443]

The _Corbaccio_, however, was not the only work in which his
pessimism and hatred of woman showed itself. It is visible also in
the _Vita di Dante_, which was written about this time or a little
later than the _Corbaccio_,[444] perhaps in 1356-7. All goes well
till we come to Dante's marriage, when there follows a magnificent
piece of invective which, while it expresses admirably Boccaccio's
mood and helps us to date the book, has little or nothing to do with
Dante. Indeed, we seem to learn there, reading a little between
the lines, more of Boccaccio himself than of the husband of Gemma


_A woodcut from the "Decameron." (Venice, 1525.)_]


_Appeared in Sansovino's "Le Cento Novelle." (Venice, 1571.) (By the
courtesy of Messrs. J. & J. Leighton.)_]

"Oh, ye blind souls," he writes there,[445] "oh ye clouded
intellects, oh, ye vain purposes of so many mortals, how counter
to your intentions in full many a thing are the results that
follow;--and for the most part not without reason! What man would
take another who felt excessive heat in the sweet air of Italy to the
burning sands of Lybia to cool himself, or from the Isle of Cyprus to
the eternal shades of the Rhodopæan mountains to find warmth? What
physician would set about expelling acute fever by means of fire, or
a chill in the marrow of the bones with ice or with snow? Of a surety
not one; unless it be he who shall think to mitigate the tribulations
of love by giving one a bride. They who look to accomplish this thing
know not the nature of love, nor how it maketh every other passion
feed its own. In vain are succours or counsels brought up against
its might, if it have taken firm root in the heart of him who long
hath loved. Even as in the beginning every feeblest resistance is of
avail, so when it hath gathered head, even the stoutest are wont many
times to turn to hurt. But returning to our matter, and conceding for
the moment that there may (so far as that goes) be things which have
the power to make men forget the pains of love, what hath he done who
to draw out of one grievous thought hath plunged me into a thousand
greater and more grievous? Verily naught else save by addition of
that ill which he hath wrought me, to bring me into a longing for
return into that from which he hath drawn me. And this we see come
to pass to the most of those who in their blindness marry that they
may escape from sorrows, or are induced to marry by others who would
draw them hence; nor do they perceive that they have issued out of
one tangle into a thousand, until the event brings experience, but
without power to turn back howsoever they repent. His relatives and
friends gave Dante a wife that his tears for Beatrice might have an
end; but I know not whether for this (though the tears passed away,
or rather perhaps had already passed) the amorous flame departed;
yet I do not think it. But even granted that it were quenched, many
fresh burdens, yet more grievous, might take its place. He had been
wont, keeping vigil at his sacred studies, to discourse whensoever
he would with emperors, with kings, with all other most exalted
princes, to dispute with philosophers, to delight himself with most
pleasing poets and giving heed to the anguish of others to mitigate
his own.[446] Now he may be with these only so much as his new lady
chooses; and what seasons it is her will shall be withdrawn from so
illustrious companionship, he must bestow on female chatter, which,
if he will not increase his woes, he must not only endure but must
extol. He who was wont, when weary of the vulgar herd, to withdraw
into some solitary place, and there consider in his speculations what
spirit moveth the heaven, whence cometh life to the animals that are
on earth, what are the causes of things; or to rehearse some rare
invention, compose some poem which shall make him though dead yet
live by fame amongst the folk that are to come; must now not only
leave these sweet contemplations as often as the whim seizes his
new lady, but must submit to company that ill sorts with such like
things. He, who was wont to laugh, to weep, to sing, to sigh, at his
will, as sweet or bitter emotions pierced him, now dares it not; for
he must needs render an account to his lady, not only of greater
affairs, but of every little sigh, explaining what started it, whence
it came, and whither it tended; for she takes gladness as evidence of
love for another, and sadness as hatred of herself.

"Oh weariness beyond conception of having to live and hold
intercourse, and finally grow old and die with so suspicious an
animal! I choose not to say aught of the new and most grievous cares
which they who are not used to them must bear, and especially in our
city; I mean how to provide for clothes, ornaments, and rooms crammed
with superfluities that women make themselves believe are a support
to an elegant existence; how to provide for man and maid servants,
nurses and chambermaids ... I speak not of these ... but rather come
to certain things from which there is no escape.

"Who doubts that judgment will be passed by the general whether his
wife be fair or no? And if she be reputed fair, who doubts but she
will straightway have a crowd of lovers who will most pertinaciously
besiege her unstable mind, one with his good works and one with his
noble birth and one with marvellous flattery and one with gifts and
one with pleasant ways? And that which many desire shall scarce be
defended against every one; and women's chastity need only once be
overtaken to make them infamous and their husbands miserable in
perpetuity. But if, by misfortune of him who brings her home, she be
foul to look upon--well, it is plain to see that even of the fairest
women men often and quickly grow weary, and what are we then to think
of the others, save that not only they themselves, but every place
which they are like to be found of them who must have them for ever
with them, will be detested? And hence springs up their wrath; nor is
there any wild beast more cruel than an angry woman--no, nor so much.
Nor may any man live in safety of his life who hath committed him to
any woman who thinketh she hath good cause to be in wrath against
him. And they all think it.

"What shall I say of their ways? Would I show how greatly they
all run counter to the peace and repose of men, I must draw out
my discourse to an all too long harangue; and therefore let me be
content to speak of one common to almost all. They imagine that any
sorriest menial can keep his place in the house by behaving well,
but will be cast out for the contrary. Wherefore they hold that if
they themselves behave well theirs is no better than a servile lot;
for they only feel that they are ladies when they do ill, but come
not to the evil end that servants would.

"Why should I go on pointing out that which all the world knows? I
judge it better to hold my tongue, than by my speech to give offence
to lovely woman. Who doth not know that trial is first made by him
who should buy ere he take to himself any other thing save only his
wife--lest she should displease him or ever he have her home? Whoso
taketh her must needs have her not such as he would choose, but such
as fortune yieldeth her to him. And if these things above be true
(as he knoweth who hath tried) we may think what woes those chambers
hide, which from outside to whoso hath not eyes whose keenness can
pierce through walls, are reputed places of delight.

"Assuredly I do not affirm that these things chanced to Dante; for
I do not know it: though true it is that (whether such like things
or others were the cause) when once he had parted from her (who had
been given him as a consolation in his sufferings!) never would he go
where she was, nor suffered he her to come where he was, albeit he
was the father of several children by her. But let not any suppose
that from the things said above I would conclude that men ought
not to take to themselves wives. Contrariwise, I much commend it;
but not for every one. Let philosophers leave marrying to wealthy
fools, to noblemen and peasants; and let them take their delight with
philosophy, who is a far better bride than any other."

Such then was Boccaccio's mood, "his state of soul" in the years
between 1354 and 1357. Well might Petrarch discern in him "a troubled
spirit": "from many letters of yours," he writes from Milan on
December 20, 1355, "I have extracted one thing, that you have a
troubled spirit."


[428] See MANNI, _Istoria del Decamerone_ (Firenze, 1742), p. 144;
ANTONA TRAVERSI in LANDAU, _Gio. Boccaccio sua vita ed opere_
(Napoli, 1882), p. 523; KOERTING, _Boccaccio's Leben und Werke_
(Leipzig, 1880), pp. 244 and 673-4; and cf. SALVIATI, _Avvertimenti
della Lingua sopra il Decamerone_ (Venezia, 1584), Lib. II, cap. 12.

[429] I deal with the form of the _Decameron_ later. See _infra_, p.

[430] The original MS. has disappeared. The oldest we now possess
seems to have been written in 1368 by Francesco Mannelli. The later
Hamilton MS., now in Berlin, is, however, the better of the two. Cf.
H. HAUVETTE, _Della parentela esistenta fra il MS. Berlinese del Dec.
e il codice Mannelli_ in _Giorn. St. d. Lett. It._ (1895), XXXI, p.
162 _et seq._

[431] FOSCOLO, _Discorso Storico sul testo del Decamerone ...
premesso all' edizione delle Cento Novelle fatta in Londra_ (Lugano,
1828), p. 9.

[432] Cf. _Decameron_, Proem, where he speaks of his love for
Fiammetta and the "discomfort," and "suffering" it brought him, "not
indeed by reason of the cruelty of the beloved lady, but through the
superabundant ardour engendered in the soul by ill-bridled desire;
the which, as it allowed me no reasonable period of quiescence,
frequently occasioned me inordinate distress."

[433] We know that Boccaccio had three children, two sons and a
daughter. We do not know by whom.

[434] So that when he wrote the Proem (? 1353) he still loved her.

[435] Conclusion to Day IV.

[436] Day II, Nov. 10.

[437] Closing words of Day II, Nov. 7.

[438] Day II, Nov. 10.

[439] Day II, Nov. 9.

[440] That mere fact should enlighten us, for we may well believe
such a subject of "jovial discourse" impossible to-day.

[441] Cf. Prologue to the Fourth Day: "Know then, my discreet ladies,
that some there are who reading these little stories have alleged
that I am too fond of you, and that 'tis not a seemly thing that I
should take so much pleasure in ministering to your gratification and
solace; and some have found fault with me for praising you as I do."

[442] See the interesting study of the _Corbaccio_ by HAUVETTE in
_Bulletin Italien_ (Bordeaux, 1901), Vol. I, No. I. Boccaccio says
in the _Corbaccio_: "E primieramente la tua età, per la quale,
se le tempie già bianche e la canuta barba non m' ingannano, tu
dovresti avere li costumi del mondo, fuor delle fasce già sono degli
anni quaranta e già venticinque, cominciatili a conoscere" (Ed.
Moutier, 183). Hauvette interprets this: "Grown out of swaddling
clothes as you are these forty years, you have known the world for
twenty-five...." The majority of critics agree that the _Corbaccio_
was written _ca._ 1355, in which year Boccaccio was forty-two years
old. Twenty-five years before brings us to 1330, or almost to the
dates on which he (1) deserted trade, and (2) first saw Fiammetta.
But in another place in the same book he suggests that the book
was written when the new year was about to begin: "l' anno ... è
tosto per entrar nuovo," so that we may refer this unfortunate
_contretemps_, and the writing of the _Corbaccio_ in consequence,
to December, 1355, i.e. February, 1356, new style, which brings us
almost exactly to March, 1331, the day of the meeting with Fiammetta.

As to the title of this book we know nothing. If it signifies the
Evil Raven and is derived from _corbo_, corvo, we cannot decide
whether it refers to the widow, or her husband, or to Boccaccio
himself. On the other hand, it may be derived from _corba_ (Latin,
corbis), a basket or trap, and this would be explicable. All we
know is that in by far the greater number of MSS., and these the
oldest, the work bears the title _Corbaccio_ or _Corbaccino_; but
whether this is owing to Boccaccio or not we cannot decide. The word
does not occur in the text. The copyists were certainly unaware
of its significance, and have always given it a sub-title, e.g.
_Corbaccio: libro del rimedio dello amore, ... detto il Corbaccio_,
or _Corbaccius sive contra sceleratam viduam et alias feminas
invectivæ_, or _Corbaccio nimico delle femmine_. The false title
_Laberinto d' amore_ does not occur till the sixteenth century. Cf.
HAUVETTE, _op. cit._, p. 3. n. 1.

[443] The sources of this amazing and amusing book are not far to
seek. In the _Divine Comedy_ it had been love which had let Dante
out of the _selva oscura_; here the _selva oscura_ is love and it
is reason or experience who delivers Boccaccio. Another source,
as PINELLI, _Corbaccio_ in _Propugnatore_, XVI (Bologna, 1883),
pp. 169-92, has shown, is found in Giovenale. "L' imitazione,"
says Pinelli, "del Boccaccio non è pedestre, ma artifiziosa come
quella che cogliendo sempre il solo punto capitale del pensiero, e
trascurando la particolarità meno interessanti, aggiunge di suo tante
inestimabili bellezze da rendere l' opera originale."

[444] We shall consider the _Vita di Dante_ later when we discuss
Boccaccio's whole relation to Dante. It is necessary perhaps to
decide here so far as we can the date at which it was written.
BALDELLI (_op. cit._, pp. 378-9) tells us that Buonmattei was of
opinion that Boccaccio wrote the _Vita di Dante_ while he was still
young. But Baldelli assures us that it must have been written after
the _Ameto_ and before the _Decameron_, as its style is more pure
and formed than the one and less so than the other. The _Decameron_
first saw the light in 1353; and so Baldelli tells us the _Vita_
was written in 1351. On such a question no foreigner has a right
to an opinion. But if I may break my own rule, I shall say that I
find myself in agreement with (among others) ANTONA TRAVERSI, in
his translation of Landau's life of Boccaccio (_Giovanni Boccaccio
sua vita_, etc. (Naples, 1882), p. 786, n. 3), when he says that no
really satisfactory conclusion can be arrived at on the evidence of a
prose style alone; for nothing is more fluid or more subject to mood,
and nothing, we might add, is more difficult to judge. Foscolo, with
whom Carducci finds himself in agreement, tells us that "Fra quante
opere abbiamo del Boccaccio la più luminosa di stile e di pensieri a
me pare la _Vita di Dante_." Cf. FOSCOLO, _Discorso storico sul testo
del Decameron_ (Lugano, 1828), p. 94. But we need not admit so much
to refute Baldelli. If the _Decameron_ was published in 1353, it
was certainly begun some years, four or five at least, before that.
It is generally supposed, and with much reason, to have been begun
in 1348-9. But Baldelli gives the _Vita_ to 1351. It follows then
that the work less pure in style than the _Decameron_ was written
two years after the _Decameron_ was begun. If we accept Baldelli's
evidence we must conclude that the _Vita_ was written before 1348.

It seems extremely unlikely, however, that the _Vita_ was written
before 1353, for its whole tone, serious, even religious, and its
extraordinary antipathy to marriage and contempt for women are
entirely out of keeping with the eager love and sensuality of the
_Ameto_ and the gaiety of the _Decameron_. It has, on the other hand,
much in common with the _Corbaccio_, which belongs to the years
1355 or 1356. With this conclusion Carducci--and no finer critic
ever lived--is in agreement. He agrees with FOSCOLO, _op. cit._,
p. 14, that the _Corbaccio_ and the _Vita di Dante_ were composed
about the same time. To establish the very year in which Boccaccio
wrote the _Vita_ seems to me impossible. But I think it may be
possible to prove that it was begun after the _Corbaccio_, though
not long after, let us say in 1356-7, and finished some years later;
according to MACRI LEONE (_La Vita di Dante_, Firenze, 1888), in
1363-4. We see in the _Vita_ almost the same attitude towards women
that we have already found in the _Corbaccio_, but less fiercely
bitter, more reasoned, and less personal. But the immediate cause of
Boccaccio's change from an eager and self-flattering love of women
to a hatred for and contempt of them was his deception by the widow
of the _Corbaccio_. We may psychologically have been certain of
this hatred from the first, for it is in fact a logical development
from his attitude to woman from his youth on; but the immediate and
provocative cause of the change was the perfidy of the widow. It
therefore seems to me that we must necessarily see in the _Vita_ a
later work than the _Corbaccio_, though not so much later. Doubtless
he had been gathering facts all his life, and only in 1356-7 began to
put them in order. That it was so seems probable from the fact that
the invective against marriage is altogether an interpolation and has
almost nothing to do with Dante; it is in fact largely a quotation
from a quotation of Jerome's.

[445] I use the translation of Mr. P. H. WICKSTEED, _The Early Lives
of Dante_ (Chatto and Windus, 1907).

[446] Cf. MACHIAVELLI, _Lettere_, Lettera di Dec. 10.




That a profound change had already taken place in Boccaccio's
point of view, in his attitude towards life, in his whole moral
consciousness, it might seem impossible to doubt after reading the
_Corbaccio_ and the _Vita di Dante_; but though its full significance
only became apparent some years after the publication of those works,
the curious psychologist may perhaps find signs of it before the
year 1355. For while that change was on the one hand the inevitable
consequence of his youth and early manhood, a development from
causes that had always been hidden in his soul, it was also a
result, as it was a sign, of his age, of his passing from youth to
middle age, and it declares itself with the first grey hairs, the
first sign of failing powers and loss of activity, in a sort of
disillusion and pessimism. From this time his life was to be a kind
of looking backward, with a wild regret for the mistakes and wasted
opportunities then perhaps for the first time horribly visible.

Yes, a part at least of that bitterness, scorn, and anger against
woman might seem to be but the approach of old age. But side by side
with that moral and spiritual revolution that by no means reached
its crisis in 1355, we may see an intellectual change not less
profound, that in its own way too is also a "looking backward." His
creative powers were paralysed. The _Corbaccio_ is the last original
or "creative" work that he achieved; henceforth his life was to be
devoted to scholarship and to criticism, and however eager we may be
to acknowledge the debt we owe him for his labours in those fields,
we cannot but admit that they are a sign of failing power, of a lost
grip on life, on reality; and though we can hardly have hoped for
another _Decameron_, we are forced to allow that the energy which
created the one we have was of quite another and a higher sort than
that which produced the works of learning which fill the last twenty
years of his life.

When Petrarch first met Boccaccio, as we have seen, it was not so
much of Italian letters as of antiquity that they spoke; and ever
after we find that the elder poet brings the conversation back
to that, to him the most important of subjects, when Boccaccio,
with his keener sense of life and greater vitality, would have
involved him in political discussion, or persuaded him to consider
such aspects of the life of his own time as are to be found, for
instance, so plentifully in the _Decameron_. Seeing the way Petrarch
was determined to follow, venerating him as his master and leader,
always ready to give him the first place, it is not surprising that
Boccaccio interested himself more and more in what so engrossed his
friend. In 1354 Petrarch thanks him[447] for an anthology from the
works of Cicero and Varro that he had composed and given him, and in
the same year he thanks him again for S. Augustine's Commentary on
the Psalms.

Long before he met Boccaccio in Florence in 1350, however, Petrarch
had begun the study of Greek in Avignon in 1342 under the Basilian
monk Barlaam,[448] whom he had met there in 1339. According to
Boccaccio, Barlaam was a man of small stature but of prodigious
learning, the Abbot of the monastery of S. Gregory, a bitter
theological disputant with many enemies, but in high favour at the
court of Constantinople, whence the Emperor Andronicus had sent him
to Avignon ostensibly on a mission for the reunion of the Churches,
but really to ask for the assistance of the West in the struggle with
the Turks. Barlaam was in fact a Calabrian, but most of his life
had been spent in Salonica and Constantinople. He knew Greek; that
was his value in Petrarch's eyes, and he seems to have read with
the poet certain dialogues of Plato.[449] In 1342, however, Barlaam
become Bishop of Gerace,[450] and Petrarch lost him before his
greatest desire had begun to be satisfied, to wit, the translation
of Homer, which, with the Middle Age, he only knew in the mediocre
abridgment _Ilias Latina_, the weakness of which he recognised.[451]
Eleven years later, in 1353, however, Petrarch met in Avignon Nicolas
Sigeros, another ambassador of the Emperor of Constantinople, come
on a similar mission to Barlaam's. They spoke together of Homer, and
in the following year when Sigeros was departed, he sent Petrarch
as a gift the Greek text of the _Iliad_ and the _Odyssey_. This the
poet received with an enthusiastic letter of thanks, at the same time
confessing his insufficiency as a Hellenist.[452]

Now in the winter of 1358-9, during a sojourn at Padua, there was
introduced to Petrarch by one of his friends a certain Leon Pilatus,
who gave himself out for a Greek; and the poet seized the opportunity
to get a translation of a part of his MS. of Homer.[453] In the
spring, however, he went to Milan, and it was there, on March 16,
1359, that Boccaccio visited him, finding him in his garden "in orto
Sanctæ Valeriæ Mediolani."[454]

That visit, from one point of view so consoling for Boccaccio, must
have cost him a pang; for he had, as we have seen, always blamed
Petrarch for accepting the hospitality of the Visconti, those enemies
of his country. But he had not allowed the fact that Petrarch had
disregarded his protests to interfere with their friendship. Keen
patriot as he always remained, Boccaccio, without in any way changing
his opinion, accepted Petrarch's strange conduct, his indifference to
nationalism, with a modesty as charming as it is rare, and allowing
himself to take up the attitude of a disciple, made a pilgrimage to
the city he hated for the sake of the friend he loved; and cost what
it may have done, that visit, long planned we gather, must have
been full of refreshment for Boccaccio. We see them in that quiet
garden in Visconti's city planting a laurel, a favourite amusement of
Petrarch's, for it reminded him alike of Laura and of his coronation
as poet;[455] and, "as the pleasant days slipped by," talking of
poetry, of learning, above all of Greek and of that Leon Pilatus
recently come into Italy, whom Petrarch had met in Padua.

It is probable that Boccaccio met this man in Milan before he
returned to Florence;[456] it is certain that Petrarch spoke to
him of Pilatus, and that Boccaccio asked him to visit him. That
invitation was accepted, and before the end of the year we see
Pilatus established in Florence.

This man who makes such a bizarre figure in Boccaccio's life seems
to have belonged to that numerous race of adventurers half Greek,
half Calabrian, needy, unscrupulous, casual, and avaricious, who
ceaselessly wandered about Europe in the fourteenth and fifteenth
centuries seeking fortune. It might seem strange that such an one
should play the part of a teacher and professor, but he certainly was
not particular, and Petrarch and Boccaccio were compelled to put up
with what they could get. Pilatus, however, seems to have wearied and
disgusted Petrarch; it was Boccaccio, more gentle and more heroic,
who devoted himself to him for the sake of learning. Having persuaded
Pilatus to follow him to Florence, he caused a Chair of Greek to be
given to him in the university, and for almost four years imposed
upon himself the society of this disagreeable barbarian. For as it
seems he was nothing else; his one claim on the attention of Petrarch
and Boccaccio being that he could, or said he could, speak Greek.

We know very little about him. He boasted that he was born in
Thessaly, but later owned that he was a Calabrian.[457] His
appearance, according to Boccaccio[458] and Petrarch,[459] had
something repellent about it. His crabbed countenance was covered
with bristles of black hair, an untrimmed beard completing the
effect; and his ragged mantle only half covered his dirty person. Nor
were his manners more refined than his physique; while his character
seems to have been particularly disagreeable, sombre, capricious, and
surly. Petrarch confesses that he had given up trying to civilise
this rustic, this "magna bellua."[460]

Such was Leon Pilatus; but for the love of Greek Boccaccio pardoned
everything, and he and two or three friends, the only persons
in Florence indeed able to do so, followed the lectures[461] of
this improvised professor. But it was above all in admitting this
creature to his own home that Boccaccio appears most heroic. There he
submitted him to long interviews and interminable _séances_ in order
that he might accomplish the great task of a complete translation of


_(By the courtesy of Messrs. J. & J. Leighton.)_]

Afar off Petrarch associated himself with this work and tried to
direct it with wise counsels that Leon Pilatus was doubtless too
little of a scholar to understand and too ignorant to follow blindly.
In fact but for Petrarch, as the following letter proves, they would
have lacked the text itself:--

"You ask me," he writes in 1360,[462] "to lend you, if as you
think I have bought it, the book of Homer that was for sale at Padua,
in order that our friend Leon may translate it from Greek into Latin
for you and for our other studious compatriots, for you say I have
long since had another example. I have seen this book, but I have
neglected it, because it appeared to me inferior to my own. One
could easily get it, however, through the person who procured me the
friendship of Leon; a letter of his would be all-powerful and I will
write him myself. If by chance this book escapes us, which I do not
believe, I will lend you mine. For I have always been desirous of
this translation in particular and of Greek literature in general,
and if Fortune had not been envious of my beginnings in the miserable
death of my excellent master (? Barlaam), I should perhaps have
to-day something more of Greek than the alphabet.

"I applaud, then, with all my heart and strength your enterprise....
I am sorry to see so much solicitude for the bad and so much
negligence of the good. But what would you? One must resign oneself
to it....

"I hope also here and now to prevent you in one thing, so as not to
repent myself later for having passed it by in silence. You say that
the translation will be word for word. Hear how on this point S.
Jerome expresses himself in the preface to the book _De Temporibus_
of Eusebius of Cæsarea that he translated into Latin. It pleases me
to send you the very words of one so learned in both tongues and in
many others, and especially in the art of translation. 'Let him who
says that in translation one does not lose the grace of the original
try to translate Homer literally into Latin, and into any tongue
which he has, and he will see how ridiculous is the order of the
words and how the most eloquent of poets is made tostammer like a
child.' I tell you this for your advice whilst there is yet time, so
that such a great work may not be useless.

"For myself I desire only that the thing be well done.... In truth
the portion I have which the same Leon translated for me into Latin
prose--the beginning of Homer--has given me a foretaste of the
complete work.... It contains indeed a secret charm.... Go on then
with the aid of Heaven; give us back Homer who was lost to us....

"In asking me at the same time for the volume of Plato that I have
with me and that escaped the fire in my house across the Alps, you
give me a proof of your ardour, and I will hold this book at your
disposition when you want it. I will second with all my power such
noble enterprises. But take care that the union of these two great
Princes of Greece be not unseemly, and that the weight of these two
geniuses does not crush the shoulders of mortals.... And remember
that the one wrote many centuries before the other. Good-bye. Milan,
18 August (1360)."[463]

From that letter we may gather how eagerly Boccaccio had turned to
this new labour. Was it in order to escape from himself? Certainly
it might seem that in his new enthusiasm he found for a time, at any
rate, a certain consolation; but the crisis was not long delayed. In
those long months while the wretched Pilatus was with him, however,
he was able for a time to ward off the danger; and realising this,
the comedy of that friendship is almost pathetic.

We seem to see him eagerly drinking in the words that fell from the
surly Calabrian, pressing him with questions, taking note of all
and trying to understand everything--even what his master himself
could not understand. As for the master, flattered and puffed up
by the confidence that Boccaccio seems to have felt in him, he no
doubt replied to all his questionings in the tone of a man who knew
perfectly what he was talking about, and had nothing to fear or to
hide. Sometimes, no doubt, the adventurer showed itself. Weary and
bored by the incessant work, his sullen humour exasperated by the
sedentary life, Pilatus would demand his liberty. Then Boccaccio
would have to arm himself with all his patience, and by sweetness and
gentleness and good-humour would at last persuade the wretched man to
remain a little longer with him.

Suddenly in the midst of this difficult work with Pilatus his trouble
descended upon him, with a supernatural force as he thought. He
received a message from a dying saint--a message that warned him of
his approaching end and certain damnation unless he should repent.
When exactly this message reached him we do not know. It may well
have been in the end of 1361, but it was more probably in the first
months of 1362. He was in any case in no fit state to meet the blow.

In those days when political crises followed hard on one another,
and the very aspect of a city might change in the course of a few
years, Boccaccio's youth must then have seemed infinitely far away.
His _Corbaccio_ had been written "to open the eyes of the young" to
the horror of woman. While in very many ways he is the pioneer of
the Renaissance, in his heart there lingered yet something, if only
a shadow, of the fear of joy. All his joys had been adventures on
which he scarcely dared to enter, and while he was never a puritan,
as one sometimes thinks Petrarch may have been, he was so perfectly
of his own time as to "repent him of his past life." For a nature
like that of Boccaccio was capable only of enthusiasm. He had loved
Fiammetta to distraction, and those who only see there a lust of the
flesh have never understood Boccaccio. His other loves were what you
will, what they always are and must be; but when Fiammetta died,
the very centre of his world was shaken.[464] He could not follow
her through Hell and Purgatory into the meadows of Paradise as Dante
had followed Beatrice: he was of the modern world. For Dante, earth,
heaven, purgatory, and hell were but chambers in the universe of God.
For Boccaccio there remained just the world.

Having the religious sense, he accused himself of sin as St. Paul
had done, as St. John of the Cross was to do, with an astonishing
eccentricity, an exaggeration which lost sight of the truth, in a
profound self-humiliation. Of such is the lust of the spirit. He too
had found it difficult "to keep in the right way amid the temptations
of the world." And then, suddenly it seems, on the threshold of old
age, poor and alone, he thought to love God with the same enthusiasm
with which he had loved woman. He was not capable of it; his whole
life rose up to deny him this impassioned consolation, and his
"spirit was troubled," as the wise and steadfast eyes of Petrarch had

It was in the midst of this disease, to escape from which, as we
may think, he had so eagerly thrown himself into the translation
of Homer with Pilatus, that a certain Gioacchino Ciani sought him
out to warn him, as he intended to warn Petrarch, of the nearness
of death. In doing this the monk, for he was a Carthusian, was but
obeying the dying commands of the Beato Pietro Petroni,[465] a
Sienese who had seen on his death-bed "the present, the past, and the
future." Already drawn towards a new life--a life which under the
direction of the Church he was told would be without the consolations
of literature--at the sudden intervention, as it seemed, of Heaven,
Boccaccio did the wisest thing of his whole life--he asked for the
advice of Petrarch.

The letter which Petrarch wrote him takes its rank among the noblest
of his writings, and is indeed one of the most beautiful letters ever

"Your letter," he says--"Your letter, my brother, has filled me with
an extraordinary trouble. In reading it I became the prey of a great
astonishment, and also of a great chagrin: after reading it both the
one and the other have disappeared. How could I read without weeping
the story of your tears and of your approaching death, being totally
ignorant of the facts and only paying attention to the words? But at
last when I had turned and fixed my thoughts on the thing itself,
the state of my soul changed altogether, and both astonishment and
chagrin fled away....

"You tell me that this holy man had a vision of our Lord, and so
was able to discern all truth--a great sight for mortal eyes to
see. Great indeed, I agree with you, if genuine; but how often have
we not known this tale of a vision made a cloak for an imposture?
And having visited you, this messenger proposed, I understand, to
go to Naples, thence to Gaul and Britain, and so to me. Well, when
he comes I will examine him closely; his looks, his demeanour, his
behaviour under questioning, and so forth, shall help me to judge of
his truthfulness. And the holy man on his death-bed saw us two and
a few others to whom he had a secret message, which he charged this
visitor of yours to give us; so, if I understand you rightly, runs
the story. Well, the message to you is twofold: you have not long
to live, and you must give up poetry. Hence your trouble, which I
made my own while reading your letter, but which I put away from me
on thinking it over, as you will do also; for if you will only give
heed to me, or rather to your own natural good sense, you will see
that you have been distressing yourself about a thing that should
have pleased you. Now if this message is really from the Lord, it
must be pure truth. But is it from the Lord? Or has its real author
used the Lord's name to give weight to his own saying? I grant you
the frequency of death-bed prophecies; the histories of Greece and
Rome are full of instances; but even though we allow that these old
stories and your monitor's present tale are all true, still what is
there to distress you so terribly? What is there new in all this?
You knew without his telling you that you could not have a very long
space of life before you. And is not our life here labour and sorrow,
and is it not its chief merit that it is the road to a better?...
Ah! but you have come to old age, says your monitor. Death cannot
be far off. Look to your soul. Well, I grant you that scholarship
may be an unreasonable and even bitter pursuit for the old, if they
take it up then for the first time; but if you and your scholarship
have grown old together, 'tis the pleasantest of comforts. Forsake
the Muses, says he: many things that may grace a lad are a disgrace
to an old man; wit and the senses fail you. Nay, I answer, when he
bids you pluck sin from your heart, he speaks well and prudently.
But why forsake learning, in which you are no novice but an expert,
able to discern what to choose and what to refuse?... All history is
full of examples of good men who have loved learning, and though many
unlettered men have attained to holiness, no man was ever debarred
from holiness by letters.... But if in spite of all this you persist
in your intention, and if you must needs throw away not only your
learning, but the poor instruments of it, then I thank you for giving
me the refusal of your books. I will buy your library, if it must
be sold, for I would not that the books of so great a man should be
dispersed abroad and hawked about by unworthy hands. I will buy it
and unite it with my own; then some day this mood of yours will pass,
some day you will come back to your old devotion. Then you shall make
your home with me, you will find your books side by side with mine,
which are equally yours. Thenceforth we shall share a common life
and a common library, and when the survivor of us is dead, the books
shall go to some place where they will be kept together and dutifully
tended, in perpetual memory of us who owned them."[466]

That noble letter, so sane in its piety, in some sort cured
Boccaccio. We hear no more of the fanatic monk, and the books were
never bought, for they were never sold. Petrarch, however, did not
forget his friend. He caused the office of Apostolic Secretary to be
offered him, and that Boccaccio had the strength and independence to
refuse the sinecure assures us of his restored sanity.

But we may well ask ourselves what had brought Boccaccio to such a
pass that he was at the mercy of such infernal humbugs and liars as
the Blessed Pietro and his rascal friend. That he was in a wretched
state of mind and soul we know, and the causes we know too in part,
but they by no means account for the fact that the first enemy of
monks and friars and all their blackguardism should have fallen
so easily into their hands. Was Boccaccio superstitious? That he
was less superstitious, less credulous, than the men of his time
generally is certain; that he was content to believe what Petrarch
attacked and laughed at we shall presently see; but that he can be
properly accused of superstition remains doubtful. Certainly he
believed in dreams;[467] he believed in astrology;[468] he believed
that a strabism or squint was an indication of an evil soul;[469]
he believed in visible devils;[470] he believed that Æneas truly
descended into Hades and that Virgil was a magician.[471] He may well
have believed all such things and have been no worse off than many a
Prince of the Church to-day; at any rate, such beliefs, unreasonable
as they may appear to us, cannot have led him to the incredible folly
of believing in the Blessed Pietro and his messenger.

It might seem inexplicable that he who had exposed the lies and
tricks of the monks so often should have been himself so easily
deceived. Had he not exposed them? There was Fra Cipolla--true he
was a friar--part of whose stock-in-trade was a tale of relics--"the
finger of the Holy Ghost as whole and entire as ever it was, the tuft
of the seraph that appeared to S. Francis and one of the nails of
the cherubim, one of the ribs of the Verbum caro fatti alle finestre
(factum est) and some of the vestment of the Holy Catholic Faith,
some of the rays of the star that appeared to the Magi, a phial of
the sweat of S. Michael abattling with the Devil, the jaws of death
of S. Lazarus, and other relics."[472]

It might seem inexplicable! Unfortunately, however, Boccaccio also
believed that those about to die can participate in the spirit of
prophecy.[473] Thus he was for the moment, at any rate, altogether
at the mercy of the Blessed Pietro. The splendid common-sense, the
caustic wit of Petrarch helped him, it is true, to recover himself,
but that bitter and humiliating experience left a permanent mark upon
him. He was a changed man. With an immense regret he looked back on
his life, and would have destroyed if he could the gay works of his
youth, even the _Decameron_, and, for a time at least, he would have
been content to sacrifice everything, not only his poetry in the
vulgar and his romances and stories, but the new learning itself, the
study of antiquity, and to enter into some monastery.

That he did not do so we owe in part at least to Petrarch. For when
he had read his letter and come to himself, he returned to Pilatus
and the translation of Homer.[474]

That translation was scarcely finished when Pilatus wished to be
gone, and he seems in fact to have accompanied Boccaccio to Venice
on his visit to Petrarch probably in May, 1363.[475] That visit was
a kind of flight; he seems to have taken refuge with Petrarch from
the fears of his own heart, and that it was as full of pleasure and
enjoyment for Petrarch, as of consolation for Boccaccio, happily we
know and can assert. "I have always thought," Petrarch writes to him
after his return to Tuscany,[476] "I have always thought that your
presence would give me pleasure, I knew it would, and I felt that it
would please you too. What I did not know, however, was that it would
bring good fortune. For during the very few months, gone so quickly,
that you have cared to dwell with me in this house that I call mine,
and which is yours, it seems to me, in truth, that I have contracted
a truce with fortune who, while you were here, dared not spoil my

We know nothing more of that visit save that Boccaccio must have
returned to Tuscany before the writing of that letter, before the
7th of September then. As for Pilatus, he too left Venice "at the
end of the summer"[477] to return to Constantinople, "cursing Italy
and the Latin name," as Petrarch says. "One would have thought him
scarcely arrived there," Petrarch continues, "when I received a badly
written and very long letter, more untidy than his beard or his hair,
in which among other things he said he loved and longed for Italy as
for some heavenly country, that he hated Greece which he had loved
and execrated Byzantium which he had praised, and he supplicated me
to send for him back as eagerly as Peter, about to be shipwrecked,
prayed Christ to still the waves."

To make a long story short, Petrarch ignored his petition. This,
however, did not stop Pilatus. He embarked for Italy, but a storm
wrecked the ship in which he sailed in the Adriatic, and though he
was not drowned he was struck and killed by lightning. Petrarch
wonders if amid his "wretched baggage, which, thanks to the honesty
of the sailors, is in safety, I shall find the Euripides, Sophocles,
and other manuscripts which he had promised to procure for me."[478]
The two friends mourned him sincerely, forgetting their disgust in
remembering that Pilatus had known Greek, and finding touching
words to deplore the tragic death of the first translator of Homer.


_(By the courtesy of Messrs. J. & J. Leighton.)_]

As for the translation he had made, Petrarch did not see it for some
years. The first time he asks for it is in a letter of March 1,
1364.[479] There he asks for a fragment of the _Odyssey_, "partem
illam Odysseæ qua Ulyxes it ad inferos et locorum quæ in vestibulo
Erebi sunt descriptionem ab Homero factam ... quam primum potes ...
utcumque tuis digitis exaratam." Later he asks for the whole: "In
futurum autem, si me amas, vide obsecro an tuo studio, mea impensa
fieri possit ut Homerus integer bibliothecam hanc ubi pridem graecus
habitat, tandem latinos accedat." These words are very clear.
Petrarch says he will pay the copyist himself. So that, as Hortis
asserts, the first version of Homer was made at the suggestion of
Petrarch by Pilatus at the expense of Boccaccio.

In the letter of December 14, 1365,[480] Petrarch thanks Boccaccio
for sending him the _Iliad_ and a part of the _Odyssey_; but that
part did not contain the details he wanted concerning the descent
of Ulysses into Hades and his voyage along the Italian shores. Even
this incomplete copy, though sent off in 1365 by Boccaccio, was
a long time in reaching him. On January 27, 1366, he had not yet
received it.[481] But at last it arrived, and Petrarch wrote to thank
Boccaccio for it.[482] This letter, however, is not dated, and its
contents do not help us to decide exactly when it was written. At any
rate, it was after January, 1366, that Petrarch received the precious
work. He promised to return this MS. to Boccaccio when he had had
it copied; but he seems to have found it difficult to get a capable
person to do this; and when he had found him we see him travelling
about with him, that the work might be done under his constant

It is this MS., which M. de Nohlac discusses and describes, that
is now in Paris (Bib. Nat., 7880, 1). In it we are able to judge
of the extent of Pilatus's knowledge. That he knew Greek seems
incontrovertible, but that he knew the Homeric idiom very imperfectly
is not less certain; he seems too to have had a poor knowledge
of Latin. His translation is full of obscurity, platitude, and
mistranslations--in fact, crammed with all the errors of a schoolboy:
when he does not know a word, and has to confess it, he writes the
Greek word in Latin characters; what we see in fact is not a faithful
but a blind translation. And it was for this that Petrarch had waited
so patiently! "Penelope," he says, "had not more ardently longed for
Ulysses."[484] He studied it with passion, often deceived, no doubt,
but never discouraged. The notes with which he covered page after
page show us the growing feebleness of his hand, but never of his
spirit. He died while he was annotating the _Odyssey_.

Boccaccio, on the other hand, with a charming and naive sincerity,
owns that he did not understand much, but adds that the little he did
understand seemed to him beautiful. He was very proud of his victory,
and rightly; for by its means the Renaissance was able to give Homer
his rightful place in its culture.


[447] PETRARCH, _Fam._, XVIII, 3 and 4.

[448] But see LO PARCO, _Petrarca e Barlaam da nuove ricerche e
documenti inediti e rari_ (Reggio, Calabria, 1905).

[449] See DE NOHLAC, _Les Scholies inédites de Pétrarque sur Homère_
in _Revue de Philologie, de Littérature et d'Histoire anciennes_,
Vol. XI (Paris, 1887), p. 97 _et seq._; and IDEM, _Pétrarque e
Barlaam_ in _Revue des Études grecques_ (Paris, 1892).

[450] PETRARCH, _Fam._, XVIII (Fracassetti, 2nd ed., Vol. II, p. 474).

[451] He says of it: "Libellus, ille vulgo qui tuus fertur, et si
cuius sit non constet, tibi excerptus tibique inscriptus tuus utique
non est."--_Fam._, XXIV, 12 (Fracassetti, Vol. III, p. 293). Cf. also
_Fam._, X (Fracassetti, Vol. II, p. 89), and the critical edition of
F. PLESSIS, _Italici Ilias Latina_ (Paris 1885).

[452] _Fam._, XVIII, 2.

[453] See the letter to Boccaccio, to be quoted later. _Var._, XXV.

[454] Cf. PETRARCH, _Fam._, XX, 6, 7 (To Francesco Nelli, III, Id.
Ap.). This visit of Boccaccio's to Petrarch has been long known to
have taken place in the spring of 1359; but the date is fixed for
us by a MS. in Petrarch's hand found by De Nohlac in his Apuleius
(Vatican MS. 2193, fol. 156). Cf. DE NOHLAC, _Pétrarque et son
jardin_ in _Giornale Storico della Letteratura Italiana_, Vol. XI
(1887), p. 404 _et seq._ I give below that part of the MS. which
refers to 1359:--

"Anno 1359, sabato, hora quasi nona martie die xvj^o retentare
huiusce rei fortunam libuit. Itaque et lauros Cumo [? Como]
transmissas per Tadeum nostrum profundis itidem scrobibus seuimus
in orto Sancte Valerie Mediolani, luna decrescente; et fuerunt due
tenere, tres duriores. Aliquot post dies nubila fuerunt et pars anni
melior quam in superioribus (imo et pluviosi mirum in modum crebris
et immensis imbribus quotidie, ut sepe de orto quasi lacus fieret;
denique usque ad kalendas apriles non appariut sol). Inter cetera
multum prodesse deberet et profectum sacrarum arbuscularum, quod
insignis vir. d. Io. Boccaccii de Certaldo, ipsis amicissimus et
mihi, casu in has horas tunc aduectus satimi intrefuit. Videbimus
eventum. Omnibus radices fuerunt, quibusdam quoque telluris patrie
aliquantulum, et præterea diligentissime obuolute non radices modo
sed truncos aduecte sunt, et recentes valde. Denique præter soli
naturam, nihil videtur adversum, attenta qualitate æris et quod non
diu ante montes nivium adamantinaque glacies omnia tegebant vixque
dum penitus abiere.

"Jam nunc circa medium aprilem due majores crescent; alie vero non
letos successus spondent. Credo firmiter terram hanc hinc arbori

Cf. also COCHIN, _Un Amico del Petrarca. Le Lettere di Nelli al
Petrarcha_ (Bib. Petrarchesca), Firenze, 1901.

[455] In planting the laurel Petrarch expressed the hope that the
presence of Boccaccio might prove "fortunate" to "these little sacred
laurels." Boccaccio had protested to Petrarch that he was not worthy
of the name of poet. Petrarch insisted that he was. "It is a strange
thing," he says, "that you should have aimed at being a poet only to
shrink from the name." This affair of the laurel may refer to that
incident. "The laurel," says Boccaccio in the _Vita di Dante_, "which
is never struck by lightning, crowns poets...."

[456] He was back in Florence certainly by May. Cf. HORTIS, _Studi_,
etc., p. 22 note. Petrarch in his letter to Nelli says that
Boccaccio's visit was brief.

[457] PETRARCH, _Epist. Sen._, III, 6, and V, 3.

[458] BOCCACCIO, _De Geneal. Deor._, XV, 6.

[459] _Epist. Sen._, III, 6, and V, 3.

[460] Cf. HAUVETTE, _Le Professeur de Grec de Pétrarque et de
Boccace_ (Chartres, 1891).

[461] Cf. DE NOHLAC, _Les scholies_, _u.s._, p. 101. He began to
lecture in the end of 1359.

[462] PETRARCH, _Var._, XXV. In this year Pino de' Rossi was
exiled for conspiracy against the Guelfs. Boccaccio had dedicated
the _Ameto_ to him, and now wrote to console him. In that letter
(CORAZZINI, _op. cit._, p. 67) Boccaccio says he has gone to Certaldo
to avoid contact with these vile people (p. 96).

[463] PETRARCH, _Varie_, XXV.

[464] Because Boccaccio's love for Fiammetta was not a passion wholly
or almost wholly spiritual, as we may suppose Dante's to have been
for Beatrice, we are eager to deny it any permanence or strength.
Why? Perhaps a passion almost wholly sensual if really profound is
more persistent than any desire in which the mind alone is involved.

[465] Our source of information is Petrarch's letter, quoted below
in the text (_Ep. Sen._, I, 5). The affair is recounted in the
life of Beato Pietro Petroni, who died May 29, 1361, by Giovanni
Columbini. This life has been conserved and enriched with notes by
the Carthusian of Siena, Bartholommeo, in 1619. It is printed in the
_Acta Sanctorum_, May 29 (Tom. VII, Antwerp, 1668, p. 186 _et seq._).
Boccaccio's story is told at p. 228. There seems to be nothing there
not gleaned from Petrarch's letter. Cf. also TRAVERSARI, _Il Beato
Pietro Petroni e la conversione del B._ (Teani, 1905), and GRAF, _Fu
superstizioso il B.?_ in _Miti, Leggende e Superstiz. del Medioevo_
(Torino, 1893), Vol. II, p. 167 _et seq._

[466] I quote to some extent the excellent redaction of Mr.
Hollway-Calthrop, _Petrarch and his Times_ (Methuen, 1907), p. 237
_et seq._

[467] _De Geneal. Deorum_, I, 31, _De Casibus_, II, 7.

[468] _De Geneal. Deorum_, I, 10; III, 22; IX, 4. _Comento sopra
Dante_ (Milanesi, Firenze, 1863), Vol. I, p. 480 _et seq._

[469] _Comento sopra Dante_, _ed. cit._, II, p. 56; i.e. he believed
in the evil eye; so did Pio Nono's cardinals.

[470] _Ibid., u.s._, II, p. 156.

[471] _Ibid., u.s._, I, p. 216.

[472] _Decameron_, VI, 10. I deal with Boccaccio's treatment of monks
and friars and the clergy generally in my chapter on the _Decameron_
(_see infra_).

[473] _Comento_, _ed. cit._, Vol. II, p. 19.

[474] Baldelli tells us that Pilatus left Boccaccio in 1362, but
this is not so, for they went together to see Petrarch in Venice
in 1363 (see _infra_). Baldelli's assertion is probably founded on
the obscure and doubtful letter of Boccaccio to Francesco Nelli
(CORAZZINI, p. 131), from which we learn that Boccaccio went to
Naples on the invitation of Acciaiuoli, as we suppose, in 1362.
This letter, which is very long, is dated, according to Corazzini,
August 28, 1363. Now before September 7, 1363, Nelli was dead of the
plague in Naples, as appears from Petrarch's letter (_Sen._, III, i.,
September 7, 1363). HORTIS (_Studi_, p. 20, n. 3) is of opinion that
this letter is apocryphal. TODESCHINI (_Opinione sulla epistola del
priore di S. Apostolo [sic] attribuita al Boccaccio_, Venice, 1832)
convinced Hortis of this. Todeschini does not believe in this visit
to Naples, and in fact the only notice we have of it is contained
in the letter he discards. His arguments are as follows. Until May,
1362, Boccaccio dwelt certainly in Tuscany, where in 1361, or more
probably in 1362, Ciani visited him, and whence he wrote Petrarch the
letter we have lost to which Petrarch replied in the noble letter I
have cited above (_Sen._, I, 5) on May 28, 1362. (Cf. FRACASSETTI'S
note to this letter.) It is not possible that Boccaccio can have
been in Naples between the autumn of 1361 and May, 1362, because
he himself tells us that for three years he was with Pilatus, who
enjoyed his hospitality and from whom he learned to understand Homer.
Now it is certain that he did not know Pilatus before 1360, and was
with him till 1363, when, as we shall see, they visited Petrarch
together in Venice. (Cf. FRACASSETTI his note to _Fam._, XVIII, 2.)

[475] This visit must have been between March 13 and September 7,
1363, on both of which dates Petrarch wrote to him. The letter
of September 7 seems to have been written immediately after his
departure (_Senili_, II, 1, and III, 1). Cf. also DE NOHLAC, _op.
cit._, p. 102. Cf. also Boccaccio's letter to Pietro di Monteforte,
which HORTIS, _op. cit._, thinks refers to this visit. CORAZZINI,
_op. cit._, p. 337.

[476] _Senili_, III, 1.

[477] _Ibid._, III, 6 (March, 1365).

[478] _Ibid._, VI, 1.

[479] _Senili_, VII, 5. Fracassetti gives this letter the wrong date
of 1365 in his translation, but in a note to _Fam._, XVII, 2 (q.v.
for the visit of Boccaccio), he adopts the right year.

[480] _Senili_, VII.

[481] _Ibid._, VI, 1.

[482] _Ibid._, VI, 2.

[483] DE NOHLAC, _op. cit._, p. 102.

[484] _Epist. Fam._, XXIV, 12.




Boccaccio returned from Venice to Tuscany some time before September,
1363, not long before, as we may think, for the letter Petrarch wrote
him on September 7[485] seems to have followed close on his heels. It
appears that as he was on the eve of leaving Petrarch, for the last
time as it proved, he had learned that the plague which was raging in
Central and Southern Italy had carried off Lello di Pietro Stefano
and Francesco Nelli, their common friends, Lelius and Simonides,
as Petrarch calls them. Disliking to be the bearer of ill-tidings,
Boccaccio had departed from Venice, leaving Petrarch to learn of this
disaster from others, and a good part of the letter Petrarch wrote
him, immediately after he was gone, it seems, is devoted to deploring
the death of their friends.

"An hour after your departure," he writes, "the priest whom I had
charged to carry a letter to my friend Lelius returned bringing me
my letter unopened. It was not necessary for him to speak; his face
told me the news.... But while with my hand I soothed this new wound,
and tried to catch my breath, a second blow fell upon me. He in whose
arms he expired told me of the death of our Simonides.... You are
almost the only companion in learning left to me.... This year 1363,
which is the sixteenth from the beginning of our miseries [from the
plague of 1348], has renewed the attack on many noble cities, among
others on Florence.... To this disaster is added the fury of a war
against the Pisans ... of which the issue is still uncertain."

Petrarch might well be uneasy. Though never a good patriot as
Boccaccio always was, he could not but be moved at the misfortunes of
Florence, which had only escaped the attentions of Pandolfo Malatesta
by placing herself almost at the mercy of Hawkwood and his White
Company of Englishmen, fighting in the Pisan service. That winter,
to the astonishment of all, a campaign was fought, for the English
laughed at the Italian winter, colder maybe, but so much drier than
their own, and by the spring Visconti had made peace with the Pope
and with the Marquis of Montferrat, so that they were able to send
Baumgarten's German company, 3000 strong, to the assistance of the
Pisans, who had now not less than 6000 mercenaries in their service.
Those were very anxious times in Florence, the whole _contado_ being
at the mercy of Hawkwood, and when, by the intervention of the Pope,
peace was signed in the autumn of 1364, she must have been thankful,
more especially as Pisa engaged to pay her 100,000 florins indemnity
within ten years.

The Pope, however, was far from satisfied with Florence. He found
her to have been lukewarm in the service of the Church when Romagna
and the Marche rebelled, which, if true, was not surprising, for
he had played fast and loose with her liberty, and now accused
her of neglecting his interests and of attempting to detach other
cities from his cause. These among other accusations; in return he
threatened no longer to grant her his goodwill.

The whole situation was serious. The temporal power of the Church
with the victories of Albornoz was again growing in Italy; it was
now certain that the Pope would one day return. It was necessary
to placate him. And again in this delicate mission the Florentines
employed Boccaccio.

It cannot have been with very great enthusiasm that Boccaccio learned
he was once more to cross the Alps on a mission as difficult as
any he had handled. He had returned from Venice in 1363 quieted,
altogether reconciled, for a time at any rate, with himself,
determined not to abandon his work. Ever since 1359, certainly,
he had devoted himself to learning, to the study of Greek and the
Latin classics, of the great early Christian writers, and to the
accumulation of knowledge. For ten years now, ever since the failure
of his mission in 1354, he had not been asked to undertake diplomatic
business, and whether or no that neglect had been due to his failure
or to his intercourse with Pino de' Rossi, who in 1360 was implicated
in a conspiracy against the Guelfs, it cannot have been anything
but distressing, we may think, to one so patriotic, so interested
in politics too, as Boccaccio, to have been so long neglected, only
to be made use of again in his old age. But the true patriot is
always ready to serve his country, be she never so neglectful, and
so, in spite of the interference with his plans, and the hardness
and trials of the journey, it was not altogether, we may be sure,
without a sort of pride and gladness that he set out for Avignon in
August, 1365.[486] His business was to convince the Pope that the
Florentines were "the most faithful and most devout servants of Holy
Church." Besides the letters which he bore for Francesco Bruni and
others in Avignon, Boccaccio also carried one from the Republic to
the Doge of Genoa,[487] and he remained in that city for a season.
It is to his stay there that, as he tells us in the _argomento_,
his thirteenth Eclogue refers. In that poem he tells us that he and
the poet called Dafni had a discussion with a merchant Stilbone, of
which Criti was judge. Stilbone eagerly praises riches at the expense
of poetry, reminding Dafni how many are the perils that menace that
fragile glory which poets value so highly, such as fire and war,
which may easily destroy their works. Dafni, on the other hand,
celebrates the power of poetry, which recalls the minds of men from
the depths of Erebus. Criti praises both riches and poetry, but does
not decide between them.

While Boccaccio was in Genoa, it seems, Petrarch thought he should
have visited him in Pavia on his way to Avignon, but owing to
the need for haste, the fatigue of the way, and the difficulties
he feared to encounter at his age on the route, he was compelled
not to do so. Later, on December 14, Petrarch wrote him of his

"You have done well to visit me at least by letter, since you did
not care, or you were unable, to visit me in person. Having heard
that you were crossing the Alps to see the Babylon of the West, far
worse than that of the East, because she is nearer to us, I was
uneasy about the result of your voyage until I heard that you had
returned. Knowing now for many years, by my frequent journeys, the
difficulties of the roads, and remembering the weightiness of your
body and the gravity of your spirit, friends of a studious leisure,
and by consequence enemies of such cares and of such business, not
a day, not a night has passed tranquilly for me. I thank God that
you have remained safe and sound.... Assuredly, if you had not been
very pressed, it would not have been difficult, since you were in
Genoa, to come on here. It is only two days' journey. You would have
seen me ... and you would have seen what you have not seen it seems
to me--the town of Pavia (Ticinum) on the banks of the Ticino....
But since circumstances have willed that I should be deprived of
your greeting, as you say, because of the fatigue of the journey and
your mistrust of your strength, and because of the shortness of the
time at your disposal and the order of the fatherland which awaits
your return, I could have desired at least that you should have met
my friend Guido [Guido Settimo], Archbishop of Genoa. In seeing him
you would have seen me, for since infancy I have lived with him in
perfect conformity of will and sentiment. And, believe me, you would
have seen a man who, though weak in body, has a spirit of great
energy; you would have said you had never seen any one more full of

Petrarch was evidently hurt that Boccaccio had not been able to go to
Pavia. It was necessary, however, for him to reach Avignon with all
speed. And there, indeed, he was welcomed by Petrarch's friends. For
that letter, so full of regrets, continues:--

"But to end my complaints with a congratulation, I am glad that in
Babylon itself you have seen those friends that death has left me,
and, above all, him who, as you say, is a veritable father: my dear
Filippo, Patriarch of Jerusalem. To paint him in a few words, he is
a man as great as his title, and indeed he is worthy of the Papacy
if one day that should add itself to his merits. You write me that
without having known you till then, he held you in a long embrace
and pressed you closely and affectionately, even as I myself would
have done, in the utmost friendship, in the presence of the sovereign
pontiff and his astonished cardinals...."

Boccaccio seems to have remained in Avignon till November. His
mission did not meet with much success: the Pope was hard to persuade
and to convince. For all this trouble and fatigue Boccaccio received
from the Republic ninety florins of gold, at the rate of four
florins a day. This certainly could by no means have met all his
expenses. Poor as he was, he had to pay for the honour of serving his

That was probably the most important, though, as we shall see, not
the last of Boccaccio's missions. It was the eve of the Pope's return
to Rome, and once more Italy seemed to be in sight of a kind of peace.

The year 1366 was probably spent by Boccaccio at Certaldo in
meditation and work; but in 1367, troubled again in spirit, as it
seems, and very poor, he suddenly decided to set out for Venice to
see Petrarch.

He left Certaldo on March 24,[490] but coming to Florence, "the
continual rains, the dissuasions of friends, and the fear of the
dangers of the way," added to the tales of those who had made the
journey from Bologna, caused him to hesitate. Then he learned that
Petrarch had left Venice for Pavia, and was once more a guest of the
Visconti, so that he was on the point of giving up his journey. But
the desire to see again some of those friends he had met before in
Venice, and, above all, the thought of seeing Petrarch's daughter
and her husband, "Thy Tullia and her Francesco," whom he had not met
before, decided him to continue a journey he accomplished not without
much weariness.

On the way, as it happened, he met Petrarch's son-in-law
Franceschino da Brossano di Amicolo, whose character, voice, and
beauty he praises so highly. "After festive and friendly greetings,
after learning from him that you were safe and sound, and much other
good news concerning you, I began to consider him, his form and
beauty (cœpi aliquandiu mecum meditari pregrandem hominis formam),
his quiet and pleasing face, his calm words ... how I praised your
choice. Finally he left me, for he had business to do. And I in the
earliest dawn went aboard my little boat (naviculam) and immediately
set out for the Venetian shore, where I landed and would have
sent at once to announce myself, but some of our brother citizens
were already about me and offering me hospitality.... In spite,
however, of Donato's pressing invitation, I went off with Francesco
Allegri.... I tell you all this in all these words to excuse myself
for not having accepted the offer you made me so warmly by letter;
but if my friends had not been there to meet me I should have gone
to an inn rather than have dwelt in the house of Tullia while her
husband was absent. However, although you know in this and in many
other things the integrity of my heart towards you, all others would
not know it, and some would have jeered in spite of my white hair
(canum caput) and my age and my fatness and feebleness, which should
surely shut their mouths. This kind of thing is easily and willingly
believed by evil-minded scandal-mongers, who prefer a lie to the

"After reposing myself a little I went to salute Tullia, who had
already heard of my arrival.... She met me joyfully, blushing a
little, and looking on the ground, with modesty and filial affection,
and she saluted and embraced me....

"Presently we were talking in your charming little garden with some
friends, and she offered me with matronly serenity your house, your
books, and all your things there. Suddenly little footsteps--and
there came towards us thy Eletta, my delight, who, without knowing
who I was, looked at me smiling. I was not only delighted, I greedily
took her in my arms, imagining that I held my little one (virgunculam
olim meam) that is lost to me. What shall I say? If you do not
believe me, you will believe Guglielmo da Ravenna, the physician,
and our Donato, who knew her. Your little one has the same aspect
that she had who was my Eletta, the same expression, the same light
in the eyes, the same laughter there, the same gestures, the same
way of walking, the same way of carrying all her little person; only
my Eletta was, it is true, a little taller when at the age of five
and a half I saw her for the last time.[491] Besides, she talks in
the same way, uses the same words, and has the same simplicity.
Indeed, indeed, there is no difference save that thy little one is
golden-haired, while mine had chestnut tresses (aurea cesaries tuæ
est, meæ inter nigram rufamque fuit). Ah me! how many times when I
have held thine in my arms listening to her prattle the memory of my
baby stolen away from me has brought tears to my eyes--which I let no
one see."


_(By the courtesy of Messrs. J. & J. Leighton.)_]

That love of children so characteristic in an Italian, and yet so
surprising in Boccaccio to those who without understanding the
real simplicity of his nature have been content to think of him as
a mere teller of doubtful stories, is one of the most natural and
beautiful traits in his character. The little Eletta, "my delight,"
appears like a ray of sunshine in a lonely and even gloomy old age,
which we may think perhaps, had Violante lived, might have been
less bitter, less hard to bear than it proved to be. Nor is this by
any means the only glimpse he gives us of his interest in children.
Apart from the neglected portraits of the _Decameron_, we find him
referring to them, their health and upbringing, in the _Commentary
on the Divine Comedy_, when he speaks of the danger they are in from
careless or neglectful nurses, who put them to rest or sleep in the
light and thus hurt their eyes and induce them to squint; and yet he
can believe, though probably with less than the common conviction,
that a squint is the sign of an evil nature dangerous alike to the
afflicted person and to those whom he may encounter.

The letter to Petrarch, however, does not end with Eletta. Boccaccio
proceeds to speak of Tullia and her husband Francesco, who presently
returned to Venice, and finding him there would have made him his
guest, and when he refused insisted on his daily presence at his
table. Nor was this all, for Boccaccio tells us that on the eve of
his departure, Francesco, knowing him to be very short of money,
managed to get him into a quiet corner, and putting his strong hand
on the feeble arm of his guest, would not let him depart till he had
given him succour, rushing away before he could thank him. "Knowing
me to be poor," Boccaccio writes, "on my departure from Venice, the
hour being already late, he led me into a corner (in secessu domus me
traxit) and in a few words, his great hands on my feeble arm (manibus
illis giganteis suis in brachiolum meum injectis), forced me in spite
of my embarrassment to accept his great liberality and then escaped,
saying good-bye as he went, leaving me to blame myself. May God
render it him again!"

It is perhaps in that letter we see Boccaccio better than in any
other of his writings; the greatest man then in Italy playing with a
little child, obliged in his poverty to accept assistance from one
who was almost a stranger. It was on the 30th June that Boccaccio
wrote that letter to Petrarch from Florence, so that he would seem to
have arrived home about midsummer.

In the following year we catch sight of him again in the service of
the Republic, first, as one of the Camarlinghi,[492] later, on an
embassy to the Pope, who had set out for Italy in April, and had
entered Rome in October, 1367.[493]

In 1365 Urban had been besieged in Avignon by Duguesclin on his way
to Spain, and had had to pay an enormous ransom as well as to absolve
his enemy and his followers from all censures. This mishap, coupled
with the invitation of the Romans, the passionate exhortations of
Peter of Aragon, the eloquent appeal of Petrarch, and the urgent
call of Albornoz, seems to have induced the Pope to undertake this
adventure, which he had always looked forward to. He sailed, in spite
of the opposition of the King of France, for Corneto, and at last
came safely to Viterbo, which he entered in state on June 9, 1367,
"with such grace and exultation that it seemed the very stones would
cry, 'Blessed is he who cometh in the name of the Lord.'"[494] In
Viterbo the Pope began to arrange a league against the Visconti, but
he was already having trouble with Siena, and on August 20 the great
Albornoz died. In September, too, a French tumult broke out in the
city, and though Florence, Siena, and even Rome sent aid, Urban was
besieged for three days, and was doubtless very glad to set out under
the escort of the Marquis of Ferrara on October 14 for Rome. Two
days later he entered the City in triumph riding on a white mule; he
was received with "universal joy and acclamation."

In the spring of 1368 the Emperor, in accordance with his long
unfulfilled promise to the league, came into Italy with an army to
bridle the Visconti. The Papal forces and those of Giovanna of Naples
joined his, but achieved nothing. Then the Emperor came into Tuscany.
The rising of the Salimbeni followed in Siena, and the Emperor passed
through Siena on his way to Viterbo. On October 21 he entered Rome
leading the Pope's mule on foot.

It seems to have been at this moment that the Florentines thought
well to send an embassy to Urban and to choose Boccaccio once more
as their ambassador. All we know about the affair is, however, that
on December 1, 1368, Urban wrote to the Signoria of Florence that he
understood from their ambassador Giovanni Boccaccio that they desired
to assist him in reforming the affairs of Italy, and that Boccaccio,
whom he praises, bears his reply _viva voce_.[495]

The truth of the matter was that all Italy was uneasy. The advent of
the Emperor had ruined the peace of Tuscany, Lombardy was ablaze with
war, the Papacy was divided against itself. The French party--five
French cardinals had altogether refused to leave Avignon--now ceased
urging the Pope to return. Helpless and disillusioned, Urban was at
the mercy of the circumstances in which he found himself, and a year
later he in fact abandoned Italy again, setting out for Avignon in
September, and dying there in December, 1369.

It has been said that in 1368 Boccaccio went to Padua to see
Petrarch.[496] But this seems extremely unlikely, for quite apart
from the fact that his growing infirmities made such a journey
difficult, as we have seen in the previous year the circumstances
of the time made such a journey almost impossible. Even Petrarch, a
born traveller, a man who delighted in journeying, found it extremely
difficult to make his way from Milan in July of that year, where he
had been present at the marriage of Lionel, Duke of Clarence, to
Violante, Duke Galeazzo Visconti's daughter, to Padua. "He chartered
a boat," we read, "coaxed a half-frightened company of boatmen to
work her, with no weapons to defend himself, and sailed down the Po.
The adventure had an astonishing success. Through the river-fleets
and between the manned squadrons of both armies sailed this invalid
old man of a perfect courage, and the officers of both hosts vied
with one another in doing him honour. His voyage was a triumphal
progress...." But Boccaccio was not the world-famed Petrarch.

What does seem certain is that in 1370 he went to Naples, where
he remained till 1371. This journey southward seems to have been
undertaken at the invitation of a certain Abbate Niccolò di
Montefalcone, who, probably during a sojourn in Tuscany, having
borrowed his Tacitus of Boccaccio, invited the poet to visit him in
his convent, the Certosa di S. Stefano, in Calabria.[497] He set
out from Certaldo much charmed by the affection which the Abbate had
professed for him, and delighted at the prospect of visiting his
convent, with its shady woods and tranquil country-side watered by
limpid streams; a place rich in books and in peace. But he had not
reached his destination before he learned that the Abbate had left
Calabria, as he suspected on purpose to avoid him. He was compelled
to turn aside in the winter rains and to take refuge in Naples.
There, justly angry at the treatment he, a poor and old man, famous
too, and the friend of Petrarch, had received at the hands of a
rascal, he wrote the wretched monk a letter which, that posterity
may add its indignation to his, has happily come down to us. In that
letter, so full of just resentment, Boccaccio accuses this blackguard
of being a liar and a hypocrite. It is in fact impossible to excuse
this unworthy but too common son of the Church from the accusations
of Boccaccio. He must have known that the poet was old and infirm and
very poor, yet apparently to amuse himself he put him to the great
expense of energy and money which such a journey entailed.[498] In
Florence it was said Boccaccio had gone to make him a monk.

That letter to the Abbate bears the date of xiii. Kal. Feb. and was
written in Naples. The year is indicated by the fact that Boccaccio
speaks there of the death of Urban V and the election of his
successor, Gregory XI.[499] It seems certain then that in January,
1371, Boccaccio was in Naples.[500] There he was befriended by Conte
Ugo di S. Severino, who as soon as he heard of his arrival and his
poverty came to salute him and to offer to maintain him during his
stay, and on his departure presented him with gifts "more worthy of
the giver than the receiver."

While he was in Naples he also met a friar minor, by name Ubertino di
Corigliano, who had been sent by Frederic of Sicily to conclude peace
with Queen Giovanna. He was a professor of theology, a learned man
and good talker. Boccaccio spoke with him of the revival of learning.
"God," he says, "has been moved to compassion for the Italian
name.... For in our days great men have descended from heaven, unless
I am mistaken, gifted with great souls, who have brought back poetry
from exile to her ancient throne."[501] Who were these men but
Dante, "worthy to be named before all," and his master Petrarch. He
does not add himself, as he well might.[502]

He seems to have left Naples in the autumn of 1371 and to have
returned to Certaldo, where we find him in 1372, for he writes thence
to Piero di Monteforte a letter dated "Nonis Aprilis."[503] From
that quiet retreat, save to go to Florence, where indeed he had yet
to hold the most honourable post of his whole life, he did not stir
again, during the few years that remained to him.


[485] _Sen._, III, 1.

[486] On August 9 and 16 the Republic had written letters to the
Maestri della Fraternità and to Francesco Bruni rebutting the
charges the Pope had made against her. These letters were to be
shown to the Pope. On August 20 the instructions of the Republic to
Giovanni Boccaccio were drawn up in a long memorandum. See _Arch.
Stor. Ital._, Ser. I, App., Vol. VII, p. 413 _et seq._ The Pope
replies more than a year later on September 8, 1366, thanking the
Republic for the letters with which Francesco Bruni had acquainted
him, especially for soliciting him to return to Italy. He says he is
determined to return for the good of the Church and of Italy, and
particularly of Florence, who has shown herself so devoted to the
Holy See. _Ibid._ See also CORAZZINI _op. cit._, p. 395, and HORTIS,
_G. B. Ambasciatore in Avignone_ (Trieste, 1875).

[487] HORTIS (_G. B. Ambasciatore_) has published this letter.

[488] _Senil._, V. 1. Boccaccio had received instructions to hurry
back to Italy. "Vos autem domine Johannes sollicitetis commissionem
vestrum et rescribentes vestrum etiam reditum festinetis."

[489] Cf. HORTIS, _G. B. Ambasciatore_.

[490] For the following particulars see Boccaccio's letter to
Petrarch. _Ut te viderem_, CORAZZINI, _op. cit._, p. 123.

[491] The Eclogue XIV tells us much that otherwise we should never
have known as to Boccaccio's children. It is there we hear of his
little daughter Violante, whom he there calls Olympia, and who died
"at an age when one goes straight to heaven." "Pro Olympia," he
says, in the letter already quoted, to Matteo da Signa, "intelligo
parvulam filiam meam olim mortuam, ea in ætate, in qua morientes
cœlestes effici cives credimus; et ideo ex Violante cum viveret,
mortuam _cœlestem_ idest _Olympiam_ voco." Boccaccio conceived this
Eclogue in a wood, and therefore he calls himself Silvio. The Eclogue
roughly is as follows: Boccaccio in a sleepless and restless night
full of unhappy regrets longs for the day. Suddenly a light illumines
all and he hears a singing. It is the voice of Violante (Olympia),
who salutes her father. "Fear not," she says, "I am thy daughter.
Why should you be afraid? Canst thou doubt? Dost thou think that
Violante would deceive her father? I come to thee to sweeten thy
sorrow." To her Boccaccio (Silvio) answers: "I recognise thee, love
does not deceive me nor my dreams; O my great delight, only hope of
thy father. What god has taken thee from me, O my little daughter?
They told me when I returned to Naples thou wert dead, and believing
this, how long, how long I wept for thee, how long, how long I
mourned thee, calling thee back to me. But what splendour surrounds
thee; who are thy companions? O marvel, that in such a little space
of time you should have grown so, for you seem, little daughter mine,
to be already marriageable." And Violante answers: "It was but my
earthly vesture that, dear, you buried in the lap of earth. These
vestments, this form, this resplendent body the Madonna herself has
given me. But look on my companions, have you never seen them?"
And Boccaccio: "I do not remember them, but neither Narcissus, nor
Daphnis, nor Alexis were more beautiful." And Violante: "And dost
thou not recognise thy Mario, thy Giulio, and my sweet sisters? They
are thy children." And Boccaccio: "Come, O children mine, whom I have
held in my arms, on my breast, and with glad kisses heal my heart.
Let us make a joyful _festa_, and intone a hymn of joy. Let the wood
be silent, and let Arno run noiselessly." Then follows a hymn sung by
Violante in honour of Jesus Christ (Codro) and of the Blessed Virgin:
the most beautiful of all Boccaccio's Latin songs. And Violante
departs promising, when her father will hardly let her go, that he
shall soon be with her for ever in heaven.

We see here that Boccaccio had two sons, Giulio and Mario, and at
least three daughters, Violante and her sisters.

[492] Cf. CRESCINI, _op. cit._, p. 259. I give the document he

"Camarlinghi--Marzo-Aprile 1367-68--Quaderno no. 183--Uscita di

"[30 Aprile]

  "Domino Iohanni Boccaccij
  Mariotto simonis orlandini Barne
  valorini et Bindo domini Iacobi
  de Bardis

civibus florentinis extractis secundum ordinamenta Comunis flor.
in conducterios et ad offitium conducte stipendiariorum Comunis
Flor. pro tempore et termino quatuor mensium inceptorum die primo
mensis novembris proximi preteriti, pro eorum et cuiuslibet eorum
salario quatuor mensium predictorum, initiatorum ut supra, ad
rationem libarum vigintiquatuor fl. parv. pro quolibet eorum, vigore
extractionis facte de eis, scripte per ser Petrum ser Grifi notarium,
scribam reformationum consilii et populi Comunis flor ... etc. etc.
(_solita formula_) in summum, inter omnes, ad rationem predictam ...
libras Nonaginta sex fl. parv."

[493] The embassy of 1365 was not the last Boccaccio was engaged in.
It is generally said that he went again to the Pope in November,
1367. MAZZUCCHELLI, _Gli Scrittori d' Italia_, p. 1326, n. 77,
quoted by HORTIS, _G. B. Ambasciatore_, p. 18, note 3, says: "Ai
detta imbasciata del Boccaccio ad Urbano V fatto nel 1367 si
conserva notizia nell' Archivio de Monte, Comune di Firenze, che con
gentilezza ci è stata communicata con Lettera del Signor Manni. Quivi
si vede come i detti due ambasciatori prima di partirsi prestarmo
agli 11 di Novembre di quello anno il giuramento di esercitare con
buona fede la detta imbasciata alla presenza di Paolo Accoramboni da
Gubbio esecutore in Firenze degli ordini di Giustizia." But Boccaccio
could not have gone to see the Pope in Avignon in November, 1367,
for the Pontiff set out for Italy on April 30, as we have seen. In
December, 1368, as we shall see, Pope Urban in Rome wrote to the
Signoria di Firenze in praise of Boccaccio. It seems certain, then,
that Boccaccio went on embassy to Rome in November, 1368.

[494] Cf. E. G. GARDNER, _S. Catherine of Siena_ (Dent, 1908), p. 63
_et seq._ I cannot refrain from recommending this excellent study of
the fourteenth century in Italy to all students of the period. It is
by far the best attempt yet made to understand the mystical religion
of the period in Italy summed up by S. Catherine of Siena.

[495] Cf. CANESTRINI, in _Archivio Stor. Ital._, Ser. I, App. VII, p.
430, under date Deci, 1368.

"Urbanus Episcopus, Servus Servorum Dei, Dilectis filiis Prioribus
Artium et Vexillifero Iustitie, ac Comuni Civitatis Florentie,
salutem et apostolicam benedictionem.

"Dilectum filium Iohannem Boccatii, ambassatorem vestrum,
contemplatione mittentium, ac suarum virtutum intuitu, benigne
recepimus; et exposita prudenter Nobis per eum pro parte vestra,
audivimus diligenter; ac sibi illa que, secundum Deum et pro nostro
et publico bono, ad quod presertim in Italie partibus, auctore
Domino, reformandum et augendum, plenis anhelamus affectibus,
convenire credidimus, duximus respondendum; prout ipse oretenus
vos poterit informare. Datum Rome, apud Sanctum Petrum, Kalendis
decembris, Pontificatus nostri anno sexto."

[496] See ZARDO, _Il Petrarca e i Carraresi_ (Milano, 1867), cap.
ii. p. 41 _et seq._ To this year Signor Zardo would refer the letter
of Boccaccio to Petrarch _Ut te viderem_, in which he describes his
visit to Venice, where he saw Tullia and Francesco. If Boccaccio was
in Padua in 1368, we have no evidence for it.

[497] Cf. the letter to Niccolò di Montefalcone in CORAZZINI, _op.
cit._, p. 257 _et seq._

[498] Boccaccio does not forget to ask him for the return of his
Tacitus, and thus shows us that he possessed the works of this
historian, which he not seldom quotes in the _De Genealogiis Deorum_.
Cf. HORTIS, _Studi_, pp. 424-6, and PAGET TOYNBEE, _Boccaccio's
Commentary on the Divine Comedy_ in _Modern Language Review_
(Cambridge, 1907), Vol. II, No. 2, p. 119. Boccaccio was certainly
acquainted with the twelfth to the sixteenth books of the _Annals_
and the second and third books of the _Histories_. How did he come
into possession of this treasure? HORTIS (_loc. cit._) suggests that
he found the MS. when he paid his famous visit (when we do not know)
to the Badia of Monte Cassino. It is Benvenuto da Imola, Boccaccio's
disciple, who tells us of this visit. "My reverend master Boccaccio,"
he says in his Commentary on the _Divine Comedy_, Paradiso, xxii.
74, "told me that, being once in the neighbourhood of Monte Cassino,
he paid the monastery a visit and asked if he might see the library.
Whereupon one of the monks, pointing to a staircase, said gruffly,
'Go up; it is open.' Boccaccio went up and saw to his astonishment
that the library, the storehouse of the monastic treasures, had
neither door nor fastening; and on entering in he found grass growing
on the windows and all the books and benches buried in dust. When
he came to turn over the books, some of which were very rare and of
great value, he discovered that many of them had been mutilated and
defaced by having leaves torn out or the margins cut--a discovery
which greatly distressed him. In answer to his enquiries as to how
this damage had been caused, he was told that it was the work of some
of the monks themselves. These vandals, desirous of making a little
money, were in the habit of tearing out leaves from some of the MSS.
and of cutting the margins off others, for the purpose of converting
them into psalters and breviaries which they afterwards sold" (see
PAGET TOYNBEE, _Dante Studies and Researches_ (Methuen, 1902), p. 233
_et seq._) Boccaccio does not seem to have shown his MS. to Petrarch,
who nowhere quotes Tacitus or shows us that he knows him.

[499] Urban died 19th December, and Gregory was elected on the 30th
December, 1370.

[500] Boccaccio also speaks of his journey elsewhere. In a letter
to Jacopo da Pizzinghe (CORAZZINI, _op. cit._, p. 189) he says:
"Incertus Neapoli aliquamdium fueram vere præterito: hinc enim
plurimo desiderio trahebar redeundi in patriam, quam autumno nuper
elapso indignans liqueram." In another to Niccolò degli Orsini, he
says: "Laboriosam magis quam longam, anno præterito perigrinationem
intraverim, et casu Neapolim delatus sim, ibi præter opinatum amicos
mihi ignotos comperi, a quibus frenatæ domesticæ indignationis meæ
impetu, ut starem subsidia præstitere omnia." Cf. HORTIS, _Studi_,
_u.s._, p. 285 note. Hortis is of opinion that the word _casu_
indicates the change of route necessitated by the falsity of Niccolò
da Montefalcone. On the dates of these and other letters, see HORTIS,
_u.s._ I find myself absolutely in agreement with him.

[501] See letter to Niccolò degli Orsini (CORAZZINI, _op. cit._, p.

[502] CORAZZINI, _op. cit._, p. 327.

[503] Cf. CORAZZINI, _op. cit._, p. 337. We have four letters which
Boccaccio wrote during these years: that to Matteo d' Ambrosio, dated
"iv Idus Maias," which HORTIS (_op. cit._, p. 285) argues belongs
to 1371; that to Orsini, which the same critic gives to June, 1371;
that to Jacopo da Pizzinghe, which he gives to the summer of the same
year; and that to Piero di Monteforte, dated from Certaldo "Nonis
Aprilis," which he gives to 1372. BALDELLI, followed by WITTE (_op.
cit._, p. xl), thinks the letter to Matteo d' Ambrosio belongs to
1373, and thus argues that Boccaccio was twice in Naples: in the
winter of 1370-1, and again in the autumn of 1372 to May, 1373. But
Hortis shows it is impossible that the letter to Ambrosio is of
May, 1373, since on 19 March, 1373, Boccaccio was in Certaldo when
the Bishop Angelo Acciaiuoli committed to him an office--"confidens
quam plurimum de fidei puritate providi viri D. Joannis Boccaccii
de Certaldo Civis et Clerici Florentini." Cf. MANNI, _Ist. del
Decameron_, p. 35, and Hortis, _op. cit._, pp. 208, n. 1, and 284, n. 3.



Those ten years from 1363 to 1372 had not only been given by
Boccaccio to the study of Greek and the service of his country, they
had also been devoted to a vast and general accumulation of learning
such as was possessed by only one other man of his time, his master
and friend Petrarch. It might seem that ever since Boccaccio had
met Petrarch he had come under his influence, and in intellectual
matters, at any rate, had been very largely swayed by him. In
accordance with the unfortunate doctrine of his master, we see him,
after 1355, giving up all work in the vulgar, and setting all his
energy on work in the Latin tongue, in the study of antiquity and
the acquirement of knowledge. From a creative writer of splendid
genius he gradually became a scholar of vast reading but of mediocre
achievement. He seems to have read without ceasing the works of
antiquity, annotating as he read. His learning, such as it was,
became prodigious, immense, and, in a sense, universal, and little
by little he seems to have gathered his notes into the volumes we
know as _De Montibus_, _Sylvis_, _Fontibus_, _Lacubus_, _Fluminibus_,
_Stagnis seu Paludibus_, _De Nominibus Maris Liber_, a sort of
dictionary of Geography;[504] the _De Casibus Virorum Illustrium_,
in nine books, which deals with the vanity of human affairs from
Adam to Petrarch;[505] the _De Claris Mulieribus_, which he dedicated
to Acciaiuoli's sister, and which begins with Eve and comes down to
Giovanna, Queen of Naples;[506] and the _De Genealogiis Deorum_, in
fifteen books, dedicated to Ugo, King of Cyprus and Jerusalem, who
had begged him to write this work, which is a marvellous cyclopædia
of learning concerning mythology[507] and a defence of poetry and
poets.[508] In all these works it must be admitted that we see
Boccaccio as Petrarch's disciple, a pupil who lagged very far behind
his master.

As a creative artist, as the author, to name only the best, of the
_Fiammetta_ and the _Decameron_, Boccaccio is the master of a world
Petrarch could not enter; he takes his place with Dante and Chaucer
and Shakespeare, and indeed save Dante no other writer in the Italian
tongue can be compared with him.

It is seldom, however, that a great creative artist is also a great
scholar, for the very energy and virility and restless impatience
which have in some sort enabled him to create living men and women
prevent him in his work as a student, as an historian pure and
simple, in short, as a scholar. So it was with Boccaccio. The
author of the Latin works is not only inferior to the author of the
_Fiammetta_ and the _Decameron_, he is the follower and somewhat
disappointing pupil of Petrarch, who contrives to show us at every
step his inferiority to his master, his feebler sense of proportion,
of philosophy, of the reality of history, above all his feebler
judgment. The consideration of these works then would seem to demand
of us the consideration of his relations with Petrarch, and it
will be convenient at this point to undertake it as briefly as


_From a miniature in the French version of the "De Casibus Virorum,"
made in 1409 by Laurent le Premierfait. MS. late XV century. (Brit.
Mus. Showcase V, MS. 126.)_]

Even in his youth Boccaccio had regarded Petrarch with an enthusiasm
and an unenvying modesty that, lasting as it did his whole life
long, ripening as it did into one of the greatest friendships in
the history of Letters, was perhaps the most beautiful trait in his
character. It always seemed to him an unmerited grace that one who
was sought out by princes and popes, whose fame filled the universe,
should care to be his friend, and this wonder, this admiration,
remained with him till death; he never writes Petrarch's name
without, in his enthusiasm, adding to it some flattering epithet.
He calls him his "illustrious and sublime master," his "father and
lord," "a poet who is rather of the company of the ancients than
of this modern world," "a man descended from heaven to restore to
Poetry her throne," the "marvel and glory" of his time.[509] He had
known and loved his work, as he says, for forty years or more,[510]
but he had never dared to approach him, though opportunities had not
been altogether lacking,[511] till Petrarch came to Florence in the
autumn of 1350 on his way to win the indulgence of the Jubilee in
Rome.[512] This was the beginning of that friendship[513] which is
almost without precedent or imitation in the history of literature.
In the following spring, as we have seen, Boccaccio, in the name of
Florence, went to Padua to recall Petrarch from exile, to offer him
a chair in the new university of his native city, and to restore
him the goods confiscated from his father. In Padua he had been
Petrarch's guest for some days; he was a witness of Petrarch's
enthusiasm for "sacred studies," but apparently was not personally
much interested in them, though he calls them sacred, for he employed
himself with no less enthusiasm in copying some of Petrarch's works;
by which I at least understand some of his poems in the vulgar. The
evenings were spent in the garden, talking, on Boccaccio's part of
politics, on Petrarch's, as we may suppose, of learning, often till

Boccaccio did not see Petrarch again for eight years, till in 1359
he visited him in Milan, and in that year sent him the _Divine
Comedy_, which he had had copied for him; four years later, after
his "conversion," his hysterical adventure with the messenger of the
Blessed Pietro, he went to meet his master in Venice for the last
time,[515] as it proved, for in 1367 he missed him, Petrarch being
then in Pavia.[516] In all these meetings it is Boccaccio who seeks
out Petrarch; his visits are never returned. It is indeed almost
touching to see with what ardour and with what abnegation Boccaccio
cultivates this friendship which was in fact his greatest pride. He
makes Petrarch presents, poor as he is; he sends him the _Divine
Comedy_, S. Augustine's _Commentary on the Psalms_, and with his own
hand copies for him a book of extracts from Cicero and Varro.[517]
We do not hear of Petrarch giving him anything in return. It is true
he lent him the MS. of Homer and another of Plato, but he borrowed
the translation of the former made at Boccaccio's expense in order
to have it copied for his library. It is ill, however, reckoning up
benefits. Petrarch was not small-minded, as the noble letter in which
he offers to buy his friend's library proves. He procured for him the
offer of the office of Apostolic Secretary, which Boccaccio had the
strength and independence to refuse, and in his will left him, since
he knew him to be poor, a cloak to keep him warm on winter nights in
his study. If we find his praise of Boccaccio's work, especially of
the _Decameron_, a little cold and lacking in spontaneity--in fact
he admits he has not read the _Decameron_, but only "run through
it"[518]--we must remember his absurd and pedantic contempt for
work in the vulgar which came upon him in his middle life, so that
he was at last really incapable of judging and was in fact hostile
to Italian literature,[519] and would have destroyed if he could
all his own work in that kind. Boccaccio, on the other hand, was
always eager on Petrarch's behalf and in his defence. He composed an
_Elogium_[520] on him and his poetry, in which he defended him from
certain reproaches which had been brought against him, and when, as
it is said in 1372, a French cardinal attacked his venerated master
in the presence of the Pope and denied him the title of "Phœnix of
Poets" that was ordinarily given him, Boccaccio replied with an
apology in his favour.[521] Nor was this all, for it was mainly by
Boccaccio's efforts that that very disappointing poem the _Africa_
was preserved to us; and indeed, such was his delight in Petrarch,
that he arranged in order in a book the letters he had received from
him, for he thought himself assured of immortality rather by them
than by his own works.[522]

It is indeed strange and lovely to come upon Boccaccio's
extraordinary modesty: the greatest prose-writer in the Italian
language, the greatest story-teller in the world, considered himself
of no account at all beside the pedantic lover of Laura, the author
of the _Africa_ which he had not seen. The very thought of comparing
himself with Petrarch seemed to him a crime. He considered him as
not altogether of this world; he dwelt, according to his friend, in
a superior region; and as for his work, his writings, his style,
they are marvellous and ornate, abounding in sublime thoughts and
exquisite expressions, for he only wrote after long reflection, and
he drew his thoughts from the depths of his spirit.[523] And when
Petrarch honoured him with the title of Poet, he declined it;[524]
his ideal was "to follow very modestly the footsteps of his Silvanus."

"The illustrious Francesco Petrarca," he writes in another
place,[525] "neglecting the precepts of certain writers who scarcely
attain to the threshold of poetry, began to take the way of
antiquity with so much force of character, with such enthusiasm and
perspicacity, that no obstacle would arrest him, nor could ridicule
turn him from his way. Far from that, breaking through and tearing
away the brambles and bushes with which by the negligence of men the
road was covered, and remaking a solid road of the rocks heaped up
and made impassable by inundations, he opened a passage for himself
and for those who would come after him. Then, cleansing the fountain
of Helicon from slime and rushes, he restored to the waters their
first chastity and sweetness. He opened the fount of Castalia,
hidden by wild branches, and cleared the grove of laurels of thorns.
Having established Apollo on his throne, and restored to the Muses,
disfigured by neglect and rusticity, their ancient beauty, he climbed
the highest summits of Parnassus. And having been crowned with a
leafy garland by Daphne, he showed himself to the Roman people, with
the applause of the Senate, a thing which had not been seen perhaps
for more than a thousand years. He forced the gates of the ancient
Capitol, creaking on their rusty hinges, and to the great joy of the
Romans he made their annals famous by an unaccustomed triumph. O
glorious spectacle! O unforgettable act! This man by his prodigious
effort, by his work everywhere famous, as though he commanded through
the universe the trumpet of Fame, sounded the name of Poetry, brought
back again by him from darkness into light. He re-awakened in all
generous spirits a hope almost lost till then, and he made it to be
seen--what most of us had not believed--that Parnassus was still to
be won, that her summit was still to be dared...."

The enthusiasm, the unselfishness of that! But he does not stop
there. Petrarch is as admirable morally as he is as an artist or as
a scholar. "Petrarch," he tells us,[526] "living from his youth up
as a celibate, had such a horror of the impurities of the excess of
love that for those who know him he is the best example of honesty.
A mortal enemy of liars, he detests all vices. For he is a venerable
sanctuary of truth, and honours and joys in virtue, the model of
Catholic holiness. Pious, gentle, and full of devotion, he is so
modest that one might name him a second Parthenias [i.e. Virgil]. He
is too the glory of the poetic art. An agreeable and eloquent orator,
philosophy has for him no secrets. His spirit is of a superhuman
perspicacity; his mind is tenacious and full of all knowledge that
man may have. It is for this reason that his writings, both in
prose and in verse, numerous as they are, shine so brilliantly,
breathe so much charm, are adorned with so many flowers, enclosing
in their words so sweet a harmony, and in their thoughts an essence
so marvellous that one believes them the work of a divine genius
rather than the work of a man. In short he is assuredly more than
a man and far surpasses human powers. I am not singing the praises
of some ancient, long since dead. On the contrary, I am speaking of
the merits of a living man.... If you do not believe these words,
you can go and see him with your eyes. I do not fear that it will
happen to him as to so many famous men, as Claudius says, 'Their
presence diminishes their reputation.' Rather I affirm boldly that
he surpasses his reputation. He is distinguished by such dignity of
character, by an eloquence so charming, by an urbanity and old age so
well ordered, that one can say of him what Seneca said of Socrates,
that 'one learns more from his manners than from his discourse.'"

In this enormous praise, in this humility, Petrarch does not seem
to have seen anything extraordinary; in fact he seems to have taken
it as the most natural thing in the world. We gather that he
considered it was to have much regard for Boccaccio to let him hope
for some little glory after him.[527] And we may suspect that he
found in him a friend after his own heart. He showed his gratitude
by addressing a number of letters to him and by leaving him in his
Will fifty florins of gold to buy a mantle to protect him against the
cold during the long and studious nights of winter.[528] Boccaccio
was ill when he heard of that benefaction and the death of his
beloved master. The letter he then wrote in praise of the dead, his
hand trembling with emotion and weakness, his eyes full of tears, is
perhaps the most beautiful, if not the most touching, document of
their friendship.[529]


_A woodcut from the "De Claris Mulieribus" (Ulm, 1473), cap. 92. (By
the courtesy of Messrs. J. & J. Leighton.)_]

And then, as we have already seen, the love of Boccaccio for his
master, his solicitude for his memory, did not cease with Petrarch's
death. His first thought was for the _Africa_ of which his master had
made, in imitation of Virgil perhaps, so great a mystery, and, as it
was said, had wished to burn it. Though he was as ignorant as others
of its contents, believing as he did in Petrarch, he was altogether
convinced that it was a great and marvellous poem, worthy of Homer
and full of a divine inspiration.[530] While some said Petrarch had
left instructions to burn it, others declared that he had appointed
a commission to decide whether it should live or die. Boccaccio does
not seem to have thought that he himself would necessarily have been
on any such commission; but immediately addressed a supplication in
verse to the tribunal, which he feared would be composed of lawyers,
demanding in the name of the Muses, of kings, of peoples, of cities
that this masterpiece should not be allowed to perish.

So Boccaccio loved Petrarch. And that Petrarch was good for him, as
we might say, who can doubt after reading that noble letter on the
vision of the Blessed Pietro? But that Boccaccio was intellectually
altogether at his mercy unhappily we cannot doubt either after
reading his Latin works. He follows Petrarch so far as he can, but
nearly always blindly, exaggerating the predilections or prejudices
of his master even in little things. In all his works in Latin he
makes no allusion to his works in the vulgar: Petrarch often mentions
his, but always with an affected disdain. Yet Boccaccio was by no
means destitute of a passion for literary glory. He desired it as
eagerly as Petrarch, but more modestly; and following the precept of
his master to the letter, he does not believe he can attain to it by
any other means than by classical studies. Like his master too, he
regretted the writings of his youth, and would have destroyed them if
they had not been spread through all Italy and well out of his reach.
In all these things Boccaccio is but the follower of Petrarch, and
nothing can be more to the point than to compare them, not indeed as
artists, but as students, as scholars, as philosophers.

And here let us admit, to begin with, that as a student, as a man of
culture, in a sense of the reality of history and in a due sense of
the proportion of things, Petrarch is as much Boccaccio's superior as
Boccaccio is Petrarch's as a creative artist. For Petrarch antiquity
was a practical school of life. Convinced of the superiority of his
spirit, he possessed himself of what he read and assimilated what
he wanted.[531] Boccaccio, on the other hand, remained entirely
outside, and can claim no merit as a scholar but that of industry. As
a student he is a mere compiler. His continual ambition is to extend
his knowledge, but Petrarch dreams only of making his more profound.
He too in reading the ancients has collected an incalculable number
of extracts, but after putting them in order from various points of
view he has only begun; he proceeds to draw from them his own works.

Nor is Petrarch deceived in his own superiority. He was by far the
most cultured man of his time; as a critic he had already for himself
disposed of the much-abused claims of the Church and the Empire. For
instance, with what assurance he recognises as pure invention, with
what certainty he annihilates with his criticism the privileges the
Austrians claimed to hold from Cæsar and Nero.[532] And even face to
face with antiquity he is not afraid; he is sure of the integrity of
his mind; he analyses and weighs, yes, already in a just balance, the
opinions of the writers of antiquity; while Boccaccio mixes up in
the most extraordinary way the various antiquities of all sorts of
epochs. Nor has Boccaccio the courage of his opinions; all seems to
him worthy of faith, of acceptance. He cannot, even in an elementary
way, discern the false from the true; and even when he seems on the
point of doing so he has not the courage to express himself. When
he reads in Vincent de Beauvais that the Franks came from Franc the
son of Hector, he does not accept it altogether, it is true, but, on
the other hand, he dare not deny it, "because nothing is impossible
to the omnipotence of God."[533] He accepts the gods and heroes of
antiquity; the characters in Homer and the writers of Greece, of
Rome, are equally real, equally authentic, equally worthy of faith,
and we might add equally unintelligible. They are as wonderful, as
delightful, as impossible to judge as the saints. What they do or say
he accepts with the same credulity as that with which he accepted the
visions of Blessed Pietro. Petrarch only had to look Blessed Pietro
in the eye, and he shrivelled up into lies and absurdities. But to
dispose of a charlatan and a rascal of one's own day is comparatively
easy: the true superiority of Petrarch is shown when he is face to
face with the realities of antiquity--when, for instance, venerating
Cicero as he did, he does not hesitate to blame him on a question
of morals. But Boccaccio speaks of Cicero as though he scarcely
knew him;[534] he praises him as though he were a mere abstraction,
calls him "a divine spirit," a "luminous star whose light still
waxes."[535] He does not know him. He goes to him for certain details
because Petrarch has told him to do so.

The truth seems to be that as soon as Boccaccio was separated
from life he became a nonentity. If this is not so, how are we to
explain the fact that he who was utterly incapable of criticism, of
any sense of difference or proportion in regard to the ancients,
could appreciate Petrarch so exquisitely, not only as a writer,
where he is often at sea, but as a man? He has a philosophy of
life, but he cannot apply it to antiquity because he cannot realise
antiquity. Nor does he perceive that Petrarch is continually opposing
the philosophy of life to the philosophy of the schools. It is
true he defends Petrarch against the more obvious absurdities of
scholastic philosophy; but, like his opponents, philosophy for him
is nothing but the trick, we cannot say the art, of reasoning, of
dialectic.[536] While Petrarch with an immense and admirable courage
bravely dares to attack the tyranny of Aristotle in the world of
thought, he remains for Boccaccio "the most worthy authority in all
things of importance."[537] And so, for example, when Aristotle
affirms that the founders of religion were the poets, Boccaccio
does not hesitate to oppose this theory to the theologians of his
time.[538] Where in fact Petrarch shows himself really superior to
the vulgar prejudices of his time his disciple cannot follow him. For
instance, in regard to astrology: Boccaccio attributed an immense
importance to it, but Petrarch never misses a chance of ridiculing it
even in his letters to Boccaccio.[539] Nevertheless Boccaccio remains
persuaded that the art of astrology combines in itself much truth,
and at any rate rests on a solid basis. If it sometimes deceives us,
we must seek the cause in the greatness of the heavens, so difficult
to explore, and in the imperfect knowledge we have of the movements
and conjunctions of the planets.[540]

[Illustration: EPITHARIS

_A woodcut from the "De Claris Mulieribus." (Ulm, 1493). Cap. 91. (By
the courtesy of Messrs. J. & J. Leighton.)_]

In all these things and in many others Boccaccio is little more than
Petrarch's disciple, following him without discrimination, more
violent in his abuse, more extreme in his advocacy of those things or
professions or ideas or people whom his master had come to consider
bad or good, reasonable or unreasonable. And it is in the Latin
works that we find him most a disciple, really obeying orders that
he has by no means understood, compiling with an immense and heroic
labour a vast collection of facts or supposed facts which have no
relation to one another, and reformed and revivified by no composing
or commanding idea, are for the most part just a heap of dead and
grotesque extravagances that for us at least can have no meaning.

Let me confess it at once: after labouring with an immense weariness
through the whole of these works in Latin, I have found but one
complete work and two fragments which seem to have been written with
any personal conviction: the _Eclogues_, parts of the _De Montibus_,
and the fourteenth book of the _De Genealogiis Deorum_. The rest
are vast compilations, made, one cannot say without enthusiasm, for
nothing but an immense enthusiasm could have carried him through such
a labour, but without any unifying idea, without personal conviction
or art or delight. They are the notebooks of an omnivorous but
indiscreet and undiscerning reader.[541]

The earliest among them, as we may think,[542] the _De Claris
Mulieribus_, constitutes as it were the transition from the writings
full of imagination and life in the vulgar tongue to the works of
erudition. Its chief purpose would seem to be rather to entertain
and to amuse women than to write history or biography, and though
now and then a more serious idea might seem to discover itself, it
remains for the most part a wretched and awkward piece of work, in
which virtue and vice are dealt with and distinguished, if at all, to
hide the droll pleasantries which are intended to divert the reader.
In this Boccaccio was successful, and the book had a great vogue in
spite of its absurdity.[543]

The idea of the work was, as he confesses in the proem suggested to
him by Petrarch's _De Viris Illustribus_. Ordered chronologically,
beginning with Eve, much space is given to women of antiquity--Greek,
Roman, and Barbarian, little to Jewesses and Christians, saints
and martyrs, because, says Boccaccio, "I wish to spare them the
neighbourhood of Pagans." He has little to say either, of the women
of his own and the preceding age. He mentions, however, Pope Joan,
the virtuous Gualdrada,[544] the Empress Constance, mother of
Frederic II, and Queen Giovanna of Naples, whom he praises for her
personality and character as one of the most remarkable women of his

But it is in dealing with the more modern characters that he dates
his work for us. We find there the same contempt for, the same
aversion from women in general as have already come upon in the
_Corbaccio_ and the _Vita di Dante_. It is possible that his contempt
in some sort excuses, or at least explains, the wretchedness of this
work. For if it was written for women, we know that he considered
that culture and learning were not only useless to women, but even
harmful, since they helped them to evil. And he himself tells us with
the most amazing humour or effrontery that he has composed this work
"less with a view to general usefulness than for the greater honour
of the sex,"[545] yet, as we shall see, he abuses women roundly on
almost every possible occasion, and introduces a tale like that of
Paolina, which would not be out of place in the _Decameron_.

"Paolina, the Roman lady," says Boccaccio, "lived in the reign of
Tiberius Cæsar, and above all the ladies of her time she was famous
for the beauty of her body and the loveliness of her face, and,
married as she was, she was reputed the especial mirror of modesty.
She cared for nothing else, she studied no other thing, save to
please her husband and to worship and reverence Anubis, god of the
Egyptians, for whom she had so much devotion, that in everything she
did she hoped to merit his grace whom she so much venerated. But,
as we know, wherever there is a beautiful woman there are young men
who would be her lovers, and especially if she be reputed chaste and
honest, so here a young Roman fell in love beyond hope of redemption
with the beautiful Paolina. His name was Mundo, he was very rich,
and of the noblest family in Rome. He followed her with his eyes,
and with much amorous and humble service as lovers are wont to do,
and with prayers too, and with promises and presents, but he found
her not to be won, for that she, modest and pure as she was, placed
all her affection in her husband, and considered all those words and
promises as nothing but air. Mundo, seeing all this, almost hopeless
at last, turned all his thoughts to wickedness and fraud."


_A woodcut from the "De Claris Mulieribus" (Ulm, 1473), cap. 89. (By
the courtesy of Messrs. J. & J. Leighton.)_]

"It seems that Paolina used to visit almost every day the Temple
of Isis, where, with continual oblations and sacred offerings, she
worshipped and honoured the god Anubis with the greatest devotion;
which, when the young man knew of it, love showed him a way, and he
thought and imagined in his heart an unheard-of evil. Telling himself
then that the priests and ministers of Anubis would be able to assist
and favour his desires, he went to them, and after many prayers and
many rich gifts opened to them the matter. And it happened as he
wished. For when Paolina next came to the temple the most venerable
high priest himself, in a quiet and humble voice, told her that
the god Anubis had appeared to him in the night and had bidden him
say to her that he, Anubis himself, was well pleased and delighted
with her devotion, and that in that temple where she worshipped him
he would, for her good and repose of heart, speak with her in the
darkness of night. Now when Paolina heard this from so venerable a
priest, judging that this had come to her though her devotion and
holiness, she rejoiced without measure at the words, and returning
home told all to her husband, who, like a fool, believing all to be
true, consented that she should spend the following night in the
temple. And so it befell at nightfall Paolina came to the preordained
place, and after solemn ceremonies and holy prayers alone she entered
the rich bed to await Anubis, the god of her devotion. And when she
had fallen asleep, came, introduced by the priests, Mundo, covered
with the vestments and ornaments of Anubis and full of the most
ardent desire; then with a soft voice, taking her in his arms, he
awakened her.[546] And Mundo, in the voice of Anubis, seeing her
afraid and confused at first waking, bade her be of good heart,
saying that he was Anubis whom she had for so long venerated and
worshipped, and that he was come from heaven because of her prayers
and devotions that he might lie with her, and of her have a son a
god like to himself. Which, when Paolina heard, before all else she
asked if it were the custom of the supernal powers to mix themselves
with mortals; to whom Mundo answered, even so, and gave the example
of Jove, who had descended from heaven and passed through the roof
where Danäe lay, into her lap, from which intercourse Perseus, now in
heaven, was born. And hearing this Paolina most joyfully consented.
Then Mundo, all naked, entered into the bed of Anubis, and so won the
desired embraces and kisses and pleasures; and when it was dawn he
left her, saying that she had that night conceived a son. And when
it was day Paolina arose, and, carried by the priests, returned to
her house, believing everything and recounting all to her foolish
husband, who received his wife joyfully with the greatest honour,
thinking that she would be the mother of a god. Nor would either
have doubted this but for the want of caution on the part of the
too ardent Mundo. For it seemed to him that Paolina had returned
his embraces with the greatest readiness and delight, and thinking
therefore that he had conquered her modesty and hoping to enjoy her
again, he went to her one day in the temple, and coming close to her
whispered, 'Blessed art thou who hast conceived of the god Anubis.'
But the result was quite other than he had expected. For stupefied
beyond measure, Paolina, bringing all things to her remembrance that
had befallen on that night, understood the fraud, and altogether
broken-hearted told her husband, opening all her thoughts; and he
went immediately in the greatest sorrow and distress to Tiberius
Cæsar. And Cæsar ordered that all the priests should be slain with
grievous torments, and that Mundo should be sent into exile; and as
for the simple and deceived Paolina, she became the laughing-stock of
the Roman people."

Such is one of the stories of the _De Claris Mulieribus_. But
though it be one of the best tales there, and indeed we may compare
it with a famous story in the _Decameron_,[547] it is by no means
characteristic of the whole book, which has its more serious side,
for Boccaccio uses his facts, his supposed facts, often enough to
admonish his contemporaries, and therefore to some extent the work
may be said to have had a moral purpose.

Yet after all, what chiefly interests us in an inferior piece of work
is the view of woman we find there. And strangely enough, in this
book so full of mere foolishness and unhappy scolding we find a purer
and more splendid praise of woman than anywhere else in his work. "A
woman," he tells us, "can remain pure in the midst of corruptions
and every horror and vice as a ray of sunlight remains pure even
when it falls on a filthy puddle." Yes, they can do so, and that
he admits it, is at least something, but if we may judge from this
book it was by no means his opinion that commonly they do. For he is
always pointing in scorn at the women of his time. He tells of the
death of Seneca's wife, who killed herself that she might not survive
her husband, in order that he may preach to the widows of his day,
who do not hesitate, we learn, to remarry, "not twice nor thrice,
but five or six times." Again, he tells the story of Dido more
according to the legends that had grown up around it than according
to the _Æneid_, in order that it may be an example "above all among
Christians" to those widows who take a third or fourth husband.[548]
Having been betrayed by a widow, he is as personally suspicious
of and vindictive against them as the elder Mr. Weller. Nor is
he sparing in his abuse of women in general. They can only keep a
secret of which they are ignorant, he tells us. And like many men
who have lived disorderly, he puts an extraordinary, a false, value
on chastity. For after recommending all parents to bring up their
daughters chastely, which is sane and right, he bids women guard
their chastity even to the death, adding that they should prefer a
certain death to an uncertain dishonour.[549] And after giving more
than one example to bear this out, he cites the women of the Cimbri,
who, when their husbands fled, besought the Romans to let them enter
the house of the Vestals, and when this was denied them killed
themselves after murdering their children. Nor does he ever cease to
deplore the luxury and coquetry of women, blaming the Roman Senate
when, in honour of Volumnia, mother of Coriolanus, who had saved the
Republic, it allowed matrons to wear earrings. For luxury, says he,
is the ruin of women, and so of men also, for the world belongs to
men, but men to women.

Again and again he returns to the attitude he assumed in the
_Decameron_,[550] but without its gaiety. Man is the more perfect and
the firmer and stronger: how then can a woman do else but yield to
her lover? If there are exceptions it is because some women partake
of the nature of man, Sulpicia, for instance, who was, he says,
"rather a man than a woman," and indeed some women have a man's soul
in a woman's body. Nor does he omit any sort or kind of temperament.
He shows us the courageous woman in Sofonisba, the voluptuous in
Cleopatra, the chaste in Gualdrada, the simple in Paolina, the
proud in Zenobia, the resigned in Costanza, the wise in Proba, the
intriguer in Poppea, the generous in Sempronia.[551] He writes three
hundred lives, and in every one we find the same sentiments of
passionate interest, suspicion, distrust. If it were possible to
gather from this vast depository the type of woman Boccaccio himself
preferred, we should find, I think, that she was by no means the
intelligent, learned, energetic, independent, and strong-willed
woman that negatively, as it were, he praises, for to him she would
seem not a woman but a kind of man. No, he remains to worship the
beautiful, subtle, credulous, and distracting creature that he had
found in that Fiammetta who had betrayed him,--in two minds during a
single heart's beat, cruel and sensual too, eager to love and without
responsibility, afraid of the dark, but ready to do anything in
things to her mind; in fact, the abused heroine of all his books. But
while he adores her, he makes fun of her, he scorns her, he curses
her, he hates her, yet in a moment she will be in his arms.

It was to one such he thought to dedicate this book of Famous
Ladies,[552] to that Queen Giovanna of Naples, the granddaughter of
King Robert the Wise, who had been the father of his own Fiammetta.
But in the last chapter of the book, which is a long panegyric in her
honour, he praises her not as a woman but as a great and powerful
king. We do not know, alas! what he really thought of her, for eager
Guelf and Angevine as he always was, he would be the last to tell
us the truth, if it were evil, about this unhappy lady, and here
at least his work is so full of praise that there is no room for
judgment. If he had once spoken evil of her[553] he has here made
amends, but in such a way that we are in no way enlightened and
remain as always at the mercy of the chroniclers.[554]

If we needed any evidence other than the works themselves that these
compilations in Latin worried and bored Boccaccio, we should find it
in the _De Casibus Virorum_, a vast work in nine books, which was
taken up and put aside in disgust not less than three times, and
at last only completed by the continual urgings of Petrarch, who,
not understanding the disgust of the creative artist for this kind
of book-making, was reduced to reply to the protests of Boccaccio
that "man was born for labour."[555] The _De Casibus Virorum_ is
certainly a more considerable work than the _De Claris Mulieribus_,
but it is without the occasional liveliness of the earlier work, as
we see it, for instance, in the story of Paolina, and is in fact
merely an enormous compilation, as I have said, made directly under
the influence of Petrarch, who, in imitation of the ancients, was
always willing to discourse concerning the instability of Fortune. It
was a theme which suited his peculiar genius, and in the _De Viris
Illustribus_ and the _De Remediis Utriusque Fortunæ_ we see him at
his best in this manner.[556] But for Boccaccio such moralising
became a mere drudgery, a mere heaping together of what he had read
but not digested. Eager to follow in Petrarch's footsteps, however,
he took up the same theme as the subject of an historical work, in
which he sets out to show the misfortunes of famous men. Beginning
with Adam and Eve--for he admits a few women--he passes in review
with an enormous languor that makes the book one of the most wearying
in all literature the personages of fable and legend and history,
treating all alike, down to his own time. Sometimes he is merely
dull, sometimes absurd, sometimes theatrical, but always lifeless in
these accounts of the tragic ends of "Famous Men" or of their fall
from power. He is never simple, nor does he take his work simply;
by every trick he had used in his creative work he tries in vain to
give this book some sort of life. He sees his characters in vision,
then, in imitation of Petrarch, he interrupts the narrative to
preach, to set down tedious moral sentiments--that bad habit of his
old age--or philosophical conclusions, or to lose himself in long
digressions upon a thousand and one subjects--on riches, on fortune,
on happiness, on rhetoric, on the lamentable condition of Rome, on
the sadness (acedia) of writers, of which Petrarch had cured him, or
again in defence of poetry, never choosing a subject, however, that
had not been already treated by Petrarch, except it be woman, whom he
again attacks, more soberly perhaps, but infinitely more tediously,
warning us against her wiles in the manner of a very minor prophet.
As long as he is a mere historian, a mere compiler, a mere scholar,
he remains almost unreadable, but as soon as he returns to life, to
what he has seen with his own eyes, even in this uncouth jargon, this
Church Latin, he becomes an artist, a man of letters, and we find
then without surprise that one of the last episodes he recounts, the
history of Filippa la Catanese was, even in the seventeenth century,
still read apparently with the greatest delight, for very many
editions were published of this fragment of his book, of which I have
already spoken.[557]


_A woodcut from Lydgate's "Falles of Princes of John Bochas."
(London, 1494.)_]

Certainly the most original and probably the best of Boccaccio's
Latin works in prose is the _De Genealogiis Deorum_, with which
is generally printed the _De Montibus_, _Sylvis_, etc. The first,
however, is really but a mass of facts and confused details quite
undigested and set forth without any unity, while the latter is an
alphabetical dictionary of ancient geography to assist those who read
the Latin poets.[558] At the time these books appeared, however,
such matters were a novelty, and we have in them the first complete
manual of an ancient science and the first dictionary of geography
of the modern world. I say of the modern world, yet though we cannot
but admire their erudition and the patient research of the author,
these do not suffice to place these works really above the meagre
compilations of the Middle Age,[559] yet we find there perhaps a
change of method which makes them important. Both books are, however,
full of credulities, they altogether lack judgment and any system,
and can therefore scarcely be said to belong to humanism.

In the _De Genealogiis Deorum_ Boccaccio gathers every mythological
story he can find, and would explain them all by means of symbols and
allegories, and in doing this he very naturally provoked the fervent
applause of his contemporaries.[560] But what renders the volume
really interesting and valuable to us is the eager and passionate
defence of poetry which forms its epilogue.

Boccaccio had always fought valiantly in defence of "poetry," by
which he understood the art of literature, and the new learning,
the knowledge of antiquity. This art, for it was by no means yet
a science, had many more enemies than friends. To a great extent
Petrarch refused to meet these foes, considering them as beneath his
notice; it was left for Boccaccio to defend not only letters, but
Petrarch and his Muse. To this defence he consecrates two whole books
of the _De Genealogiis Deorum_, the fourteenth and fifteenth, and
there he takes under his protection not only the poets of antiquity,
but poetry in general and his own occupation with mythology. He
pounds away with much success at the scholastic philosophers and
theologians, who had no idea that they were already dead and damned,
and while they declared poetry to be a sheer tissue of fables he
busily dug their graves or heaped earth upon them. He left really
nothing undone. He attacked their morality, and where so much was an
absurdity of lies that was easy; but he appealed too to S. Augustine
and S. Jerome, which was dangerous;[561] and at last, somewhat
embarrassed by certain Latin poets who had proved to be too involved
in their frivolity to defend, he abandoned them to their fate,
reluctantly, it is true, but he abandoned them, and among these were
Plautus, Terence, whom he had copied with his own hand, and Ovid, who
had been the companion of his youth. The men whom Petrarch refused to
touch lest he should soil his hands had to be content with these.

In Boccaccio's definition of the poet, which owed very much to
Petrarch we may think, he comprehended the philosopher, the mystic,
the prophet--especially the mystic; for he is much concerned with
allegory and the hidden meaning of words. For him the work of the
poet, and truly, is with words, but with words only. He must find
new material if he can it is true, but, above all, he must dress it
in long-sought-out words and rhythms that shall at once hide and
display the real meaning. He seems to leave nothing to the moment,
to spontaneous feeling. The true mistress of the poet does not
enter into his calculations; yet there is more spontaneity in the
_Decameron_ than in all Petrarch's work. Still he lays stress on that
truly Latin gift, the power to describe or contrive a situation which
will hold and excite men.

What he most strongly insists upon, however, is the hidden meaning
of the ancient poets. He declares that only a fool can fail to see
allegories in the works of antiquity.[562] One must be mad not to
see, in the _Bucolics_, the _Georgics_, and the _Æneid_ of Virgil,
allegories, though we may not certainly read them.[563] Is it not
thus, he asks, that Dante has hidden in the _Comedy_ the mysteries of
the Catholic religion? Are there not allegories in the work of his
master Petrarch?[564]

He turns from Petrarch to Homer, whom he declares he has always by
him. He speaks of Pilatus, to whom he says he owes much: "A little
man but great in learning, so deep in the study of great matters
that emperors and princes bore witness that none as learned as he
had appeared for many centuries." He closes the book with an appeal
to Ugo, King of Cyprus and Jerusalem, who had begged him to write
this work, which is a truly marvellous cyclopædia of learning and
mythology, with this defence of poetry and poets added to it in the
two last books, which are later than the rest.[565] It is not,
however, in the _De Genealogiis_ but in the _De Montibus, Sylvis,
Lacubus, Fluminibus, Stagnis seu Paludis, de Nominibus Maris_ that we
have the true type of these works. They are all really dictionaries
of learning and legend, but it is only this that is actually in
the form of a dictionary, the various subjects being set forth and
described in alphabetical order.

The enormous popularity of these works in their day is witnessed by
the numerous editions through which they passed both in Latin and
Italian in Italy and abroad. They were the textbooks of the early
Renaissance, and we owe Boccaccio, as one of the great leaders of
that movement, all the gratitude we can give him; all the more that
the work he began has been so fruitful that we can scarcely tolerate
the works that guided its first steps.


[504] On all these works cf. HORTIS, _Studi sulle opere Latine di
G. B._ (Trieste, 1879), and on the _De Montibus_ see also HORTIS,
_Acceni alle Scienze Naturali nelle opere di G. B._ (Trieste, 1877).

[505] Cf. HAUVETTE, _Recherches sur le Casibus, etc._ (Paris, 1901).

[506] Cf. HORTIS, _Le Donne famose discritte da G. B._ (Trieste,

[507] Cf. F. N. SCOTT, _"De Genealog." of Boccaccio and Sidney's
"Arcadia",_ in _Modern Language Notes_ (Baltimore, 1891), VI, fasc.
4, and TOYNBEE, _The Bibliography of B.'s "A Genealogia Deorum,"_ in
_Athenæum_, No. 3733.

[508] Cf. MUSSAFIA, _Il Libro XV della Genealogia Deorum_, in _Antol.
della Critic. Mod._ of MORANDI (Città di Castello, 1885), p. 334 _et

[509] Cf. _De Genealog Deorum_, XIV, 10, 11, 19; XV, 4, 6. Letter to
Niccolò degli Orsini in CORAZZINI, _op. cit._, p. 317; _Comento sopra
Dante_, cap. 1.; and cf. PETRARCH, _Senil._, I, 4.

[510] Cf. the letter to Petrarch's son-in-law (CORAZZINI, _op. cit._,
p. 382).

[511] As we have seen, Petrarch had been in Naples in 1341, and was
there again in 1343. See _supra_, pp. 60 and 111.

[512] See _supra_, p. 152 _et seq._

[513] Cf. _Epistol. Fam._, XXI, 15. Petrarch's first letter to
BOCCACCIO is _Fam._, XI, 1, of November 2, 1350. See _supra_, p. 156.

[514] Cf. _supra_, p. 160.

[515] Cf. _supra_, p. 203.

[516] Cf. _supra_, p. 212.

[517] _Epist. Fam._, XVIII, 4. He also copied Terence with his own
hand, lest copyists should mutilate the text. The MS. exists in the
Laurentian Library. Cf. NOVATI in _Giornale St. della Lett. It._,
X, p. 424. The thought of comparing ancient MSS. to form a text was

[518] See _Senil._, XVII, 3, under date "In the Enganean Hills,
June 8 [1374]." Petrarch there says: "The book you have composed in
our maternal tongue, probably during your youth, has fallen into my
hands, I do not know by what chance. I have seen it, but if I should
say I had read it I should lie. The work is very long, and it is
written for the vulgar, that is to say in prose. Besides, I have
been overwhelmed with occupations, and I have had only very little
time, for as you know, one was then at the mercy of all the troubles
of the war, and although I was not interested in them, I could not
be insensible to the troubles of the republic. I have, then, run
through this volume like a hurried traveller who just looks but does
not stop.... I have had much pleasure in turning its leaves. Certain
passages, a little free, are excused by the age at which you wrote
it--the style, the idiom, the lightness of the subject and of the
readers you had in view. It is essential to know for whom one is
writing, and the difference in the characters of people justifies a
difference in style. Besides a crowd of things light and pleasant,
I have found there others both edifying and serious; but not having
read the complete work, I cannot give you a definite judgment on
it." We shall consider this letter again later in my chapter on the
_Decameron_ (see _infra_, p. 311).

[519] As for Petrarch's contempt for Italian, see _Senil._, V, 2.
Petrarch there says to Boccaccio, that Donato degli Albanzani "tells
me that in your youth you were singularly pleased to write in the
vulgar, and that you spent much time on it." He adds that Boccaccio
had then composed the same kind of work as he himself had done,
apparently referring to the _Rime_. He seems to refuse to consider
the prose works in the vulgar as being literature at all. It is
probable even that the accusation that he disliked and envied Dante,
from which he so warmly defends him (cf. _Fam._, XXI, 15), had this
much truth, that he disliked the language of the _Divine Comedy_ in
his absurd worship of Latin. But though he could not see it, the
_Divine Comedy_ is the first work of the Renaissance just because it
is written not in Latin, the language of the Church, but in Italian,
the language of the people. There lay the destruction of the Middle
Age and the tyranny of the Ecclesiastic. For with the rise of the
vulgar rose Nationalism, which, with the invention of printing,
eventually destroyed the real power of the Church. It was a question
of knowledge, of education, of the power of development and life.

[520] See _De vita et moribus domini Francisci Petrarchæ de Florentia
secundum Iohannem Bochacii de Certaldo_, in ROSSETTI, _Petrarca_,
etc., pp. 316-99.

[521] Cf. _Senil._, XV, 8, written in 1373.

[522] Cf. CORAZZINI, _op. cit._, p. 123.

[523] Cf. the Epilogue to the _De Montibus_.

[524] Cf. _Fam._, XVIII, 15.

[525] In the letter to Jacopo Pizzinghe in CORAZZINI, _op. cit._, p.

[526] _De Genealog. Deorum_, XIV, 19.

[527] Cf. _Fam._, XVIII, 4.

[528] Cf. Petrarch's will in FRACASSETTI, _op. cit._, Vol. III, p.

[529] Cf. CORAZZINI, _op. cit._, p. 377. We shall return to this
later. See _infra_, p. 282 _et seq._

[530] Cf. _Elogium di Petrarca_, l.c., pp. 319, 324.

[531] See VOIGT, _Pétrarque, Boccacce et les débuts de humanisme_,
cap. ii. (Paris, 1894).

[532] _Ep. Sen._, XV, 5. Letter to Charles IV.

[533] Cf. _De Genealog._, VI, 24. Cf. VOIGT, _op. cit._, p. 167.

[534] _Comento sopra Dante_, _ed. cit._, cap. iv. p. 249.

[535] Cf. _De Casibus Virorum_, pp. 59, 66, 67.

[536] Cf. _Vita di Dante_, _ed. cit._, p. 56.

[537] Cf. _Vita di Dante_, _ed. cit._, p. 40.

[538] Cf. VOIGT, _op. cit._, p. 168.

[539] Cf. _Senil._, III, 1; VIII, 1, 8.

[540] Cf. _Vita di Dante_, _ed. cit._, p. 55; _Comento_, _ed. cit._,
cap. 1. pp. 5, 7; and cf. HORTIS, _Acceni alle Scienze_, etc., p. 14.

[541] The best study and the fullest of these Latin works is that of
HORTIS, _Studi sulle opere Latine di Giovanni Boccaccio_ (Trieste,
1879). It runs to some 950 quarto pages. I do not propose here to
give more than a sketch of these Latin works of Boccaccio.

[542] It was apparently finished about 1362. Cf. HORTIS, _Studi_, p.
89, n. 2, and p. 164.

[543] Cf. F. VILLANI (ed. Galletti), _Liber de civitatis Florentiæ
famosis civibus ex codice Mediceo Laurentiano nunc primum editus_
(Firenze, 1847), p. 17.

[544] Cf. _Comento_, _ed. cit._, cap. xii. Vol. II, p. 334.

[545] Cf. the dedication to "Mulieri clariss. Andrese Acciauolis,"
which begins: "Pridie, mulierum egregia, paululum ab inerti vulgo
semotus, et a cæteris fere solutus curis, in eximiam mulieribus
sexus laudem, et amicorum solatium, potius quam in magnum reipublicæ
commodum, libellum scripsi." This dedicatory letter appears in all
the editions, and is printed too by CORAZZINI, _op. cit._, p. 231.

[546] Cf. Boccaccio's own love story, _supra_, p. 51 _et seq._

[547] _Decameron_, IV, 2.

[548] Cap. 87.

[549] Caps. 77, 71, 81.

[550] Cf. _Decameron_, II, 9, and _supra_, p. 176 _et seq._

[551] Cf. RODOCONACHI, _Boccacce_ (Hachette, 1908), p. 163, and
HORTIS, _Studi_, p. 102 _et seq._

[552] So he says in the dedication to the wife of Andrea Acciaiuoli,
but he feared to do it. "Verum dum mecum animo versarem, cuinam
primum illum transmitterem, ne penes me marcesceret otio, et ut
alieno fultus favore, securior iret in publicum, adverteremque satis,
non principi viro, sed potius cum de mulieribus loqueritur, alicui
insigni fœminæ destinandum fore, exquirenti dignorem, ante alias,
venit in mentem, Italicum jubar illud perfulgidum, ac singulare
nomen non tantum fœminarum, sed regum gloria, Iohanna serenissima
Hierusalem et Siciliæ regina," etc.

[553] See _supra_, p. 121 _et seq._ Cf. HORTIS, _Le Donne famose
descritte da G. B._ (Trieste, 1877).

[554] An English version of the _De Claris Mulieribus_ was made
by Henry Parker, Lord Morley (1476-1556), but this has never been
printed. It is entitled "John Bocasse His Booke intitlede in the
Latyne Tunge De Praeclaris Mulieribus, that is to say in Englyshe,
of the Ryghte Renoumyde Ladyes." It was done about 1545 and was
dedicated to King Henry VIII. Extracts from it have appeared in
WALDRON'S _Literary Museum_, 1792.

[555] Cf. Proem to Lib. VIII.

[556] Cf. HAUVETTE, _Recherches sur le Casibus_, etc. (Paris, 1901).

[557] Cf. _supra_, p. 117. The History of the Dukes of Athens too is
excellent. John Lydgate in some sort translated the work into English
verse: his work is entitled "_Here begynnethe the Boke calledde John
Bochas descrivinge the falle of princis princessis and other nobles
traslatid īto Englissh by John Ludgate mōke of the monastery of Seint
Edmundes Bury at the cōmañdemēt of the worthy prynce Humfrey Duke
of Gloucestre beginnynge at Adam and endinge with Kinge John made
prisoner in fraunce by prince Eduarde_" (London, Richard Pynson,
1494). For the story of Filippa la Catanese in English see "_Unhappy
Prosperitie expressed in the Histories of Sejanus and Philippa the
Catanian written in French by P. Mathieu and translated in English by
S^r Th. Hawkins_" (printed for Io. Haviland for Godfrey Esmondson,

[558] Cf. HORTIS, _Accenni alle scienze naturali nelle opere di G.
B._ (Trieste, 1877), p. 38 _et seq._

[559] Cf. VOIGT, _op. cit._, cap. ii.

[560] Cf. VOIGT, _op. cit._, cap. ii., and SCHUCK, _Zur
charakteristik der ital. Humanisten des XIV und XV Jahrh._ (Breslau,
1857), and F. VILLANI, _op. cit._ (ed. Galletti), p. 17. RODOCANACHI,
_op. cit._, p. 177 _et seq._, thinks he sees in the _De Genealogiis_
a progress beyond the knowledge and judgment of Boccaccio in the
_Filocolo_ and the _Amorosa Visione_. It may well be so, but he has
not convinced me that it was anything to boast of.

[561] Cf. _De Genealogiis_, XV, 9; _Comento_, cap. 1.

[562] Cf. _De Genealogiis_, XIV, 7: "Mera poesis est, quicquid sub
velamento componimus et exquisitur [? exprimitur] exquisite." Cf.
also _Comento_, cap. i.

[563] _De Genealogiis_, XIV, 10.

[564] Indeed in Laura he seems to have seen an allegory of Petrarch's
desire for the laurel. See ROSETTI, _Petrarca_, etc., p. 323,
_Elogium_: "Et quamvis in suis compluribus vulgaribus poematibus
in quibus perlucide decantavit se Laurettam quamdam ardentissime
demonstravit amasse, non obstat; nam piout ipsemet et bene puto,
Laurettam illam allegorice pro Laurem corona quam post modum est
adeptus, accipiendam existimo."

[565] Cf. F. N. SCOTT, _"De Genealogiis" of Boccaccio and Sidney's
"Arcadia"_ in _Modern Language Notes_ (Baltimore, 1891), VI, fasc.
4, and TOYNBEE, _The Bibliography of B.'s A Genealogia Deorum_ in
_Athenæum_, No. 3733, also MUSSAFIA, _Il Libro XV della Genealogia
Deorum_ in _Antol. della Critic. Mod._ of Morandi (Città di Castello,
1885), p. 334 _et seq._ The work was finished about 1366, for in Book
XV he calls Bechino et Paolo il Geometra to witness as living. Paolo
made his will in 1366; we know nothing of Bechino after 1361.



In the summer of the year 1373 when Boccaccio was sixty years old
the Signoria of Florence was petitioned by a number of citizens to
appoint a lecturer who should publicly expound "librum qui vulgariter
appellatur el Dante," the work which is commonly called "el Dante,"
the _Divine Comedy_, that is to say, the work of one who little by
little was coming to be known as a very great poet, as a very great
man, but who more than seventy years before had been ignominiously
expelled from Florence and had died in exile.

The petition, a copy of which may still be found in the Florentine
_Libro delle Provvisioni_ for 1373, is as follows:--[566] "Whereas
divers citizens of Florence, being minded as well for themselves and
others, their fellow-citizens, as for their posterity, to follow
after virtue, are desirous of being instructed in the book of Dante,
wherefrom, both to the shunning of vice and to the acquisition
of virtue, no less than in the ornaments of eloquence, even the
unlearned may receive instruction; The said citizens humbly pray you,
the worshipful Government of the People and Commonwealth of Florence,
that you be pleased, at a fitting time, to provide and formally
to determine, that a worthy and learned man, well versed in the
knowledge of the poem aforesaid, shall be by you elected, for such
term as you may appoint, being not longer than one year, to read the
book which is commonly called _el Dante_ in the city of Florence, to
all such as shall be desirous of hearing him, on consecutive days,
not being holidays, and in consecutive lectures, as is customary in
like cases; and with such salary as you may determine, not exceeding
the sum of one hundred gold florins for the said year, and in such
manner and under such conditions as may seem proper to you; and
further that the said salary be paid to the said lecturer from the
funds of the Commonwealth in two terminal payments, to wit, one
moiety about the end of the month of December, and the other moiety
about the end of the month of April, such sum to be free of all
deduction for taxes whatsoever...."


_From a miniature in the French version of the "De Casibus Virorum,"
made in 1409 by Laurent le Premierfait. MS. late XV century. (Brit.
Mus. Rothschild Bequest. MS. XII.)_]

The petition was favourably considered by the Signoria on August
9, and was put to the vote of the assembly. Two hundred and five
persons voted in all, one hundredand eighty-six in its favour,
and nineteen against it.[567] The voting was by ballot and secret,
and no names have come down to us, but it is perhaps permitted us to
suppose, as Mr. Toynbee suggests, that the opposition came from those
whose ancestors, whose fathers and grandfathers, Dante had placed
in Hell, or had otherwise insulted and condemned. The decision come
to on August 9 was carried on the 25th, when the Signoria appointed
"Dominus Johannes de Certaldo, honorabilis civis Florentinus," to
lecture on the _Divine Comedy_[568] for a year from the 18th October
at a salary of one hundred gold florins, half of which, as the
petition had suggested, was paid to him on December 31, 1373.[569]
And on Sunday, October 23, 1373,[570] Boccaccio delivered his first
lecture in S. Stefano della Badia.[571]

In thus appointing Boccaccio to the first _Cathedra Dantesca_ that
had anywhere been established, the Signoria not only in some sort
made official amends for the cruel sentence by which the greatest
son of Florence had been proclaimed and exiled,[572] but they also
showed their goodwill by choosing for lecturer the man who above all
others was best fitted to expound his work and to defend his memory.

As we have already seen, Boccaccio had been an eager student of
Dante in the first years of his literary life.[573] It is probable
that he was first introduced to Dante's work by Cino da Pistoja,
whom he seems to have met in Naples between October, 1330, and July,
1331,[574] and in his first book, the _Filocolo_, he imitates and
speaks of him;[575] in the _Filostrato_ he copies him so closely
that in fact he quotes from him;[576] in the _Rime_ he not only, to
a large extent, models his work on the sonnets of Dante, but he
appeals to him and mentions his name more than once, in one case, in
the sonnet already quoted addressed to Dante in Paradise after the
death of Fiammetta, certainly before the _Vita_ was written or the
lectures begun.

    "Dante, if thou within the sphere of love,
      As I believe, remain'st contemplating
    Beautiful Beatrice whom thou didst sing
        Erewhile ..."

while the _Corbaccio_ is in some sort modelled on the allegory of the
_Divine Comedy_.[577] This was in 1355, and immediately after the
completion of the _Corbaccio_ we find him at work, about 1356-7, on
the _Vita di Dante_.[578] About this time too he seems to have begun
to copy the _Divine Comedy_[579] with his own hand in order to send
it to Petrarch, and we may understand perhaps how great a pioneer he
was in the appreciation of Dante when from that fact we learn that
Petrarch had no copy in his library. With this MS. in his own hand
he sent a _Carme_ to Petrarch of forty lines written in Latin in
praise of Dante,[580] and before 1359 he evidently wrote to Petrarch
excusing himself for his enthusiastic praise of Dante. That letter
is unfortunately lost, but happily we have Petrarch's answer, in
which he most unsuccessfully tries to excuse himself for his coldness
towards the _Divine Comedy_, and indeed attempts to set the charge

"In your letter," he writes in 1359,[581] "there are many things that
need no answer, for instance those of which we have lately spoken
face to face. But there are two besides, which I have singled out,
and these I do not wish to pass over in silence.... Firstly, then,
you excuse yourself with some eagerness for having been so prodigal
in your praise of our countryman, a poet for the people assuredly
as to his style,[582] yet undoubtedly noble if one consider the
subject of which he writes. But you seek to justify yourself as
though I might see in your praise of him or another a stain on my
own reputation. You say too that all the praise you give him--if I
look at it closely--turns to my glory. And you excuse too yourself
by saying that in your youth he was the first guide, the first light
in your studies. Well, then, you are acting with justice, with
gratitude, in not forgetting him, and in short, with piety. If we owe
everything to those who have given us life, if we owe much to those
who have enriched us, what do we not owe to those who have nurtured
and formed our spirits? Those who have cultivated our souls have
indeed greater titles to our remembrance than those who have cared
for our bodies.... Courage, then; I not only permit you, I invite you
to celebrate and to honour this torch of your mind who has given
you of his heat and of his light in this path along which you pass
towards a glorious goal. It has been long blown upon and, so to say,
wearied by the windy applause of the vulgar, and I bid you elevate
it then even to the heaven by true praises worthy of him and of
yourself. Such will be pleasing to me, because he is worthy of this
commendation and, as you say, it is for you a duty. I approve then
your commendatory verses,[583] and in my turn I crown with praise the
poet you commend.

But in your letter of excuse the only thing that has really hurt me
is to see how little you know me even now; yet I thought you at least
knew me altogether. What is this? You think I should not rejoice,
that I should not even glory in the praise of illustrious men? But
believe me, nothing is stranger to my character than envy, nothing is
more unknown...."

Perhaps Petrarch protests too much. Yet one may well think that,
noble as he was, he was at least above envying Dante Alighieri, for
he knew very little about him, and sincerely thought him of small
account since his greatest work was written not in Latin, the tongue
as he so wonderfully thought absolutely necessary to immortality, but
in the sweeter and lovelier "Florentine idiom," the "glory" of which,
as Boccaccio had already said in the _Vita_, Dante had revealed.

Thus all his life long we see Boccaccio as the enthusiastic lover
and defender of the greatest of Italian poets, gently protesting
against Petrarch's neglect of him, passionately protesting against
the treatment "Florence, noblest among all the cities of Italy,"
had measured out to him, fiercely contemptuous of "those witless
ones," priests and the scholastics, who considered his works to be
"vain and silly fables or marvels," and could not perceive that
"they have concealed within them the sweetest fruits of historical
or philosophical truth." Indeed, alone among his contemporaries
he values the _Divine Comedy_ at its true worth and for the right
reasons. Nor in fact should we know half we do know concerning
Dante--much more that is than we know of Chaucer and Shakespeare,
for instance--if Boccaccio had not loved him and shared, as he says,
"the general debt to his honour" in so far as he could, "that is to
say in letters, poor though they be for so great a task. But hereof I
have, hereof I will give; lest foreign peoples should have power to
say that his fatherland had been alike unthankful to so great a poet,
whether taken generally or man by man."

It has become the fashion of late, and yet maybe it was always so,
to sneer at, to doubt and to find fault with Boccaccio's _Vita di
Dante_[584] in season and out of season on all possible points, and
on some that are impossible. Scholars of Dante generally, with some
eminent exceptions, seem to consider it a kind of impertinence in the
author of the _Decameron_ to have interested himself in Dante.

Mr. Wicksteed, for instance, to whom we owe a charming translation of
the _Vita_[585]--so charming and so full of Boccaccio's own flavour
that in all modesty I have taken leave to use it when I must--though
he is himself its translator, finds it necessary not so much to
commend it to us as to give us "some needful warnings" and "further
cautions" in introducing us to it. He nowhere, I think, tells us how
very valuable it is, nor instructs us why above all other works of
the kind it is valuable to us. He nowhere takes the trouble to tell
his readers that Boccaccio was the most eminent student of Dante in
his day--the years that immediately followed the poet's death--nor
that he must have met and talked with many who had known Dante. He
nowhere thinks it necessary to record that Boccaccio spent more than
one considerable period of time in Romagna and the Marche, and even
in the very city and at the same court where Dante lived and died.
It did not occur to him as a point of honour before giving us his
"warnings" and "cautions" to state that Boccaccio was well acquainted
with Dante's daughter Beatrice, nor to mention that it was probably
during a sojourn in Ravenna, where she was a nun, that Boccaccio
conceived, or at any rate "pondered" the _Vita_ itself.[586] Mr.
Wicksteed does none of these things; but having spoken somewhat
vaguely of the "versions" of the _Vita_ and still more vaguely of
its date, he proceeds to discuss its "documentary value," assuring
us a little reluctantly that "scholars appear to be settling down
to the conclusion that ... [Boccaccio] is to be taken as a serious
biographer, who made careful investigations and who used the material
he had gathered with some degree of critical judgment."[587] It
will be seen, then, that such scholars are right, and that we have
indeed in the _Vita_ not only the earliest, but incomparably the most
authoritative life of Dante that has come down to us, for it was
written not merely by the greatest lover and defender of Dante in the
years that immediately followed his death in 1321, but by one who was
then already a boy of eight years old, and who in his manhood was
well acquainted with Dante's daughter Beatrice, and with others who
had known him in Ravenna and Romagna, where he had passed so much of
his time.

The _Vita_ then comes to us with a certain unassailable authority,
and is besides a work of piety, of love, of vindication. It opens
a little pedantically perhaps with an appeal to Solon, that "temple
of human wisdom," against the policy of the Florentine Commonwealth
in its failure to reward the deserving and to punish the guilty. A
passionate attack on those who had exiled Dante follows in which he
demands: "If all the wrongs Florence hath wrought could be hidden
from the all-seeing eye of God, would not this one alone suffice to
call down His wrath upon her? Yea, verily!" Then follows the reason
for his book, which it seems he has determined to write in expiation
of the sin of Florence, "recognising that I myself am a part,
though but a small one, of the same city whereof Dante Alighieri,
considering his deserts, his nobility, and his virtue, was a very
great one." His book will consist, he tells us, of "those things as
to which he [Dante] kept seemly silence concerning himself, to wit,
the nobility of his origin, his life, his studies, and his character;
and after that I will gather together the works he composed; wherein
he hath rendered himself so illustrious amongst those to come...."
And he will write in the vulgar "in style full humble, and light ...
and in our Florentine idiom, that it may not depart from what he
used in the greater part of his works." He returns more than once
to praise the vulgar tongue, praising Dante in one place as he who
"was first to open the way for the return of the Muses banished from
Italy. It was he who revealed the glory of the Florentine idiom. It
was he that brought under the rule of due numbers every beauty of the
vernacular speech. It was he who may be truly said to have brought
back dead poesy to life." In another place he says: "by his teachings
he trained many scholars in poetry, especially in the vulgar, which
to my thinking he first exalted and brought into repute among us
Italians, no otherwise than did Homer his amongst the Greeks or
Virgil his amongst the Latins.... He showed by the effect that every
lofty matter may be treated in it; and made our vernacular glorious
above every other."

Having thus introduced his work to us, he proceeds to speak of the
birth of Dante, who, he says, was born in 1265.[588] He speaks
then of his "boyhood continuously given to study in the liberal
arts"; of his reading of Virgil, Horace, Ovid, and Statius; of his
mastering history "by himself," and philosophy under divers teachers
by long study and toil. He then tells us of his places of study,
naming Florence, Bologna, and Paris.[589] He then passes on to his
meeting in his ninth year with Beatrice, who, he tells us, was the
little daughter of Folco Portinari, and recounts her death in her
twenty-fourth year and Dante's grief, his relations' purpose to cure
him by giving him a wife, and his marriage with Gemma. There follows
the famous interpolation against marriage which I have already quoted
at length,[590] but which, as he confesses, has nothing to do with

Having thus brought Dante to manhood, Boccaccio speaks of his
entrance into politics, "wherein the vain honours that are attached
to public office so entangled him that, without considering whence
he had departed nor whither he was going, with loosened rein he gave
himself almost wholly up to the management of these things; and
therein fortune was so favourable to him that never an embassy was
heard nor answered, never a law enacted nor cancelled, never a peace
made, never a war undertaken, and, in short, never a deliberation of
any weight conducted till he first had given his opinion thereon."
We are told of the factions into which the city was divided, and how
the faction opposed to that of which Dante was in some sense the
leader got the mastery and "hurled Dante in a single moment from the
height of government of his city," so that he was cast out from
it an exile, his house gutted and plundered, and his real property

He shows us the poet wandering hither and thither through Tuscany
"without anxiety" on account of his wife and children, because
he knew Gemma "to be related to one of the chiefs of the hostile
faction ... and some little portion of his possessions she had with
difficulty defended from the rage of the citizens, under the title
of her dowry, on the proceeds of which she provided in narrow style
enough for herself and for his children; whilst he in his poverty
must needs provide for his own sustenance by industry, to which
he was all unused.... Year after year he remained (turning from
Verona, where he had gone to Messer Alberto della Scala on his first
flight, and had been graciously received by him), now with the Count
Salvatico in the Casentino, now with the Marquis Moruello Malespina
in the Lunigiana, now with the Della Faggiola in the mountains near
Urbino, held in much honour so far as consisted with the times and
with their power." Thence Boccaccio tells us he went to Bologna and
Padua, and again to Verona. It was at this time, seeing no way yet
of returning to Florence, that he went to Paris and there studied
philosophy and theology. While he was in Paris, Henry of Luxemburg
was elected King of the Romans and had left Germany to subdue Italy.
Dante "supposed for many reasons that he must prove victorious,
and conceived the hope of returning to Florence by his power ...
although he heard Florence had taken sides against him." So he
crossed the Alps, "he joined with the enemies of the Florentines,
and both by embassies and letters strove to draw the Emperor from
the siege of Brescia in order to lay siege to Florence ... declaring
that if she were overcome, little or no toil would remain to secure
the possession and dominion of all Italy free and unimpeded." This
proved a failure, for Florence was not to be beaten, and the
death of the Emperor "cast into despair all who were looking to
him, and Dante most of all; wherefore no longer going about to seek
his return, he passed the heights of the Apennines and departed to
Romagna, where his last day that was to put an end to all his toils
awaited him." There in Ravenna ruled Guido Novello da Polenta,
who, as Boccaccio says, "did not wait to be requested" to receive
him, "but considering with how great shame men of worth ask such
favours, with liberal mind and with free proffers he approached him,
requesting from Dante of special grace that which he knew Dante must
needs have begged of him, to wit, that it might please him to abide
with him.... Highly pleased by the liberality of the noble knight,
and also constrained by his necessities, Dante awaited no further
invitation but the first, and took his way to Ravenna...." There in
"the middle or thereabout of his fifty-sixth year he fell sick ...
and in the month of September in the years of Christ one thousand
three hundred and twenty-one, on the day whereon the Exaltation of
the Holy Cross is celebrated by the Church, not without the greatest
grief on the part of the aforesaid Guido, and generally all the
other Ravennese, he rendered up to his Creator his toilworn spirit,
the which I doubt not was received into the arms of his most noble
Beatrice, with whom ... he now lives most joyously in that life the
felicity of which expects no end." Then after speaking of the plans
of Guido for Dante's tomb, and again reproaching Florence for her
ingratitude, and inciting her for her own honour to demand his body,
"not but that I am certain he will not be surrendered to thee," what
we may call the first part of the _Vita_ comes to an end.


_From the fresco in S. Apollonia, Florence. By Andrea dal Castagno.


The second part opens with a portrait of the poet very careful and
minute in its description.

"This our poet, then, was of middle height; and when he had reached
maturity he went somewhat bowed, his gait grave and gentle, and ever
clad in most seemly apparel, in such garb as befitted his ripe years.
His face was long, his nose aquiline, and his eyes rather large
than small; his jaws big, and the under lip protruding beyond the
upper. His complexion was dark, his hair and beard thick, black, and
curling, and his expression was ever melancholy and thoughtful."[591]
There follow several stories about him in Verona and at Paris. And
Boccaccio seems to have come very near to the secret of Dante's
tragedy when he tells us at last that "he longed most ardently for
honour and glory; perchance more than befitted his illustrious
virtue." He understood the enormous pride of the man, his insatiable
superiority, his scorn of those who had wronged him; and he is full
of excuses for him, full of pity too for his sorrows and eager to
heap praise on praise of the great poet he so much reverenced and

The rest of the _Vita_ is concerned with Dante's work, and forms, as
it were, a third part, introduced by a long dissertation on poetry
and poets, followed by a short chapter on Dante's pride and some
in which he gives certain instances of it. Then he passes to the
consideration of the _Vita Nuova_, of the _Divine Comedy_,[593] the
_De Monarchia_, the _Convivio_, the _De Vulgari Eloquentia_, and
the _Rime_ in the briefest possible manner. As a critic it must be
confessed Boccaccio is lacking in judgment, but the facts he gives
us, the assertions he makes in matters of fact regarding these
works must be received, I think, with the utmost seriousness. It is
impossible to doubt that Boccaccio wrote in all good faith, and it
must be remembered that there were any number of people living who
had he departed from the truth could have contradicted him. No one
of whom we have any record did contradict him; we hear no whisper of
any protest. Most of those who busied themselves with Dante, on the
contrary, gladly copied him. Had he been a liar with regard to Dante
the Republic of Florence would scarcely have appointed him to the
first _Cathedra Dantesca_; but they gave him the lectureship just
because he was the one person who could fill it with honour.

And so when he tells us that in his maturer years Dante was ashamed
of the _Vita Nuova_ we must accept it, reminding ourselves that this
was no impossibility, for Petrarch too was ashamed of his Italian
sonnets, while Boccaccio actually destroyed a great part of his own.
When he tells us again that Dante left behind him seven cantos of the
_Inferno_ when he fled from Florence, we must accept it in the same
way as we must accept the story of the recovery of the last thirteen
cantos of the _Paradiso_ by Dante's son Jacopo. Indeed, there is no
good reason to find Boccaccio either careless or a liar anywhere in
the work. The immense care he bestowed upon the collection of his
facts has, on the contrary, been admitted by one of the best Dante
scholars of our day[594] and proved by another not less learned,[595]
so that we have no right at all to regard his work as anything less
than the most valuable document we possess on Dante's life. It has
often been treated as a mere romance, it has been sneered at and
abused, but it has never yet been proved to be at fault in any
matter of the least importance touching Dante, or in any matter of
personal fact. Of course it is not the work of a modern historian;
it has not the reassurance of dullness or the mechanical accuracy of
"scientific" history. But to sneer at it because its "account of the
Guelf and Ghibelline disputes and of the political events in which
Dante was chiefly concerned" may seem "vague and inadequate in the
extreme" is merely absurd. Boccaccio is not writing of these events,
he does not propose to give an account of them; he confesses in the
most sincere fashion that he does not rightly know what the words
Guelf and Ghibelline originally implied. He is writing of Dante; and
on Dante's life, on Dante's work, he had enquired and studied and
read and, as he himself says, "pondered" for many years.

We must not demand from the _Vita_ more than it will readily give
us. It was written with a purpose. Its intention was both to praise
Dante and to arrest the attention of the Florentines to the wrong
they had done him; Boccaccio wished to set the facts before them as
an advocate of the dead. The facts: he had known Beatrice, Dante's
daughter, and three other relations or friends of Dante's whom he
names, Pier Giardino of Ravenna,[596] one of Dante's most intimate
friends; Andrea Poggio,[597] Dante's nephew, and Dino Perini,
Andrea's rival in the discovery of the lost cantos of the _Inferno_,
and many others who had known both Dante and Beatrice;[598] thus he
could if he wished come by facts; and that he set down just facts has
been proved over and over again. And then there were still living
those who had hated Dante bitterly and would gladly have found fault
if they could. There were others too who would certainly have allowed
nothing entirely to the detriment of Dante to pass unchallenged: they
made no sign. That they were silent is in itself a sufficient tribute
to the truthfulness of the book.

I have already said something as to the versions of the Life:[599]
it remains to add that though the MSS. of the _Compendium_ are rare,
those of the _Vita_ are very numerous,[600] while the first printed
edition of the work was published in Venice in 1477 by Vindelin da
Spira before the edition of the _Divine Comedy_ with the comment of
Jacopo della Lana, erroneously attributed to Benvenuto da Imola.
Prof. Macri Leone describes nineteen later editions, making with his
own some twenty-one in all.[601]

It is not surprising that the author of this eager defence of
Dante, of the first life of the poet, should on the petition of
the Florentines for a lecturer in the _Divine Comedy_ have been
chosen by the Signoria to fill that honourable and difficult post.
His first lecture, as we have seen, was delivered in the church
of Santo Stefano on Sunday, October 23, 1373. Already an old man,
infirm in health, he can scarcely have hoped to finish his work, and
as it proved he was not able to complete a sixth part of it, for
attacked by illness in the winter of 1373, he broke off abruptly
at the seventeenth verse of the seventeenth canto of the _Inferno_
and returned to Certaldo really to die. That, after that sudden
breakdown, if such it was, he never resumed his lectures seems
certain, and although it was at the time supposed that Boccaccio
had written a complete commentary on the _Divine Comedy_, and a
fourteenth-century _Comento_, now commonly known as _Il Falso
Boccaccio_,[602] was accepted even by the Academicians of the Crusca
as his work,[603] it seems certain that the fragment we know as his
_Comento_ was all that was ever written, though how much of it was
actually delivered in lectures it is impossible to say.[604]

That the _Comento_ we have and no other is really the work of
Boccaccio was proved long ago by Manni,[605] for it seems, that
when Boccaccio died at last, a dispute arose among his heirs as
to the meaning of his Will, the bone of contention being this
very _Comento_, which both Fra Martino da Signa of Santo Spirito
in Florence, to whom he had left his books, claimed as part of
his library, and also Jacopo his half-brother, to whose children
Boccaccio had left all the other property he had.[606] The affair
was at last referred to the Consoli dell' Arte del Cambio, the two
sides submitting their claims in writing. We find there that Fra
Martino, if the _Comento_ were adjudged his property, professed his
willingness to let Jacopo have it, a sheet at a time, to copy.
Jacopo, however, makes no such offer; we should nevertheless be
grateful to him--he was the victor--for in his claim he minutely
describes the MS. in question and so enables us to identify it with
those we possess.[607] "Dinanzi a voi domando," we read there,
"ventiquattro quaderni, et quattordici quadernucci, tutti in carta
di bambágia, non legati insieme, ma l' uno dall' altro diviso, d'
uno iscritto, o _vero isposizione sopra sedici Capitoli, e parte del
diciassettesimo del Dante, il quale scritto il detto Messer Giovanni
di Boccaccio non compiè_...."

This incomplete work,[608] which breaks off so suddenly really in the
middle of a paragraph, might seem to be rather a true commentary, a
sort of full notes on the work in question, such as is still common
in Italy, than a series of lectures delivered _vivâ voce_. Indeed
the living voice is almost entirely absent, and as Dr. Toynbee
says, "if it were not for a single passage at the beginning of his
opening lecture in which he directly addresses his audience as 'Voi,
Signori fiorentini,' it would be difficult to gather from the work
itself that it was composed originally for public delivery."[609] He
seems to have composed it as he would have composed a book, with the
utmost care and foresight, often referring some point forward to be
discussed later; and thus we may see that he had already considered
as a critic and as a commentator the whole of the work, and had made
up his mind that such and such a reference would be better discussed
at some point in the _Purgatorio_ or at another in the _Paradiso_,
and so refused to discuss it at the moment. His work too is not
only filled with Dantesque thought and phraseology, but is in its
form composed in the manner of Dante, that is to say, he expounds
first the literal meaning, the obvious sense, and then the secondary
meaning or sense allegorical, just as Dante does in the _Convivio_
when speaking of his _Canzoni_, and as he had already begun to do
even in the _Vita Nuova_. Nor was this anything new for Boccaccio;
all his life he had himself written in allegory, and had been used to
condemn those who found no secondary meaning in the poets.[610]

But the most characteristic part of the _Comento_, its greatest
surprise for us too, is perhaps to be found in its opening. For after
excusing himself with his usual modesty as wholly insufficient for
the task, he addresses his audience as "men of lofty understanding
and of wonderful quickness of understanding"--facts his commentary
does not altogether lead us to endorse, for he feels called upon to
explain the simplest things,[611] and then after quoting Plato[612]
in the _Timæus_ as to the propriety of invoking divine aid, he asks
for God's help not in any Christian prayer, but in the words of
Anchises in the second _Æneid_:--

    "Jupiter omnipotens, precibus si flecteris ullis,
    Aspice nos: hoc tantum: et, si pietate meremur
    Da deinde auxilium, pater!"[613]

He was so much a man of the Renaissance that he does not seem to have
felt it at all inappropriate to ask thus for God's aid in expounding
the greatest of Christian poems, by addressing himself to Jupiter: he
merely explains that as the work he is to explain is in verse it is
proper to invoke God in verse also.

Having thus asked for God's blessing, he proceeds to open his
lecture. He first examines the work he is to discuss as to its kind,
then as to its causes, its title and school of philosophy. In doing
so he shows us that he was aware of the doubtful letter of Dante to
Can Grande della Scala,[614] for he quotes it, though he names it
not. He does not approve of the title--_The Comedy_--for such is used
for low subjects and common people; but Dante's poem is concerned
with the greatest persons and deeds, with sin and penitence, the
ways of angels and the secrets of God. The style too of comedy,
he asserts, is humble and simple, while Dante's poem is lofty and
ornate, although it is written in the vulgar tongue, and he is
obliged to admit that in the Latin it would have had a finer dignity.

From this he proceeds to discuss Dante's name and its significance
much as he had already done in the _Vita_, and having decided that
the poem belongs to moral philosophy, proceeds, after formally
submitting all he may say to the judgment of the Catholic Church,
to deal with the _Inferno_. Yet even now he cannot come at the poem
without discussing the _Inferno_ itself, whether there be a Hell,
or maybe more than one, where it is placed, how it is approached,
what are its shape and size and its purpose, and lastly why it is
called _Infernus_.[615] Then on the very brink of the poem he turns
away again to discuss why Dante wrote in Tuscan instead of in Latin;
and having given practically the same explanation as that we have
already noted in the _Vita_,[616] he proceeds at long last to the
_Commentary_ proper.

And here we cannot but be astonished at the extraordinary mixture
of simplicity and subtlety, of elementary knowledge and profound
learning which are heaped together without any discrimination. There
is something here of the endless leisure of the Middle Age in which
Boccaccio seems determined to say everything. "One wonders," says
Dr. Toynbee, "for what sort of audience Boccaccio's lectures were
intended." In the terms of the petition the lecturer was to expound
the _Commedia_ for the benefit of "_etiam non grammatici_." But it
is difficult to conceive that any audience of Florentines, even of
Florentine children, however ignorant of Latin, let alone the "uomini
d' alto intendemento e di mirabile perspicacità" to whom Boccaccio
refers in such flattering terms in his opening lecture, could require
to be informed, as Boccaccio carefully informs it, that an anchor is
"an instrument of iron which has at one end several grapples, and at
the other a ring by which it is attached to a rope whereby it is let
down to the bottom of the sea,"[617] or that "every ship has three
principal parts, of which one is called the bows, which is sharp and
narrow, because it is in front and has to cut the water; the second
is called the poop and is behind, where the steersman stands to work
the tiller, by means of which, according as it is moved to one side
or the other, the ship is made to go where the steersman wishes;
while the third part is called the keel, which is the bottom of the
ship, and lies between the bows and the stern,"[618] and so on.

Nor is this all, for even the Bible stories are retold at
length,[619] and a whole discourse is given upon Æneas.[620] The
elementary subjects dealt with at such length cheek by jowl with the
most profound questions seems to us extraordinary, nor apparently are
we the only readers to be surprised; for possibly on this account
Boccaccio was bitterly reproached in his own day for lecturing on the
_Commedia_ to the vulgar. He replied, really admitting the offence,
and pleading poverty as his excuse in two sonnets,[621] one of which
I quote here:--[622]

    "If Dante mourns, there wheresoe'er he be
      That such high fancies of a soul so proud
      Should be laid open to the vulgar crowd
    (As touching my Discourse, I'm told by thee)
    This were my grievous pain; and certainly
      My proper blame should not be disavow'd;
      Though hereof somewhat, I declare aloud
    Were due to others, not alone to me.
    False hopes, true poverty, and therewithal
      The blended judgment of a host of friends,
        And their entreaties, made that I did this.
    But of all this there is no gain at all
      Unto the thankless souls with whose base ends
        Nothing agrees that's great or generous."

So much for the vulgar. But, as I have already said, beside these
elementary discourses we find a vast mass of learning and research
that bears eloquent testimony not only to the extent of Boccaccio's
reading, but also to his eager and careful study of the works of

Dr. Toynbee has suggested that it was probably owing to his failing
health and energy that he introduced into the _Comento_ so many and
so copious extracts from his own previous works, the _De Claris
Mulieribus_,[623] the _De Casibus Virorum Illustrium_,[624] the _De
Montibus_, _Sylvis_, _Lacubus_, etc.,[625] and the _De Genealogiis
Deorum_,[626] but I think probably Boccaccio never gave the matter a
thought. His business was to expound, and he used his own previous
works as works of reference--the best works of the sort, we must
remember, that were to be had in his day. To have named these
works--he never does refer to them--would have been useless in those
days before the invention of the printing press; and then they were
themselves mere collections for the most part, the vast notebooks of
his enormous reading.

It is not, however, by any means on them alone he relies, for he uses
and lays under contribution, as it might seem almost every writer
with whose works he was acquainted.[627] Of these, two are especially
notable, namely, Homer and Tacitus. He quotes the former six times in
all, four times in the _Iliad_[628] and twice in the _Odyssey_;[629]
the last quotation from the _Iliad_ being verbatim from the Latin
translation of Pilatus which Petrarch had copied, the MS., as we have
already noted, being now preserved in the Bibliothèque Nationale at
Paris.[630] As for Tacitus--and Boccaccio is the first modern writer
to show any acquaintance with his work--he uses the fifteenth book of
the _Annals_[631] for his account of the death of Lucan, and names
his source of information,[632] and books twelve to fifteen for his
account of the death of Seneca.[633] The _Comento_ is thus not only
a most precious source of information with regard to the _Divine
Comedy_, but a kind of _Encyclopædia Dantesca_ into which the whole
learning of the age, the whole reading of Boccaccio had been emptied.

We may perhaps gather something of its significance, its importance,
and its extraordinary reputation if we consider for a moment the
freedom with which it was exploited by the commentators who came
after.[634] Beginning with the Anonimo Fiorentino, who wrote some
thirty years after Boccaccio's death, perhaps the worst offender, for
he never once mentions Boccaccio's name, while he copies from him
page after page, there follow Benvenuto da Imola (1373), Francesco
da Buti (1385), who make a very considerable use of his work, the
latter especially, while Landino (1481), the best of the Renaissance
commentators, freely quotes him,[635] calling him "huomo, et per
dottrina, et per costumi, et per essere propinquo a' tempi di Dante,
degno di fede." In the sixteenth century Gelli, who lectured before
the Academy of Florence between 1541 and 1561, quotes Boccaccio
sixty times, "oftener," says Dr. Toynbee, "than he quotes any other
commentator save Landino." He more than once declares that Boccaccio
has explained a passage so well that he can only repeat his words:
"Non saprei io per me trovarci miglior esposizione che quella del
Boccaccio." He at least and indeed for the first time appreciates the
_Comento_ truly.

Considering then this long chorus of praise, though it be more
often the silent praise of imitation than the frank commendation of
acknowledgment, it is strange that only four MSS. of the _Comento_
have come down to us, three in the Magliabecchiana and one in the
Riccardiana libraries in Florence;[636] while of these only three
are complete.[637] Nor is it less surprising that the first printed
edition of such a work should not have appeared till 1724.[638] This
edition and that by Moutier,[639] which followed it nearly a hundred
years later, founded on the same single MS., are of little critical
value, and that of Fratticelli, published in 1844, is but a reprint
of the Moutier text. It remained for Gaetano Milanesi, that man of
herculean labour and vast learning, to produce the first critical
text in 1863, three more MSS. of the _Comento_ having been discovered
in the meantime. He divided the book into _lezioni_, which are but
doubtfully of any authority; but his text holds the field, and he was
not slow or cold in his recognition of the value of the work of one
who, almost a contemporary of Dante, had loved and honoured him, not
only in writing his life and composing a commentary on his work, but
in verse too, as in this inscription for his portrait:--

    "Dante Alighieri, a dark oracle
    Of wisdom and of art, I am; whose mind
    Has to my country such great gifts assign'd
    That men account my powers a miracle.
    My lofty fancy passed as low as Hell
    As high as Heaven, secure and unconfined;
    And in my noble book doth every kind
    Of earthly love and heavenly doctrine dwell.
    Renounèd Florence was my mother,--nay,
    Stepmother unto me her piteous son,
    Through sin of cursed slander's tongue and tooth.
    Ravenna sheltered me so cast away;
    My body is with her,--my soul with One
    For Whom no envy can make dim the truth."[640]


[566] Cf. MILANESI, _Il Comento di G.B. sopra la Commedia di
Dante_ (Firenze, 1863), in two volumes. This is the best edition
of Boccaccio's _Comento_. The redaction of the petition I borrow
from Dr. PAGET TOYNBEE'S excellent article already alluded to, on
_Boccaccio's Commentary on the Divina Commedia_ in _Modern Language
Review_ (Cambridge, 1907), Vol. II, No. 2, pp. 97 _et seq._, to
which I am much indebted. I give the Latin text of the petition from
MILANESI, _u.s._, Vol. I, p. 1 _et seq._: "Pro parte quamplurium
civium civitatis Florentie desiderantium tam pro se ipsis, quam
pro aliis civibus aspirare desiderantibus ad virtutes, quam etiam
pro eorum posteris et descendentibus, instrui in libro Dantis, ex
quo tam in fuga vitiorum, quam in acquisitione virtutum, quam in
ornatu eloquentie possunt etiam non grammatici informari; reverenter
supplicatur vobis dominis Prioribus artium et Vexillifero Justitie
populi et comunis Florentie, quatenus dignemini opportune providere
et facere solempniter reformari, quod vos possitis eligere unum
valentem et sapientem virum in huiusmodi poesie scientia bene doctum,
pro eo tempore quo velitis, non maiore unius anni, ad legendum
librum qui vulgariter appellatur el Dante in civitate Florentie,
omnibus audire volentibus, continuatis diebus non feriatis, et per
continuatas lectiones, ut in similibus fieri solet; et cum eo salario
quo voletis, non majore centum florenorum auri pro anno predicto et
cum modis, formis, articulis et tenoribus, de quibus vobis videbitur
convenire. Et quod camerarii Camere comunis predicti ... debeant
dictum salarium dicto sic electo dare et solvere de pecunia dicti
Comunis in duobus terminis sive paghis, videlicet medietatem circa
finem mensis decembris, et reliquam medietatem circa finem mensis
aprilis, absque ulla retentione gabelle; habita dumtaxat apodixa
officii dominorum Priorum; et visa electione per vos facta de aliquo
ad lecturam predictam et absque aliqua alia probatione vel fide
fienda de predictis vel aliquo predictorum vel solempnitate aliqua

[567] The record is preserved in the _Libro delle Provvisioni_, and
is printed by MILANESI, _op. cit._, Vol. I, p. ii:--

"Super qua quidem petitione ... dicti domini Priores et Vexellifer
habita invicem et una cum officio gonfaloneriorum Sotietatum
populi et cum officio Duodecim bonorum virorum Comunis Florentie
deliberatione solempni, et demum inter ipsos omnes in sufficienti
numero congregatos in palatio populi Florentie, premisso et facto
diligenti et secreto scruptineo et obtento partito ad fabas nigras
et albas per vigintiocto ex eis pro utilitate Comunis eiusdem ...
deliberaverunt die VIIII mensis augusti anno dominice Incarnationis
MCCCLXXIII indictione XI, quod dicta petitio et omnia et singula in
ea contenta, admictantur, ... et observentur, ... secundum petitionis
eiusdem continentiam et tenorem....

"Item supradicto Preposito, modo et forma predictis proponente et
partitum faciente inter dictos omnes consiliarios dicti consilii in
ipso consilio presentes, quod cui placet et videtur suprascriptam
quartam provisionem disponentem pro eligendo unum ad legendum librum
Dantis, que sic incipit: 'Pro parte quamplurium civium etc.' ...
admicti et observari ... et executioni mandari posse et debere
... det fabam nigram pro _sic_; et quod cui contrarium seu aliud
videretur, det fabam pro _non_. Et ipsis fabis datis recollectis,
segregatis et numeratis ... et ipsorum consiliariorum voluntatibus
exquisitis ad fabas nigras et albas, ut moris est, repertum fuit
CLXXXVI ex ipsis consiliariis repertis dedisse fabas nigras pro
_sic_. Et sic secundum formam provisionis eiusdem obtentum, firmatum
et reformatum fuit, non obstantibus reliquis XVIIII ex ipsis
consiliariis repertis dedisse fabas albas in contrarium pro _non_."

It will be seen that they voted with beans--a white bean for "No," a
black bean for "Yes."

[568] Cf. MILANESI, _op. cit._, _u.s._, Vol. I, p. iii, and TOYNBEE,
_op. cit._, p. 99. The record in the _Libro delle Provvisioni_
ad annum 1373 has been destroyed since 1604, when Filippo Valori
(cf. GAMBA, _Serie dei Testi di Lingua_, ed. quarta, p. 554, col.
a. No. 2006), saw it. He says: "Il qual Boccaccio, oltre al dirsi
Maestro dell' Eloquenza, fu stimato di tal dottrina, che e' potesse
dichiarare quella di Dante, e perciò, l' anno mille trecento
settanta tre, lo elesse la Città per Lettor pubblico, con salario
di cento fiorini, che fu notabile; _e vedesi questo nel Libro delle
Provvisioni_." Cf. MANNI, _Istoria del Decamerone_, p. 101. The facts
are, however, recorded in the _Libro dell' uscita della Camera_, now
in the _Archivio di Stato di Firenze_. MILANESI, _op. cit._, p. iii,
quotes this document: "1373, 31 Decembris. Domino Johanni de Certaldo
honorabili civi florentino electo per dominos Priores Artium et
Vexilliferum Justitie dicti populi et Comunis, die XXV mensis augusti
proxime preteriti ad legendum librum qui vulgariter appellatur il
Dante, in civitate Florentie, pro tempore et termino unius anni
incepti die decimo ottavo mensis ottubris proxime preteriti et
cum salario centum florenorum auri pio anno quolibet, solvendorum
secundum formam reformationis consilii dicti populi et Comunis de
hac materia loquentis, pro ipsius domini Johannis salario et paga
primorum sex mensium dicti temporis, initiatis die decimo ottavo
mensis ottubris proxime preteriti, pro dimidio totius dicti salarii,
vigore electionis de eo facte, in summa florenorum quinquaginta auri."

[569] Cf. GEROLA, _Alcuni documenti inediti per la biografia del
Boccaccio_ in _Giornale Stor. della Lett. Ital._, Vol. XXXII (1898),
p. 345 _et seq._

[570] So GUIDO MONALDI tells us in his _Diario_ (ed. Prato, 1835):
"Domenica a dì ventitrè di ottobre cominciò in Firenze a leggere il
Dante M. Giovanni Boccaccio."

[571] Cf. _Boll. di Soc. Dant. Ital._, n.s., III, p. 38 note.
Milanesi in his Introduction to the _Comento_ tells us, mistakenly,
that Boccaccio lectured in S. Stefano al Ponte Vecchio. This church,
since the church of S. Cecilia was destroyed in Piazza Signoria at
the end of the eighteenth century, has been called SS. Stefano e
Cecilia, but from the thirteenth century till then it was called S.
Stefano _ad portam ferram_. That it was not here but at S. Stefano
della Badia that Boccaccio lectured we know from Monaldi's diary,
and it is confirmed for us by Benvenuto da Imola: "In interiori
circulo est Abbatia monachorum sancti Benedicti, cuius ecclesia
dicitur Sanctus Stephanus, ubi certius et ordinatius pulsabantur
horæ quam in aliqua alia ecclesia civitatis; quæ tamen hodie est
inordinata et neglecta, ut vidi, dum audirem venerabilem præceptorem
meum Boccaccium de Certaldo legentem istum nobilem poetam in dicta
ecclesia" (_Comentum_ (ed. Vernon), Vol. V, p. 145). Dr. Toynbee
thinks that S. Stefano is the ancient dedication of the Badia,
which was later placed under the protection of S. Mary. If this was
so, then it was in the Badia itself that Boccaccio lectured. Mr.
Carmichael, however (_On the Old Road through France to Florence_
(Murray), p. 254), states that Boccaccio lectured not in the abbey,
but in the little church of S. Stefano ad Abbatiam, formerly
adjoining the abbey, and indeed almost a part of it. Unfortunately he
gives no authority for this important statement, nor can he now give
any. It is, however, a very interesting suggestion, worth examining

[572] It will be remembered that Dante was not only expelled from
Florence, but condemned by the Florentines to be burned alive, "igne
comburatur sic quod moriatur," should he be taken. This sentence
bears date March 10, 1302.

[573] See _supra_, p. 20.

[574] DE BLASIIS, _op. cit._, p. 139 _et seq._

[575] _Filocolo_, _ed. cit._, II, p. 377. Cf. DOBELLI, _Il culto
del Boccaccio per Dante_ in _Giornale Dantesca_ (1897), Vol. V,
p. 207 _et seq._ Signor Dobelli seems to me to lay far too much
emphasis on the sheer imitations of Boccaccio. Now and then we find
a mere copying, but not often. This learned article of Dobelli's is
traversed, and I think very happily, by a writer in the _Giornale
Stor. della Lett. Ital._, XXXII (1898), p. 219 _et seq._

[576] For instance, in the opening of the third part, _Filostrato_,
_ed. cit._, Pt. III, p. 80, which may be compared with _Paradiso_, I,
vv. 13 _et seq._

  Fulvida luce, il raggio della quale
  Infino a questo loco m' ha guidato,
  Com' io volea per l' amorose sale;
  Or convien che 'l tuo lume duplicato
  Guidi l' ingegno mio, e faccil tale,
  Che in particella alcuna dichiarato
  Per me appaia il ben del dolce regno
  D' Amor, del qual fu fatto Troilo degno.


          O buono Apollo, all' ultimo lavoro
          Fammi del tuo valor sì fatto vaso,
          Come dimandi a dar l' amato alloro.
          Insino a qui l' un giogo di Parnaso
          Assai mi fu, ma or con ambedue
          M' è uopo entrar nell' aringo rimaso.
                 .  .  .  .  .  .

          O divina virtù, se mi ti presti
          Tanto, che l' ombra del beato regno
          Segnata nel mio capo io manifesti
          Venir vedra 'mi al tuo diletto legno
          E coronarmi allor di quelle foglie
          Che la materia e tu mi farai degno.


Or, again, compare _Filostrato_, Pt. VIII, p. 249, with _Purgatorio_,
VI, vv. 118 _et seq._

       .  .  .  .  .  .
  O sommo Giove ...
       .  .  .  .  .  .
       .  .  .  .  .  .
  Son li giusti occhi tuoi rivolti altrove?


          E se licito m' è, o sommo Giove
          Che fosti in terra per noi crucifisso
          Son li giusti occhi tuoi rivolti altrove?


Or, again, compare _Filostrato_, Pt. II, p. 58, with _Inferno_, II,
vv. 127 _et seq._

  Quali i fioretti dal notturno gelo
  Chinati e chiusi, poi che 'l sol gl' imbianca
  Tutti s' apron diritti in loro stelo;
  Cotal si fe' di sua virtude stanca
  Troilo allora....


          Quali i fioretti dal notturno gelo
          Chinati e chiusi, poi che 'l sol gl' imbianca
          Si drizzan tutti aperti in loro stelo;
          Tal mi fec' io di mia virtute stanca:


Nor are these by any means the only instances; there are very
many others. I content myself, however, with a comparison between
_Filostrato_, Pt. VII, p. 238, and the _Convito_, Trattato IX, which
would seem to show that before 1345 Boccaccio knew this work as well
as the _Comedy_.

  È gentilezza dovunque è virtute.


          È gentilezza dovunque virtute.


[577] See _supra_, p. 183, n. 1.

[578] For date of composition see _supra_, p. 183, n. 2.

[579] He seems to have copied too the _Vita Nuova_. BARBI in his
edition of the _Vita Nuova_, p. xiv _et seq._, speaks of Boccaccio's
MSS. relating to Dante, and notes in a MS. _Laurenziano_ (xc, _sup._
136), "scripto per lo modo che lo scripse Messere Giovanni Boccaccio
da Certaldo."

[580] The _Carme_ is given by CORAZZINI, _op. cit._, p. 53.

[581] _Fam._, XXI, 15.

[582] Here we see Petrarch's absurd hatred of the vulgar tongue. How
a man so intelligent and so far in advance of his age in all else
could deceive himself so easily as to believe that Latin in his day
could be anything but a tongue for priests to bark in is difficult to
understand. Apart from the Liturgy and the Divine Office and a few
hymns and religious works maybe, no work of art has been produced in
it. Had Petrarch been an ecclesiastic, it might be comprehensible;
but he was the first man of the modern world. No doubt he was
dreaming of the Empire.

[583] ? The _Carme_.

[584] It must be observed that the _Vita_ appears in many forms, but
it will be enough for us to consider the two principal, both of which
claim to be by Boccaccio. The whole question is thoroughly dealt with
by MACRI LEONE in his edition of the _Vita_ (Firenze, 1888), and more
briefly by WITTE, _The two versions of Boccaccio's life of Dante_ in
_Essays on Dante_ (London, 1898), p. 262 _et seq._, and by Dr. E.
MOORE, _Dante and his early Biographers_ (London, 1890).

Of these two versions the longer we shall call the _Vita_, the
shorter the _Compendio_, but the latter is by no means a mere epitome
of the former, for some of the episodes are more fully treated in
it, while others are ignored. We shall find ourselves in agreement
with the great majority of modern critics if we regard the _Vita_ as
the original and the _Compendio_ as a modification of it executed
either by Boccaccio or by another, and if we assert that the _Vita_
is by Boccaccio and the _Compendio_ an unauthorised redraft of it,
we shall be supported not only by so great an authority as MACRI
LEONE, but by Biscioni, Pelli, Tiraboschi, Gamba, Baldelli, Foscolo,
Paur, Witte (who hesitates to condemn the _Compendio_ altogether),
Scartazzini, Koerting, and Dr. Moore. On the other hand, Dionisi
and Mussi held that the _Compendio_ was the original and the _Vita_
a _rifacimento_; while Schaeffer-Boichorst thought both to be the
work of Boccaccio, the _Vita_ being the original; and the editors
of the Paduan edition of the _Divine Comedy_ (1822) thought both to
be genuine, but the _Compendio_ the first draft. Dr. Witte enters
into the differences between the two, printing passages in parallel
columns; Macri Leone is even fuller in his comparison; Dr. Moore
also compares them. Briefly we may say that the _Compendio_ is
shorter, that it "hedges" when it can and softens and abbreviates
the denunciation of Florence, and omits much: e.g. the _Vita's_
assertion of Dante's devotion to Virgil, Horace, Ovid, and Statius,
while inserting certain personal suggestions: e.g. that in his later
years Dante having quite recovered from his love for Beatrice ran
after other women especially in his exile in Lucca, where he became
enamoured of a young girl called Pargoletta, and in the Casentino of
another who "had a pretty face but was afflicted with a goitre." As
for Pargoletta, it is not a proper name at all, as Boccaccio knew,
for in the same chapter of the _Vita_ he writes: "in sua pargoletta
età." He was incapable of falling into this error, which apparently
arose from a confusion of _Purgatorio_, XXIV, 34-6, and XXXI, 59. In
the _Compendio_ the attacks on marriage are not less bitter, only
whereas in the _Vita_ they are only against marriage in general,
in the _Compendio_ we get an amusing description of the hindrances
to Dante's studies caused by his wife's complaints of his solitary
habits and her absurd interruptions of his meditations by asking him
to pay nurse's wages and see to children's clothes. The _Compendio_
too in all matters concerning Dante's contemporaries is more vague.
Thus the _Vita_ (possibly wrongly) tells us that in Verona Dante took
refuge with Alberto della Scala; the _Compendio_, more cautious, says
with the "Signore della terra." It also omits the stories concerning
Dante at Siena and Paris, and entirely remodels the digressions in
chapters ix. and x. of the _Vita_ on Poetry. It omits the extremely
characteristic excuse for lechery of the _Vita_ and omits all dates:
e.g. that Dante began the _Vita Nuova_ in his twenty-sixth year, as
well as the assertion that he was in his later years ashamed of it.
There are many other differences also. But it might seem impossible
in the face of the evidence brought forward by Macri Leone and others
to doubt that the _Vita_ is Boccaccio's work and not the _Compendio_.
We shall therefore here leave the latter and devote ourselves to
the former, only remarking that if Boccaccio wrote the _Vita_ it is
improbable that he wrote another work on the same subject, since, if
he did so, it must have been written in the last two years of his
life, for only one work is referred to by him in the _Comento_, viz.
the _Trattatello in lode di Dante_. We consider then the _Compendio_
as a _rifacimento_ not from Boccaccio's hand. The evidence is
thoroughly sifted by MACRI LEONE, _op. cit._, whom the reader should
consult for a complete treatment of the matter.

[585] _The Early Lives of Dante_, tr. by P. H. Wicksteed, M.A.
(King's Classics, Chatto and Windus, 1907). This little book, besides
preface and introduction, contains Boccaccio's _Vita_ in English, as
well as Leonardo Bruni's and three appendices.

[586] Cf. Mr. Wicksteed's translation, p. 41.

[587] As Mr. Wicksteed's translation is the version of the _Vita_
most likely to come into the hands of English readers, I propose here
to traverse his "warnings" and "cautions." Whatever scholars may
"appear to be settling down to," this at least is certain, that of
writers upon Dante, Boccaccio is the only one who in professing to
write a life can have had absolutely first-hand evidence. The points
that Mr. Wicksteed wishes to warn us against are three. Boccaccio
asserts that Dante was licentious, that he was a bitter political
partisan, and that when he had once left Gemma he never returned
to her or allowed her to follow him. In order that we may be quite
sure what Boccaccio says, as well as what Mr. Wicksteed thinks he
says, I quote Mr. Wicksteed's translation (p. 79): "... there was no
fiercer Ghibelline than he, nor more opposed to the Guelfs. And that
for which I most blush, in the interest of his memory, is that in
Romagna it is matter of greatest notoriety that any feeble woman or
little child who had but spoken, in party talk, in condemnation of
the Ghibelline faction would have stirred him to such madness as to
move him to hurl stones at such, had they not held their peace; and
in such bitterness he lived even until his death. And assuredly I
blush _to be forced_ to taint the fame of such a man with any defect;
but the order of things on which I have begun in some sort demands
it; _because that if I hold my peace concerning those things in him
which are less worthy of praise_, I shall withdraw much faith from
the praiseworthy things already recounted. So do I plead my excuse
to him himself, who perchance, even as I write, looketh down with
scornful eye from some lofty region of heaven. Amid all the virtue,
amid all the knowledge that hath been shown above to have belonged to
this wondrous poet, lechery found most ample place not only in the
years of his youth, but also of his maturity; the which vice, though
it be natural and common and scarce to be avoided, yet in truth is so
far from being commendable that it cannot even be suitably excused.
But who amongst mortals shall be a righteous judge to condemn it? Not
I. Oh, the impurity, oh, the brutish appetite of men." The passage
as to Gemma will be found at the end of the interpolation against
marriage (p. 27), at the end of which he says: "Assuredly I do not
affirm that these things chanced to Dante; for I do not know it;
_though true it is_ that (whether such like things or others were the
cause) when once he had parted from her [Gemma] who had been given
him as a consolation in his sufferings! never would he go where she
was, nor suffer her to come to where he was, albeit he was the father
of several children by her." Let us take these things in order.

Boccaccio asserts, much to Mr. Wicksteed's distress, it seems,
that Dante was a bitter and intolerant politician. He will have
none of it. Well, let Dante speak for himself. When he hails as
the "Lamb of God" a German king whom the Guelfs defeated and most
probably poisoned; when he speaks of Florence, the Guelf city, as
"the rank fox that lurketh in hiding, the beast that drinketh from
the Arno, polluting its waters with its jaws, the viper that stings
its mother's heart, the black sheep that corrupts the whole flock,
the Myrrha guilty of incest with her father," according to Mr.
Wicksteed, we ought not to consider him a bitter politician at all;
indeed only an "ill-informed" and "superficial" person like Boccaccio
would call him so. To ordinary men, however, such semi-scholastic,
semi-Biblico-classical language sounds like politics, and fierce
party politics too, and one cannot conceive what other explanation
Mr. Wicksteed would offer us of it. Mr. Wicksteed tells us that
when Boccaccio declares that it was well known in Romagna that he
would have flung stones at any who "in party talk had but spoken in
condemnation of the Ghibelline cause" he was speaking figuratively.
Perhaps so; but I doubt if Mr. Wicksteed, had he had the happiness to
be a Guelf, would have cared to put Dante to the proof. And we may
well ask what would have deterred the man, who in hell thought it
virtuous to cheat Frate Alberigo and leave him blinded by his frozen
tears, from hurling a few stones on behalf of his cause?

Nor is Mr. Wicksteed any more ready to believe that Dante was a lover
of women. When Boccaccio tells us that Dante fell into the sin of
lechery not only in his youth but in his maturity, it is on the face
of it certain that he is compelled to say so, that he has irrefutable
evidence for it, since he excuses himself for the necessity of his
assertion. Nor is there a tittle of evidence to refute Boccaccio.
Mr. Wicksteed, like a good Protestant, prefers his own private
judgment. He prefers to think of Dante as in all respects what he
would have him. "On the whole," he says, "I think the student may
safely form his own judgment from the material in his hands [viz.
Dante's own works, I think] _without attaching any authoritative
significance whatever to Boccaccio's assertion. It is safe to go
even a step further and to say that the dominating impression which
that assertion leaves is definitely false_...!" It is clear that Mr.
Wicksteed is not going to allow Boccaccio to involve Dante in any of
his _Decameron_ stories!

Mr. Wicksteed is equally indignant that Boccaccio should have
asserted that Dante when he parted from Gemma never returned to her
nor suffered her to come to him. It seems, then, that Dante too must
become a respectable and sedate person in the modern middle-class
manner. He was not a bitter party politician; he was not a lover
of women; far from it: he lived as peaceably and continuously as
circumstances allowed him with his wife, whom he cherished with
all the tenderness we might expect of a nature so docile, so well
controlled, and so considerate of the sin and weakness of others.
"What was Boccaccio's source of information as to Dante and Gemma
never having met after the former's exile," Mr. Wicksteed angrily
declares, "it is impossible to say." But that does not invalidate
the statement. What is Mr. Wicksteed's source of doubt? Is there
any evidence that they did meet? And if they did not, why curse
Boccaccio? Boccaccio tells us they never did meet. Yet having no
evidence at all to offer us in the matter Mr. Wicksteed has the
extraordinary temerity to close his tirade, one cannot call it an
argument, by this weird confession: "It would be straining the
evidence [? what evidence] to say that we can establish a positive
case on the other side." I agree with him; it would, it would. But
enough! Such is the virtue of certain prepossessions that, though the
sun be as full of spots as a housewife's pudding is full of raisins,
if it please us not we will deny it.

[588] Elsewhere in the _Vita_ he tells us the month (September), but
nowhere the day (21st). He makes a slip in saying Urban IV was then
Pope. Clement IV had been elected in February.

[589] But it is also Boccaccio who seems to suggest that Dante may
have come to England, to Oxford. This visit Tiraboschi supposed to
stand merely on the assertion of Giovanni di Serravalle (1416-17),
who says Dante had studied "Paduæ, Bononiæ, demum Oxoniis et
Parisiis"; but in the _Carme_, which accompanied the copy of the
_Divine Comedy_ Boccaccio sent to Petrarch (CORAZZINI, _op. cit._, p.
53), he shows us Dante led by Apollo:--

                        "per celsa nivosi
    Cyrreos, mediosque sinus tacitosque recessus
    Naturæ, cœlique vias, terræque, marisque
    Aonios fontes, Parnasi culmen et antra
    Julia, Parisios dudum, extremosque Britannos."

Cf. MAZZINGHI, _A Brief Notice of Recent Researches respecting Dante_
(1844), quoted by PAGET TOYNBEE, _Dante in English Literature_
(Methuen, 1909), Vol. II, p. 696 _et seq._

[590] See _supra_, p. 185 _et seq._ As we have seen, this tirade is
not altogether original, but is founded on a passage of Theophrastus,
translated by Jerome, and copied out by Boccaccio. Cf. MACRI LEONE,
_Vita di Dante_ (Firenze, 1888).

[591] Mr. Wicksteed's translation, p. 53.

[592] On what Boccaccio has to say on Dante's pride see pp. 58 and 77
of Mr. Wicksteed's translation.

[593] He treats of the _Divine Comedy_ more fully than of the rest.
"The question is moved at large by many men, and amongst them sapient
ones," he writes, "why Dante, a man perfectly versed in knowledge,
chose to write in the Florentine idiom so grand a work, of such
exalted matter and so notable as this comedy; and why not rather in
Latin verses, as other poets before him had done. In reply to which
question, two chief reasons, amongst many others, come to my mind.
The first of which is that he might be of more general use to his
fellow-citizens and the other Italians; for he knew that if he had
written metrically in Latin, as the other poets of past times had
done, he would only have done service to men of letters, whereas
writing in the vernacular he did a deed ne'er done before, and
(without any let to men of letters whereby they should not understand
him) showing the beauty of our idiom and his own excelling art
therein, gave delight and understanding of himself to the unlearned,
who had hitherto been abandoned of every one. The second reason which
moved him thereto was this: seeing that liberal studies were utterly
abandoned, and especially by the princes and other great men, to whom
poetic toils were wont to be dedicated (wherefore the divine works
of Virgil and the other poets had not only sunk into neglect, but
well nigh into contempt at the hands of many), having himself begun,
according as the loftiness of the matter demanded, after this guise--

    "Ultima regna canam, fluido contermina mundo,
    Spiritibus que lata patent que premia solvunt
    Pro meritis cuicumque suis ..."

he abandoned it; for he conceived it was a vain thing to put crusts
of bread into the mouths of such as were still sucking milk;
wherefore he began his work again in style suited to modern tastes,
and followed it up in the vernacular." He adds that Dante, "as some
maintain," dedicated the _Inferno_ to Uguccione della Faggiuola, the
_Purgatorio_ to Marquis Moruello Malespina, and the _Paradiso_ to
Frederic third King of Sicily; but as others assert, the whole poem
was dedicated to Messer Cane della Scala. He does not resolve the

[594] Cf. Dr. Moore, _op. cit._

[595] Cf. Paget Toynbee, _Life of Dante_ (Methuen, 1904), pp. 130 and

[596] Cf. _Comento_, _ed. cit._, _Lez. 2_, Vol. I, p. 104.

[597] Cf. _Comento_, _ed. cit._, _Lez._ 33, Vol. II, p. 129.

[598] He tells us this in the _Comento_ as well as in the _Vita_,
where he gives certain facts as "as others to whom his desire was
known declare" (WICKSTEED, _op. cit._, p. 18).

[599] Cf. _supra_, p. 257, n. 1.

[600] Cf. MACRI LEONE, _op. cit._, cap. ix., who describes twenty-two
in Italy.

[601] The _Compendio_ has been printed four times--first in 1809 in
Milan, before the _Divine of Comedy_ as published by Luigi Mussi.

[602] Printed by Lord Vernon at Florence in 1846 under title _Chiose
sopra Dante_.

[603] Cf. their _Vocabolario_, eds. 1612, 1623, 1691. Mazzuccheli
also in the eighteenth century accepted it. Yet Betussi knew it was
incomplete in 1547. Cf. his translation of _De Genealogiis_.

[604] Mr. Paget Toynbee, whose learned article on the _Comento_
in _Modern Language Review_, Vol. II, No 2, January, 1907, I have
already referred to, and return to with profit and pleasure, says:
"It is not unreasonable to suppose that though too ill to lecture
publicly, Boccaccio may have occupied himself at Certaldo in
continuing the Commentary in the hope of eventually resuming his
course at Florence."

[605] Cf. MANNI, _Istoria del Decamerone_, pp. 104-6, who prints all
the documents of the lawsuit.

[606] Cf. Appendix V, where I print the Will.

[607] He valued the MS. at 18 gold florins.

[608] The best edition is Milanesi's (Florence, Le Monnier, 1863). He
divided it first into sixty _lezioni_ which do not necessarily accord
with Boccaccio's lectures.

[609] Cf. PAGET TOYNBEE, _op. cit._, p. 112. It is significant too,
as Dr. Toynbee does not fail to note, that Boccaccio often uses
_scrivere_ instead of _parlare_ in speaking of his lectures. Cf.
_Lez._ 2 and _Lez._ 20; MILANESI, Vol. I, 120 and 148, also _Lez._
52, Vol. II, 366.

[610] Cf. _De Genealogiis_, XIV, 7 and 10, and _supra_, p. 247.

[611] For instance, he explains that an oar is "a long thick piece of
wood with which the boatman propels his boat and guides and directs
it from one place to another" (_Comento_, I, 286). Cf. TOYNBEE, _op.
cit._, p. 116.

[612] Through the medium of Chalcidius, whom he does not name. In
this form the medieval world knew the _Timæus_. Cf. TOYNBEE, _op.
cit._, p. 113.

[613] _Æneid_, II, 689-91.

[614] Cf. _Comento_, I, 82-5, and _Epist._, X, par. 8, 9, 15, 10, and
see TOYNBEE, _op. cit._, p. 113 and n. 7.

[615] Nor was all this original matter. "To the discussion of these
points," says Dr. Toynbee, "he devotes what amounts to some ten
printed pages in Milanesi's edition of the _Commentary_ (_Comento_,
I, p. 92 _et seq._), at least half of the matter being translated
word for word from a previous work of his own, the _De Genealogiis

[616] Cf. _supra_, p. 262.

[617] _Comento_, II, 454.

[618] _Ibid._, II, 139.

[619] _Ibid._, I, 304 _et seq._

[620] _Ibid._, I, 347-50.

[621] _Rime_, _ed. cit._, sonnets vii. and viii.

[622] In Rossetti's beautiful translation.

[623] Cf. _Comento_, I, 143-4, 214, 359, 361, 362, 367, 437, 448-51,
451-6, 457-62, 463-6, 498, and II, 190, 435.

[624] Cf. _Comento_, I, 177, 180, 362, 435, and II, 18, 36, 65.

[625] Cf. _Comento_, I, 479, and II, 51, 149, 184, 220, 368, 385,
448-9; and see PAGET TOYNBEE, _op. cit._, p. 117 and notes.

[626] From this book Boccaccio translated more than three times
as much as from any other. Cf. _Comento_, I, 92-5, 99-101, 123-6,
128-35, etc. etc.

[627] Dr. Toynbee has long promised to publish a paper on this
matter. It will be very welcome.

[628] Cf. _Comento_, I, 347, 462, 467, 511.

[629] Cf. _Comento_, I, 97, 466.

[630] See _supra_, p. 205 _et seq._

[631] At caps. 56-7 and 69-70.

[632] Cf. _Comento_, I, 333-4.

[633] Cf. _Comento_, I, 397-402. See PAGET TOYNBEE, _op. cit._, pp.
118-19. He notes that Boccaccio "nowhere employs the title _Annals_
... but uses the term _storie_ ... even when he is quoting from the
_Annals_" as in _Comento_, I, 400. He seems to have made no use of
the _Histories_ in his _Comento_.

[634] As to this see PAGET TOYNBEE, _op. cit._, p. 105.

[635] Eight times in all. Besides these quotations he uses him freely.

[636] Cf. PAGET TOYNBEE, _op. cit._, 110. All trace of Boccaccio's
own MS. about which there was the lawsuit has vanished.

[637] Cf. MILANESI, _Comento_, Vol. I, p. v.

[638] At Naples (imprint Florence), two vols., 1724, in _Opere
Volgari in Prosa del Boccaccio_, published by Lorenzo Ciccarelli
(Cellurio Zacclori).

[639] In _Opere Volgari_ (1827-34, Florence, Magheri), Vols. X, XI,

[640] _Rime_, _ed. cit._, cviii. (Rossetti's translation).




That illness which brought those lectures on the _Divine Comedy_
so swiftly to an end in the winter of 1373 was no new thing; for
long, as we have seen, Boccaccio had had a troubled spirit. If he
had recovered from his grief at the death of Fiammetta, he had never
wholly been himself since his conversion. The disease which then
declared itself was no new thing. In his versatile and athletic
spirit there had always been a strain of melancholy that had shown
itself even in his earliest childhood, when he imagined he was
persecuted; on his arrival in Naples as a boy, when only a kiss
could restore his confidence; in the long years of his troubled and
unstable love and in the loneliness of his manhood; with old age at
his elbow it needed but little for his spirit, so easily joyful, to
be lost in a strange darkness.

Already before he had been appointed to that lectureship in Florence
he had felt himself seriously ill. Writing at the end of August,
1373, to Messer Maghinardo de' Cavalcanti he had excused himself for
his long delay in answering his letter, pleading the "long infirmity
which prevented me from writing to you ... and which only in the last
few days has given me a little respite. Since the last time I saw
you ... every hour of my life has been very like death, afflicted,
tedious, and full of weariness to myself.... First of all I was
beset by a continuous and burning itching, and a dry scab, to scratch
the dry scales and the flakes of which I had scarce nails enough day
or night; then I was afflicted by a heaviness, a sluggishness of the
bowels, a perpetual agony of the veins, swelling of the spleen, a
burning bile, a suffocating cough and hoarseness, heaviness of head,
and indeed more maladies than I know how to enumerate; all my body
languished, and all its humours were at war. And so it happened that
I looked on the sky without happiness; my body was weary, my steps
vacillating, my hand trembled; I was deathly pale, cared nothing
for food, but held it all in abhorrence. Letters were odious to
me, my books, once so delightful to me, could not please me, the
forces of the soul were relaxed, my memory almost gone, my energy
seemed drugged, and my thoughts were all turned to the grave and to

But this was not all. He had scarcely got so far in his letter, he
writes, when on August 12 a new ill befell him. At sunset a burning
fever attacked him so fiercely that he could not leave his bed. As
the night advanced the fever increased, his head ached violently,
and without respite he turned and turned again in his bed, wearily
looking thus for some relief. He was alone with only an old servant,
who could do nothing but weep. Day came and with it some friends, who
would have sent for a physician; but Boccaccio, with less gentleness
than Petrarch showed, refused, till at last, utterly worn out, he
allowed himself to be persuaded. The doctor who came to him was "a
country doctor, accustomed to attend the peasants," as he says, "but
kind and thoughtful." He told Boccaccio that unless he could rid
himself of the poison which was killing him he would be dead in a
few days. He brought in a cautery, a furnace, and other terrible
instruments used then in medical practice. He then proceeded to use
them, burning the patient largely, in many places cutting him with a
razor and slashing his skin. He suffered dreadfully, but the doctor
told him he was healed. And, it might seem by a direct miracle of
God, he was saved out of the hands of this criminal lunatic; he
slept, and little by little recovered. He was, however, very feeble.
Nothing he can say against doctors can seem absurd, or exaggerated,
or less than just when we remember that he had the unhappiness to
fall at last into their hands.[642]

[Illustration: CERTALDO


It is possible that his friends in Florence heard of his miseries and
his poverty--for he was very poor, and it was really on his behalf
the _Cathedra Dantesca_ was founded. However that may be, it might
have seemed impossible that one in his case could have accepted it,
yet in spite of his weakness he left Certaldo and went to Florence,
where, as we have seen, in accordance with the decree of the Signoria
he began to lecture in October. That he broke down is not surprising;
it is only wonderful that he got as far as he did. But that brief
burst of energy was his last; in the winter of 1373 he returned to
Certaldo really to die.

From that moment all his melancholy seems to have returned to him
with fourfold strength: he who had taken his fill of life, now could
no more look happily on the sky, he was a dying man and he knew
it. He groped about far from Petrarch looking for some appalling
certainty. He seems to have thought he could find it in the monastic
life, and his solitude must have been not less profound. Death and
thoughts about death haunted him, as they are wont to do imaginative
people. It must have been in some such darkness as that which then
fell upon him that he wrote more than one of the sonnets in which he
seems to have sought in verse the power to realise what it was that
was about to befall him.

    "Dura cosa è ed orribile assai
    La morte ad aspettare e paurosa,
    Ma così certa ed infallibil cosa
    Nè fu, nè è, nè credo sarà mai;
    E 'l corso della vita è breve c' hai,
    E volger non si può nè dargli posa;
    Nè qui si vede cosa sì gioiosa
    Che il suo fine non sia lacrime e guai.
    Dunque perchè con operar valore
    Non c' ingegnamo di stender la fama,
    E con quella far lunghi i brevi giorni?
    Questa ne dà questa ne serva onore,
    Questa ne lieva dagli anni la squama,
    Questa ne fa di lunga vita adorni."[643]

In the summer of 1374 a new blow fell upon him. Petrarch was
dead.[644] He heard the news first as a rumour, and then, some three
months after his friend had passed away, in a letter from Francesco
da Brossano, the poet's son-in-law, whom he had met at Venice. That
he had already heard of his loss when he got Franceschino's letter we
gather from his reply, written in the beginning of November:--

"I received your sorrowful letter, most well beloved brother, on the
31st October,"[645] he writes, "and not knowing the writing I broke
the seal and looked for the name of the writer, and as soon as I
read your name I knew what news you had to tell me, that is to say,
the happy passing of our illustrious father and master, Francesco
Petrarch, from the earthly Babylon to the heavenly Jerusalem.
Although none of my friends had written me save you, since every one
spoke of it I had known it for some time--to my great sorrow--and
during many days I wept almost without ceasing--not at his ascension,
but for myself thus unhappy and abandoned. And that is not wonderful,
for no one in the world loved him more than I. And so to acquit
myself, my intention was to go at once to mix my tears with yours,
to lament with you and to say a last farewell at the tomb of this
illustrious father. But more than ten months ago now[646] a malady,
rather long and wearying than dangerous, surprised me in my native
city [patria], where I was publicly expounding the _Comedy_ of
Dante. And because for four months, at the request of my friends, I
followed the advice, I will not say of the doctors, but of charlatans
[fabulonum], my malady did nothing but increase. The potions and
the diet so upset all nutrition that unless you saw me you would
not believe how weak I am become, and my appearance only too well
confirms it. Wretched man that I am, you would no longer recognise
him whom you saw in Venice. My skin, lately well filled, is empty
now, my colour is changed, my sight dulled, while my knees shake
and my hands tremble. It follows that, far from crossing the proud
summits of the Apennine, on the advice of some of my friends I have
just been able to return from my native city into the country of my
ancestors at Certaldo. It is there I am now, half dead and restless,
utterly idle and uncertain of myself, waiting only on God, who is
able to heal me. But enough about myself.

"The sight and the reading of your letter having renewed my sorrow,
I wept anew almost all night long. It is not Petrarch for whom I
weep, for in recalling his integrity, his way of life, his youth,
his old age, his prayers, his innate piety, his love of God and of
his neighbour, I am assured that, delivered from the anguish of this
miserable life, he has flown away to the heavenly Father, where he
joys in Christ and the glory everlasting; it is for myself I weep and
for his friends left in this tempestuous world like ships without
rudders, driven by the winds and the waves into the midst of rocks.
And in considering thus the innumerable agitations of my soul, I can
easily divine what are your feelings and those of Tullia, my dear
sister and your wife, whom I will always honour. I am sure you must
feel a still keener bitterness than I ... but this you know too if
you are wise, as I believe you to be, that we are all born to die.
Our Silvanus has done what we shall do too in a little while. He is
dead who was full of years. What do I say? He is not dead, but he
has gone before us. Seated among the just, he pities our miseries,
praying the Father of Mercy that He will give us strength to combat
our faults during our pilgrimage, that when death comes He will give
us a perfect end pleasing to Him; and that notwithstanding the snares
of our adversary, He will lead us to Himself. I will say no more,
for, as you will think I am sure, those who love this great man ought
not only to cease from weeping, but to think only of the joy and
hope of their coming salvation. I pray you then, in the name of your
fidelity and of our friendship, offer this consolation to Tullia.
For women are less able to support such shocks as this than we, and
have therefore need of the firmer stay of men. But you have without
doubt already done so.



"You say that he has ended his days at the village of Arquà in the
_contado_ of Padua; that he wished his ashes to remain always in
that village, and that, to commemorate him for ever, a rich and
splendid tomb is there to be built. Alas, I admit my crime, if it can
be called a crime. I who am a Florentine grudge Arquà this shining
good fortune that has befallen her rather through his humility than
through her merit: the guardianship of the body of the man whose
soul has been the favourite dwelling-place of the Muses and of all
Helicon, the sanctuary of philosophy, the splendid ornament of the
liberal arts,--of the man who above all others was possessed of
Ciceronian eloquence as his writings show, has been confided to
her. It follows that not only Arquà, almost unknown even to the
Paduans, will now be known by all foreign nations however far off,
but that her name will be held in honour by the whole universe. One
will honour thee, Arquà, as, without seeing them, we honour in our
thoughts the hill of Posilipo, at the foot of which are placed the
bones of Virgil; ... and Smyrna, where Homer sleeps, and other like
places.... I do not doubt that the sailor returning laden with riches
from the farthest shores of the sea, sailing the Adriatic and seeing
afar the venerable summits of the Euganean Hills, will say to himself
or to his friends: 'Those hills guard in their breast the glory of
the universe, him who was once the triumph of all knowledge, Petrarch
the poet of sweet words, who by the Consular Senate was crowned in
the Mother City with the laurel of triumph, and whose many beautiful
works still proclaim his inviolable renown.' The black Indian, the
fierce Spaniard ... seized with admiration for this sacred name,
will one day come and before the tomb of so great a man salute with
respect and piety the ashes which it holds, complaining the while
of their misfortune that they should not have seen him living whom
dead they visit. Alas, my unhappy city, to whom it has not been given
to guard the ashes of so illustrious a son, to whom so splendid a
glory has been refused, it is true that thou art unworthy of such an
honour, thou hast neglected to draw him to thee when he was alive
and to give him that place in thy heart which he merited. Ah, had he
been an artisan of crimes, a contriver of treasons, a past master
in avarice, envy, and ingratitude, thou wouldst have called him to
thee. Yet even as thou art I should prefer that this honour had been
accorded thee rather than Arquà. But it is thus is justified the old
saying, 'A prophet is not without honour save in his own country.'
For he always knew how to avoid it, that he might imitate Christ his
Master and Redeemer in humility, Who preferred to be born according
to the flesh at Nazareth rather than at Jerusalem, and Who loved
better to have for mother a poor virgin who was holy than the most
proud and powerful queens of His time. And so, since God has wished
it, let the name of Arquà live through the centuries and let her
inhabitants preserve always an honour for which they should indeed be

"But I am glad that a tomb is to be erected, for the splendour of
his name and the magnificence of his works render him worthy of it.
It is very probable, however, that it will seem of little importance
to the eyes of the learned, who consider rather the qualities of the
dead than the honours done to their bodies, to whom he has manifested
himself in many volumes, outshining the sun. But that tomb will be
a means of impressing the ignorant, whose books are sculptures and

"As for his generosity towards his friends and to myself, I cannot
briefly tell it over, and so I leave it for another time, should it
offer, contenting myself for the moment with these words. I have
known by his many benefits towards me in time past how much he loved
me while he lived. I see now by his actions[647] that his friendship
has followed me even in his death, and unless in a better life after
this passage that we call death one loses one's friends, I think he
will love me still. He will love me not because I have merited it,
but because he is always faithful to him whom he has once adopted
for his own, and I have been his during forty years and more.[648]
And now, when he can no longer show his affection by words or by
writings, he has wished to number me among his heirs, so you write
me, leaving me a very ample portion of his wealth. How happy I am,
and how I rejoice that he has acted as he has done, but I regret
to be forced to come so soon into possession of his legacy that I
shall accept with joy. I should like better to see him live and to
be deprived of his gift; but this is a pious wish, and in thanking
you for your affection I accept as the supreme gift and legacy of his
kindness what you sent me some days ago.

"This letter should have finished there, but friendship constrains
me to add something more. I should have learned with pleasure what
has been done with the library--so very precious as it is--of this
illustrious man, for with us opinion is divided. But what worries
me most is to know what is become of the works he composed, and
especially his _Africa_, which I consider as an inspired work. Does
it still exist, and will it be preserved, or has it been burned,
as when he was alive you know well this severe critic of his own
work threatened? I learn that the examination of this work and of
others has been confided, by I know not whom, to certain persons. I
am astonished at the ignorance of him who has had the management of
this affair, but still more do I wonder at the temerity and lightness
of those who have undertaken the examination. Who would dare to
criticise what our illustrious master has approved? Not Cicero
himself, if he returned, nor Horace, nor Virgil, would dare to do so.
Alas, I fear that this examination has been confided to the jurists,
who because they know law, just those by which they impudently live,
imagine they know everything. I pray God that He take notice of it,
and that He protect the poems and other sacred inventions of our
master. Let me hear if the cause is yet submitted to these judges,
and if those who desire can approach these men. Tell me too what
is become of the other works, and especially of the book of the
_Trionfi_, which, according to some, has been burnt on the advice
of the judges ... than whom learning has no more ignorant enemies.
Besides, I know how many envies still attack the reputation of this
most eminent man. Certainly, if they can, they will spoil his works,
they will hide them, they will condemn them; they do not understand,
and they will make every effort that they may be lost to us. Prevent
this with all your vigilance, for the best men now and in the future
of Italy will be deprived of a great advantage if all these works
remain at the mercy of the ignorant and the envious....

"I have finished this letter at Certaldo, the 7th November,[649] and
as you see, I cannot say I have written in haste, I have taken almost
three whole days to write this short epistle, with a few intervals to
allow me to rest my exhausted body.

  "Your Giovanni Boccaccio, if he still exists."

That letter was in truth his swan song. In the previous August he had
made his Will,[650] and lonely in the dark house in Certaldo,[651]
he had little else to do than to pray "the Father of Mercy
to lead him to Himself." In those last months, at any rate, he
seems to have given himself up almost with passion to religious
contemplation. He who had been so scornful of relics filled his
house with them, eagerly collecting them whenever he could in spite
of his poverty.[652] He seems too to have consoled himself, as many
another has done, with the perfect beauty of the Divine Office, for
a Breviary was among his books, and is named in his Will. That is
almost all we know or may conjecture concerning those last days,
which he passed, it seems, almost in solitude[653] on that hill of
Certaldo--a magician, as was said of Virgil and Ovid by the folk of
Naples and Sulmona, knowing all the secrets of Nature.



Infirm and ill as he was, he must often have looked from his room
over the world that lay there as fair as any in Tuscany, a land of
hills about a quiet valley where the olives are tossed to silver in
the wind, and the grapes are kissed by the sun into gold and purple,
where the corn whispers between the vines--till for him too at last
the grasshopper was become a burden. There, on December 21, 1375,
he died and was buried, as he had ordained in his testament, in the
church of SS. Jacopo e Filippo, leaving, as it is said, the following
verses for his epitaph:--

    "Hac sub mole jacent cineres ac ossa Johannis;
    Mens sedet ante Deum meritis ornata laborum
    Mortalis vitæ. Genitor Bocchaccius illi;
    Patria Certaldum, studium fuit alma poesis."

There beside the quiet waters of the Elsa, which puts all to sleep,
lies the greatest story-teller in the world.


[641] Cf. CORAZZINI, _op. cit._, p. 281. The disease which Boccaccio
thus describes has been thought to be a form of diabetes. Cf. COCHIN,
_Études Italiennes Boccace_, p. 167, n. 1. Petrarch too suffered from
_la scabbia_.

[642] In a letter to Maghinardo, September 13, 1373, he thanks him
with effusion for sending him a vase of gold full of gold pieces.
Thanks to that, he says, he can buy a cloak for his poor feverish
body. Cf. CORAZZINI, _op. cit._, p. 287. Villani is apparently
wrong when he says he had many friends, but that none came to his
assistance. One did. All the early biographies agree about his

[643] _Rime, ed. cit._, sonnet xxxvi. "It is a hard thing and a very
horrible to wait for death; it is a thing which fills one with fear:
yet death is more certain and infallible than anything else that has
been, that is, or that will ever be. The course of life is short and
one cannot return along it, and on earth there is no joy so great
that it does not end in tears and regrets. Then why should we not
seek to extend by work our renown, and by that to make long our days
so short? This thought gives me and keeps me in courage. It spares
me the regret of the years which are fled away, it gives me the
splendour of a long life."

[644] Petrarch died at Arquà on July 18, 1374. The news was known in
Florence on July 25, when Coluccio Salutati wrote to Benvenuto da
Imola and mentioned it.

[645] Cf. CORAZZINI, _op. cit._, p. 377. He received Franceschino's
letter "pridie XIII kalendas novembris," that is October 31.

[646] "Verum jam decimus elapsus est mensis, postquam in patria
publice legentem Comoediam Dantis magis longa, atque tædiosa, quam
discrimine aliquo dubia ægritudo oppressit...." The letter was
written about November 7, ten months before which was January 7. Thus
we know it was in the winter of 1373 (Fl. St.), or January, 1374,
that he broke down.

[647] This refers doubtless to Petrarch's Will, by which he left
Boccaccio fifty florins of gold with which to buy a warm cloak to
cover himself in the nights of study.

[648] This is hard to explain. So far as we know, Boccaccio first met
Petrarch in 1350 in Florence, but see _supra_, p. 153, n. 2.

[649] "Scribendi finis Certaldi datus tertio nonas novembris."

[650] See Appendix V.

[651] Cf. ROSSELLINI, _Della casa di G. B. in Certaldo_ in
_Antologia_ (1825), n. lix.

[652] He leaves to the Friars of Santa Maria di Santo Sepolchro dal
Pogetto or della Campora outside the walls of Florence "all and
singular Holy Relics which the said dominus Johannes in a great
while and with much labour has procured from divers parts of the
world." (S. Maria della Campora is outside the Porta Romana of
Florence; there are still frescoes of the school of Giotto there.)
To the church of S. Jacopo of Certaldo he leaves an alabaster plaque
of the Blessed Virgin, a chasuble, stole, and maniple of red silk,
and a small altar pallium of red Lucca cloth, an altar cushion of
the same cloth, and three cases for corporals; a vase of pewter for
holy water, and a small cloak of yellow silk and cloth. He leaves a
diptych in which is painted on the one side Our Lady with her Son in
her arms and on the other a skull to Madonna Sandra, "who to-day is
wife of Franciesco di Lapo Buonamichi." This extraordinary collection
of things, which would only be in place in the house of a priest
one might think, leads us to ask whether Boccaccio had received
any Order. We cannot answer. Suares says he saw a papal bull that
permitted him to receive Holy Orders in spite of his illegitimacy,
and in his Will he is called "Dominus" and "Venerabilis." It is
perhaps in place to note that, like Dante and S. Francis, Boccaccio
has been claimed as a Protestant born out of due time. This amazing
nonsense was set forth in a book by one HAGER, entitled _Programmata
III de Joanne Boccatio veritatis evangelicæ teste_ (Chemnic, 1765).

[653] He may not have been utterly alone. In his Will he leaves to
"Bruna, daughter of the late Ciango da Montemagno, who has long been
with me, the bed she was used to sleep in at Certaldo," and other



But we cannot leave him there. For he is not dead, but living; not
only where, in the third heaven, he long since has found his own
Fiammetta and been comforted, but in this our world also, where

    "Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
    Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme."

And so for this cause, if for no other, it seemed well to leave our
consideration of his greatest work till now; that we might take leave
of him, when we must, in turning its ever-living pages.

The greatest story-teller in the world! Does that seem a hard saying?
But by what other title shall we greet the author of the _Decameron_,
who is as secure in his immortality and as great in his narrative
power as the author of the _Arabian Nights_, and infinitely greater
in his humanism and influence?

The greatest work of the fourteenth century, as the _Divine Comedy_
had been of the thirteenth, the _Decameron_ sums up and reflects
its period altogether impersonally, while the _Divine Comedy_ would
scarcely hold us at all without the impassioned personality of Dante
to inform it everywhere with his profound life, his hatred, his love,
his judgment of this world and the next. It is strange that the
work which best represents the genius of Boccaccio, his humour and
wide tolerance and love of mankind, should in this be so opposite
to all his other works in the vulgar tongue, which are inextricably
involved with his own personal affairs, his view of things, his love,
his contempt, his hatred. Yet you will scarcely find him in all the
hundred tales of the _Decameron_.[654] He speaks to us there once
or twice, as we shall see, but always outside the stories, and his
whole treatment of the various and infinite plots, incidents, and
characters of his great work is as impersonal as life itself.

The _Decameron_ is an absolute work of art, as "detached" as a play
by Shakespeare or a portrait by Velasquez. The scheme is formal and
immutable, a miracle of design in which almost everything can be
expressed. To compare it with the plan of the _Arabian Nights_ is
to demonstrate its superiority. There you have a sleepless king, to
whom a woman tells a thousand and one stories in order to save her
life which this same king would have taken. You have, then, but two
protagonists and an anxiety which touches but one of them, the fear
of death on the part of the woman, soon forgotten in the excitement
of the stories. In the _Decameron_, on the other hand, you have ten
protagonists, three youths and seven ladies, and the horror which is
designed to set off the stories is an universal pestilence which has
already half depopulated the city of Florence, from which they are
fled away.


_From a miniature in the French version of the "Decameron," made in
1414 by Laurent le Premierfait. MS. late XV century. (Brit. Mus.
Rothschild Bequest. MS. XIV.)_]

The _mise en scène_ is so well known as scarcely to need describing,
for the Prologue in which it is set forth is one of the most splendid
pieces of descriptive narrative in all literature, impressionist
too in our later manner, and absolutely convincing. Boccaccio
evokes for us the city of Florence in the grip of the Black
Death of 1348. We see the streets quite deserted or horrible with
the dead, and over all a dreadful silence broken only by the more
dreadful laughter of those whom the plague has freed from all human
constraint. Fear has seized upon such of the living as death has not
driven mad, "wherefore the sick of both sexes, whose number could
not be estimated, were left without resource but in the charity of
friends (and few such there were), or the interest of servants,
who were hardly to be had at high rates and on unseemly terms, and
being moreover men and women of gross understanding and for the
most part unused to such offices, concerned themselves no further
than to supply the immediate and expressed wants of the sick and to
watch them die, in which service they themselves not seldom perished
with their gains. In consequence of which dearth of servants and
dereliction of the sick by neighbours, kinsfolk, and friends, it
came to pass--a thing perhaps never before heard of--that no woman,
however dainty, fair, or well born she might be, shrank, when
stricken with the disease, from the attentions of a man, no matter
whether he were young or no, or scrupled to expose to him every
part of her body with no more shame than if he had been a woman,
submitting of necessity to that which her malady required; wherefrom,
perchance, there resulted in after time some loss of modesty in such
as recovered.... What need we add, but that such and so grievous was
the harshness of heaven, and perhaps in some degree of man, that,
what with the fury of the pestilence, the panic of those whom it
spared and their consequent neglect or desertion of not a few of
the stricken in their need, it is believed without any manner of
doubt, that between March and the ensuing July upwards of a hundred
thousand human beings lost their lives within the walls of the city
of Florence, which before the deadly visitation would not have been
supposed to contain so many people! How many grand palaces, how many
stately homes, how many splendid houses once full of retainers, of
lords, of ladies, were now left desolate of all, even to the meanest

"Irksome it is to myself to rehearse in detail so mournful a history.
Wherefore, being minded to pass over so much thereof as I fairly
can, I say that our city being thus depopulated, it so happened, as
I afterwards learned from one of credit, that on Tuesday morning
after Divine service the venerable church of Santa Maria Novella
was almost deserted save for the presence of seven young ladies,
habited sadly, in keeping with the season.... The first, being the
eldest of the seven, we will call Pampinea, the second Fiammetta,
the third Filomena, the fourth Emilia, the fifth we will distinguish
as Lauretta, the sixth as Neifile, and the last, not without reason,
shall be named Elisa. 'Twas not of set purpose but by mere chance
that these ladies met in the same part of the church, but at length,
grouping themselves into a sort of circle, ... they gave up saying
paternosters and began to converse (among other topics) on the
times.... Here we tarry (said Pampinea) as if one thinks for no
other purpose than to bear witness to the number of corpses that are
brought hither for interment.... If we quit the church we see dead or
sick folk carried about, or we see those who for their crimes were
of late exiled, ... but who now in contempt of the law, well knowing
its ministers are sick or dead, have returned.... Nor hear we aught
but: Such and such are dead.... Such and such are dying.... Or go we
home, what see we there? I know not if you are in like case with me;
but there where once were servants in plenty I find none left but
my maid and shudder with terror.... And turn or tarry where I may,
I encounter only the ghosts of the departed, not with their wonted
mien but with something horrible in their aspect that appals me....
So (she continues) I should deem it most wise in us, our case being
what it is, if, as many others have done before us and are doing
now, we were to quit the place, and shunning like death the evil
example of others, betake ourselves to the country and there live as
honourable women on one of the estates of which none of us has any
lack, with all cheer of festal gathering and other delights so long
as in no particular we overstep the bounds of reason. There we shall
hear the chant of birds, have sight of green hills and plains, of
cornfields undulating like the sea, of trees of a thousand sorts;
there also we shall have a larger view of the heavens, which, however
harsh to usward, yet deny not their eternal beauty; things fairer
far for eyes to rest on than the desolate walls of our city.... For
though the husbandmen die there even as here the citizens, they are
dispersed in scattered homes, and so 'tis less painful to witness.
Nor, so far as I can see, is there a soul here whom we shall desert;
rather we may truly say that we are ourselves deserted.... No censure
then can fall on us if we do as I propose; and otherwise grievous
suffering, perhaps death, may ensue."

Pampinea's plan was received with eagerness, and while they were
still discussing it there came into the church three young men,
Pamfilo, Filostrato, and Dioneo, the youngest about twenty-five
years of age. These seemed to the ladies to be sent by Providence,
for their only fear till now had been in carrying out their plans
alone. So Pampinea, who had a kinsman among them, approached them,
and greeting them gaily, opened her plan, and besought them on behalf
of herself and her friends to join their company. The young men as
soon as they found she was in earnest answered with alacrity that
they were ready, and promptly before leaving the church set matters
in train for their departure, and the next day at dawn they set out.
Arrived at the estate they entered a beautiful palace in the midst
of a garden, and again it was Pampinea who proposed that one among
them should be elected chief for a day so that each might be in turn
in authority. They at once chose Pampinea, whom Filomena crowned with
bay leaves. Later, towards evening, they "hied them to a meadow ...
and at the queen's command ranged themselves in a circle on the grass
and hearkened while she spoke thus: 'You mark that the sun is yet
high, the heat intense, and the silence unbroken save by the _cicale_
among the olives. It were therefore the height of folly to quit this
spot at present. Here the air is cool, and the prospect fair, and
here, observe, are dice and chess. Take then your pleasure as you
will; but if you hear my advice you will find pastime for the hot
hours before us, not in play in which the loser must needs be vexed,
... but in telling stories in which the invention of one may afford
solace to all the company of his hearers.'"

This was found pleasing to all, and so Pampinea turned at last to
Pamfilo, who sat at her right hand, and bade him lead off with one of
his stories. So begins the series of immortal tales which compose the

Such, then, is the incomparable design which the _Decameron_ fills,
beside which the mere haphazard telling of _The Hundred Merry Tales_
seems barbarous, the setting of _The Thousand and One Nights_
inadequate. That Boccaccio's design has indeed ever been bettered
might well be denied, but in _The Canterbury Tales_ Chaucer certainly
equalled it. If the occasion there is not so dramatic nor the
surroundings at once so poignant and so beautiful, the pilgrimage
progresses with the tales and allows of such a dramatic entry as
that of the Canon and the Canon's yeoman at Boghton-under-Blee.
That entry was most fitting and opportune, right in every way, and
though there is no inherent reason why the _Decameron_ itself should
not have been similarly broken in upon, the very stillness of that
garden in the sunshine would have made any such interruption less

The true weakness of the _Decameron_ in comparison with that of the
_Canterbury Tales_ is not a weakness of design but of character.
Each of Chaucer's pilgrims is a complete human being; they all live
for us more vividly than any other folk, real or imagined, of the
fourteenth century in England, and each is different from the rest, a
perfect human character and personality. But in the protagonists of
the _Decameron_ it is not so. There is nothing, or almost nothing, to
choose between them. Pampinea is not different from Filomena,[657]
and may even be confused with Pamfilo or Filostrato. We know nothing
of them; they are without any character or personality, and indeed
the only one of them all who stands out in any way is Dioneo, and
that merely because he may usually be depended upon for the most
licentious tale of the day.[658] In Chaucer the tales often weary
us, but the tellers never do; in Boccaccio the tales never weary us,
but the tellers always do. Just there we come upon the fundamental
difference between English and what I may call perhaps Latin art. It
is the same to-day as yesterday. In the work of D' Annunzio, as in
the work of the French novelists of our time, it is always an affair
of situation, that is to say, the narrative or drama rises out
of the situation, rather than out of the character of the actors,
while even in the most worthless English work there is, as there has
always been, an attempt at least to realise character, to make it the
fundamental thing in the book, from which the narrative proceeds and
by which it lives and is governed.

In dealing with the _Decameron_, then, we must, more or less, leave
the narrators themselves out of the question; they are not to be
judged; they are but an excuse for the stories, and are really
puppets who can in no way be held responsible for them, so that if
now and then an especially licentious tale is told by one of those
"virtuous" ladies, it is of no account, for the tales are altogether
independent of those who tell them. But if these young and fair
protagonists soon pass from our remembrance in the infinitely vivid
and living stories they tell, yes, almost like a phonograph, the
setting, the background of a plague-stricken and deserted city,
the beauty and languorous peace of the delicious gardens in which
we listen, always remain with us, so much so that tradition has
identified the two palaces which are the setting of the whole
_Decameron_ with two of those villas which are the glory of the
Florentine _contado_.

The first of these palaces--that to which they came on that Wednesday
morning--was, Boccaccio tells us, not more than "two short miles from
the city" There "on the brow of the hill was a palace, with a fine
and spacious courtyard in the midst, and with loggias and halls and
rooms, all and each one in itself beautiful and ornamented tastefully
with jocund paintings. It was surrounded too with grass plots and
marvellous gardens, and with wells of coldest water, and there were
cellars of rare wines, a thing perhaps more suited to curious topers
than to quiet and virtuous ladies. And the palace was clean and in
good order, the beds prepared and made, and everything decorated with
spring flowers, and the floors covered with rushes, all much to
their satisfaction." This "estate" has always been identified with
Poggio Gherardo,[659] which now stands above the road to Settignano,
about a mile from that village and some two miles from the Porta alle
Croce of Florence. In the fourteenth century certainly it must have
been equi-distant on all sides from the roads, the nearest being the
Via Aretina Nuova by the Arno and the road to Fiesole or the Via
Faentina, for the way from Florence to Settignano was a mule-track.


_(The scene of the first two days of the "Decameron.")_

  _By permission of Mrs. Ross_]

Poggio Gherardo is but a stone's throw from Corbignano, the country
house--half farm, half villa--which Margherita brought to Boccaccino
as part of her dowry, and where, as we have seen, it appears likely
that Boccaccio spent his first youth. But Poggio Gherardo is not
the only palace of the _Decameron_. At the close of the second day
Madonna Filomena took the laurel crown from her head and crowned
Neifile queen, and it was she who then proposed that they should
change their residence.

"To-morrow, as you know," said she, "is Friday, and the next day is
Saturday, and both are days which are apt to be tedious to most of us
on account of the kind of food we take on them; and then Friday was
the day on which He who died that we might live suffered His Passion,
and it is therefore worthy of reverence, and ought, as I think, to be
spent rather in prayer than in telling tales. And on Saturday it is
the custom for women to wash the powder out of their hair, and make
themselves generally sweet and neat; also they use to fast out of
reverence for the Virgin Mother of God, and in honour of the coming
rest from any and every work. Therefore, since we cannot, on that day
either, carry out our established order of life, I think it would be
well to refrain from reciting tales also. And as by then we shall
have been here already four days, I think we might seek a new place
if we would avoid visitors; and indeed I have already a spot in my

And it happened as she said, for they all praised her words and
looked forward longingly to Sunday.

On that very day the sun was already high when, "with slow steps, the
queen with her friends and the three gentlemen, led by the songs of
some twenty nightingales, took her way westward by an unfrequented
lane full of green herbs and flowers just opening after the dawn. So,
gossiping and playing and laughing with her company, she led them
... to a beautiful and splendid palace before half of the third hour
was gone." It is by this "unfrequented lane" that we too may pass
to the Villa Palmieri,[660] which tradition assures us is the very
place. "When they had entered and inspected everything, and seen that
the halls and rooms had been cleaned and decorated and plentifully
supplied with all that was needed for sweet living, they praised
its beauty and good order, and admired the owner's magnificence.
And on descending, even more delighted were they with the pleasant
and spacious courts, the cellars filled with choice wines, and the
beautifully fresh water which was everywhere round about. Then they
went into the garden, which was on one side of the palace, and was
surrounded by a wall, and the beauty and magnificence of it at first
sight made them eager to examine it more closely. It was crossed in
all directions by long, broad, and straight walks, over which the
vines, which that year made a great show of giving many grapes, hung
gracefully in arched festoons, and being then in full blossom, filled
the whole garden with their sweet smell, and this, mingled with the
odours of the other flowers, made so sweet a perfume that they seemed
to be in the spicy gardens of the East. The sides of the walks were
almost closed with red and white roses and with jessamine, so that
they gave sweet odours and shade not only in the morning, but when
the sun was high, and one might walk there all day without fear.
What flowers there were there, how various and how ordered, it would
take too long to tell, but there was not one which in our climate is
to be praised that was not found there abundantly. Perhaps the most
delightful thing therein was a meadow in the midst, of the finest
grass, and all so green that it seemed almost black, all sprinkled
with a thousand various flowers, shut in by oranges and cedars, the
which bore the ripe fruit and the young fruit too and the blossom,
offering a shade most grateful to the eyes and also a delicious
perfume. In the midst of this meadow there was a fountain of the
whitest marble, marvellously carved and within--I do not know whether
artificially or from a natural spring--threw so much water and so
high towards the sky through a statue which stood there on a pedestal
that it would not have needed more to turn a mill. The water fell
back again with a delicious sound into the clear waters of the basin,
and the surplus was carried off through a subterranean way into
little water channels, most beautifully and artfully made about the
meadow, and afterwards it ran into others round about, and so watered
every part of the garden, and collected at length in one place,
whence it had entered the beautiful garden, it turned two mills, much
to the profit, as you may suppose, of the _signore_, pouring down at
last in a stream clear and sweet into the valley."

If this should seem a mere pleasaunce of delight, the vision
of a poet, the garden of a dream, we have only to remember how
realistically and simply Boccaccio has described for us that
plague-stricken city, scarcely more than a mile away, to be assured
of its truthfulness. And then, Villa Palmieri is nearly as beautiful
to-day as it was so long ago; only while the gardens with their
pergolas of vines, their hedges of jasmine and crimson roses, their
carved marble fountains remain, the two mills he speaks of are gone,
having been destroyed in a flood of the Mugnone in 1409, less than
sixty years after he wrote of them.


_(The scene of the third and following days of the "Decameron.")_


Nor are the two palaces the only places mentioned in the _Decameron_,
set as it is in the country about Florence, that we may identify. It
was a summer afternoon, six days had almost passed, Dioneo had just
been crowned king by Madonna Elisa: the tales had been short that
day, and the sun was yet high, so that Madonna, seeing the gentlemen
were set down to play at dice (and "such is the custom of men"),
called her friends to her and said: "'Ever since we have been here I
have wished to show you a place not far off where, I believe, none
of you has ever been; it is called La Valle delle Donne, and till
to-day I have not had a chance to speak of it. It is yet early; if
you choose to come with me, I promise you that you will be pleased
with your walk.' And they answered they were all willing: so without
saying a word to the gentlemen, they called one of their women to
attend them, and after a walk of nearly a mile they came to the
place which they entered by a strait path where there burst forth a
fair crystal stream, and they found it so beautiful and so pleasant,
especially in those hot still hours of afternoon, that nothing could
excel it; and as some of them told me later, the little plain in
the valley was an exact circle, as though it had been described by
a pair of compasses, yet it was indeed rather the work of Nature
than of man. It was about half a mile in circumference, surrounded by
six hills of moderate height, on each of which was a palace built in
the form of a little castle.... And then what gave them the greatest
delight was the rivulet that came through a valley which divided two
hills, and running through the rocks fell suddenly and sweetly in a
waterfall seeming, as it was dashed and sprinkled in drops all about,
like so much quicksilver. Coming into the little plain beneath this
fall, the stream was received in a fine canal, and running swiftly
to the midst of the plain formed itself in a pool not deeper than
a man's breast and so clear that you might see the gravelly bottom
and the pebbles intermixed, which indeed you might count; and there
were fishes there also swimming up and down in great plenty; and the
water that overflowed was received into another little canal which
carried it out of the valley. There the ladies all came together,
and ... finding it commendable ... did, as 'twas very hot and they
deemed themselves secure from observation, resolve to take a bath.
So having bidden their maid wait and keep watch over the access to
the vale, and give them warning if haply any should approach it, they
all seven undressed and got into the water, which to the whiteness of
their flesh was even such a veil as fine glass is to the vermeil of
the rose.[661] They being then in the water, the clearness of which
was thereby in no wise affected, did presently begin to go hither and
thither after the fish, which had much ado where to bestow themselves
so as to escape out of their hands.... 'Twas quite early when they
returned to the palace, so that they found the gallants still at

This delicious spot, called to this day the Valle delle Donne,[662]
may be reached from the "unfrequented lane" by which they all passed
from Poggio Gherardo to Villa Palmieri; as Landor, who lived close
by, tells us:--

    "Where the hewn rocks of Fiesole impend
    O'er Doccia's dell, and fig and olive blend,
    There the twin streams of Affrico unite,
    One dimly seen, the other out of sight,
    But ever playing in his swollen bed
    Of polisht stone and willing to be led
    Where clustering vines protect him from the sun--
    Here by the lake Boccaccio's fair brigade
    Bathed in the stream and tale for tale repaid."

The hundred tales that were thus told in the shade of those two
beautiful gardens may doubtless be traced to an infinite number of
sources--Egyptian, Arabian, Persian, and French;[663] but these
origins matter little. Boccaccio was almost certainly unaware of
them, for the most part at any rate, gathering his material as he
did from the tales he had heard, up and down Italy. Certainly to
the Contes and Fabliaux of Northern France a third part of the
_Decameron_ may be traced, much too to Indian and Persian sources,
and a little to the _Gesta Romanorum_. But one might as well accuse
Chaucer or Shakespeare of a want of originality because they took
what they wanted where they found it, as arraign Boccaccio for a
dependence he was quite unaware of on sources such as these.[664] He
has made the tales his own. The _Decameron_ is a work of art, a world
in itself, and its effect upon us who read it is the effect of life
which includes, for its own good, things moral and immoral. The book
has the variety of the world, and is full of an infinity of people,
who represent for us the fourteenth century in Italy, in all its
fullness, almost.[665] It deals with man as life does, never taking
him very seriously, or without a certain indifference, a certain
irony and laughter. Yet it is full too of a love of courtesy, of
luck, of all sorts of adventures, both gallant and sad. In details,
at any rate, it is true and even realistic, crammed with observation
of those customs and types which made up the life of the time. It is
dramatic, ironic, comic, tragic, philosophic, and even lyrical; full
of indulgence for human error, an absolutely human book beyond any
work of Dante's or Petrarch's or Froissart's. Even Chaucer is not so
complete in his humanism, his love of all sorts and conditions of
men. Perfect in organism, in construction, and in freedom, each of
these tales is in some sort a living part of life and a criticism of
it. Almost any one could be treated by a modern writer in his own
way, and remain fundamentally the same and fundamentally true. What
immorality there is, might seem owing rather to the French sources
of some of the tales than to any invention on the part of Boccaccio,
who, as we have seen, later came to deplore it. But we must remember
that the book was written to give delight to "amorous" women, and
women have always delighted in "immoral literature," and in fact
write most of it to-day.[666] Yet only a Puritan, and he foul-minded,
could call the _Decameron_ vicious, for it is purified with an
immortal laughter and joy.

But it is in its extraordinary variety of contents and character that
the _Decameron_ is chiefly remarkable. We are involved in a multitude
of adventures, are introduced to innumerable people of every class,
and each class shows us its most characteristic qualities. Such is
Boccaccio's art, for the stories were not originally, or even as they
are, ostensibly studies of character at all, but rather anecdotes,
tales of adventure, stories of illicit love, good stories about the
friars and the clergy and women, told for amusement because they are
full of laughter and are witty, or contain a brief and ready reply
with which one has rebuked another or saved himself from danger.
But I have given the subjects of the stories of the _Decameron_
elsewhere.[667] Whatever they may be, and they are often of the
best, of the most universal, they are not, for the real lover of
the _Decameron_, the true reason why he goes to it always with the
certainty of a new joy. The book is full of people, of living people,
that is the secret of its immortality. Fra Cipolla, whom I especially
love, Calandrino, whom I seem always to have known, poor Monna Tezza,
his wife, whom at last he so outrageously gives away, Griselda,
Cisti, the Florentine baker, the joyous Madonna Filippa, or Monna
Belcolore should be as dear to us as any character in any book not by
Shakespeare himself. They live for ever.

And yet it must be confessed that while the book is a mirror of the
world, and doubtless as true to the life of its time as any book
that was ever written, it lacks a certain idealism, a certain moral
sense which is never absent from English work, and which, even from
a purely æsthetic point of view, would have given a sort of balance
or sense of proportion to the book, which, I confess, in my weaker
moments, it has sometimes seemed to me it lacks.


_From a print of the XVIII century in Baldelli's "Vita di Gio:

It is true that Boccaccio deals with life and with life alone. It is
true that life then as now made little of sexual morality. But with
Boccaccio, as with almost all Latin art, sexual immorality usurps, or
seems to us to usurp, a place out of all proportion to its importance
in life. One is not always thinking of one's neighbour's wife, even
though one should have the misfortune to affect her. Yet it is just
there that Boccaccio's comic genius is seen at its best; it is his
most frequent theme. And just there too we come upon the unreality
of this most real book. His _spose_ are all beautiful young women
who live in the arms of beautiful youths; they are nearly all
adulteresses; Griselda, indeed, might seem to be the only faithful
wife among them. Consider, then, the wife of Pietro di Vincolo,[668]
who sells herself fresh and lovely as she is. Consider the pretty
Prunella the Neapolitan, who abandons herself voluptuously in her
husband's presence to Gianello Galeone.[669] She, like the rest, is
not only without regret, but without scruple. They all have this
extraordinary astuteness, this readiness of the devil. There is
Sismonda, the wife of the rich merchant Arriguccio Berlinghieri.[670]
There is Isabella, who loved Leonetto, and Monna Beatrice, who to
her adultery adds contempt of her husband, when, victorious at last,
trembling with voluptuousness, she kisses and re-kisses "the sweet
mouth" of the happy and delighted Lodovico.[671] Nor is she by any
means alone, they are all her sisters. Lydia[672] is even more wily,
Bartolommea more shameless.[673]

And if the women are thus joyful, lustful, and cunning, the husbands
are fools. Yet Boccaccio knows well how to draw the honest peasant,
the hard-working artisan, the persistent and adventurous merchant,
and a harder thing--the man of good society, such as Federigo degli
Alberighi,[674] when he will.

What he cannot do is to compose a tragedy; he has not a sufficiently
virile moral sense for it, and so just there he fails with the rest
of his Latin brethren. But as a writer of comedy he is one of the
greatest masters; and as a master of comedy he was in some degree at
the mercy both of it and of his audience. This may excuse him perhaps
for his too persistent stories about adulteries. The deceived husband
was always a comic figure; he probably always will be. This being
granted, we shall not judge the women of Boccaccio's time by his
tales, and it might seem that we should discount in the same way his
stories about the clergy. Like every other comic master, he naturally
finds some of his choicest material among them, who always have
been, are now, and ever will be a never-failing source of amusement.
But here we must go warily, for Boccaccio's treatment of the clergy
might almost be said to exhaust what little moral indignation he was
possessed of. "I have spoken the truth about the friars," he tells
us with an immense relief in the conclusion to his work, and if he
had not time, courage, or opportunity to tell us the truth about the
monks, the nuns, and the secular clergy, he has left us, it must
be confessed, some very remarkable evidence. His whole attitude of
attack is different when he exposes the clergy; moreover, while we
have no evidence at all in support of his supposed representation of
the married woman as universally adulterous--and it may be questioned
whether it was his intention to leave us with any such impression--we
have ample evidence from the best possible sources of the frightful
wickedness, immorality, and general rottenness of the clergy, both
religious and secular, monks, friars, nuns, and priests. We have
only to consult the pages of S. Catherine of Siena[675] to find
every separate accusation of Boccaccio's confirmed ten times over,
with a hundred others added to them which he has failed to bring
forward. Nor is it only in the mouth of S. Catherine that Boccaccio
is justified. Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln, had long ago informed
Innocent IV that the Curia was the source of all that vileness which
rendered the priesthood a reproach to Christianity. Alexander IV
himself described the corruption of the people as proceeding from the
clergy. What this had become after the Black Death we know not only
from Boccaccio, Petrarch, and S. Catherine, but from every writer
of the time. The Church was rotten to the core, she seemed about to
sink for ever into the pit of her abominations. Consider, then, what
such a beast as the priest of Varlungo must have been in a village;
consider the rector of Fiesole. Is Boccaccio's irony too bitter? Is
it any wonder that Monna Belcolore answers the wolf of Varlungo,
"There is never a one of you priests but would overreach the very

As for the friars, we should not recognise in any one of them
the brother of S. Francis or S. Dominic. Consider them then: Fra
Cipolla[676] is a lovely rogue of the best; who more cunning than Fra
Alberto da Imola;[677] who more eagerly wily than Fra Rinaldo;[678]
who more goat-like and concupiscent than Fra Rustico? The only son
of S. Francis illumined with light and piety is the confessor of
Ser Ciappelletto,[679] and he has no name, and is, I fear, quickly

Nor have we better news of the nuns[680] or the monks,[681] and
indeed, so far as the clergy are concerned, the _Decameron_ is as
eager in its attack on wickedness as the _Divine Comedy_ itself,
though its justice is tempered with kindness and its scorn with a
sort of pity, a sort of understanding.

And indeed, if we compare the book with that of Dante, a much greater
man, it holds its own because of its humanity. Dante puts the centre
of gravity into the next world. He hates this world almost without
ceasing, and has dared to arraign it before his hatred. His satire
is cruel, unjust, intolerant, and vindictive. Of course we are wont
to excuse all this on account of the genius which it expressed, of
its sincerity and beauty of form. Boccaccio, however, with less than
half Dante's genius, was not subject to his madness. He was content
to satirise what is bad, the bad customs of ecclesiastics and of
fools; but he excuses and pardons all too because of the "misfortunes
of the time," and above all he understands.

But if we may not compare the _Decameron_, the Human Comedy, with
the _Divine Comedy_ of Dante as a work of art, we may claim for it
that it was the greatest though not quite the first prose work in
the Tuscan tongue. But Italian prose maybe said to consist of the
_Decameron_ alone for a hundred years after Boccaccio's death. It is
written in a very beautiful but very complicated style, a sort of
poetical prose--exquisite, it is true, but often without simplicity.
Yet who will dare to attack it? It has justified itself, if need be,
as every great work has done, by its appeal to mankind, its utter
indifference to criticism.

That the _Decameron_, though widely read and enthusiastically
received, was censured very strongly in its own day we gather from
the Proem to the Fourth Day and from the Conclusion to the work;
while later the book did not escape the knife of the Church, though
it was never suppressed.[682] That it was enthusiastically received
in its day we know from contemporary documents,[683] and though
Petrarch failed to understand it, he praised it in certain places,
which were those, it seems, that were the most rhetorical. He
translated the last tale of Griselda into Latin, however, but as he
tells us, he had known this for many years. Petrarch, however, stood
alone; from the day the _Decameron_ was finished its influence both
in Italy and abroad was very great.

The original manuscript has disappeared, and the oldest we possess
seems to be that written in 1368 by Francesco Mannelli, though the
later Hamilton MS. now in Berlin is the better of the two.[684] More
than ten editions were, however, printed in the fifteenth century,
and some seventy-seven in the sixteenth; while there is not a
_Novelliere_ in Italian literature for many centuries who has not
inspired himself with the _Decameron_. Its fortune abroad was almost
equally good. Hans Sachs, Molière, La Fontaine,[685] Lope de Vega,
to mention only European names, were in its debt; and in England
our greatest poets have drawn from it, once the form and often the
substance of their work. One has only to name Chaucer, Sir Philip
Sidney, Shakespeare, Dryden,[686] Keats,[687] and Tennyson[688]
to suggest England's debt to Boccaccio. And although our prose
literature, strangely enough, produced no great original example of
this school of fiction, its influence was shown by the number of
translations and imitations of the "mery bookes of Italy," when,
according to Ascham, "a tale of Bocace was made more account of than
a story out of the Bible."[689]

In his _Praise of Poets_, Thomas Churchyard, referring to Dante,
Petrarch, and Boccaccio, says--

    "In Italy of yore did dwell
    Three men of special spreete,
    Whose gallant stiles did sure excell,
    Their verses were so sweet"

Of these three great Italians Dante was by far the least known,
and William Thomas, in his _Dictionarie_ (1550) defines "Dante
Aldighieri" as "the name of a famous poet in the Italian tongue,"
while he does not think it necessary to explain who Petrarch and
Boccaccio are.[690] Sir Philip Sidney, it is true, refers to Dante
several times, with the other two, and even mentions Beatrice in his
_Defence of Poesie_, yet there is no trace of Dante's influence in
his work. The only writer after Chaucer who shows internal evidence
of knowing Dante fairly well is Sir John Harrington, the translator
of _Orlando Furioso_. In his _Apology of Poetry_ he refers to Dante's
relations to Virgil, and in the _Allegorie_ of the fourth book of his
translation he translates the first five lines of the _Inferno_:--

    "While yet my life was in the middle race
    I found I wandered in a darksome wood,
    The right way lost with mine unsteadie pace ..."[691]

Spenser does not mention Dante though he used him; but in the Epistle
to Gabriel Harvey prefixed to the _Shepherd's Calendar_ he speaks
of Boccaccio as well as of Petrarch and others.


That Boccaccio was well known in England, at least by name, in
the fourteenth century, seems certain. Sacchetti (1335-1400) in
the Proemio to his _Novelle_ writes as follows: "... and taking
into consideration the excellent Florentine poet Messer Giovanni
Boccaccio, who wrote the Book of the Hundred Tales in one material
effort of his great intellect, ... that (book) is so generally
published and sought after, that even in France and England they
have translated it into their language ... and I, Franco Sacchetti,
though only a rude and unrefined man, have made up my mind to write
the present work." All trace of any such translation, if indeed it
was ever made, has been lost.[692] In fact, it might seem that the
only man in England at that time really capable of carrying out
such a task, worthily at least, was Geoffrey Chaucer, who, though
for some reason we can never know he refused to mention Boccaccio's
name, adapted and translated the _Teseide_, the _Filostrato_, and it
seems, three tales from the _Decameron_--the first of the Eighth Day,
the fifth of the Tenth Day, and the tenth of the Tenth Day.[693] May
it not have been Chaucer's work to which Sacchetti referred? It was
not until 1566 that any translation even of isolated stories from
the _Decameron_ appeared; in that year and the following Painter's
_Palace of Pleasure_ was published, which contained sixteen stories
translated from the _Decameron_. Then in 1579 came the _Forest of
Fancy_, by H. C., in which two more appeared, while Tarlton's _News
out of Purgatorie_ (1590) contained four more, and the _Cobler of
Caunterburie_, published in the same year, two more. These and
other translations of isolated stories will best be shown by a
table.[694] Such were the stories from the _Decameron_ that had been
translated in English when in 1620 the first practically complete
edition appeared, translated inaccurately, but very splendidly,
apparently from the French version of Antoine Le Macon. Isaac Jaggard
published it, in folio in two parts, with woodcuts, and the title
bore no translator's name. In 1625 this edition was reprinted, the
title bearing the legend "Isaac Jaggard for M. Lownes":[695] other
editions appeared in 1655 and 1657 and 1684, making five editions in
all during the seventeenth century. In 1700 Dryden's translations
appeared of the _Three Tales: Decameron_, IV 1, V 1, and V 8. A new
translation, practically complete, appeared in 1702, and was, I
think, twice reprinted in 1722 and 1741. Certainly eight editions
were published in the nineteenth century[696] and two have appeared
already in the twentieth.[697] The first really complete translation
to appear in English, however, was that of Mr. John Payne, printed
for the Villon Society (1886), but the first complete translation to
pass into general circulation was that of Mr. J. M. Rigg, 1896-1905,
which is rendered with a careful accuracy and much spirit.

"The ordinary recreations which we have in Winter," says Burton in
the _Anatomy of Melancholy_, "and in most solitary times busy our
minds with, are Cards, Tables and Dice, Shovel-board, Chess-play,
the Philosopher's game, Small Trunks, Shuttle-cock, Billiards,
Musick, Masks, Singing, Dancing, Yulegames, Frolicks, Jests, Riddles,
Catches, Purposes, Questions and Commands, Merry Tales of Errant
Knights, Queens, Lovers, Lords, Ladies, Giants, Dwarfs, Thieves,
Cheaters, Witches, Fairies, Goblins, Friars, etc., such as the old
women told [of] Psyche in Apuleius, Boccaccio's Novels and the rest,
_quarum auditione pueri delectantur, senes narratione_, which some
delight to hear, some to tell, all are well pleased with."

Well, after all, we are our fathers' sons, and (God be thanked) there
are still winter evenings in which, while the rest are occupied with
Burton's frolicks and jests, dancing and singing and card-play, we,
in some cosy place, may still turn the old immortal pages.


[654] The title _Il Decameron_ is badly composed from two Greek
words, δέκα, ten, and ἡμέρα, day--ten days. Cf. TEZA, _La parola
Decameron_ in _Propugnatore_ (1889), II, p. 311 _et seq._, and
RAJNA, _op. cit._, who shows that the proper form is Decameron,
not Decamerone. Later some one added the sub-title "cognominato il
Principe Galeotto"; cf. _Inferno_, V, 137.

[655] Cf. ALBERTAZZI, _I novellatori e le novellatrici del Dec._ in
_Parvenze e Sembianze_ (Bologna, 1892); GEBHART, _Le prologue du Dec.
et la Renaissance_ in _Conteurs Florentins_ (Hachette, 1901), p. 65
_et seq._; MORINI, _Il prologo del Dec._ in _Rivista Pol. e Lett._,
xvi. 3.

[656] The only interruption of the _Decameron_, if so it can be
called, is the introduction of Tindaro and Licisca at the beginning
of the sixth day. The diversion, however, has very little consequence.

[657] A few things we may gather, however. Pampinea was the eldest
(Proem), and by inference Elisa the youngest. Some of the ladies were
of Ghibelline stock (X, 8). For what life ingenuity can find in them,
see HAUVETTE, _Les Ballades du Décaméron_ in _Journal des Savants_
(Paris, September, 1905), p. 489 _et seq._

[658] He also tells two of the best tales in the book, that of Fra
Cipolla and the Relics (VI, 10), and of the Patient Griselda (X, 10).
These are the only stories he tells which are not licentious.

[659] See MANCINI, _Poggio Gherardo, primo ricetto alle novellatrici
del B., frammento di R. Gherardo_, etc. (Firenze, 1858); and
_Florentine Villas_ (Dent, 1901), by JANET ROSS, p. 131. Mrs. Ross
owns Poggio Gherardo to-day. Mr. J. M. Rigg denies that Poggio
Gherardo is the place, but gives no reasons save that it does not
tally with the description, which is both true and untrue. It tallies
as well as it could do after more than five hundred years; and
perfectly as regards situation and distance from the city and the old
roads. Cf. my _Country Walks about Florence_ (Methuen, 1908), cap. i.

[660] See my _Country Walks about Florence_ (Methuen, 1908), pp.
23 and 26 _et seq._ Mr. J. M. Rigg, in the introduction to his
translation of the _Decameron_ (Routledge, 1905), here again denies
the identity of Villa Palmieri with the second palace of the
_Decameron_. He says it does not stand "on a low hill" amid a plain,
but on "the lower Fiesolan slope." But Boccaccio even in Mr. Rigg's
excellent translation does not say that, but "they arrived at a
palace ... which stood _somewhat from the plain_, being situate upon
a low eminence." This exactly describes Villa Palmieri, as even a
casual glance at a big map will assure us.

[661] No doubt a vivid reminiscence of Madonna Fiammetta at Baia.

[662] See my _Country Walks about Florence_ (Methuen, 1908), p. 23
_et seq._ The place has been drained to-day, and is now a garden of
vines and olives in the _podere_ of Villa Ciliegio belonging to A. W.
Benn, Esq., whose kindness and courtesy in permitting me to see the
place I wish here to acknowledge.

[663] Cf. MANNI, _Istoria del Decamerone_ (Firenze, 1742); BARTOLI,
_I precursi del B._ (Firenze, 1876); LANDAU, _Die Quellen des Dekam_.
(Stuttgart, 1884); CAPPELLETTI, _Osserv. e notiz. sulle fonti del
Decam._ (Livorno, 1891).

[664] No doubt most of these stories were current up and down Italy.

[665] As with Shakespeare so with Boccaccio, the religious
temperament is not represented.

[666] PINELLI, _La moralità nel Decam._ in _Propugnatore_ (1882), xv
and xvi; also DEJOB, _A propos de la partie honnête du Décam._ in
_Revue Universitaire_ (July 15, 1900).

[667] See Appendix VIII, p. 367 _et seq._

[668] _Decameron_, V, 10.

[669] _Ibid._, VII, 2.

[670] _Ibid._, VII, 8.

[671] _Ibid._, VII, 7.

[672] _Ibid._, VII, 9.

[673] _Ibid._, II, 10.

[674] _Ibid._, V, 9.

[675] But we must be careful of our edition if we read her only
in English. Some time since Mr. Algar Thorold published a fine
translation of _The Dialogue of S. Catherine of Siena_ (Kegan Paul),
and here all the evidence needed can be found. But of late a "new
edition" (1907) has appeared with the respectable "imprimatur" of the
Catholic authorities, but all the evidence against the clergy has
been omitted, probably to obtain the "imprimatur." See _infra_ p.
310, n. 1. S. Catherine's impeachment of the clergy will be found in
the section of her book called _Il Trattato delle Lagrime_. A summary
of the evidence will be found in Mr. E. G. GARDNER'S excellent _S.
Catherine of Siena_ (Dent, 1907), p. 361 _et seq._ Mr. Gardner
adds that "the student ... is compelled to face the fact that the
testimony of Boccaccio's _Decameron_ is confirmed by the burning
words of a great saint."

[676] _Decameron_, VI, 10.

[677] _Ibid._, VI, 2.

[678] _Ibid._, VII, 3

[679] _Ibid._, I, 1.

[680] _Ibid._, III, 1; IX, 2.

[681] _Ibid._, III, 4.

[682] Cf. BIAGI, _La Rassettatura del Decamerone_ in _Aneddoti
Letterari_ (Milan, 1887), p. 262 _et seq._, and FOSCOLO, _Disc. sul
testo del D._ in _Opere_ (Firenze, 1850), III. The facts seem quite
clear about the action of the Church with regard to the _Decameron_.
It was condemned by the Council of Trent. The earliest edition of
the _Index Librorum Prohibitorum_ in which I have found it, is that
published in Rome in 1559. Since then it has figured in every Roman
edition of the Index (as far as I have tested them), the entry
against it being "Donec expurg. Ind. Trent," which means, "Until
expurgated, indexed by the Council of Trent." It appears to have
remained thus provisionally condemned and prohibited until the last
years of the nineteenth century. I find it still in the Index of
1881; but it no longer figures in that of 1900. The amusing point is
that the Church does not seem to have minded the licentiousness of
the tales as such; but to have objected to them being told of Monks,
Friars, Nuns, and the Clergy, in regard to whom, as we have seen,
they were merely the truth. Editions with a clerical "imprimatur"
have been always published where laymen have been substituted
for these. For instance, the edition printed in Florence, 1587,
"con permissione de' superiori," etc., substitutes the avarice of
magistrates for the hypocrisy of the clergy in _Dec._, I, 6.

[683] Cf. BIAGI, _Il Decameron giudicato da un contemporaneo_ in _op.
cit._, p. 377 _et seq._

[684] Cf. HAUVETTE, _Della parentela esistente fra il MS. berlinese
del Dec. e il codice Mannelli_ in _Giorn. St. d. Lett. It._ (1895),
XXXI, p. 162 _et seq._

[685] In _Sylvia_, Alfred de Musset says very happily, "La Fontaine a
ri dans Boccace où Shakespeare fondait en pleurs."

[686] In his _Cimon_, _Sigismonda_, and _Theodore_ he used Nov. v. 1,
iv. 1, and v. 8 respectively.

[687] In his _Isabella_ (iv. 5).

[688] In his _Falcon_ (v. 9) and _Golden Supper_ (x. 4).

[689] Nevertheless I think it probable that the reason the
_Decameron_ had, as a work of art, so little influence on our prose
literature may have been the publication of King James's Bible in
1611, nine years before the complete translation of the _Decameron_

[690] On the other hand, though Chaucer was considerably in
Boccaccio's debt, he never mentions his name, but, as we know, he
speaks of Dante and Petrarch.

[691] Cf. KUHNS, _Dante and the English Poets_ (New York, 1904), and
PAGET TOYNBEE, _Dante in English Literature_ (Methuen, 1909).

[692] Cf. H. C. COOTE in _Athenæum_, 7th June, 1884, No. 2954.

[693] If Dante moved Chaucer most, it is from Boccaccio he borrows
most. _Troilus and Criseyde_ is to a great extent a translation
of the _Filostrato_. Cf. ROSSETTI, W. M., _Chaucer's "Troylus and
Criseyde" compared with Boccaccio's "Filostrato"_ (Chaucer Society,
1875 and 1883). The _Knightes Tale_ is a free rendering of the
_Teseide_. The design of the _Canterbury Tales_ was in some sort
modelled on the design of the _Decameron_. As we have seen, _The
Reeves Tale_, _The Frankeleynes Tale_, _The Schipmannes Tale_ are
all found in the _Decameron_, though it is doubtful perhaps whether
Chaucer got them thence. _The Monks Tale_ is from _De Casibus

Did Chaucer meet Petrarch and Boccaccio in Italy? He seems to wish to
suggest that he had met the former at Padua, but, as I have said, of
the latter he says not a word, but gives "Lollius" as his authority
when he uses Boccaccio's work. Cf. Dr. KOCH'S paper in _Chaucer
Society Essays_, Pt. IV. JUSSERAND in _Nineteenth Century_, June,
1896, and in reply BELLEZZA in _Eng. Stud._, 23 (1897), p. 335.

[694] Cf. KOEPPEL, _Studien zur Geschichte der Italienischen
Novelle in der Englischen Litteratur des sechszehnten Jahrhunderts_
in _Quellen und Forschungen zur Sprach und Culturgeschichte der
germanischen Volkes_ (Strassburg, 1892), Vol. LXX.

 DAY   I.  Nov.  3 Painter's _Palace of Pleasure_,  I. 30 (1566).
  "    I.   "    5    "         "         "        II. 16 (1567).
  "    I.   "    8    "         "         "         I. 31.
  "    I.   "   10    "         "         "         I. 32.
  "   II.   "    2    "         "         "         I. 33.
  "   II.   "    3    "         "         "         I. 34.
  "   II.   "    4    "         "         "         I. 35.
  "   II.   "    5    "         "         "         I. 36.
  "   II.   "    6 Greene's _Perimedes the Blacksmith_ (1588).
  "   II.   "    8 Painter's _Palace of Pleasure_, I. 37.
  "   II.   "    9 _Westward for Smelts_, by Kind Kit of Kingston,
                        II. (1620).
  "  III.   "    5 H. C.'s _Forest of Fancy_, I. (1579).
  "  III.   "    9 Painter's _Palace of Pleasure_, I. 38.
  "   IV.   "    1    "         "         "        I. 39 and others.
  "   IV.   "    2 Tarlton's _News out of Purgatorie_, 2 (1590).
  "   IV.   "    4 Turbeville's _Tragical Tales_, 6 (ca. 1576).
  "   IV.   "    5    "           "         "     7.
  "   IV.   "    7    "           "         "     9.
  "   IV.   "    8    "           "         "    10.
  "   IV.   "    9    "           "         "     4.
  "    V.   "    1 _A Pleasant and Delightful History of
                       Galesus, Cymon and Iphigenia_, etc. by
                       T. C. gent. _Ca._ 1584.
  "    V.   "    2 Greene's _Perimedes the Blacksmith_.
  "    V.   "    7 H. C.'s _Forest of Fancy_, II.
  "    V.   "    8 _A notable History of Nastagio and Traversari_,
                       etc., trs. in English verse by C. T.
                       (1569), and Turbeville, I., and _Forest of
  "   VI.   "    4 Tarlton's _News_, No. 4.
  "   VI.   "   10    "              No. 5.
  "  VII.   "    1 _The Cobler of Caunterburie_, No. 2.
  "  VII.   "    4 _Westward for Smelts_, No. 3.
  "  VII.   "    5 Cf. Thomas Twyne's _Schoolmaster_ (1576).
  "  VII.   "    6 Tarton's _News_, No. 7.
  "  VII.   "    7 _Hundred Mery Talys_, No. 3 (1526).
  "  VII.   "    8 _The Cobler of Caunterburie._
  " VIII.   "    4 _Nachgeahunt_ of Whetstone (1583).
  " VIII.   "    7 Painter's _Palace of Pleasure_, II. 31.
  "   IX.   "    2 Thomas Twyne's _Schoolmaster_.
                   William Warner's _Albion's England_ (1586-1592).
  "   IX.   "    6 Cf. _A Right Pleasant Historie of the Mylner of
                       Abingdon_ (?).
  "    X.   "    3 Painter's _Palace of Pleasure_, II. 18.
  "    X.   "    4     "        "        "       II. 19.
  "    X.   "    5     "        "        "       II. 17.
  "    X.   "    8 _The History of Tryton and Gesyppustrs_,
                       out of the Latin by William Wallis (?),
                       and _The Boke of the Governours_ by Sir
                       Thomas Elyot, lib. II. cap. xii. (1531).
  "    X.   "    9 Painter's _Palace of Pleasure_,{*} II. 20.
  "    X.   "   10 _The Pleasant and Sweet History of Patient
                               Grissel_ (?) and another (1619).

{*} Painter's _Palace of Pleasure_ is almost certainly the source of
the Tales of Boccaccio which Shakespeare used.

[695] This first translation has been reprinted by Mr. Charles
Whibley in _The Tudor Translations_ (4 vols., David Nutt, 1909), with
an introduction by Edward Hutton. In it the story of Fra Rustico
(III, 10) has been omitted by the anonymous translator, and a
harmless Scandinavian tale substituted for it.

[696] In 1804, 1820, 1822, 1846 (1875), 1884, 1886, 1896.

[697] A reprint of the 1896 edition of the _Decameron_ translated by
J. M. Rigg, with J. A. Symonds's essay as Introduction (Routledge,
1905), and the edition spoken of _supra_, n. 2.




That the date of the arrival of Boccaccio in Naples commonly
accepted, namely the end of 1330, is inadmissible, has, I think, been
proved by DELLA TORRE (_op. cit._, caps. ii. and iii.), who gives us
many good reasons to think that the true date was December 13, 1323.
With his conclusions I agree, nor do I see how they are easily to be
put aside.

To begin with, the departure of Idalagos in the _Filocolo_[698] forms
part of the same episode as the birth of the _fratellastro_, so that
it would seem the two events cannot have been separated by any great
length of time; certainly not by nine years, which would be the
case if Boccaccio really left Florence in 1330, for Francesco the
_fratellastro_ was born in 1321.[699]

Again, Boccaccio tells us that at the time of his departure Idalagos
was "semplice e lascivo,"[700] which would scarcely be epithets to
apply to a youth of seventeen years. And then, even though we pass
that, what are we to think of a youth of seventeen who is so mortally
afraid of his stepmother and his little brother, aged say nine, that
to save his life, as he thinks, he runs away? Certainly this youth is
very unlike Boccaccio. Whatever the date may be, then, the year 1330
would seem to be out of the question.

At that time it was the custom of men to divide human life into seven
ages, as Shakespeare records later. These seven ages we find were
Infanzia, Puerizia, Gioventù or Adolescenza, Virilità, Vecchiaia,
and Decrepitezza. The first three of these ages corresponded to the
following years, thus:--[701]

  Infanzia         1-7
  Puerizia        7-14
  Adolescenza    14-21

Now Boccaccio tells us quite clearly, "io ... _fanciullo_ cercai i
regni Etrurii, e di quelli _in più ferma età_ venuto, qui [that is to
Naples] venni."[702] That is to say: "I came to Tuscany before I was
seven years old, and during my boyhood (Puerizia) between the ages of
seven and fourteen, between the years 1320-1327, I came to Naples."

Does that seem a little far-fetched, a little as though we were
trying to prove too much, with such vague words? Let us have
patience. When after six years with the merchant in Naples, Boccaccio
is abandoned by Abrotonia and Pampinea, they appear to him in a dream
and tell him it was not for them he really sang, but for another.
Then there comes to him a dream in which he sees this other, and
recognises her as the lady who had welcomed him to Naples--"questa
era colei, che _nella mia puerizia vegnendo a questi luoghi_,
apparitami e baciatomi, lieta m' avea la venuta profferta."[703]
Nor does this passage stand alone. When on Holy Saturday he sees
Fiammetta face to face, he recognises her as the lady who had lately
appeared to him it is true, but first--"Questa è colei che _nella mia
puerizia_ e non ha gran tempo ancora, m' apparve ne' sonni miei...."
Now _puerizia_, boyhood, fell, as we have seen, between the ages of
seven and fourteen--between the years 1320 and 1327 in Boccaccio's

To clinch the matter, as we might think, in the _De Genealogiis_, xv.
10, Boccaccio tells us that he entered the merchant's office before
he was adolescent--"adolescentium nondum intrantem," that is to say
before he was fifteen and before the year 1328. So that it might seem
to be proved not only that he came to Naples before 1330, but that
he came to Naples between the years 1320 and 1327. Now old Boccaccio
himself came to Naples in the autumn of 1327--did Boccaccio then come
with him? This at first sight seems likely; let us enquire into it.

In the _De Genealogiis_, xv. 10, Boccaccio tells us that he was six
years with the merchant, wasting his time, "Sex annis nil aliud feci
quam non recuperabile tempus in vacuum terere." That is to say, if
he came to Naples with his father in 1327, he was still with the
merchant in 1333, when he was twenty years old. But Benvenuto da
Imola[704] seems to tell us that Boccaccio was sixteen when he began
to study Canon Law; in other words, if we read that author aright,
Boccaccio began to study Canon Law in 1329. This will not square with
the theory that he came to Naples in 1327, but it admirably fits our
claim that he came to Naples in 1323, and after six years with a
merchant began to study Canon Law in 1329, when he was sixteen years

But we know that whatever else may be insecure in this question, it
is at least certain that the departure of Boccaccio for Naples took
place before the meeting with Fiammetta, for it was in Naples that he
first saw her. At first sight this might seem to help us little, for
the date of the meeting with Fiammetta is more disputed than anything
else in Boccaccio's chronology, the date usually given being either
27th March, 1334, or 11th April, 1338.[705] We do not accept either
of these dates. However, let us examine what evidence we have. In
the introduction to the _Filocolo_ Boccaccio tells us that he first
saw and fell in love with Fiammetta on that Holy Saturday which fell
in the sixteenth _grado_ after the sun was entered into Aries. I give
the whole passage, as the argument depends upon it:--

"Avvene che un giorno, la cui prima ora Saturno avea signoreggiata,
essendo già Febo co' suoi cavalli al sedecimo grado del celestiale
Montone pervenuto, e nel quale il glorioso partimento del figliuolo
di Giove dagli spogliati regni di Plutone si celebrava, io, della
presente opera componitore, mi trovai in un grazioso e bel tempio in
Partenope, nominato da colui che per deificarsi sostenne che fosse
fatto di lui sacrificio sopra la grata, e quivi con canto pieno
di dolce melodia ascoltava l' uficio che in tale giorno si canta,
celebrato da' sacerdoti successori di colui che prima la corda cinse
umilemente esaltando la povertade quella seguendo. Ove io dimorando,
e già essendo secondo che il mio intelletto estimava la quarta ora
del giorno sopra l' orientale orizzonte passata, apparve agli occhi
miei le mirabile bellezza della prescritta giovane...."[706]

The whole question is then: on what day did the sun enter Aries,
in other words, on what day did Spring begin. We seem to be on the
point of solving the difficulty by answering that question--an easy
task--for sixteen days afterwards in the year we seek it was Holy
Saturday, and Boccaccio then saw Fiammetta for the first time. The
solution is, however, on consideration, not quite so simple. We have
to ask not only when did Spring begin, but on what day did Boccaccio
think it began; when did he think the sun entered Aries?

As we know, Chaucer, Boccaccio's contemporary, thought Spring began
on 12th March,[707] but Chaucer's "Treatise on the Astrolabe" was
written in 1391, more than fifty years after the _Filocolo_.

All sorts of opinions have been expressed by scholars as to the date
that was in Boccaccio's mind as that which marked the entry of the
sun into Aries. Baldelli[708] thinks it was March 21st; Witte[709]
and Koerting[710] say the 25th; Casetti[711] says the 14th; and
Landau[712] says the 11th. The whole question is more or less
complicated by the fact that the Julian Calendar was in use.

We shall, then, find ourselves in agreement with many good scholars
if we say that Boccaccio thought Spring began on the 25th March
(see _infra_), and calculating thus, we shall find that he first
met Fiammetta on April 11th, 1338, when he was twenty-five years
old.[713] This, however, is only conjecture.

If we ask ourselves, then, on what day Spring really did begin, we
shall find ourselves in agreement with Casetti, who names the 14th
March. Why should Boccaccio have been ignorant of this? He cannot
have been ignorant of it. Are all his studies with Calmeta and Andalò
di Negro to go for nothing? He must have known when Spring began
better than most men. If then we take the 14th March as the date
and add the sixteen _gradi_ to it, we arrive at the 30th. Now Holy
Saturday fell on the 30th March in 1331 and in 1336. Which of these
two dates is the true one? The earlier we think.

If for the moment we admit that he came to Naples in 1323, he must
have met Fiammetta in 1331, not in 1336, for he himself gives us
to understand that seven years and four months passed between his
advent and that Holy Saturday.[714] It seems then most likely that
he left home in 1323 and saw Fiammetta for the first time in 1331.
If we argue back from the year 1336 (and, as has been shown, he met
Fiammetta certainly either in 1331 or in 1336), we find that he left
home in 1329, when he was sixteen. That would be open to as many
objections as the year 1330 (see _supra_). Without actual certainty
we may claim that the years 1323 and 1331 that have a secure
relationship exactly fit in with all the secondary evidence that has
been brought to bear upon the argument.

Our conclusions are then: that Boccaccio entered Naples in December,
1323; that he was with a merchant for six years, till 1329, in which
year he began to study Canon Law. For sixteen months he had followed
this study (so that he left the merchant in the winter of 1329), when
on Holy Saturday, March 30, 1331, at the age of eighteen, he first
saw and fell in love with Fiammetta.[715]


[698] _Filacolo_ (_ed. cit._), ii. pp. 242-3. I give the whole
passage for the sake of clearness: "Ma non lungo tempo quivi ricevuti
noi dimorò, che abbandonata la semplice giovane [i.e. Giannai or
Jeanne; he is speaking of his father] e l' armento tornò ne' suoi
campi, e quivi appresso noi si tirò, e non guari lontano al suo natal
sito la promessa fede a Giannai ad un altra, Garamita chiamata,
ripromise e servò, di cui nuova prole dopo piccolo spazio riceveo.
Io semplice e lascivo, come già dissi, le pedate dello ingannator
padre seguendo, volendo un giorno nella paternal casa entrare, due
orsi ferocissimi e terribili mi vidi avanti con gli occhi ardenti
desiderosi della mia morte, de' quali dubitando io volsi i passi
miei e da quell' ora innanzi sempre d' entrare in quella dubitai.
Ma acciocchè io più vero dica, tanta fu la paura, che abbandonati
i paternali campi, in questi boschi venni l' apparato uficio a

[699] The document quoted by DELLA TORRE, _op. cit._, p. 24, seems to
prove that Francesco was born in 1321.

[700] Cf. DANTE, _Paradiso_, v. 82-4.

[701] Cf. S. ISIDORO DI SIVIGLIA, _Origines_ in _Opera Omnia_ (Paris,
1580), cap. 75. Also PAPIA, _Elementarium_ (Milan, 1476), under
_Aetas_; and see DELLA TORRE, _op. cit._, p. 73.

[702] _Ameto_ (_ed. cit._), p. 225.

[703] _Ibid._, p. 227.

[704] See G. BETUSSI, _La Genealogia degli Dei di Boccaccio_ (Venice,
1547). Cf. DELLA TORRE, _op. cit._, p. 123. The evidence is not good
enough to base an argument on unsupported.

[705] Cf. D' ANCONA E BOCCI, _Manuale della Lett. Ital._ (Firenze,
1904), Vol. I, p. 579.

[706] _Filocolo_ (_ed. cit._), I, pp. 4-5.

[707] Cf. _The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer_ (Clarendon Press,
1901), p. 401.

[708] _Op. cit._

[709] In _Dekameron von G. B. aus dem Italienischen übersetz_
(Leipzig, 1859), Vol. I, p. 22, note 2.

[710] _Op. cit._, p. 104.

[711] In _Nuova Antologia_ (1875), XXVIII, p. 562.

[712] _Op. cit._

[713] Cf. CRESCINI in _Kristischer Jahresbericht_, etc. (1898);
HAUVETTE: _Une Confession de Boccacce--Il Corbaccio_ in _Bulletin
Italien_ (1901), i, p. 7.

[714] See _Ameto_ (_ed. cit._), p. 227. I quote the passage: "Ed
ancorachè Febo avesse tutti i dodici segnali mostrati del cielo sei
volte, poichè quello era stato, pure riformò la non falsa fantasia
nella offuscata memoria la vedute effigie...." Then below: "Ma sedici
volte tonda, e altrettante bicorna ci si mostrò Febea...." That is
six years and sixteen months, or in other words, seven years and four

[715] Witte's and Koerting's theory, based on 25 March as the
beginning of spring, certainly receives some support from Boccaccio's
comment on Dante, _Inferno_, i. 38-40:--

    "E' l sol montava su con quelle stelle
    Ch' eran con lui quando l' amor divino
    Mosse da prima quelle cose belle...."

Boccaccio, after speaking of "Ariete, nel principio del quale
affermano alcuni Nostro Signore aver creato e posto il corpo del
sole," adds: "e perciò volendo l' autore dimostrare per questa
descrizione il principio della Primavera, dice che il Sole saliva su
dallo emisferio inferiore al superiore, con quelle stelle le quali
erano con lui quando il divino amore lui e l' altre cose belle creò;
... volendo per questo darne ad intendere, quando da prima pose la
mano alla presente opera essere circa al principio della Primavera; e
così fu siccome appresso apparirà: egli nella presente fantasia entrò
a dì 25 di Marzo."--_Comento_ (_ed. cit._), cap. i.



In Dei Nomine Amen. Anno ejusdem incarnationis millesimo trecentesimo
trigesimo sexto indictione quarta et die decimo octavo mensis Madij.

Pateat etc. etc. etc.

Item postea eodem die Bocchaccinus olim Chellini de Certaldo qui
olim morabatur in populo Sancti Petri maioris et hodie moratur in
populo Sancte Felicitatis de Florentia iure proprio et in perpetuum
dedit vendidit tradidit et concessit Niccholo olim Vegne populi
Sancti Simonis de Florentia ementi recipienti et stipulanti pro se
ipso suisque heredibus habentibusque causam ab eodem pro ducentis
quadraginta partibus pro indiviso ex trecentis quinquaginta partibus
et Niccholao nepoti dicti Niccholi et filio olim Pauli olim Vegne
dicti populi Sancti Simonis ementi stipulanti et recipienti pro se
ipso suisque heredibus habentibusque causam ad eodem pro residuis
centumdecem partibus pro indiviso ex trecentis quinquaginta partibus.
Quoddam Podere cum domibus, curte, puteo, portibus, terra laborativa
et vineata et olivis et arboribus, fossatis in medio, positis in
parte in populo Sancti Martini la Melsola et in parte in populo
Sancte Marie de Septignano Comitatus Florentie loco dicto Corbignano
que esse dicuntur ad cordam et rectam mensuram Comunis Florentiæ
stariorum trigintaocto et panorum duo vel circa et duo tamen capanne,
quatuor orgiorum vel circa et quamdam bigonciam _da ricever vino_
et quemdam suem ibidem existentem; quibus omnibus tales dixit esse
confines, a primo olim heredes Becit Bonaccursii, et hodie Cose olim
Banchi Cose, a secundo olim dictorum heredum Becti et hodie dicti
Cose, via dicti poderis et rerum venditarum in medio, a tertio
olim Chiarozzi de Lamone et hodie heredum Vantis Rimbaldesis, via
dictorum poderis et rerum venditarum in medio in partem, et olim
Omodeii Spadari et hodie Andree Aghinecti in partem, a quarto olim
dicti Homodey et hodie dicti Andree in partem et Pieri Boni in
partem; infra predictos confines vel alios si qui forent pluries vel
veriores, accessibus, aggressibus, ingressibus et egressibus suis
et cuiuslibet vel alterius earum usque in viam publican et cum omni
iure, actione, possessione, tenuta usu, usufructu seu requisitione
eidem Boccaccino pro dictis rebus venditis vel earum aliqua aut
ipsis rebus venditis vel earum alicui modo aliquo pertinenti vel
spectanti; et cum omnibus et singulis que super se, infra, seu
inter se habent dicte res vendite vel earum aliqua ad habendum,
tenendum, possidendum, fruendum, usufructandum, et quidquid eisdem
Nicchole Vegne pro partibus supradictis et Niccholao Pauli pro
partibus supradictis pro inde deiceps placuerit perpetuo faciendum.
Que quidem podere et res vendite et earum quamlibet predictus
Boccaccinus pro eisdem Niccholo Vegne pro partibus supradictis
et Niccholao Pauli pro partibus supradictis constituit possidere
donec exinde dicti Niccholas Vegne pro partibus supradictis et
Niccholaus Pauli pro partibus supradictis vel aliquis eorum pro se
et alio eorumdem vel aliis pro eis corporalem possessionem sumere
adeptas vel adeptis. Que et quas intrandi et exinde corporalem
possessionem adipisci et retinendi deinceps dictus Boccaccinus
venditor eisdem emptoribus et eorum cuilibet pro partibus supradictis
quandocumque, quocumque, quotiescumque et qualitercumque voluerint,
vel eorum aliquis licentiam concessit omnimodam atque dedit. Insuper
dictus Boccaccinus venditor fecit et constituit suum procuratorem
Bencivennem Mactheii dicti populi Sancti Simonis ibidem presentem et
recipientem specialiter ad ponendum et immittendum pro eo et eius
nomine dictos Niccholam Vegne pro partibus supradictis et Niccholaum
Pauli pro partibus supradictis, vel alium recipientem pro eis et
eorum quolibet in tenutam et corporalem possessionem dictorum poderis
et rerum venditarum, et cuiuslibet earum et earum cuiuslibet, earum
tenutam et corporalem possessionem tradendi cum omni iure eidem
Bocchaccino in dictis rebus venditis vel earum aliqua pertinentia.
Et generaliter ad omnia facienda que ipse constituens posset facere
si adesset. Insuper etiam dictus Bocchaccinus ex caussa vendictionis
predicte dedit, cessit, transtulit et exinde eisdem Niccholò Vegne
et Niccholao Pauli et cuilibet eorum pro partibus supradictis
omnia et singula iura et actiones reales et personales, utiles et
directas mixtas tacitas et expressas preter civiles et conventionales
omnesque alias eidem Bocchaccino competentes et spectantes, et
que et quas ipse Bocchaccinus habet eidemque competunt contra et
adversus quemlibet et quoslibet et quemcumque et quoscum auctores
suos eidemque Bocchaccino pro dictis seu occasione dictorum poderis
et rerum quomodolibet obligavit faciens et costituens predictus
Bocchaccinus eosdem Niccholam Vegne et Niccholaum Pauli ibidem
presentes, procuratores in rem suam eosdemque ponens in locum suum
in iuribus et nominibus supradictis quo ad possint dicti Niccholas
Vegne et Niccholaus et quilibet eorum pro partibus supradictis,
pro dictis, et contra predictis agere etc. Et promisit et convenit
dictus Bocchaccinus venditor eidem Nicchole Vegne et Niccholao Pauli
et cuilibet eorum stipulanti et recipienti ut supra pro partibus
supradictis, pacifice et quiete permittere et permicti facere dictos
emptores et eorum quemlibet pro partibus supradictis eorumque et
cuiuslibet eorum heredibus, habentibusque caussam ab eisdem ipsum
podere et res vendite et earum quamlibet earumque et cuiuslibet
earum obventionum habere etc. Et nullam litem questionem seu brigam
eisdem emptoribus vel eorum alicui eorumque vel alicuius eorum
heredum habentibusque caussam ab eisdem in dictis rebus venditis vel
earum aliqua vel earum seu alicuius earum parte seu partiolam vel in
earum seu alicuius earum obventionis inferre facere vel movere seu
inferenti, facienti, vel moventi consentire. Set omnes et singulas
lites et questiones eisdem emptoribus vel eorum alicui eorumque vel
alicuius eorum heredum vel habentibusque caussam ab eisdem in dictis
rebus venditis vel earum aliqua vel in earum seu alicuius earum
parte seu particola, vel in earum seu alicuius earum obventionis
per libelli oblationem simplicem requisitionem, tenutam, notitiam
vel usuras, vel tenute dationem, pronumptiationem, acquisitionem,
vel immissionem vel partim de disgombrando, vel alio quocumque modo
motas vel movendas in se suscipere a die qua eidem Bocchaccino vel
eius heredibus delatum fuerit personaliter vel ad domum ad tres
dies tunc proxime secutoros. Ita quod a dictis emptoribus vel eorum
quolibet eorumque et cuiuslibet eorum heredum habentibusque causam
ab eisdem in totum tollantur et ad causam ire etc. Et ipsas res
venditas et earum quamlibet earumque et cuiuscumque earum obventionum
eisdem emptoribus stipulantibus et recipientibus ut supra defendere,
auctorizare, et disbrigare, et ab omni homine loco et universitate,
et ab omni obventione, conventione preterea atque pignoris, et ab
omni debito, negotio et contumacia, et ab omni tenuta, notitia,
et usuris et tenute datione, pronumptiatione, acquisitione vel
immissione et de iure et de facto in omnibus causis videlicet ab
omni libra, factione, prestantia, impositione, gabella quadam, banno
inquisitione heretice pravitatis eteius officio facto vel fiendo
et ab omne heresis ammonitione et ab officialibus Universitatis
Mercatorum et Mercantie Comunis Florentie, et ab omnibus et singulis
Sindacis et officialibus deputatis vel deputandis per Commune
Florentinum super negociis alicuius vel aliquorum mercatoris vel
mercatorum nunc vel in futurum pronumptiatione cessantium et
fugitivorum cum pecunia et rebus debitoris et eorum creditorum, et a
Iudice et Officio Bonorum Rebellium, exbannitorum et condepmnatorum,
et cessantium ac libris et factionibus Communis Florentie et ab omni
et quolibet officio dicti Communis Florentie presentibus et futuris
nec non a Comuni Florentino supradicto et eisdem emptoribus cuilibet
videlicet eorum ut supra stipulanti et recipienti ipsarum rerum
venditadum et cuiuslibet earum vacuam possessionem tradere et ipsos
ut supra stipulantes et recipientes in earum et cuiuslibet earum
possessionum facere et defendere penitus et in earum et cuiuslibet
earum possessu vero domino indepmne servare tueri et defensare.
Remissis eisdem emptoribus ut supra stipulantibus et recipientibus ex
pacto etiam appellandi necessitate si super evictione pronumptiatione
contigerit contra eos vel eorum aliquem vel eorum vel alicuius
eorum heredum vel habentibusque caussam ab eisdem. Et acto inter
eos expresse quod non possit dici, allegari vel exponi eisdem
emptoribus vel eorum alicui vel eorum vel alicuius eorum heredum
habentibusque caussam ab eisdem vel eorum aliquo pro eisdem vel
eorum alicui factum sit vel fuerit vel facta esset seu foret vel
fieret iniuria vel ininstitia. Si ipse res vendite vel earum aliqua
vel earum seu alicuius earum obventionis evinceretur ab eis vel eorum
aliquo vel quod ipsi vel eorum aliquis in curia seu ad curiam non
comparuerint vel non comparuerit, vel quod libellium seu caussam in
sè non susceperint vel non suceperit, vel quod litem non fuerint vel
non fuerit contestatam, vel quod ipsarum rerum vel alicuius earum
defensor non opposuerit vel non opposuerint, vel quod eorum vel
alicuius eorum culpa vel negligentia fuerit evictus. Et quod ipsi
vel eorum aliquis non teneantur seu teneatur in curia seo ad curiam
comparere, esse vel stare, vel libellum seu causam in se suscipere
vel litem contestari vel defensari dictarum rerum vel alicuius earum
aliqualiter se offereret. Et si, quod absit, evenerit dictas res
venditas in totum vel in partem dictis emptoribus vel eorum alicui
eorumque vel alicuius eorum heredum vel habentibusque caussam ab
eisdem vel eorum aliquo quoquo modo evinci vel super evictione etiam
contra eos vel eorum aliquem quoquo modo ferri sententiam proinde
et contra dictum Bocchaccinum, eisdem Nicchole Vegne et Niccholao
Pauli et cuilibet eorum stipulanti et recipienti ut supra et pro
partibus supradictis infrascriptum pretium cum omnibus et singulis
dapmnis expensis et interesse propterea secutis vel factis dare,
solvere, reddere et restituere a die videlicet evictionis quoquo
modo secute vel sententie super evictione quoquo modo late ad tres
dies tunc proxime secuturos Florentie, Prati, Pistorii, Luce, Senis,
Pisis, Aretii, Perusii et alibi ubicumque locorum et terrarum
dictus Bocchaccinus inventus vel conventus fuerit. Et promisit et
convenit dictus Bocchaccinus venditor eisdem emptoribus vel eorum
cuilibet stipulantibus et recipientibus ut supra, et pro partibus
supradittis predictam vendictionem, traditionem, concessionem,
promissionem et omnia et singula supracitata et eorum quodlibet
firma habere et tenere et haberi et teneri facere et se in omnibus
contra predicta dedit etc. Si vero contra predicta vel predictorum
aliquid idem Bocchaccinus venditor dederit vel fecerit aut dabit
vel faciet in futurum aut datum vel factum quomodolibet apparuerit
in aliquo capitulo in loco seu publico presenti contractu supra vel
etiam imposito aut si ut promissum est et superius expressum factum
non erit, promisit et convenit dictus Bocchaccinus eisdem Niccholo
Vegne et Niccholao Pauli et cuilibet eorum stipulanti et recipienti
ut supra, dare et solvere nomine pene et pena duplum infrascripti
pretii et insuper florenos aurei quadringentos bonos et puros solepni
stipulatione promisit cum refectione dapnorum etc. Que quidem pena
totiens committatur et peti et exigi possit cum effectu quotiens
contra predicta vel predictorum aliquid datum aut factum fuerit seu
ventum vel predictorum aliquid non servatum.

Et pena soluta vel non, exacta vel non, una vice vel pluribus
predicta omnia et singula firma perdurent; pro quibus omnibus et
singulis observandis obtulit et constituit precario etc. Pro qua
vero venditione, traditione et cessione et contractu et omnibus
et singulis supradictis fuit in veritate confessus et contentus
dictus Bocchaccinus venditor et non spe alicuius future numerationis
habuisse et recepisse sibique datum solutum et numeratum fuisse et
in presentia mei Notarii et infrascriptorum se habuit et recepit
in quodam cono sigillato prout ipse Bocchaccinus confessus fuit
tantam esse quantitatem nomine pretii et pretio a dicto Niccholo
Vegne florenos aurei Ducentos quadraginta bonos et puros. Et a
dicto Niccholao Pauli florenos dare centumdecem bonos et puros de
quibus se dictus Bocchaccinus bene pagatum tacitum et contentum
vocavit et dixit. Et quod plus valerent dicte res vendite pretio
supradicto, dictus Bocchaccinus eisdem Niccholo Vegne et Niccholao
Pauli et cuilibet eorum stipulanti et recipienti ut supra et
partibus supradictis inter vivos et irrevocabiliter nulla de
cetero ingratitudinis caussa obstante donavit. Insuper in agendo
et contrahendo et exercendo predicto casu predictus Bocchaccinus
per solepmnem stipulationem et pactum promisit et convenit eisdem
Niccholo Vegne et Niccholao Pauli et cuilibet eorum stipulanti
et recipienti ut supra se facturum et curaturum ita et taliter
omni exceptione remota quod hinc ad octo dies proxime venturos
seu infra ipsum tempus et terminum Biagius olim Pizzini dicti
populi Sancte Felicitatis vel alius eque bonus et hinc ad unum
mensem proxime venturum seu infra ipsum tempus et terminum Vanni
eius frater et filius olim dicti Chelini dicti populi vel alius
eque bonus et quilibet eorum in solidum et in totum predictis
venditioni, traditioni, concessioni proinde pretii soluti et
confessati donationi, contractui, ed instrumento et omnibus et
singulis supradictis actis, factis, gestis et promissis per dictum
Bocchaccinum fideiubebunt et se principales constituent auctores
et in omnibus et per omnia et quilibet eorum in solidum facient,
promictent et se et eorum quemlibet in solidum obligaverunt ut
ipse idem Bocchaccinus in presenti fecit promisit et se obligavit
contractu. Que si non fecerit et fieri curaverit promisit et
convenit dictus Bocchaccinus eisdem emptoribus et eorum cuilibet
stipulanti et recipienti ut supra dare et solvere nomine pene et
pro pena Florenos auri centum bonos et puros solepmni stipulatione
promisit cum refectione dapmnorum etc. sub ypotecha et obventione
etc. precario etc. et reservatione etc. Insuper dictus Bocchaccinus
iuravit ad sancta Dei evangelia corporaliter tactis scripturis deo,
et dictis emptoribus stipulantibus et recipientibus ut supra se non
venire contra predicta vel predictorum aliquid seu contra ea vel
eorum aliquid restitutionem aliquam in integrum impetrare seu petere
occasione minoris pretii vel alia occasione quacumque. Set predicta
omnia et singula totaliter et effectualitir observare et firma habere
et tenere perpetuo promisit convenit etc. Actum Florentie in populo
Sancte Felicitatis presentibus testibus Bene Manni populi Sancte
Lucie de Ligliano plebatus Campoli Comitatus Florentie. Salimbene
Benuccii dicti populi Sancte Felicitatis et Nerio Dati populi plebis
Sancte Marie in Pineta comitatus predicti ad hec vocatis etc.

Item postea eodem die. Actum Florentie in domo habitationis dicti
Bocchaccini sita in dicto populo Sancte Felicitatis presentibus
tunc supradictis etc. Domina Margherita uxor dicti Bocchaccini et
filia olim Jandonati de Martolis certificata ante omnia per me
ipsum notarium de iure suo et omnibus et singulis infrascriptis cum
consensu dicti Bocchaccini viri sui ibidem presentis, predictis
venditionem, traditionem, concessionem, promissionem, oblationem
pretii, solutionem et confessionem, donationi, contractui et
instrumento et omnibus et singulis supradictis actis, factis, gestis,
et promissis per dictum Bocchaccinum consensit et parabolam dedit,
et omni iuri, ypothece, et cuilibet alii iuri eidem domine in dictis
rebus venditis vel earum aliqua competentia seu spectantia occasione
dotis et donationis suarum vel alia occasione quacumque. Renuntiavit
eisdem Niccholo Vegne et Niccholao Pauli et cuilibet eorum stipulanti
et recipienti ut supra et pro partibus supradictis. Et promisit et
convenit dicta domina Margherita cum consensu dicti sui viri eisdem
emptoribus et cuilibet eorum stipulanti et recipienti ut supra nihil
in dictis rebus venditis vel earum aliqua in perpetuum petere vel
dicere nec aliquam litem molestiam vel gravamen inferre facere vel
movere aliqua occasione iure vel modo in causa vel extra, curia
vel extra vel aliquo alio modo qui dici vel exigi possit, et se
nihil contra predicta dedit etc. sub pena dupli pretii supradicti
et insuper Florenorum aurei quadringentorum sollepmni stipulatione
promisit et refectione dapmnorum etc. sub ypotheca et obligatione
etc. precario etc. et recusavit etc.

Item postea anno, die, et indictione predictis die vigesima prima
mensis Maii actum Florentie in domo in qua Consules Artis Medicorum
Spetiariorum et Merciariorum Civitatis Florentie morantur ad iura
reddenda sita in populo Sancte Cecilie presentibus tunc S. Spigliato
Dini Notario populi Sancte Margherite et Sandro Fioris Spine populi
Sancte Marie in Campo de Florentia ad hec vocatis precibus et
mandatis dicti Bocchaccini et pro eodem Bocchaccino Biagius olim
Pizzini populi Sancte Felicitatis et Vanni olim Chelini de Certaldo
dicti popuii et quilibet eorum in solidum et in totum predictis
venditioni, traditioni, concessioni, promissioni, pretii solutioni,
et confessioni, donationi, contractui et instrumento, et omnibus et
singulis supradictis actis, factis, gestis, et promissis per dictum
Bocchaccinum fideiusserunt et se et eorum quemlibet in solidum
ipsarum rerum venditarum et cuiuslibet earum principales auctores
et defensores constituerunt principaliter ei quilibet eorum in
solidum et in totum promiserunt et convenerunt mihi Salvi notario
infrascripto tamquam persone pubblice stipulanti et recipienti vice
et nomine dictorum Nicchole Vegne et Niccholaj Pauli et cuiuslibet
eorum pro partibus supradictis eorumque et cuiuscumque eorum
heredibus habentibusque caussam ab eisdem se facturum et curaturum
ita et taliter omni exceptione remota quod dictus Bocchaccinus
pacifice et quiete permictet et permicti faciet dictos emptores et
eorum quemlibet pro partibus supradictis eorum et cuiuslibet eorum
heredibus habentibusque caussam ab eisdem ipsas res venditas et
earum quamlibet habere et lites et questiones in se suscipere et
ipsas res venditas et earum quamlibet earumque et cuiuslibet earum
obventionum defendet auctorizabit et disbrigabit, et predictam
venditionem traditionem, concessionem, promissionem, et omnia et
singula supradicta et eorum quodlibet firma habebit et tenebit et in
omnibus et per omnia faciet, attendet et observabit ut promisit et
superius continetur. Alioquin ipsi fideiussores et quilibet eorum in
solidum et in totum promiserunt et convenerunt mihi Salvi Notario
infrascripto tamquam persone pubblice stipulanti et recipienti ut
supra pacifice et quiete permicti facere dictos emptores et eorum
quemlibet pro partibus supradictis earumque et cuiuslibet eorum
heredibus habentibusque caussam ab eisdem ipsas res venditas et earum
quamlibet earumque et cuiuslibet earum obventionum habere et lites et
questiones motas vel movendas in se suscipere, et ipsas res venditas
et earum quamlibet earumque et cuiuslibet earum obventionum defendere
auctorizzare et disbrigare et in omnibus et per omnia et quilibet
eorum in solidum promiserunt et convenerunt et remiserunt et fecerunt
mihi Notario stipulanti et recipienti ut supra ut ipse Bocchaccinus
promisit convenit remisit et fecit ut supra continetur. Que si non
fecerint et fieri curaverint promiserunt et convenerunt predicti
fideiussores et quilibet eorum in solidum et in totum mihi iamdicto
notario stipulanti et recipienti ut supra dare et solvere nomine
pene et pro pena duplum pretii supradicti et insuper Florenos aurei
quadringentos bonos et puros solepmni stipulatone promiserunt cum
refectione dapmnorum etc. Que quidem pena totiens committatur et peti
et exigi possit cum effectu quotquot contra predicta vel predictorum
aliquid datum aut factum fuerit seu ventum vel predictorum aliquid
non servatum, et pena soluta vel non, exacta vel non, una vice vel
pluribus predicta omnia et singula firma perdurent sub ypoteca et
obligatione etc. precario etc. eisdem etc. Insuper dicti Biagius
et Vanni Fideiussores et quilibet eorum iuraverunt ad Sancta dei
Evangelia corporaliter tactis scripturis se vel eorum aliquem non
venturos contra predicta vel predictorum aliquid seu contra ea, vel
eorum aliquid restitutionem aliquam in integrum impetrare seu petere
occasione minoris pretii vel alia occasione quacumque, set predicta
omnia et singula totaliter et effectualiter observare et firma
habere et tenere perpetuo quibus domino et fideiussoribus precepi per
guarentigiam etc.

_Estratto dalle imbreviature di ser Salvi Dini a 164 esistenti nel
Pubblico Archivio dei Contratti._




_Messer Gio. di Boccaccio gode in proprietà la Villa che fu del Sig^r
Berti a Corbignano ove pare che egli nascesse e cresciuto restasse
invaghito della Vallata posta sotto il Convento de P. P^i MM.
Osservanti della Doccia e poi si trasportasse ad abitare in Firenze e
vi comprasse varie Case suo Padre. Si fa l' illustrazione del poema
di M^o Gio. nel quale narrati gli amori e gli accidenti seguiti fra
il fiume d' Affrico e Mensola e le fortune di Pruneo diloro figlio
si trova la moderna e antica topografia dè detti luoghi e dell'
origine dello Spedale di Bonifazio e del fine del Convento di S. M^a
a Querceto e del giogo delle collinette luogo detto Monte._

Fra gli ammiratori del nostro Villaggio di Maiano e delle sue
adiacenze fu il nostro celebre maestro della Toscana eloquenza Messer
Giovanni di Boccaccio di Chellino da Certaldo, il quale fino dalla
prima età e dipoi nel fiore della gioventù si trattenne molto tempo
nella piccola villetta unita al podere, che possedeva suo padre
pochi passi sotto il Sobborgo di Corbignano, che per la misura del
suo lo goduto con essa, per il fossato che sbocca in Mensola, che
lo divide, per i confini che lo specificano, e per le due Cure, una
di S. Martino a Mensola, e l' altra di S. Maria a Settignano che
vi esercitano la giurisdizione e vengono a individuarla altra non
può essere che quella di Corbignano dè Signori Berti posseduta di
presente con titolo Livellare dal Signor Ottavio Ruggeri, come il
tutto si può riscontrare dal Contratto di vendite della medesima,
fatta per rogito di Ser Salvi Dini esistente all' Archivio Fiorentino
del dí 18 Maggio 1336, allorchè il nostro Boccaccio si ritovava in
età d' anni 23. Questa fiorita età del medesimo e le dolci compagnie
di quella villeggiatura, chi sà che non gli infiammassero il cuore e
nella sua commedia delle Ninfe Fiorentine, lo portassero ad encomiare
e comparire nel Prologo sotto nome d' Ameto e principalmente a
fissare lo sguardo a quella parte "dilettevole di graziose Ville e
di campi fruttiferi copiosa, ove sorge un infruttuoso monte Corito
nominato, prima che Atlante vi salisse; nelle piaggie del quale fra
gli strabocchevoli balzi surgea d' alberi, di querce, di cerri, e
di abeti, un folto bosco e disteso fino alla sommità del monte.
Dalla sua destra un chiaro fiumicello, mosso dalla ubertà dei monti
vicini, fra le pietrose valli, discendeva gridando vesso il piano:
dove giunte le sue acque con l' Arno mescolando il poco avuto nome
perdea." Per il monte di Corito non vi ha dubbio che egli intenda il
monte di Fiesole, poichè nel fine dell' istessa commedia trattando
delle guerre tra i Fiesolani e i Fiorentini successe nell' anno 1125
allorchè furono distrutti i Fiesolani colla loro rocca e accomunate
le famiglie e l' insegne di questi due popoli. Egli dice che la
fortuna "dante nè principj i beni con mano troppo larga a quelli di
Corito, gli rendè invidiosi e tra loro determini della Jurisdizione
della loro Città, nata mortale questione, nuove battaglie cominciaron
tra popoli," e poco dopo parlando di Firenze, e de' suoi abitatori
dice "che levatosi l' aspro giogo dè Coritani già sovrastanti per le
indebolite virtudi si rintuzzarono le loro forze, che appena il monte
erano usati di scendere." Per il fiumicello, il quale a chi riguarda
il monte di Fiesole comparisce alla destra si conosce che egli intese
il fiume d' Affrico, che ha l' origine e discende per le balze
descritte; et Ameto chiamò Sarno il fiume d' Arno, in cui Affrico
si sperde poichè rappresentava tempi così remoti, giusta il parere
dello Storico Malaspina, allorchè il detto fiume non aveva ancora
mutato il suo nome Sarno con quello d' Arno. "Era di piacevoli seni
ed ombra graziosa la selva ripiena d' animali veloci, fierissimi, e
paurosi, e in più parti di se abbondanti fontane rigavano le fresche
erbette. In questa selva sovente Ameto vagabondo giovane i Fauni,
le Driadi abitatrici del luogo solea visitare. Et ella forse dalli
vicini monti avuta antica origine quasi da carnalità costretto,
di ciò avendo memoria con pietosi affetti gli onorava talvolta."
Dice, che Ameto vagabondo giovane perchè forse dalli vicini monti
avuta antica origine, quasi da umana simpatia costretto, e de ciò
ricordandosi solea visitare ed onorare talvolta i Fauni e le Driadi
abitatrici del luogo pieno di Ville, di fonti, di seni, e boschetti.
E chi ne assicura, che il Boccaccio non fosse nato nella sua villa
di Corbignano quivi poco distante? Infatti per quanto sia cognita l'
età e in conseguenza la nascita del nostro M^o Giovanni di Boccaccio,
nulladimeno però fino ad ora ne il Sig^r Manni, ne altro Scrittore
della sua vita hanno potuto indagare dove ei nascesse, non essendo
stato procreato qual frutto di legittimo matrimonio, ma bensi quale
aborto di malnata passione, come si può riscontrare dalla dispensa
addomandata per farsi cherico, riferita nella storia d' Avignone e
dalla dilui legittimazione narrata dal Sig^r Della Rena. Io credo,
che raccontandoci in figura d' Ameto il Boccaccio avere avuta forse
l' origine nei colli vicini a Maiano, e che perciò spinto da natural
simpatia andava spesso a visitare le Ninfe e le Driadi di quelle
magioni, abbia voluto farci comprendere essere egli venuto alia
luce nella sua piccola villetta unita al Podere posto parte nel
popolo di S. Martino a Mensola, e parte di S. Maria a Settignano, e
tramezzato dal fosso che forma con altri due fossi dipoi il fiume
di Mensola presso il Borgo di Corbignano, distante circa a mezzo
miglio dalle Ville di Maiano. Tuttociò si rende vie più credibile,
quanto è naturale il persuadersi che il dilui genitore abbandonata
la sua patria di Certaldo comprasse tosto quella villetta e podere
di Corbignano, e che poi essendogli nato il nostro Messer Giovanni
facesse acquisto circa al 1314 d' una Casa nella Città di Firenze
presso quella porta, che conduceva alla sua Villetta, come si usava
in quei tempi, e questa casa la scegliesse posta nel popolo di S.
Pier Maggiore in via S. Maria e nel Gonfalone delle Chiavi come si
scuopre dal libro delle Riformagioni segnato R. che tira dal 1313 al
1318 sotto di 10 Ottobre 1318 ove si ordina che detto Boccaccio sia
levato dalla Libra delle gravezze di Certaldo, e resti aggravato in
quella di Firenze, per essere egli tornato ad abitarvi nel Gonfalone
delle Chiavi dai quattro anni già scorsi. Questa casa del Boccaccio
non può essere altro, che quella posta nel detto popolo di S. Pier
Maggiore nella detta Via S. Maria presso la cantonata che fa la detta
strada con la via del Giardino di proprietà in oggi dei P. P^i Minori
Conventuali, scoperta da me per mezzo dei confini d' altra casa che
le sta al fianco venduta nè tre Luglio 1333 per rogito di Ser Salvi
Dini e descritta come App^o "Una Casa posta nel popolo di S. Pier
Maggiore, ed in Via S. Maria cui a primo detta Via, a secondo, la
Chiesa di S. Reparata, a terzo di Ruggero di Scotto o degli Albizi,
a quarto, a tempo d' altra vendita delle medesima, seguita nel 25.
Aprile 1326 per rogito de Sig^r Bonacosa di Compagno etc. confinava
Boccaccio da Certaldo e in oggi gli Eredi di Cino Bicchierai."

Osservandosi il contorno dei confini di questa Casa venduta si
scuopre esser quella istessa che in' oggi è divenuta dell' Opera
del Duomo che sta in mezzo all' altra, che ora, e fin di quel tempo
è stata posseduta dall' Opera medesima che fa cantonata in via del
Giardino, e dall' altra parte, vale a dire vesso mezzogiorno resta
accanto alia Casa dei P. P^i di S. Croce di Firenze presentemente, e
che in antico fu di proprietà del Boccaccio il quale bisogna che la
vendesse poco dopo al 1326 poichè avendo egli emancipato Francesco,
altro suo figlio, che si trovava vicino alia pubertà gli fece
comprare nel 31. Agosto 1333 un altra casa in Firenze nel popolo di
S. Felicità per rogito di Ser Salvi Dini, ove esso con i suoi figli
abitò, e di cui parla il Signor Manni nella sua illustrazione, che
confina a primo e secondo Via a terzo Domenico Barducci, a quarto
Vanni di Cera e degli Eredi di Ghino Canigiani. Lo stesso Boccaccio
fece poscia acquisto d' altra mezza Casa il di 13. Dicembre 1342 pei
rogiti di Sig^{ri} Francesco di Ser Matteo, come si riscontra da un
Libro di Gabella di detto tempo esistente nell' Archivio del Monte
Comune di Firenze, la quale penso che sia quella posta nel popolo di
S. Ambrogio donata dipoi alla Compagnia d' Orsanmichele, come dal
registro della medesima principiato nel 1340 a N 133 si vede.

Dopo questa breve digressione torniamo a Fiesole coll' istesso
Giovanni di Boccaccio, il quale non solo nella sua Genealogia degli
Dei, ma ancora nel Ninfale riconosce Atlante per fondatore della
medesima, ed insieme nel suo poema Toscano, primo, che si trovi alla
luce in ottava rima, rappresenta gli amori di Affrico e Mensola
piccoli fiumicelle che irrigano la nostra celebre Campagna e mette in
vista i casi veri, o finti che siano, seguiti nel contorno di Maiano
situato in mezzo a questi due fiumi. Racconta egli adunque che

    Pria che Fiesole fosse edificata
    Di mura o di steccato o di fortezza

venne Diana Dea Cacciatrice in quelle vicinanze ed armata d' arco e
di strali con gran corteggio di Driadi, e che era nel Mese di Maggio.

    Quando la Dea Diana a Fiesol venne,
    E con le Ninfe sue consiglio tenne
    Intorno ad una bella e chiara fonte
    Di fresca erbetta e di fiori intorniata.
    La quale ancor dimora a piè del monte
    Ceceri, che in quella parte che il Sol guata
    Quand' è nel mezzogiorno a fronte a fronte,
    E fonte è oggi quella nominata
    Intorno a quella Diana ancor si volse
    Essere, e molte Ninfe vi raccolse....

Incominciò la Dea la sua concione alle Ninfe compagne, esortandole
al disprezzo e alla fuga degli uomini ed alla vita celibe, solitaria
ed occupata nella caccia di Belve. Africo, che languiva d' amore per
Mensola una delle Ninfe fra quelle più vistosa dell' altre, udendo
nascoso tali consigli l' andava ricercando col cupido sguardo, e non
avendola potuta scoprire ne ivi ne altrove già lasso e sbigottito:

    E verso Fiesol volto piaggia a piaggia
    Giudato dall' amor ne già pensoso,
    Cercando la sua amante aspra e selvaggia,
    Che faceva lui star maninconioso;
    Ma pria che mezzo miglio passat' haggia
    Ad un luogo perviene assai nascoso,
    Dove una valle due monti divide
    Quivi udi cantar Ninfe, e poi le vide.
    Perchè senza iscoprisse s' appressava
    Tanto che vidde donde uscia quel canto
    Vidde tre Ninfe, che ognuna cantava
    L' una era ritta e l' altre due in un canto
    A un acquitrin, che il fiossato menava
    Sedieno elle e lor gambe vidde al quanto,
    Chi si lavavano i pie bianchi e belli
    Con lor cantavan li dimolti uccelli.

Incontratosi Africo presso l' acquitrino, che per la valle scorrea
interrogò le Ninfe per sapere qualche nuova di Mensola diloro
compagna, ma veggendosi elleno scoperte dal pastorello piene di
vergogna fuggirono senza darli risposta, esso le segue, nè le puote
raggiungere e finalmente disperato.

    Verso la casa sua prese la via.

Giunge tardi alla magione e inganna Calimena e Girafone suoi genitori
sopra il motivo del suo ritardo; il tenero padre finse non avvedersi
della passione del figlio ed esortollo a fuggire l' amore delle Ninfe
come pericoloso, adducendoli in esemplo la vendetta presa da Diana
con Mugnone suo genitore trasmutato in fiume per un tale delitto.
Non curò il giovane gli avvertimenti del vecchio, nè l' esempio del
nonno, e non avendo non che sfogata neppure sopita la sua fiamma
per mezzo dei disprezzi istessi e delle repulse di Mensola che lo
fuggiva, ma prendendo augurio di poter sodisfare le pazze brame dal
sacrifizio fatto a Venere, che gli comparve scoprendoli la maniera
d' ingannare la sua Ninfa ritrosa risolve di tutto azzardare per
sodisfazione di sua follia. Prende ancor esso le spoglie e le divise
di Ninfa, e trovata Mensola con la comitiva delle altre ingannandole
tutte et infingendosi verginella si mette con esse a tirar dardi e
a saettar per giuoco. Delusa Mensola scorre i boschi ed i monti di
Fiesole con chi le tende le più terribili insidie.

    Elle eran già tanto giù per lo colle
    Gite, che eran vicine a quella valle
    Che due monti divide----
    Non furon guari le Ninfe oltre andate
    Che trovaron due Ninfe tutte ignude
    Che in un pelago d' acque erano entrate
    Dove l' un monte con l' altro si chiude
    E giunte li s' ebber le gonne alzate
    E tutte quante entrar nell acque crude.

Ove ora risiedeva il pelagaccio sotto il Convento dei P. P^i
della Doccia in questo bagno il giovanetto Africo in abito di
Ninfa immersosi in compagnia di Mensola tradì la semplicità della
verginella e la lasciò di se incinta. Fugge ella per la vergogna di
tanto oltraggio e per l' inganno del garzoncello; smania e paventa
per lo timore di Diana, talchè avría detto di lei l' Ariosto:

    Di selva in selva timida s' en vola
    E di paura freme e di sospetto,
    E ad ogui sterpo, che passando tocca
    Esser le pare alla gran Diva in bocca.
    Erivoltandosi contro l' insidiatore affermato che
    Tra l' invita e natural furore
    A spiegar l' unghie a insanguinar le labbia
    Amor la intenerisce e la ritira
    Affrico a rimirare in mezzo all' ira.

Prevasse all' odio al furore e alla paura l' amore talmente che
promesse Mensola al pastorello di ritornare in quel luogo

    Affrico se ne va inverso del piano
    Mensola al Monte su pel colle tira,
    Molto pensosa col suo dardo in mano
    E del mal fatto forte ne sospira ...
    Cosi passò del gran mente la cima[716]
    E poi scendendo giu per quella costa
    Laddove il sol perquote quando prima
    Si leva e che a Oriente e contrapposta
    E secondo che il mio avviso stima
    Era la sua caverna in quella posta,
    Forse a un trar d' arco sopra il fiumicello
    Che a piè vi corre un grosso ruscello.

A qual precipizio non conduce un forsennato amore! Tornò più volte
Africo all ingannevole luogo insidioso; ma si trovò più volte deluso
ancor esso dalla sua Ninfa, che non vi comparve; sicchè vinto infine
dalla disperazione di rivederla,

    E pervenuto a piede del vallone
    E sopra all acque del fossato gito.

Disperato e pien di furore si trafisse col proprio dardo: dicendo

    Io me ne vo all inferno angoscioso
    E tu, fiume, terrai il nome mio
    E manifesterai lo doloroso
    Caso, ch' è occorso si crudele e rio
    A chiunque ti vedrà si sanguinoso
    Correre, o lasso, del mio sangue tinto
    Paleserai dove amor m' ha sospinto.
    L' infelice garzone cadde morto nell' acqua, e quella
    Dal sangue tinta si divenne rossa,
    Facea quel fiume siccome fa ancora
    Di se due parti alquanto giù più basso.

Presso alla maggior riviera, de cui era situata la casa di Girafone,
sicchè l' onda che scorrea sanguinosa scuopri all' infelice padre la
disgrazia del figlio; Mensola poi per lo peccato, e lo timor di Diana
e delle Ninfe sue compagne nascosa e palpitante aspettava l' ora
del parto; partori finalmente; ma in quel tempo appunto, che la Dea
Cacciatrice essendo tornata a Fiesole e ne suoi contorni a rivedere
le sue seguaci fra le quali non avendo ritrovata Mensola piena d'
ira e sospetto la ricercava. Mensola occultò il piccolo figlio in
una macchia fra i pruni (onde Pruneo fu chiamato) e si dette alia
fuga; ma per il vagito del bambinello avendo scoperto Diana il di lei
delitto; gridò

    Tu non potrai fuggir le mie saette
    Se l' arco tiro o sciocca peccatrice
    Mensola già per questo non ristette
    Ma fugge quanto puote alia pendice,
    E giunta al fiume dentro vi si mette
    Per valicarlo, na Diana dice
    Certe parole e al fiume le manda
    E che ritenga Mensola comanda.
    La sventurata era già in mezzo all' acque
    Quand ella i piè venir meno sentia
    E quivi siccome a Diana piacque
    Mensola in acqua allor si convertia
    E poi sempre in quel fiume si giacque
    Il nome suo, che ancora tuttavia
    Per lei quel fiume Mensola è chiamato
    Or v' ho del suo principio raccontato.

Dopo seguito l' atroce caso e l' orribile metamorfosi prese Diana
quel piccolo pargoletto, che per essere stato trovato tra i pruni,
Pruneo fu chiamato, e lo consegnò a Sinidechia scaltra vecchia ed
informata del tutto abitante in quei contorni, che dopo lo condusse
a Girafone e Calimena suoi avi, ai quale l' affido con gran premura,
essi l' educarono con sommo amore e attenzione.

    Passo allora Atlante in questa parte
    D' Europa con infinita gente
    Atlante fece allora fare
    Una Città, che Fiesole chiamossi....
    E tutti gli abitanti del paese
    Atlante gli volle alla Cittade
    Girafon quando questo fatto intese
    Tosto n' andò con bona volontade
    E menò seco il piacente, il cortese
    Pruneo, etc. etc.

Piacque fuor di misura Girafone ad Atlante perlochè lo dichiarò suo
consigliere ed al giovane Pruneo dilui nipote:

    Atlante gli pose tanto amore,
    Veggendo ch' era si savio e valente,
    Che Siniscalco il fe con grande onore
    Sopra la terra, e sopra la sua gente,
    E di tutto il paese guidatore,
    Ed ei guidava si piacevolmente
    Che da tutti era amato e benveduto
    Tanto dava ad ogn' uno il suo dovuto
    E gia più di venticinqu' anni avea
    Quando Atlante gli diè per mogliera
    Una fanciulla, la qual Tironea
    Era il suo nome e figliola si era
    D' un gran Baron, che con seco tenea
    E dielli tutta ancor quella riviera
    Che è in mezzo tra Mensola e Mugnone,
    E questa fù la dote del garzone.
    Pruneo fe far dalla Chiesa a Maiano
    Un po di sopra un nobil casamento
    D' onde ei vedeva tutto quanto il piano,
    Et afforzollo d' ogui guernimento,
    E quel paese ch' era molto strano
    Tosto dimentico siccome sento, etc. etc.

Morirono dopo gli avi suoi Girafone e Calimena e Pruneo avendo
avuti da sua moglie Tironea dieci figlinoli tutti gli accoppiò con
vantaggioso Imeneo sicchè:

    In molte genti questa schiatta crebbe
    E sempre furon a Fiesol cittadini
    Grandi e possenti sopra i lor vicini.
    Morto Pruneo con grandissimo duolo
    Di tutta la Città fu seppellito,
    Così rimase a ciascun suo figliuolo
    Tutto il paese libero e spedito,
    Che Atlante donato avea a lui solo,
    E bene l' ebbon tra lor dipartito
    E sempre poi le schiatte di costoro
    Signoreggiaron questo territoro.

Narrati gli amore, i casi, e le seguite trasformazione di Africo
e Mensola, rappresentate nel Ninfale di Giovanni Boccaccio senza
ricercare quello che abbia voluto indicare nel favoloso racconto
noterò i luoghi descritti dal medesimo. Osservo che Diana colle sue
seguaci conduce a tenere assemblea.

    Intorno ad una bella e chiara fonte
    Di fresche erbette e di fiori intorniata,
    La quale ancor dimora appiè del monte
    Ceceri in quella parte, che il sol guata
    Quand' è nel mezzodi a fronte a fronte,
    E Fonte è oggi quella nominata, etc. etc.

Questa fonte è l' istessa chiamata modernamente Fonte all' erta, a
piè e nel base di Monte Ceceri situata a Mezzogiorno e sotto la Villa
dei Signori Pitti Gaddi, della qual fontana ora non se ne veggono
che le scomposte mura, le rovine ed i vestigi nella pubblica strada
al principio della costa; ma vivono persone, che mi hanno assicurato
che circa all' anno 1710 ne fu deviata l' acqua procedente dal
vivaio un po superiore alla medesima e dall' unione di quelle, che
vi concorrevano d' altrove perchè infrigidiva i terreni sottoposti
e noceva alle piante e alle raccolte dell istesso podere. Al tempo
del nostro Boccaccio (chiamerò da qui avanti con tal nome benchè di
suo padre il nostro M^o Giovanni) io trovo che questo podere con
case, vivaio etc., esistente alla fine del piano di S. Gervasio fu
venduto nel 5 Giugno 1370 per rogito di Sig^{re} Ristoro di Jacopo da
Figline, da Giovanni di Agostino degli Asini a Messer Bonifazio Lupo
Marchese di Soragona e Cavaliere Parmigiano, che in quel tempo fu
ascritto alla fiorentina cittadinanza, il quale spinto da lodevole
pietà e grata riconoscenza alla repubblica fiorentina ottenne dalla
medesima fino sotto li 23 Dicembre 1377 come attesta l' Ammirato nel
Libro decimo terzo, di poter fondare lo Spedale in Via S. Gallo di
detta città chiamato appunto di Bonifazio dal nome de sì pio e grato
benefattore; fu posto questo Spedale nel luogo comprato sino ne 2
Febbraio 1309 da Messer Giovanni del già Migliore dè Chiaramontesi di
Firenze per edificare il Monastero e Convento di S. Maria a Querceto
per rogito di Ser Benedetto di Maestro Martino come si vede dall'
Archivio dell' Arcivescovado e dagli spogli del Migliore, le quale
Monache vi tornarono e vi si trovavano ancora nell' anno della peste
del 1348 come per i rogiti di Ser Lando di Ubaldino da Pesciola del
4 Maggio 1336, e di Ser Benvenuto di Cerreto Maggio del dì 24 Marzo
1346, e d' altri si riscontra, e dopo molto tempo Eugenio Quarto
uni ed assegnò al predetto Spedale il detto monastero e Monache di
Querceto quivi contigue come dallo Zibaldone di No. 90 Del Migliore
a 127 e 202 nella Magliabechiana si può vedere. Ecco scoperto il
luogo ove declamava Diana (ma senza frutto) se riguardo a Mensola
che all' altre Ninfe di quei contorni, poiche io osservo, che tutti
quei villeggianti s' imparentavano e sposavano le zittelle dei
villeggianti vicini. Partito Africo dalla fonte predetta salendo
verso Fiesole, traversando la costa formata da più effetti della Casa
Albizi, Covoni, Asini ed altre posti tanto nel popolo della Canonica,
che della Badia di Fiesole e di S. Gervasio dei quali per non tediare
non produrrò i Contratti ritrovati, quali Poderi tutti si denominano
Monte negli antichi Istrumenti per essere situati sul poggio ove
risiede in oggi il Convento di S. Domenico. E dopo tal viaggio
giunse il pastorello alla Valle formata da questo giogo dè Colli di
Fiesole; e da quelle degli altri di Maiano sotto la Doccia, chiamata
nel Decamerone la Valle delle Donne di cui in seguito ragioneremo.
Le acque delle superiori piagge che scorrevano, formavano gli
acquitrini, quali si univano e davano l' origine al fiume d' Affrico
ed in uno di questi acquitrini vidde il pastorelle le Ninfe lavarsi
le piante, e che s' involarono da lui tostochè lo scopersero; onde
afflitto e turbato scese verso la pianura di detta Valle e tornò
alla sua magione. Venere lo speranza, egli si traveste da Ninfa
cerca di Mensola, la ritrova, gira con essa verso le cime del Monte
di Fiesole saettando per giuoco, ritorna al pelago sotto la Doccia
nella valle vede le Ninfe che si bagnavano s' immerge ancor esso con
la compagna nelle acque, e quivi principiano le comuni sciagure.
Questo luogo pare, che sia devenuto cosi famoso nell' antichità e nei
tempi del nostro Boccaccio da potere aver comunicata la denominazione
agli stessi fondi di terreni che lo compongono, o perchè fosse ivi
seguito qualche accidente che avesse dato luogo al favoloso poema, o
perchè la favola istessa sia stata forse adattata al luogo medesimo.
Infatti io ritrovo nei rogiti di Ser Roberto di Talento da Fiesole
del 27 Novembre 1347 e del 28 Maggio 1352 descritto un podere di
Tuccio del già Diedi de Falconieri posto verso Ponente e perciò nel
popolo della Canonica di Fiesole con Case etc. chiamato il Bagno allo
Scopetino, ed in quelli di Ser Giovanni Bencini da Montaione si vede
una reciproca donazione fra Andreola, figlia del già Carlo dei Pazzi,
e Vedova di Piero di Cione Ridolfi e Carlo Pazzi suo fratello, di
più luoghi, fra i quali si trova un podere nel popolo di S. Martino
a Maiano luogo detto la Valle al Bagno, fino sotto di II Luglio
1343. Di più nel libro F Primo a ć 76 della Gabella dei Contratti
si osserva nè dì II Dicembre 1349 per rogito di Ser Francesco di
Bruno di Vico Dal Pozzo, che M^a Dolce figlia di Mannino e Vedova
di Bindo Buonaveri (famiglia molto illustre di Firenze) vendè a M^a
Simona Pinzochera di S. Maria Novella, e Sorella di Cenni di Giotto,
ma non del pittore, per fiorini 500 d' oro un podere etc., posto
nel popolo di S. Martino a Maiano luogo detto la Valle del Bagno in
Affrico. Nel Decamerone veggo descritta dal Boccaccio questa medesima
Valle, e che la medesima adunanza d' acque in essa valle, che due "di
quelle montagnette divideva, e cadeva giù per balzi di pietra viva,
e cadendo facea un rumore a udire assai dilettevole, e sprizzando
parea da lungi ariento vivo, che d' alcuna cosa premutta minutamente
sprizzasse; e come giù al piccol pian pervenire, così quivi in un bel
canaletto raccolta infino al mezzo del piano velocissima discorreva
ed ivi faceva un piccol laghetto quale talvolta per modo di vivaio
fanno ne lor giardini i Cittadini che di ciò hanno destro." Il
podere con casa etc., etc., posto nel popolo di S. Martino a Maiano
che gode di presente la Signora Berzichelli, Vedova del già Signor
Barone Agostino Del Nero, nella Valle d' Ameto e delle Donne, e
presso addove s' unisce il poggio della Doccia con quel di Maiano, si
chiama il Vivaio, e più Vivaietti e Acquitrini si trovano in quella
valle sovrabbondante di acque, le quali dettero varie denominazioni
ad esse allusive di luoghi circonvicini, e credo, che il detto luogo
sia il medesimo, che donò una volta M^a Andreola de' Pazzi al suo
fratello, e dipoi pervenuto in M^a Dolce, Vedova del Bonavieri, lo
vendè alla figlia di Giotto suddetto, situato d' appresso all' altro
del Falconieri. Quest' effetto acquistarono i Signori Del Nero del
Sig^r Jacopo del Feo nel 1568 in cui era passato nel 1559 dal Sig^r
Niccolo di Filippo Valori, e questo lo avea descritto in suo conto
alla Decima del 1498 nel Gonfalone delle Chiavi a 176. Questo Jacopo
di Feo di Savona ebbe per moglie Caterina Sforza de' Duchi di Milano
naturale, Vedova Girolamo Riario Signore di Forlì e poi rimaritata a
Gio. di Pier Francesco de' Medici e Nonna percio di Cosimo I Gran
Duca di Toscana. Mensola intimorita varca il poggio in cui risiede
Maiano e si nasconde nel suo refugio sotto le cave in faccia a
Levante ed al piano di Novoli presso del Fiume, Affrico all' incontro
scende verso la pianura, e dopo esser tornato e ritornato poi vesso
del pelago disperato per non avere rintracciata la Ninfa si trafigge
col proprio dardo vicino alla magione di Girafone suo padre posta
sul ramo maggiore, uno chiamato Affrico e l' altro Affricuzzo, che
poi s' uniscono insieme formandone il suo fiume presso allo sbocco
della valle predetta. Altro per ora non resta da notarsi sopra la
Topografia del racconto, poichè nato il figlio Pruneo e trasmutata da
Diana in pena del delitto nel fiume che porta il suo nome, Mensola
sua Madre, e dalla disperazione il padre in quello d' Affrico, fu
chiamato dipoi questo pargoletto Pruneo dall' essere stato scoperto
fra i pruni dalla Dea. Nel corso degli anni comparve a Fiesole
Atlante ed edificò quella Città, ed a questo fanciullo, già fatto
adulto, diede per moglie Tironea, e per dote tutto il paese collocato
fra il Fiume Mensola e quel di Mugnone.


[716] cioè di Monte Ceceri....



This acrostic consists of three _ballate_ composed by reading the
first letters of the first verses of each _terzina_ throughout the


    Mirabil cosa forse la presente
      Vision vi parrà, donna gentile,
      A riguardar, sì per lo novo stile
      Sì per la fantasia ch' è nella mente.
    Rimirandovi un dì subitamente
      Bella, leggiadra et in abit' umile,
      In volontà mi venne con sottile
      Rima trattar parlando brievamente.
    Adunque a voi, cui tengo Donna mia,
      Et chiu sempre disio di servire,
      La raccomando, madama Maria:
    E prieghovi, se fosse nel mio dire
      Difecto alcun, per vostra cortesia
      Correggiate amendando il mio fallire.
    Cara Fiamma, per cui 'l core ó caldo,
      Que' che vi manda questa Visione
      Giovanni è di Boccaccio da Certaldo.


    Il dolce immaginar che 'l mio chor face
      Della vostra biltà, donna pietosa,
      Recam' una soavità sì dilectosa,
      Che mette lui con mecho in dolce pace.
    Poi quando altro pensiero questo disface
      Piangemi dentro l' anim' angosciosa,
      Cercando come trovar possa posa,
      Et sola voi disiar le piace.
    Et però volend' i' perseverare
      Pur nello 'nmaginar vostra biltate,
      Cerco con rime nuove farvi onore.
    Questo mi mosse, Donna, a compilare
      La Visione in parole rimate,
      Che io vi mando qui per mio amore.
    Fatele onor secondo il su' valore
      Avendo a tempo poi di me pietate.


    O chi che voi vi siate, o gratiosi
      Animi virtuosi,
      In cui amor come 'n beato loco
      Celato tene il suo giocondo focho;
    I' vi priego c' un poco
      Prestiate lo 'ntelletto agli amorosi
      Versi, li quali sospinto conposi,
      Forse da disiosi
    Voler troppo 'nfiammato: o se 'l mio fioco
      Cantar s' imvischa nel proferer broco,
      O troppo è chiaro o roco,
      Amendatel' acciò che ben riposi.
    Se in sè fructo, o forse alcun dilecto
      Porgesse a vo' lector, ringratiate
      Colei, la cui biltate
      Questo mi mosse affar come subgiecto.
    E perchè voi costei me' conosciate,
      Ella somigli' amor nel su' aspecto,
      Tanto c' alcun difecto
      Non v' à a chi già 'l vide altre fiate;
    E l' un dell' altro si gode di loro
      Ond' io lieto dimoro.
      Rendete allei il meritato alloro,
      E più non dic' omai,
    Perchè decto mi par aver assai.



In Dei nomine amen. Anno Domini millesimo trecentesimo septuagesimo
quarto, indictione duodecima, secundum cursum et consuetudinem
Florentiæ. Tempore domini Gregorii, divina providentia Pape XI,
die vigesimo octavo mensis augusti. Actum Florentiæ in ecclesia et
populo Sanctæ Felicitatis, presentibus testibus Pazino Alessandri
De Bardis populi Sanctæ Mariæ supra Arnum de Florentia, Angelo
Niccoli dicti populi Sanctæ Felicitatis, Andrea Biancardi, Orlandino
Jacobi, Burando Ugolini, Francisco Tomasi, omnibus dicti populi
Sanctæ Felicitatis, et Brunellacio Bianchini de Certaldo, comitatus
Florentiæ, ad infrascripta vocatis et rogatis et ab infrascripto
testatore suo proprio hore [_sic_] habitis et rogatis et aliis

Cum nil sit certius morte et incertius ora mortis et actestante
veritate, vigilare sit opus, cum diem ignoremus et horam qua qua
[_sic_] homo sit moriturus idcircho venerabilis et egregius vir
dominus Johannes olim Boccacii de Certaldo Vallis Elsæ, comitatus
Florentiæ, sanus mente, corpore et intellectu, suorum bonorum
dispositionis per presens nuncupativum testamentum sine scriptis in
hunc modum facere procuravit.

In primis quidem recomendavit animam suam Deo omnipotenti et beatæ
Mariæ semper Virgini gloriosæ et sepulturam sui corporis si eum mori
contigerit in civitate Florentiæ elegit in ecclesia Fratrum Sancti
Spiritus Ordinis heremitarum Sancti Augustini de Florentia, in eo
loco ubi videbitur magistro Martino in sacra theologia, venerabili
Magistro dicti Ordinis. Si autem mori contigerit in castro Certaldi,
judicavit corpus suum sepelliri in ecclesia Sancti Jacobi de
Certaldo, in ea parte ubi videbitur actinentibus et vicinis suis.

Item reliquit ecclesiæ Sanctæ Reparate de Florentia soldos decem
florenorum parvorum.

Item reliquit constructioni murorum civitatis Florentiæ soldos decem
florenorum parvorum.

Item reliquit societati Sanctæ Mariæ de Certaldo libras quinque
florenorum parvorum.

Item reliquit constructioni seu operi ecclesiæ Sancti Jacobi de
Certaldo pro remedio animæ suæ et suorum parentum libras decem
florenorum parvorum.

Item reliquit Brunæ filiæ Cianchi de Montemagno, quæ antiquitus moram
traxit cum eo, unum lectum in quo ipsa erat consueta dormire in
castro Certaldi, cum letteria, cultrice, pimacio [_sic_] una coltre
alba parva at usum dicti letti cum uno pario litiaminum, cum pancha
que consueta est stare iuxta lettum predictum.

Item unum dischum parvum pro comedendo de nuce, duas tabolettas
[_sic_] usitatis longitudinis trium brachiorum pro qualibet.

Item duas tovagliuolas.

Item unum botticellum capacitatis trium salmarum vini.

Item unam robam Panni Monachini foderatam zendadi porperini, unam
gonellam, guarnachiam et caputeum et sibi Brunæ etiam de omni eo,
quod a dicto testatore restat habere occasione sui salarj.

Item voluit, disposuit et mandavit et reliquit omnibus et singulis
hominibus et personis qui reperirentur descripti in quodam suo libro
signato _A_ debentibus aliquid recipere vel habere a dicto testatore,
et omnibus aliis, qui legiptime ostenderent debere habere, non
obstante quod non reperirentur descripti in dicto libro, quod eis
et cuilibet ipsorum satisfiat per infrascripto eius executores de
massaritiis, rebus et bonis dicti testatoris, exceptis libris dicti
testatoris, et maxime de una domo posita in Certaldo, cui a primo via
vocata Borgho, a secundo Fornaino Andree domini Benghi de Rubeis,
a tertio la _Via Nuova_, a quarto dicti testatoris vendenda per
infrascriptos ejus executores vel majorem partem ipsorum, et si hoc
non sufficeret, possint vendere de aliis suis bonis.

Item reliquit venerabili fratri Martino de Signa, Magistro in sacra
theologia, conventus Sancti Spiritus Ordinis heremitarum Sancti
Augustini omnes suos libros, excepto Breviario dicti testatoris cum
ista condictione, quod dictus Magister Martinus possit uti dictis
libris, et de eis exhibere copiam cui voluerit, donec vixerit, ad hoc
ut ipse teneatur rogare Deum pro anima dicti testatoris, et tempore
suæ mortis debeat consignare dictos libros conventui fratrum Sancti
Spiritus, sine aliqua diminutione, et debeant micti in quodam armario
dicti loci et ibidem debeant perpetuo remanere ad hoc ut quilibet
de dicto conventu possit legere et studere super dictis libris, et
ibi scribi facere modum et formam presentis testamenti et facere
inventarium de dicti libris.

Item reliquit et dari voluit et assignari per infrascriptos ejus
executores, et majorem partem ipsorum superviventem ex eis,
Monasterio fratrum Sanctæ Mariæ de Sancto Sepulcro dal Pogetto sive
dalle Campora extra muros civitatis Florentie omnes et singulas
reliquias sanctas, quæ dictus dominus Johannes, magno tempore, et cum
magno labore, procuravit habere de diversis mundi partibus.

Item reliquit operariis ecclesiæ Sancti Jacobi de Certaldo pro dicta
ecclesia recipientibus unam tabulum alebastri Virginis Mariæ, unam
pianetam cum istola et manipolo zendadi vermigli, unum palium parvum
pro altare drappe vermigli, cum uno guancialetto pro altare cum
tribus guainis corporalium.

Item unum vasum stagni pro retinendo aquam benedictam.

Item unum paliettum parvum drappi, foderatum cum fodera zendadi

Item reliquit dominæ Sandræ, uxori Francisci Lapi Bonamichi unam
tavolettam in qua est pictum signum Virginis Mariæ cum suo filio in
brachio et ab alio latere uno teschio di morto.

In omnibus autem aliis suis bonis mobilibus et immobilibus
presentibus et futuris, Boccacium et Antonium ejus nepotes et
filios Jacobi Boccacii predicti de Certaldo equis portionibus, sibi
universales heredes instituit et omnes alios filios et filias, tam
natos quam nascituros de dicto Jacobo ex legiptima uxore dicti Jacobi
una cum dictis Boccacio et Antonio equis portionibus sibi heredes
instituit cum pacto quod omnes fructus et redditus bonorum dicti
testatoris debeant duci in domo dicti Jacobi, prout dictus Jacobus
voluerit, ad hoc ut possit alere se et ejus uxorem et filios, quos
tunc habebit, et hoc quoque pacto quod suprascripti ejus heredes
non possint, audeant, vel presumant directe, vel indirecte, tacite
vel expresse vendere vel alienare de bonis dicti testatoris, nisi
excesserint ætatem triginta annorum, et tunc cum consensu dicti
Jacobi eorum patris, si tunc viveret, salvo quod in casu in quo
vellent nubere aliquam vel aliquas eorum sorores, et tunc fiat cum
consensu infrascriptorum tutorum.

Et simili modo mandavit infrascriptis suis heredibus ne aliquo
tempore donec, et quousque invenirentur de discendentibus Bocchaccii
Chellini patris dicti testatoris, et dicti Jacobi per lineam
masculinam, etiam posito quod non essent legiptimi, possint audeant
vel presumant vendere vel alienare domum dicti testatori, positam in
populo Sancti Jacobi de Certaldo, confinatam a primo Via Publica,
_Chiamato [sic] Borgho_ a secundo dicti testatoris, a tertio la
_Via Nuova_, a quarto Guidonis Johannis de Machiavellis.

Item unum petium terræ laborativæ et partim vineatæ positum in comuni
Certaldi in dicto populo Sancti Jacobi loco dicto Valle Lizia cui a
primo Fossatus, a secundo dicti testatoris et Rustichelli Nicolai a
tertio dicti testatoris, a quarto Andrea vocato Milglotto.

Tutores seu defensores dictorum heredum Bocchacii et Antoni
licet de jure non expedit reliquit, fecit et esse voluit Jacobum
Lapi Gavaciani, Pierum Dati de Canigianis, Barducium Cherichini,
Franciscum Lapi Bonamichi, Leonardum Chiari domini Bottis, Jacobum
Boccacii et Angelum Turini Benciveni cives florentinos et majorem
partem ipsorum superviventem in eis.

Executores autem dicti testamenti reliquit, fecit et esse voluit
fratrem Martinum de Signa predictum, Barducium Cherichini, Franciscum
Lapi Bonamichi Angelum Turini Bencivenni, Jacobum Bocchacii cives
Florentinos et majorem partem ipsorum superviventum ex eis, dans
et concedens dictus testator dictis suis executoribus et majori
parti ipsorum non obstantibus omnibus supradictis plenam baliam et
liberam potestatem de bonis dicti testatoris pro hujusmodi executione
sequenda et adimplenda vendendi et alienandi et pretium recipiendi et
confitendi et de evictione bonorum vendendorum promictendi tenutam et
corporalem possessionem dandi et tradendi jura et actiones dandi et
vendendi et quamlibet quantitatem pecunie petendi et recipiendi et
finem et remissionem de receptis faciendi, et si opus fuerit coram
quibuscumque rogandi, agendi et defendendi, et omnia faciendi quæ sub
agere et causari nomine et principaliter ordinaverit et omnia alia
faciendi quæ in predictis fuerint opportuna.

Et hanc suam ultimam voluntatem asseruit esse velle, quam valere
voluit jure testamenti, quod si jure testamenti non valeret, seu
non valebit, valeat et valebit, et ea omnia valere jussit et voluit
jure codicillorum, et cujuscumque alterius ultime voluntatis, quo et
quibus magis valere et tenere potest, seu poterit, cassans, irritans
et annullans omne aliud testamentum, et ultimam voluntatem actenus
per eum conditum, non obstantibus aliquibus verbis derogationis
inscriptis in illo vel illis, quorum omni etiam derogatione idem
testator asseruit se penitere, et voluit hoc presens testamentum et
ultimam voluntatem prevalere omnibus aliis testamentis, actenus per
eum conditis, quo et quibus magis et melius valere et tenere potest
seu poterit.

       *       *       *       *       *

Ego Tinellus filius olim ser Bonasere de Pasignano, civis
fiorentinus, imperiali auctoritate judex ordinarius et notarius
publicus predictis omnibus dum agerentur interfui, et ea rogatus
scripsi et publicavi, in quorum etc. me subscripsi.




Creighton, M.

  In _The Academy_, vol. i (London, 1875), p. 570. A review of
  CORAZZINI: _Le Lettere edite e inedite_.

Dubois, H.

  Remarks on the Life and Writings of Boccaccio (London, 1804).

Hewlett, Maurice.

  Giovanni Boccaccio as Man and Author, in _The Academy_, vol. xlvi
  (1894), pp. 469-70.

Hutton, Edward.

  Giovanni Boccaccio. Introduction to _The Decameron_ in _The Tudor
  Translations_ (London, 1909).

Hutton, Edward.

  Country Walks about Florence (London, 1908).

  Deals with the Casa di Boccaccio, Poggio Gherardo, and Villa

Landor, W. S.

  The Pentameron, or Interviews of Messer Giovanni Boccaccio and
  Messer Francesco Petrarca, etc. etc. (London). Cf. also _The
  Quarterly Review_, vol. lxiv (1839), pp. 396-406.

Owen, J.

  The Skeptics of the Italian Renaissance (London, 1893), pp. 128-47.

Preston, H. W., and Dodge, L.

  Studies in the Correspondence of Petrarch, in _The Atlantic
  Monthly_ (Boston, U.S.A.), vol. lxxii (1893), pp. 89, 284, and 395.

Robinson, J. H., and Rolfe, H. W.

  Petrarch, the First of Modern Scholars, etc. (New York and London,
  Putnams, 1898).

  A selection from his correspondence with Boccaccio and others.

Ross, Janet.

  A Stroll in Boccaccio's Country, in _National Review_, May, 1894,
  pp. 364-71.

  Deals with the country about Fiesole and Settignano, where
  Boccaccio spent his earliest childhood.

Symonds, J. A.

  Giovanni Boccaccio as Man and Author (London, 1895).

  This was, till the publication of the present work, the fullest
  account of Boccaccio in English; but it is untrustworthy and
  altogether unworthy of the author.

Wilkins, E. H.

  Calmeta, in _Modern Language Notes_, vol. xxi, no. 7.

  Mr. Wilkins tries to identify Calmeta with Andalò di Negro. See
  _supra_, p. 20.

(_b_) WORKS


  The Decameron of Boccaccio, in _The Edinburgh Review_ (1893).


  Novels of the Italian Renaissance, in _The Edinburgh Review_ (1897).


  Boccaccio as a Quarry, in _The Quarterly Review_, (1898), p. 188.

Collier, J. P.

  The History of Patient Grisel: two early tracts in black-letter,
  with introd. and notes. _Publications of the Percy Society_, vol.
  iii (London, 1842).

Cotte, C.

  An Old English Version of the Decameron, in _The Athenæum_ (1884),
  no. 2954.

Cunliffe, J. W.

  Gismond of Salern. _Publications of the Modern Language Association
  of America_, vol. xxi (1906), part 2.

  This deals with the origins of Decameron, iv, 1.

Dibdin, T. F.

  The Bibliographical Decameron (London, 1817).

  Deals with editions of the _Decameron_, the _Fiammetta_, and the

Einstein, Lewis.

  The Italian Renaissance in England (New York, 1902).

  Deals with the influence of Boccaccio on English Renaissance

Garnett, R.

  A History of Italian Literature (London, 1898).

  Cap. vii deals with Boccaccio.

Kuhns, O.

  Dante and the English Poets from Chaucer to Tennyson (New York,

  The author speaks also of Boccaccio.

MacMechan, M.

  The Relation of Hans Sachs to the Decameron (Halifax, 1889).

Melhuish, W. F.

  Boccaccio's "Genealogy of the Gods," in _The Bookworm_, (1890), pp.

Neilson, A. W.

  The Origins and Sources of the Court of Love, in _Harvard Studies
  and Notes in Philology and Literature_, vol. vi (1899).

Neilson, A. W.

  The Purgatory of Cruel Beauties: a Note on Decameron, v, 8, in
  _Romania_, xxix, p. 85 _et seq._ (1900).

Scott, F. N.

  Boccaccio's "De Genealogia Deorum" and Sidney's _Apologie_, in
  _Modern Language Notes_, vi (1891), part iv.

Spingarn, J. E.

  A History of Literary Criticism in the Renaissance (New York, 1899).

Stillmann, W.

  The Decameron and its Villas, in _The Nineteenth Century_, August,

Symonds, J. A.

  The Renaissance in Italy, vol. iv (Italian Literature), (London,

Toynbee, Paget.

  Benvenuto da Imola and the _Iliad_ and _Odyssey_, in _Romania_,
  vol. xxix (1900), No. 115.

Toynbee, Paget.

  The Bibliography of Boccaccio's _Genealogia Deorum_, in _Athenæum_,
  1899, No. 3733.

Wagner, C. P.

  The Sources of El Cavallero Cifar, in _Revue Hispanique_, vol. x
  (1903), Nos. 33-4, p. 4 _et seq._

Wiltshire, W. H.

  The master of the subjects in the _Bocace_ of 1476, in _Catalogue
  of Early Prints in the Brit. Mus._, vol. ii, p. 113 _et seq._
  (London, 1883).

Woodbridge, E.

  Boccaccio's Defence of Poetry as contained in Lib. XIV of the _De
  Genealogia Deorum_, in _Pub. of the Mod. Lang. Assoc. of America_,
  vol. xiii (1900), part 3.


Cook, A. S.

  The Opening of Boccaccio's Life of Dante, in _Modern Language
  Notes_, vol. xvii (1902), pp. 276-9.

Dinsmore, C. A.

  Aids to the Study of Dante (Boston, 1903). Cap. ii speaks of
  Boccaccio's life of Dante.

Moore, E.

  Dante and his Early Biographers (London, 1890). Cap. ii deals with
  the _Life_ and lives attributed to Boccaccio, pp. 4-5.

Smith, T. R.

  The Earliest Lives of Dante, translated from the Italian of
  Giovanni Boccaccio and Leonardo Bruni Aretino (New York, 1901).

Toynbee, P.

  Boccaccio's Commentary on the _Divina Commedia_, in _Mod. Lang.
  Rev._ (Cambridge, 1907), vol. ii, p. 97 _et seq._

Wicksteed, P. H.

  The Early Lives of Dante (London, 1907).

Witte, K.

  The Two Versions of Boccaccio's _Life of Dante_, in _Essays on
  Dante_, etc., p. 262 _et seq._ (London, 1898).




The standard histories, e.g. _Cambridge History of English
Literature_; Jusserand, _Histoire Littéraire du Peuple Anglaise_; and
Ten Brink, _English Literature_, I have not mentioned.


Axon, W. E. A.

  Italian Influence on Chaucer. In _Chaucer Memorial Lectures_
  (London, Asher, 1900).

Bryant, A.

  Did Boccaccio Suggest the Character of Chaucer's Knight? In _Modern
  Language Notes_, vol. xvii (1902), part 8.

Buchheim, C. A.

  Chaucer's _Clerke's Tale_ and Petrarch's Version of the Griselda
  Story. In _Athenæum_, 1894, No. 3470, p. 541 _et seq._

Child, C. G.

  Chaucer's _House of Fame_, and Boccaccio's _Amorosa Visione_. In
  _Modern Language Notes_, vol. x (1895), part 6, pp. 190-2.

Child, C. G.

  Chaucer's _Legend of Good Women_ and Boccaccio's _De Genealogia
  Deorum_. In _Modern Language Notes_, vol. xi (1896).

Clerke, E. M.

  Boccaccio and Chaucer. In _National Review_, vol. viii (1886), p.

Hamilton, G. L.

  The Indebtedness of Chaucer's _Troilus and Criseyde_ to Guido
  delle Colonne's _Historia Troiana_ (New York, 1903). Speaks of the

Hammond, E. P.

  Chaucer: a Bibliographical Manual (New York, 1908). This is a
  splendid piece of work. For Chaucer and Boccaccio, see pp. 80-81,
  151-2, 270-3, 305-7, 398-9, 486-7.

Jusserand, J. J.

  Did Chaucer meet Petrarch? In _The Nineteenth Century_, No. 232
  (1899), pp. 993-1005.

Ker, W. P.

  Essays in Mediæval Literature (London, 1906).

Koch, Johann.

  Essays on Chaucer, pp. 357-417 (1878).

Launsbury, Thos.

  Studies in Chaucer, his Life and Writings, p. 235 (London, 1892).

Lowes, J. L.

  The Prologue of the _Legend of Good Women_ considered in
  Chronological Relation.

  _Publications of Mod. Lang. Ass. of America_, vol. xx (1906).

Mather, A.

  Chaucer in Italy. In _Modern Language Notes_, vol. xi (1896).

Ogle, G.

  Gualtherus and Griselda, or The Clerke of Oxford's Tale, from
  Boccace, Petrarch, and Chaucer (Bristol, 1739).

Palgrave, F. T.

  Chaucer and the Italian Renaissance. In _The Nineteenth Century_,
  vol. xxiv (1838), pp. 350-9.

Rossetti, W. M.

  Chaucer's _Troylus and Criseyde_ (from Harl. M.S., 3943), compared
  with Boccaccio's _Filostrato_. Chaucer Society (Trübner), part 1,
  1875--part 2, 1883.

Tatlock, J.

  Chaucer's _Vitremyte_. In _Modern Language Notes_, vol. xxi (1906),
  p. 62.

Tatlock, J.

  The Dates of Chaucer's _Troilus and Criseyde_. In _Modern
  Philology_ (Chicago, 1903).

Ward, A. W.

  _Chaucer_, (London, 1879), p. 166.


Ballmann, O.

  Chaucers einfluss auf das englische drama im Zeitalter der Königen
  Elisabeth und der beiden ersten Stuart-Könige. In _Anglia,
  Zeitschrift für Eng. Philologie_, xxv (1902), p. 2 ET SEQ.

Bellezza, P.

  Introduzione allo studio de' fonti italiani di G. Chaucer, etc.
  (Milano, 1895).

Chiarini, C.

  Dalle "Novelle di Canterbury" di G. Chaucer (Bologna, 1897).

Chiarini, C.

  Intorno alle "Novelle di Canterbury" di G. Chaucer. In _Nuova
  Antologia_, vol. lxxii (1897), fasc. 21, p. 148, and fasc. 22, p.

Demogoet, J.

  Histoire des littératures étrangères considérées dans leurs
  rapports avec le développement de la littérature française.
  Littératures Méridionales. Italie-Espagne (Hachette, 1880). See
  cap. vi.

Engel, E.

  Geschichte der englischen Litteratur von ihren Anfangen bis auf
  die neueste Zeit mit einem Anhange: Die amerikanische Litteratur
  (Leipzig, 1883).

  Vol. iv of the _Geschichte der Weltlitteratur in
  Einzeldarstellung_. At pp. 54-76, Boccaccio and Chaucer are spoken
  of; at p. 133, Boccaccio and Sackville; at p. 263, Boccaccio and
  Dryden, etc.

Fischer, R.

  Zu den Kunstformen des mittelalterlichen Epos. Hartmann's Iwein,
  Das Nibelungenlied, Boccaccio's Filostrato und Chaucer's _Troylus
  und Cryseide_. In _Weiner Beiträge zur Englischen Philologie_, vol.
  ix (1898).

Hortis, A.

  Studj sulle opere Latine di Gio. Boccaccio con particolare riguardo
  alla storia dell' erudizione nel medioevo e alle litterature
  straniere (Trieste, 1879).

Kissner, A.

  Chaucer in seinen Beziehungen zur italienischen Litteratur (Bonn,

  This is the only general study of Chaucer's indebtedness to Italy.

Koch, T.

  Chaucer Schriften. In _Englische Studien_, vol. xxxvi (1905), part
  i, pp. 131-49.

Koch, J.

  Ein Beitrag zur Kritik Chaucers. In _Englische Studien_, vol. i
  (1877), pp. 249-93.

Koeppel, Emil.

  Boccaccio's _Amorosa Visione_. In _Anglia_ (under Chauceriana),
  vol. xiv (1892), pp. 233-8.

Landau, Marc.

  Beiträge zur Geschichte der italienischen Novelle (Vienna, 1875).
  Especially iv, 5.

Mounier, M.

  La Renaissance de Dante à Luther (Paris, 1884).

  See p. 183 _et seq._ for Boccaccio and Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dryden.

Rajna, P.

  Le origini della novella narrata dal "Frankeleyn" nei Canterbury
  Tales del Chaucer. In _Romania_, xxxii (1903), pp. 204-67.

  Refers to _Decameron_, v, 5.

Segré, C.

  Chaucer e Boccaccio. In _Fanfulla della Domenica_, vol. xxii
  (1900), p. 47.

Segré, C.

  Studi petrarcheschi (Firenze, 1903).

Torraca, F.

  Un passo oscuro di G. Chaucer. In _Journal of Comparative
  Literature_, vol. i (1903).

Von Wlislocki, H.

  Vergleichende Beiträge zu Chaucers Canterbury-Geschichten. In
  _Zeitschrift für vergleichende Litteraturgeschichte und Ren.
  Litt._, N.S., ii (1889), pp. 182-99.

Willert, H.

  G. Chaucer, _The House of Fame_. Text, Varianten, Ammerkungen,
  Progr. Ostern., 1888 (Berlin, 1888).

  For the _Amorosa Visione_ and Chaucer.


See also under Chaucer.

Chiarini, G.

  Le fonti del mercante di Venezia. In _Studi Shakespeariani_
  (Livorno, 1897).

  Concerned with Gower and Shakespeare, _Decameron_, x, 1.

Koeppel, E.

  Studien zur Geschichte der italienischen Novelle in der Englischen
  Litteratur des sechzehnten Jahrhunderst (Strassburg, 1892).
  This is vol. lxx of the _Quellen und Forschungen zur Sprach und
  Culturgeschichte der Germanischen Völker_. A most important study
  of the English versions of the _Decameron_.

Leonhardt, B.

  Zu Cymbelin. In _Anglia_, vii (1884), fasc. iii.

Levi, A. R.

  Shakespeare e la parodia omerica. In _Nuova Rassegna di Lett.
  Mod._, vol. iv (1906), fasc. 2, pp. 113-16.

  Concerning the _Filostrato_.

Levy, S.

  Zu Cymbelin. In _Anglia_, vii (1884), p. 120 _et seq._

  S. Levy contends that _Decameron_, ii, 9 is the source of
  _Cymbeline_. B. Leonhardt denies it.

Mascetta-Caracci, L.

  Shakespeare e i classici italiani a proposito di un sonetto di
  Guido Guinizzelli (Lanciano, 1902).

Ohle, R.

  Shakespeares Cymbeline, und seine romanischen Vorläufer (Berlin,

P[aris], G.

  Une version orientale du thème de "All's well that ends well." In
  _Romania_, vol. xvi (1887), p. 98 _et seq._

Segré, C.

  Un' eroina del B. e l' "Elena," Shakespeariana.

  In _Fanfulla della Domenica_, vol. xxiii (1901), p. 16.

  Compares "All's well that ends well" with _Decameron_, iii, 9.

Siefken, O.

  Der Konstanze-Griseldetypus in der englischen Litteratur bis auf
  Shakespeare (Ruthenow, 1904).

  For _Decameron_, x, 10.




  MANNI, D. M. _Istoria del Decameron_ (Firenze, 1742).

  BOTTARI, G. _Lezioni sopra il Decameron_ (Firenze, 1818).

  MASSARINI, T. _Storia e fisiologia dell' arte di ridere_ (Milan,
  1901), vol. ii.


  DI FRANCIA, L. _Alcune novelle del Decameron_, in _Giornale Stor.
  della Lett. Ital._, vol. xliv (1904).

  Treats of i, 2; iv, 2; v, 10; vii, 2; vii, 4; vii, 6; viii, 10; x,

  ZUMBINI, B. _Alcune novelle del B. e i suoi criterii d' arte_, in
  _Atti della R. Acc. della Crusca_ (Firenze, 1905).

  Treats of ii, 4; ii, 5; ii, 6; iii, 6; iv, 1; iv, 10; v, 6; vii, 2;
  x, 6.


  _Here begins the first day of the Decameron, on which, after it has
  been shown by the author how the persons mentioned came together to
  relate these stories, each one, under the presidency of Pampinea,
  related some amusing matter that they could think of._

The Proem is divided into two parts in the best editions. The first
part having for title:

"Here begins the book called Decameron, otherwise Prince Galeotto,
wherein are combined one hundred novels told in ten days by seven
ladies and three young men."

In the second part the irony against the clergy is obvious.

For the Palace in which the gathering takes place see G. MANCINI,
_Poggio Gherardi, primo ricetto alle Novellatrici del B._ (Firenze,
Cellini, 1858), and W. STILLMAN, _The Decameron and its Villas_,
in _The Nineteenth Century_, August, 1899, and N. MASELLIS, _I due
palagi di rifugio e la valle delle donne nel Decameron_ in _Rassegna
Nazionale_, June 16, 1904, and JANET ROSS, _Florentine Villas_ (Dent,
1903), and EDWARD HUTTON, _Country Walks about Florence_ (Methuen,
1908), cap. i.



_Subject of Tales._--Various.



  _Ciappelletto deceives a holy friar by a sham confession, and dies;
  and although he was an arch-rogue during his life, yet he was
  regarded as a saint after his death, and called San Ciappelletto._

Against the Friars.

For a Latin version of this tale consult G. DA SCHIO, _Sulla vita e
sugli scritti di Antonio Loschi_ (Padova, 1858), p. 145.

For some interesting documents see C. PAOLI, _Documenti di Ser
Ciappelletto_, in _Giornale St. d. Lett It._, vol. v (1885), p. 329.
G. FINZI, _La novella boccaccesca di Ser Ciappelletto_, in _Bib. d.
scuole it._, vol. iii (1891), p. 105 _et seq._, is a good comment.
And SILVIO PELLINI, _Una novella del Decameron_ (Torino, 1887), gives
us a reprint from the Basle edition of 1570 of the Latin translation
of Olimpia Morata.



  _Abraham the Jew went to Rome at the instigation of Jehannot de
  Chevigny, and seeing the wicked manner of life of the clergy there,
  he returned to Paris and became a Christian._

Against the clergy.

B. ZUMBINI, in _Studi di Lett. Straniere_ (Firenze, 1893), p. 185
_et seq._, compares this novel with Lessing's _Nathan der Weise_.
P. TOLDO, in _Giornale St. d. Lett. Ital._, xlii (1903), p. 335 _et
seq._, finds here a Provençal story. L. DI FRANCIA, in _Giornale,
sup._, xliv (1904), examines the origins with much care. J. BONNET,
_Vie d'Olympia Morata_ (Paris, 1851), cap. ii, p. 53, speaks of the
Morata translation of this novel and of _Decameron_, x, 10.



  _The Jew Melchisedec escapes from a trap which Saladin laid for
  him, by telling him a story about three rings._

Appeared in PAINTER'S _Palace of Pleasure_, vol. i (1566), No. 30.

See G. TARGIONI-TOZZETTI, _Novelletta del Mago e del giudeo_
(Ferrara, 1869). L. CAPPELLETTI, _Commento sopra la 3a novella della
prima giornata del Dec._ (Bologna, 1874). A. TOBLER, _Li dis dou
vrai aniel. Die Parabel von dem achten Ringe französische Dichtung
des dreizehnten Jahrhunderts_ (Leipzig, 1884). G. PARIS, _La poésie
du moyen âge_, 2^e série (Paris, 1903), No. 12. _La parabole des
trois anneaux._ G. BERTINO, _Le diverse redazioni della Novella dei
tre anelli_, in _Spigolature Letterarie_ (Sassari, Scano, 1903). T.
GIANNONE, _Una novella del B. e un dramma del Lessing_ (Nathan the
Wise), in _Rivista Abruzzese_, xv (1900), p. 32 _et seq._



  _A monk who had incurred a severe punishment for an offence that he
  had committed, saved himself from it by convicting his abbot of the
  same fault._

Against the Monks.

See J. BÉDIER, _Les fabliaux études de littérature populaire et
d'histoire littéraire du moyen âge_ (Paris, 1893).



  _The Marchioness of Monferrat cures the King of France of his
  senseless passion by means of a repast of hens and by a few
  suitable words._

Appeared in PAINTER'S _Palace of Pleasure_, ii (1567), No. 16.

For sources see S. PRATO, _L' orma del leone, racconto orientale
considerato nella tradizione popolare_, in _Romania_, xii (1883), p.
535 _et seq._



  _An honest layman, by means of a fortunate jest, reproves the
  hypocrisy of the clergy._

Against the clergy.

See V. ROSSI, in _Dai tempi antichi ai tempi moderni; da Dante al
Leopardi_ (Milano, 1904). Una novella boccaccesca in azione nel
secolo xv, p. 419 _et seq._



  _Bergamino reproves Messer Cane della Scala in a very clever
  manner, by the story of Primasso and the Abbot of Cluny._

See P. RAJNA, _Intorno al cosidetto "Dialogus creaturarum" ed al suo
autore_, in _Giornale Stor. d. Lett. Ital._, x (1887), p. 50 _et seq._



  _By a few witty words Guglielmo Borsiere overcomes the covetousness
  of Ermino de' Grimaldi._

Appeared in PAINTER'S _Palace of Pleasure_, vol. i (1566), No. 31.



  _The King of Cyprus, being reproved by a lady of Gascony, from
  being indolent and worthless becomes a virtuous prince._



  _Messer Alberto of Bologna modestly puts a lady to the blush, who
  wished to do the same by him, as she thought that he was in love
  with her._

Appeared in PAINTER'S _Palace of Pleasure_, vol. i (1566), No. 32.



_Subject._--The fortune of those who after divers adventures have at
last attained a goal of unexpected felicity.



  _Martellino disguises himself as a cripple, and pretends that he
  has been cured by touching the dead body of St. Arrigo. His fraud
  is exposed, he is thrashed, taken into custody, and narrowly
  escapes being hanged, but luckily manages to get off._



  _Rinaldo d' Asti having been robbed, comes to Castel Guglielmo,
  where a handsome widow entertains him, and amply recompenses him
  for his losses, and he returns home well and happy._

Appeared in PAINTER'S _Palace of Pleasure_, vol. i (1566), No. 33.

See G. GALVANI, _Di S. Giuliano io_ SPADALIERE _e del_ PATER
NOSTER, _usato dirgli dai viandati ad illustrazione di un luogo del
Decamerone del B._, in _Lezioni accademiche_ (Modena, 1840), vol.
ii; also A. GRAF, _Per la novella XII del Decamerone_, in _Giorn.
Stor. d. Lett. Ital._, VII (1886), pp. 179-87, and IDEM., _Miti
leggende e superstizioni del Medio Evo_, vol. ii (Torino, 1893);
also G. FOGOLARI, _La Leggenda di S. Giuliano: Affreschi della 2a
meta del sec. xiv. nel Duomo di Trento_, in _Tridentum_, v (1902),
fasc. 10, pp. 433-44, vi, fasc. 2 and fasc. 12. See also E. BAXMANN,
_Middleton's Lustpiel, "The Widow," Boccaccio's "Decameron," II, 2,
and III, 3_ (Halle, 1903).



  _Three gentlemen, having squandered their fortunes, are brought
  to poverty; one of their nephews going home in despair, makes
  the acquaintance of an abbot, whom he afterwards recognises as
  the daughter of the King of England, who marries him, makes good
  all his uncles' losses, and reinstates them all in their former

Appeared in PAINTERS'S _Palace of Pleasure_, vol. i (1566), No. 34.



  _Landolfo Ruffolo becomes very poor and turns pirate. He is taken
  prisoner by the Genoese, is shipwrecked, and saves himself on a
  chest full of jewels, is entertained by a poor woman in Corfù, and
  returns home a rich man._

Appeared in PAINTER'S _Palace of Pleasure_, vol. i (1566), No. 35.

See B. ZUMBINI, _La novella di Landolfo Ruffolo_, in _La Biblioteca
delle scuole Italiane_, XI (1905), fasc. 6, pp. 65-6.



  _Andreuccio of Perugia, coming to Naples in order to buy horses,
  meets with three unfortunate adventures in one night; but escapes
  from them all fortunately, and returns home with a very valuable

Appeared in PAINTER'S _Palace of Pleasure_, i (1566), No. 36.

See L. CAPPELLETTI, _Andreuccio da Perugia: commento sopra la V
novella della 2a giornata del Decamerone_ (Firenze, 1879). F.
LIEBRECHT, _Zum "Decamerone,"_ in _Jahrbuch für rom. und eng.
Literatur_, xv (1877), fasc. 3, compares this story with an Eastern



  _Madame Beritola was found on an island with two young goats,
  having lost her two children. She went to Lunigiana, where one of
  her sons had entered the service of a gentleman of that district,
  and being found with his master's daughter, was thrown into prison.
  When the Sicilians rebelled against King Charles, the mother
  recognised her son, who marries his master's daughter, finds his
  brother, and they rise again to great distinction._

Appeared in GREENE'S _Perimedes the Blacksmith_ (1588).

See L. CAPPELLETTI, _Madonna Beritola: Commento_, in _Propugnatore_,
xii (1879), pt. i, pp. 62 _et seq._



  _The Sultan of Babylon sends his daughter to become the bride
  of the King of Algarve, but during the space of four years she,
  through different accidents, passes through the hands of nine
  different men in various countries. At last she is restored to her
  father, and goes, as a virgin, to the King of Algarve, as whose
  bride she had first set out._

See E. MONTÉGUT, _La fiancée du roi du Garbe et le Décaméron_, in
_Revue de deux mondes_, June 1, 1863.



  _The Count of Antwerp is accused, though he is innocent, and goes
  into exile, leaving his two children in England. Returning from
  Ireland as a stranger, he finds them both in very prosperous
  circumstances. He himself enters the army of the King of France
  as a common soldier, is found to be innocent, and restored to his
  former position._

Appeared in PAINTER'S _Palace of Pleasure_, vol. i (1566), No. 37.



  _Bernabò of Genoa is cheated out of his money by Ambrogiuolo, and
  orders his own innocent wife to be put to death. She escapes in
  men's clothes, and enters the Sultan's service, meets the cheat,
  and sends for her husband to Alexandria, where Ambrogiuolo meets
  with his due reward. She then resumes her female attire, and
  returns to Genoa with her husband, and with great wealth._

Appeared in _Westward for Smelts_, by Kind Kit of Kingston (1620).

For the origin of "Cymbeline" from this tale see B. LEONHARDT,
_Zu Cymbelin_, in _Anglia_, vii (1884), fasc. 3, and S. LEVY, in
_Anglia_, vii, p. 120 _et seq._; R. OHLE, _Shakespeare's Cymbeline
und seine romanischen Vorläufer_ (Berlin, 1890). For a Sicilian
original of this tale see G. L. PERRONI, _Un "cuntu" siciliano ed una
novella del Boccaccio_, in _Archivio per lo studio delle tradizioni
popolari_, xix (1900), fasc. 2. See also G. PARIS, _Le conte de la
gageure dans Boccace_, in _Misc. di studi critici in onore di A.
Graf_ (Bergamo, 1903), pp. 107-16.



  _Paganino of Monaco carries off the wife of Ricciardo da Chinzica,
  who, finding out where she is, goes after her and makes friends
  with Paganino. He demands his wife back, and Paganino promises to
  restore her if she herself wishes it. She, however, has no desire
  to return to him, so remains with Paganino, who marries her after
  Chinzica's death._



_Subject._--The luck of such as have painfully acquired some much
coveted thing, or having lost it have recovered it.



  _Masetto da Lamporecchio feigns dumbness, and becomes gardener to a
  convent of nuns, which leads to the consequence that they all lie
  with him._

Against the Nuns.

For some sources and precedents for this story see P. TOLDO,
_Rileggendo le Mille e una Notte_, in _Miscellanea di studi critici
ed. in onore di A. Graf_ (Bergamo, 1903), p. 491 _et seq._



  _A groom of King Agilulf takes his place with the queen. Agilulf
  finds it out, discovers the offender, and cuts off his hair, whilst
  he pretends to be asleep. He, however, marks all his fellow-grooms
  in the same way, and thus escapes punishment._



  _A lady, who has fallen in love with a handsome gentleman, makes
  use of a friar, under the cloak of confession and scruples
  of conscience, and without his perceiving it, to act as her

Against the Friars.

On this tale see E. BAXMANN, _Middleton's Lustpiel, "The Widow," und
Boccaccio's "Decameron" III, 3, and II, 2_ (Halle, 1903).



  _Dom Felice teaches "Friar" Puccio how he may be saved by doing a
  penance; while "Friar" Puccio is performing the penance, Dom Felice
  passes the time pleasantly with his wife._

Against the Monks.



  _Zima gives his palfrey to Messer Francesco Vergellesi on the
  condition of being allowed to speak to his wife out of earshot
  of anyone, and the wife making no response, he answers for her
  himself, and the usual consequence soon follows._

Appeared in H. C.'s _Forest of Fancy_ (1579).

In this and the following tale cf. P. TOLDO, _Quelques sources
italiennes du théâtre comique de Houdard de la Motte_, in _Bulletin
Italien_, vol. i (1901), p. 200 _et seq._



  _Ricciardo Minutolo loves the wife of Filippello Fighinolfi, whom
  he knows to be jealous of her husband. He tells her that Filippello
  has an assignation the following day at a bagnio with his wife, and
  the lady goes there to meet her husband. Imagining herself to be in
  bed with her husband, she finds herself with Ricciardo._

This story, told by Fiammetta, is, in my opinion, significant for
Boccaccio's own love affair. In it is told how a woman is tricked
into love.

Cf. also P. TOLDI, _ubi supra_.



  _Tedaldo, angry with one of his mistresses, quits Florence. Some
  time after he returns in the disguise of a pilgrim, speaks with
  the lady, and convinces her of her error; saves the life of her
  husband, who has been condemned for killing him, reconciles him to
  his brothers, and enjoys unmolested the favours of the lady._

Censure of the clergy.

Consult M. COLOMBO, _Due lettere scritte al Can. Dom. Moreni sopra
due luoghi del Decam._, in _Opuscoli_ (Padova, 1832), vol. iii, p.
176 _et seq._



  _Ferondo having swallowed a certain drug, is buried for dead. He is
  taken out of the sepulchre by the abbot, who has a liaison with his
  wife, put in prison, and made to believe that he is in purgatory;
  he is then resuscitated, and brings up a child as his own, which
  the abbot has begotten by his wife._

Against the Monks.

Consult P. TOLDO, _Les morts qui mangent_, in _Bulletin Italien_,
vol. v (1905), P. 291 _et seq._



  _Gillette de Narbonne cures the king of a fistula. As a reward
  she demands the hand of Bertram de Roussillon, who, espousing her
  against his will, leaves for Florence in disgust. There he has a
  love affair with a young lady, and lies with Gillette, believing
  himself to be with his mistress. She bears him twin sons, and by
  that means, he loving her dearly, honours her as his wife._

Appeared in PAINTER'S _Palace of Pleasure_, vol. i (1566), No. 38.

For the connection with _All's well that ends well_, see C. SEGRÉ,
_Un' eroina del Boccaccio e l' "Elena" Shakespeariana_, in _Fanfulla
della Domenica_, xxiii, 16, and G. P[ARIS], _Une version orientale du
thème de "All's well that ends well,"_ in _Romania_, xvi (1887), p.
98 _et seq._



  _Alibech becomes a hermit, and is taught by one Rustico, a friar,
  how to put back the devil into hell; on returning home she becomes
  the wife of Neerbale._

Against the Friars.

This does not appear in the anonymous translation of the _Decameron_
of 1620, another story being in its place.



_Subject._--Love that ended in disaster.



  _Tancred, Prince of Salerno, caused his daughter's lover to be put
  to death, and sends her his heart in a golden goblet. She pours
  poison into it, drinks it and dies._

Appeared in PAINTER'S _Palace of Pleasure_, vol. i (1566), No. 39.

For the sources and influence of this tale consult: G. CECIONI, _La
Leggenda del cuore mangiato e tre antiche versioni in ottava rima di
una novella del B._, in _Rivista contemporanea_, vol. i (1888), fasc.
9. J. ZUPITZA, _Die Mittelenglischen Bearbeitungen der Erzählung
Boccaccios von Ghismonda und Guiscardo_, in _Vierteljahrsschrift
für Kultur u. Litt. der Renaissance_, vol. i (1885), fasc. 1.
SHERWOOD, _Die neuenglischen Bearbeitungen der Erzählung Boccaccios
von Ghismonda und Guiscardo_, in _Litteraturblatt für german. und
roman. Philologie_, xiii (1892), p. 412. J. W. CUNLIFFE, _Gismond of
Salern_, in _Publications of Mod. Lang. Ass. of Am._, xxi (1906),
fasc. 2.



  _Friar Alberto makes a woman believe that the Archangel Gabriel is
  in love with her, and visits her several times at night under that
  pretence. Afterwards he is obliged to escape out of a window for
  fear of her relations, and takes refuge in the house of a poor man,
  who the next day takes him publicly into the square and exhibits
  him, disguised as a wild man; he is recognised, taken away by his
  fellow-friars, and put into prison._

Against the Friars.

Appeared in TARLTON'S _News out of Purgatorie_ (1590).



  _Three young men are in love with three sisters and take them to
  Crete, where the eldest sister kills her lover from jealousy. The
  second saves her sister from death, by giving herself to the Prince
  of Crete, and because of this, her lover kills her and goes away
  with the eldest sister. The third couple is accused of this murder,
  and forced to confess it by torture, and being certain that they
  will be put to death, they bribe their keeper to escape with them
  and flee to Rhodes, where they die in poverty and misery._



  _Gerbino, contrary to a promise which his grandfather Guglielmo
  had given the King of Tunis, fights with a Tunisian ship in order
  to carry off the king's daughter. The crew kill the princess, for
  which he puts them all to the sword, but is himself beheaded for
  that deed._

Appeared in TURBERVILLE'S _Tragical Tales_ (_ca._ 1576).

See L. CAPPELLETTI, _La novella di Gerbino, imitazioni e raffronto_,
in _Cronaca minima_ (Livorno, Aug. 14, 1887.)



  _Isabella's brothers put her lover to death. He appears to her in
  a dream, and tells her where his body is buried; whereupon, she
  secretly brings away his head and buries it in a pot of basil, over
  which she weeps for hours every day, and when her brothers take it
  away she dies soon afterwards._

Appeared in TURBERVILLE'S _Tragical Tales_ (_ca._ 1576).

Consult T. CANNIZZARO, _Il lamento di Lisabetta da Messina e la
leggenda del vaso di basilico_ (Catania, Battiato, 1902).

On the poem of Keats see U. MENGIN, _L'Italie des romantiques_
(Paris, 1902).

There is a Sicilian love song at end of this tale.



  _A young lady called Andreuola is in love with Gabriotto. She tells
  him a dream that she has had, and whilst relating one that he has
  had, he suddenly falls into her arms, dead. Whilst she is trying
  to get the body to his own house, with the aid of her maid, they
  are both arrested by the watch. She tells the magistrate how it
  happened, and resists his improper advances. Her father hears what
  has happened to her and procures her release, as her innocence is
  established, but she renounces the world and becomes a nun._



  _Simona and Pasquino are lovers, and, being in a garden together,
  Pasquino rubs his teeth with a leaf of sage, and dies immediately.
  Simona is arrested, and, on being brought before the judge, she
  wishes to explain how Pasquino met his death, and, rubbing her
  teeth with a leaf front the same plant, she dies on the spot._

Appeared in TURBERVILLE'S _Tragical Tales_ (_ca._ 1576).



  _Girolamo is in love with Salvestra. His mother urges him to go to
  Paris, and on his return, finding his mistress married, he secretly
  introduces himself into her house, and dies at her side. Whilst he
  is being buried, Salvestra also dies on his body in the church._

Appeared in TURBERVILLE'S _Tragical Tales_ (_ca._ 1576).



  _Guillaume de Roussillon gives his wife the heart of de Cabestaing
  to eat, whom he had killed because he was her lover. When she
  discovers this, she throws herself out of a high window, and being
  killed, is buried with him._

Appeared in TURBERVILLE'S _Tragical Tales_ (_ca._ 1576).

See G. Paris, _La légende du Châtelain de Couci dans l'Inde_, in
_Romania_, vol. xii (1883), p. 359 _et seq._, for a similar story.



  _A surgeon's wife puts her lover, who is in a deep sleep, into
  a chest, thinking him dead, and two usurers steal it. In their
  house he wakes up and is taken for a thief. The lady's maid tells
  the magistrate that she had put him into the chest which the
  money-lenders had stolen. By these means she saves him from the
  gallows, and the usurers are fined for the theft._



_Subject._--Good fortune befalling lovers after many dire and
disastrous adventures.



  _Cymon becomes wise through love, and carries off Iphigenia, his
  mistress, by force of arms, to sea. He is put in prison at Rhodes,
  where he is set at liberty by Lysimachus, and they together carry
  off Iphigenia and Cassandra on their wedding-day, flee to Crete,
  marry their mistresses, and are happily summoned to return home._

First English translation, _A Pleasant and Delightful History of
Galesus, Cymon, and Iphigenia, etc._, by T. C. GENT (_ca._ 1584).

Consult TRIBOLATI, F., _Diporto sulla novella I della quinta giornata
del Decamerone: saggio critico_, in _Arch. Stor. per le Marche e per
l' Umbria_, vol. ii (1885), fasc. 8-9. v.



  _Constanza loves Martuccio Gomito. When she hears that he has
  perished, in despair she goes quite by herself into a boat, and is
  driven to Susa by the wind and waves. She meets Martuccio alive
  in Tunis, makes herself known to him; and as he is very high in
  the king's favour there, because of his good counsels, the monarch
  bestows great wealth on him, and he marries his beloved, and
  returns to Lipari with her._

Appeared in GREENE'S _Perimedes the Blacksmith_ (1588).



  _Pietro Boccamazza runs away with Agnolella, his mistress, and
  falls among thieves. She escapes into a wood, and is taken to a
  castle. Pietro is taken prisoner by the thieves, but escapes and
  comes to the same castle with some adventures, where he marries
  Agnolella, and they return to Rome._



  _Ricciardo Manardi is found by Lizio da Valbona in bed with
  his daughter, whereupon he marries her, and lives in peace and
  friendship with her father._



  _On his death-bed Guidotto of Cremona appoints Giacomino of Pavia
  as guardian of his adopted daughter. Giannole di Severino and
  Minghino di Mingole both fall in love with the girl, and fight
  on her account, when it is discovered that she is the sister of
  Giannole, and Minghino marries her._

Consult PRATO, S., _L' orma del leone, racconto orientale considerato
nella tradizione popolare_, in _Romania_, xii (1883), p. 535 _et seq._

CHASLES, E., _La Comédie en France au XVI Siècle_ (Paris, 1867).
RAJNA, P., _Le origini della novella narrata dal "Frankeleyn" nei
Canterbury Tales del Chaucer_, in _Romania_, xxxii (1903), p. 204 _et



  _Gianni di Procida is surprised in the arms of a girl who had been
  given to King Frederick, and he intends to have them burnt at the
  stake together. Ruggieri dell' Oria, however, recognises them both,
  and they are set at liberty, and marry._

Consult ZUMBINI, B., _Alcune novelle del Boccaccio e i suoi criterii
d' arte_, in _Atti della R. Acc. della Crusca_ (Firenze, 1905), No.
29th Jan.



  _Teodoro is in love with Violante, the daughter of his master,
  Amerigo, Abbot of Trapani. She becomes pregnant, and he is
  sentenced to be hanged. As he is being led to execution, after
  being scourged, his father recognises him, he is set at liberty,
  and marries his mistress._

Appeared in H. C.'s _Forest of Fancy_, ii (1579).



  _Nastagio degli Onesti loves the daughter of Paolo Traversaro, and
  spends much of his fortune without being able to gain her love in
  return. At the advice of his friends he goes to Chiassi, where he
  sees a lady being pursued by a huntsman, who kills her and lets his
  dogs devour her. He invites his own relations and those of the lady
  to an entertainment, lets them see this terrible chase, and she,
  from fear of suffering the same fate, marries him._

Appeared in _A Notable History of Nastagio and Traversari, etc._, in
English verse by C. T. (1569), and in TURBERVILLE'S _Tragical Tales_
(_ca._ 1576), vol. i, and in H. C.'s _Forest of Fancy_ (1579).

Consult CAPPELLETTI, L., _Commento sopra l' VIII nov. della V.
giornata dell Decameron_ in _Propugnatore_, vol. viii (1875), parts i
and ii. BORGOGNONI, A., _La XLVIII nov. del Decameron_, in _Domenica
Letteraria_, iii (1883), 13. NEILSON, W. A., _The purgatory of cruel
beauties. A note on the sources of the 8th novel of the 5th day of
the Decameron_, in _Romania_, xxix (1900), p. 85 _et seq._ And for
the influence of Dante here: ARULLANI, V. A., _Nella scia dantesca,
alcuni oltretomba posteriori alla Divina Commedia_ (Alba, 1905).



  _Frederigo being in love without any return, spends all his
  property for the lady's sake, and at last has nothing left but one
  favourite hawk. The lady coming to see him unexpectedly, he has
  this prepared for dinner, having nothing else to give her; and she
  is so touched when she hears this, that she alters her mind and
  makes him master of herself and all her wealth._

CAPPELLETTI, L., _Commento sopra la IX novella della quinta giornata
del Decameron_, in _Propugnatore_, vol. x, part i.

TOSI, I., _Longfellow e l' Italia_ (Bologna, 1906), esp. p. 89 _et



  _Pietro di Vinciolo goes out to supper, and in the meanwhile his
  wife has a young fellow come to see her. Pietro returns home
  unexpectedly and discovers his wife's trick, but as he is no better
  himself, they manage to make it up between them._

Consult DE MARIA, U., _Dell' Asino d' oro di Apuleio e di varie sue
imitazioni nella nostra letteratura_ (Roma, 1901).



_Subject._--Of such as by some sprightly sally have repulsed an
attack, or by some ready retort or device have avoided loss, peril,
or scorn.



  _A knight engages to carry Madonna Oretta behind him on the saddle,
  promising to tell her a pleasant story by the way; but the lady
  finding it not to be according to her taste, begs him to allow her
  to dismount._



  _Cisti the baker, by a sharp retort, makes Signor Geri Spina
  sensible of an unreasonable request._

Consult CAPPELLETTI, L., _La novella di Cisti fornaio_, in _Cronaca
minima_ (Livorno, 1887, 28 August).



  _Madonna Nonna de' Pulci, by a sharp repartee, silences the Bishop
  of Florence for an unseemly piece of raillery_.



  _Chichibio, cook to Currado Gianfiliazzi, by a prompt rejoinder
  which he makes to his master, turns his wrath into laughter, and
  escapes the punishment with which he had threatened him._

Appeared in TARLTON'S _News out of Purgatorie_ (1590), No. 4.



  _Forese da Rabatta and Giotto the painter, coming from Mugello,
  jest at the meanness of each other's appearance._



  _Michele Scalza proves to certain young gentlemen how that the
  family of the Baronci is the most ancient of any in the world, and
  of Maremma, and wins a supper by it._



  _Madonna Filippa being found by her husband with a lover, is
  accused and tried for it, but saves herself by her witty reply, and
  has the law moderated for the future._



  _Fresco recommends his niece not to look at herself again in a
  mirror since, as she had averred, looking at ugly people was
  disagreeable to her._



  _Guido Cavalcanti reproves in polite terms certain Florentine
  knights who had taken him unawares._

Consult CAPPELLETTI, L., _La novella di Guido Cavalcanti_, in
_Propugnatore_, vol. x (1677).



  _Friar Cipolla promises some country people to show them a feather
  from the wing of the Angel Gabriel, instead of which he finds only
  some coals, which he tells them are the same that roasted St.

Appeared in TARLTON'S _News out of Purgatorie_ (_ca._ 1576), No. 5.



_Subject._--Of the tricks which either for love or for their
deliverance from peril ladies have heretofore played their husbands,
and whether they were by the said husbands detected or no.



  _Gianni Lotteringhi hears at night a knocking at his door, and
  wakes his wife. The latter makes him believe it is a spirit. They
  both go to conjure it away with a prayer, and the noise ceases._

Appeared in _The Cobler of Caunterburie_, No. 2.



  _Peronella, hearing her husband enter, conceals her lover in a lie
  tub, which tub the husband had just sold. She tells him that she
  had also sold it to a person who was then in it, to see if it was
  sound. Hereupon the man jumps out, makes the husband clean it for
  him, he caressing the wife meanwhile, and carries it home._

Consult DE MARIA, U., _op. cit._, _supra_.



  _Friar Rinaldo is in bed with the wife of a neighbour. The husband
  finding him in the bedroom of his wife, both make him believe that
  they are busy about a charm to cure their child of the worms._

Against the Friars.



  _Tofano shuts his wife one night out of doors, and she, not being
  able to persuade him to let her in, pretends to throw herself into
  a well, and drops a big stone in; he runs thither in a fright; she
  slips into the house, and, locking him out, abuses him well._

Appeared in _Westward for Smelts_, by KIND KIT OF KINGSTON (1620),
No. 3.

Consult MARCOCCHIA, G., _Una novella indiana nel Boccaccio e nel
Molière_ (Spalatro, 1905).



  _A jealous man confesses his wife under a priest's habit, who tells
  him that she is visited every night by a friar; and, whilst he is
  watching the door, she lets her lover in at the house-top._

Cf. THOMAS TWINE'S _Schoolmaster_ (1576).



  _Isabella, being in company with her gallant, called Leonetto, and
  being visited at the same time by one Lambertuccio, her husband
  returns, when she sends Lambertuccio away with a drawn sword in his
  hand, whilst the husband escorts Leonetto safely to his own house._

Appeared in TARLTON'S _News out of Purgatorie_ (1590), No. 7.

Consult PARIS, G., _Le lai de l'épervier_, in _Romania_ (1878).



  _Lodovico being in love with Beatrice, she sends her husband into
  the garden, disguised like herself, so that her lover may be with
  her in the meantime; and he afterwards goes into the garden and
  beats the husband._

Appeared in _The Hundred Mery Talys_ (1526), No. 2.

Consult SCHOFIELD, W. H., _The source and history of the seventh
novel of the seventh day in the Decameron_, in _Studies and Notes in
Philology and Literature_, vol. ii (Boston, 1893).



  _A woman, who had a very jealous husband, tied a thread to her
  great toe, by which she informed her lover whether he should come
  or not. The husband found it out, and whilst he was pursuing the
  lover, she put her maid in her place. He takes her to be his wife,
  beats her, cuts off her hair, and fetches his wife's relations,
  who find nothing of what he had told them, and load him with

Appeared in the _Cobler of Caunterburie_.



  _Lydia, the wife of Nicostratus, being in love with Pyrrhus, did
  three things which he had enjoined her, to convince him of her
  affection. She afterwards used some familiarities with him before
  her husband's face, making him believe that what he had seen was
  not real._



  _Two inhabitants of Siena love the same woman, one of whom was
  godfather to her son. This man dies, and returns, according to his
  promise, to his friend, and gives him an account of what is done in
  the other world._



_Subject of Tales._--Those tricks that daily woman plays man, or man
woman or one man another.



  _Gulfardo obtains from the wife of Guasparruolo a favour by giving
  her a sum of money. He borrows the money from her husband. He
  afterwards tells Guasparruolo, in her presence, that he had paid it
  to her, which she acknowledges to be true._

This is Chaucer's _Shipmanne's Tale_ or _Story of Don John_.



  _The priest of Varlungo receives favours from a woman of his
  parish, and leaves his cloak in pawn. He afterwards borrows a
  mortar of her, which he returns, and demands his cloak, which he
  says he left only as a token. She mutinies, but is forced by her
  husband to send it._

Against the clergy.

Consult TRIBOLATI, F., _La Belcolore: diporto letterario sulla
novella VII della giornata VIII del Decameron_, in _Borghini_, vol.
iii (1865).



  _Calandrino, Bruno, and Buffalmacco go to Mugnone, to look for the
  Heliotrope; and Calandrino returns laden with stones, supposing
  that he has found it. Upon this his wife scolds him, and he beats
  her for it; and then tells his companions what they knew better
  than himself._



  _The rector of Fiesole is in love with a lady who has no liking for
  him, and he, thinking that he is in bed with her, is all the time
  with her maid, and her brothers bring the bishop thither to witness

Against the clergy.

Appeared in the _Nachgeahunt_ of Whetsone (1583).



  _Three young sparks play a trick with a judge, whilst he is sitting
  upon the bench hearing causes._



  _Bruno and Buffalmacco steal a pig from Calandrino, and make a
  charm to find out the thief, with pills made of ginger and some
  sack; giving him, at the same time, pills made of aloes; thereby
  they make it appear that he had furtively sold the pig, and they
  make him pay handsomely, for fear they should tell his wife._

Consult GIANNINI, A., _Una fonte di una novella del B._, in
_Fanfulla della Domenica_, August 27, 1905. DRESCHER, K., _Zu
Boccaccios Novelle Dekam_, viii, 6, in _Studien zur vergleichende
Litteraturgeschichte_, vi (1906), fasc. 3.



  _A scholar loves a widow lady, Helena, who, being enamoured of
  another, makes him wait a whole night for her in the snow. The
  scholar, in order to be revenged, finds means in his turn to make
  the lady stand quite naked at the top of a tower for a night and a
  day, in the middle of July, exposed to flies, insects, and the sun._

Appeared in PAINTER'S _Palace of Pleasure_, ii, 31 (1567).



  _Two married men constantly meet together, when one of them sleeps
  with the wife of the other; which, that other discovering, agrees
  with the wife of the traitor to close him up in a chest, on which
  they together take their amusement._

Consult TRIBOLATI, F., _Commento sulla novella VIII della giornata
VIII del Decameron_, in _Poliziano_, vol. i (1892), No. 5.



  _Messer Simone, a doctor, having been conducted during the night to
  a certain place by Buffalmacco to make part of a company of rovers,
  is thrown by Buffalmacco into a filthy ditch and left there._



  _A Sicilian girl, by a ruse, cheats a merchant out of the money
  he has made at Palermo; afterwards he returns, pretending to have
  a larger stock of goods than before, borrows a large sum of money
  from her, and leaves her in security nothing but water and tow._

VIDAL BEV, _Boccacce et les docks et warrants_, in _Bulletin de
l'institut Égyptien_ (1883).






  _Madonna Francesca, beloved by a certain Rinuccio and a certain
  Alessandro, and not loving either of them, got rid of them
  cleverly, by making one of them enter a tomb as if he were dead,
  and sending the other to fetch him out, so that neither of them
  could accomplish their purpose._



  _An abbess going in haste, and in the dark, to surprise one of her
  nuns, instead of her veil puts on the priest's breeches. The lady
  accused makes a just remark upon this, and so escapes._

Against the Nuns.

Appeared in THOMAS TWYNE'S _Schoolmaster_ (1576), and WILLIAM
WARNER'S _Albion's England_ (1586-1592).



  _Messer Simone, at the instigation of Bruno, Buffalmacco, and
  Nello, makes Calandrino believe that he is with child. The
  last-named, in return for food and money, obtains a medicine from
  them, and is cured without being delivered._



  _Cecco Fortarrigo loses at play all the money he had of his own, as
  well as that of Cecco Angiulieri, his master; then he runs away in
  his shirt, and pretending that the other had robbed him, he has him
  taken hold of by the peasants; after which he put on his clothes,
  and rode away on the other's horse, leaving him in his shirt._



  _Calandrino is in love with a young girl; Bruno makes a written
  talisman for him, and tells him that as soon as he touches her she
  will follow him; Calandrino having got this from him, his wife
  surprises him and makes a great scene._



  _Two young gentlemen lodge at an inn. The one lies with the
  landlord's daughter, the other with his wife. He who has lain with
  the daughter gets into the father's bed afterwards, and tells him
  all about it, thinking it was his friend. A great noise is made in
  consequence. The landlord's wife, having gone into her daughter's
  bed, arranges everything in a few words._

Cf. _A Right Pleasaunt Historie of the Mylner of Abingdon_.

Consult VARNHAGEN, H., _Die Erzählung von der Wiege_, in _Englische
Studien_, vol. ix (1886), fasc. 2.



  _Talano of Molese dreams that his wife has her throat and face torn
  by a wolf. He warns her, but she refuses to follow his advice, the
  result being that what he had dreamed really happened._



  _Biondello jests at Ciacco's expense by giving him a bad dinner,
  after which Ciacco revenges himself by causing Biondello to be



  _Two young men ask advice from Solomon, the one in order to know
  how he can be loved, the other how he may correct his bad-tempered
  wife. He tells the first to love, and the other to go to the
  Geese's Bridge._

Consult IMBRIANI, V., _I consigli di Salamone_, in _Rivista Europea_,
n.s., vol. xxiii (1882), p. 37 _et seq._ BURDACH, K., _Zum Ursprung
der Salomo Sage_, in _Arch. für das Studium der neueren Sprachen und
Litteraturen_, cviii (1902), fasc. 1 and 3.



  _Dom Gianni, at the request of his friend Pietro, works an
  enchantment so as to change the latter into a mare. When he got as
  far as to attach the tail, Pietro, saying that he didn't want any
  tail, spoils the whole operation._

Against the monks.



_Subject._--Of such as in matters of love or otherwise have done
something with liberality or magnificence.



  _A certain knight in the service of the king of Spain thinks that
  he is not sufficiently rewarded. The king gives a remarkable proof
  that this was not his fault so much as the knight's bad luck, and
  afterwards nobly requites him._

Consult CHIARINI, G., _Le fonti del mercanti di Venezia_, in _Studi
Shakespearani_ (Livorno, 1897).



  _Ghino di Tacco makes the abbot of Cligni prisoner, and cures him
  of a stomach disease; then he gives him his liberty. The abbot, on
  his return to the Court of Rome, reconciles Ghino to Pope Boniface,
  and has him made prior of a hospital._

Consult HUTTON, E., _In Unknown Tuscany_, with notes by W. HEYWOOD
(Methuen, 1909), p. 101-11.



  _Mitridanes envies the generosity of Nathan and goes to kill him,
  when, conversing with him, but not knowing him, and being informed
  in what manner he may do the deed, he goes to meet him in a wood
  as Nathan had directed. There he recognises him, is ashamed, and
  becomes his friend._

Appeared in PAINTER'S _Palace of Pleasure_, ii (1567), No. 18.



  _Messer Gentile de' Carisendi, on his return from Modena, takes out
  of the grave a lady whom he had loved, and whom they had buried for
  dead. She recovers, and is delivered of a son, which he presents
  with the lady to her husband, Niccoluccio Caccianimico._

Appeared in PAINTER'S _Palace of Pleasure_, ii (1567), No. 19.



  _Madonna Dianora demands from Messer Ansaldo a garden as beautiful
  in January as in the month of May. Messer Ansaldo, by the help of
  necromancers, does it. Her husband gives him permission to put
  himself at the disposal of Messer Ansaldo. He, having heard of her
  husband's generosity, relieves her of her promise, and on his side
  the necromancer, without wishing anything from him holds Messer
  Ansaldo at quits._

Appeared in PAINTER'S _Palace of Pleasure_, ii (1567), No. 17.



  _King Charles the Victorious, when old, becomes enamoured of a
  young girl; ashamed of his foolish love, he marries her honourably
  like one of his sisters._



  _King Pietro, hearing that a lady was love-sick for him, makes her
  a visit, and marries her to a worthy gentleman; then kissing her
  forehead, calls himself ever afterwards her knight._

Consult CAPPELLETTI, L., _La Lisa e il re Pietro d' Aragona_, in
_Propugnatore_, vol. xi (1879), part ii, p. 108 _et seq._



  _Sophronia, believing herself to be the wife of Gisippus, is really
  married to Titus Quintius Fulvus, who takes her off to Rome.
  There Gisippus arrives some time afterwards in great distress,
  and thinking him despised by Titus, declares himself guilty of a
  murder, in order to put an end to his life. Titus recollects him,
  and to save him, accuses himself, which when the murderer sees, he
  delivers himself up as the guilty person. Finally, they are all set
  at liberty by Octavius, and Titus marries Gisippus to his sister,
  and gives him half his estate._

Appeared in _The History of Tytuse and Gesyppus_, out of the Latin by
WILLIAM WALLIS, (?) and in _The Boke of the Governors_, by Sir THOMAS
ELYOT, lib. ii, cap. xii (1531).

Consult WAGNER, C. P., _The sources of El Cavallero Cifar_, in _Revue
hispanique_, vol. x (1903), p. 4 _et seq._



  _Saladin, disguising himself like a merchant, is generously
  entertained by Messer Torello, who, going upon an expedition to the
  Holy Land, allowed his wife a certain time to marry again. In the
  meantime he is taken prisoner, and being employed to look after the
  hawks, is recognised by the Soldan, who shows him great respect.
  Afterwards Torello falls sick, and is conveyed by magic art, in one
  night, to Pavia, at the very time that his wife was to have been
  married; when he makes himself known to her, and returns with her

Appeared in PAINTER'S _Palace of Pleasure_, vol. ii (1567), No. 20.

Consult RAJNA, P., _La leggenda Boccaccesca del Saladino e di messer
Torello_, in _Romania_, vol. vi (1877), p. 349 _et seq._ LANDAU,
M., _La novella di messer Torello e le sue attinenze mitiche e
leggendarie_, in _Giornale stor. della Lett. Ital_., vol. ii (1883),
p. 52 _et seq._ IBID., _Le tradizioni giudaiche nella novellistica
italiana_, in _Giornale cit._, vol. i (1883), p. 535 _et seq._



  _The Marquis of Saluzzo, having been prevailed on by his subjects
  to marry, in order to please himself in the affair made choice of
  a countryman's daughter, by whom he had two children, which he
  pretended to put to death. Afterwards, seeming as though he was
  weary of her and had taken another, he had his own daughter brought
  home, as if he had espoused her; whilst he sent away his wife in
  a most distressed condition. At length, being convinced of her
  patience, he brought her home again, presented her children to her,
  who were now of considerable years, and ever loved and honoured her
  as a lady._

Appeared as _The Pleasant and Sweet History of Patient Grissel_
(s.a.), and again in 1619.

Consult TRIBOLATI, F., _La Griselda_ in _Borghini_, vol. iii (1865).
BUCHEIM, C. A., _Chaucer's Clerkes Tale and Petrarch's version of
the Griselda Story in Athenæum_, No. 3470 (1894). SIEFKEN, O.,
_Der Konstanze Griseldetypus in der englischen Litteratur bis auf
Shakespeare_ (Ruthenow, 1904). JUSSERAND, J. J., _Au tombeau de
Pétrarque_, in _Revue de Paris_ (July, 1896), pp. 92-119. SAVORINI,
L., _La Leggenda di Griselda_, in _Rivista Abruzzese_, vol. xv
(1900), p. 21 _et seq._



  Abraham, a Jew, i, 2

  Abruzzi, vi, 10

  Achaia, vii, 9

  Acre, fair of, ii, 9

  Adriano, ix, 6

  Adulterous wife, way of dealing with, vii, 8

  Adultery, defence of, vi, 7
    distinction between, and prostitution, vi, 7; viii, 1
    night with wife sold for 500 florins, vi, 3

  Agilulf, King of Lombards, iii, 2

  Agnese, Madonna, vii, 3

  Agnesa, v, 5

  Agnolella, v, 3

  Agolante de' Lamberti, ii, 3

  Alatiel, daughter of Beminedab, ii, 7

  Alba, ii, 9

  Alberto of Bologna, physician, i, 10

  Alessandro Chiarmontesi, ix, 1

  Alessandro de' Lamberti, ii, 3

  Alesso Rinucci, vi, 3

  Alexandria, ii, 6; ii, 7; ii, 9; x, 9

  Alexis, St., chant of, vii, 1

  Algarve, King of, ii, 7

  Alibech, iii, 10

  Alps, x, 9

  Altopascio, abbey near Lucca, vi, 10

  Amalfi (see Salerno), iv, 10

  Ambruogia Madonna, wife of Guasparruolo Cagastraccio, viii, 1

  Ambruogio Anselmini of Siena, vii, 10

  Ambrogiuolo da Piacenza, ii, 9

  Amerigo, Abate da Trapani, v, 7

  Anagni, v, 3

  Ancona, iii, 7
    March of, ix, 4

  Andreuola, iv, 6

  Andreuccio di Pietro da Perugia, ii, 5

  Anichino _alias_ Lodovico, vii, 7

  Animals, love of, ii, 6

  Ansaldo Gradense, x, 5

  Antigonio of Formagosta, ii, 7

  Antioch, ix, 6

  Antioco, dependant of Osbech, king of Turks, ii, 7

  Antonio d' Orso, Bp. of Florence, vi, 3

  Apulia, x, 6
    fairs of, ix, 10
    holy places of, ii, 6

  Aquamorta, ii, 7

  Aragon, King Peter of, ii, 6; x, 7
    Queen of, x, 7

  Arcite and Palamon, Dioneo and Fiammetta sing of, vii, 10

  Arezzo, vii, 4

  Argos, vii, 9

  Aristippus, v, 1

  Aristippus, philosopher, x, 8

  Aristotle, vi, 10

  Armenia, ii, 7; v, 7

  Arno, vi, 2; viii, 9

  Arrighetto Capece of Naples, ii, 6

  Arrigo, a German, ii, 1

  Atheism imputed to Guido de' Cavalcanti, vi, 9

  Athens, ii, 7; x, 8
    Duke of, ii, 7

  Atticciato, iv, 7

  Aubade, v, 3

  Authari, King of Lombards, iii, 2

  Avicenna, viii, 9

  Avignon, viii, 2

  Azzo da Ferrara, Marquis, ii, 2

  Babylon, Soldan of, x, 9

  Bachi, mountains of the, vi, 10

  Baffa, ii, 7

  Bagnio, lady goes to, without distress, iii, 6

  Balducci, Filippo, iv, Introd.

  Barbanicchi, my lady of the, viii, 9

  Barbary, iv, 4; v, 2

  Barletta, ix, 10

  Baronci, the, of S. M. Maggiore, vi, 6

  "Baroncio a," vi, 5

  Baroni, the, vi, 10

  Bartolommea di Lotto Gualandi, ii, 10

  Basano, King of Cappadocia, ii, 7

  Basil, the pot of, iv, 5

  Basques, viii, 3
    Queen of, viii, 9

  Baths, men and women use same water, ii, 2
    women bathe on Saturday, ii, 10

  Battledore, Lady, _alias_ Lackbrain, Featherbrain, Vanity, Slender-Wit.
        (See Lisetta da Ca' Quirino.)

  Beatrice Madonna, wife of Egano de' Galluzzi, vii, 7

  Belcolore Monna, viii, 2

  Belfry-Breeches, vii, 8

  Beminedab, Soldan of Babylon, ii, 7

  Benedict, St., house of, iii, 4

  Benevento, Battle of, ii, 6

  Bengodi (see Berlinzone), viii, 3

  Beritola Caracciola, ii, 9

  Bergamina, viii, 9

  Bergamino, a jester, i, 7

  Berlinghieri Arriguccio, vii, 8

  Berlinzone, viii, 3; viii, 9

  Bernabò Lanellin, Genoese, merchant, ii, 9

  Bernabuccio, v, 5

  Bernard, St., lament of, vii, 1

  Bertelle, youngest daughter of Narnald Cluada, iv, 3

  Berto della Massa, iv, 2

  Betto Brunelleschi, vi, 9

  Biagio Pizzini, vi, 10

  Bible quoted, iii, 7

  Biliuzza, viii, 2

  Binguccio dal Poggio, viii, 2

  Biondello, ix, 8

  Birds in Tuscany, vii, Introd.

  Boccaccio's poverty, iv, Introd.
    defence of illicit love, iii, 7

  Boccamazza Pietro, v, 3

  Body-snatching in Naples, ii, 5

  Bologna i, 10; iii, 8; vii, 7; viii, 9; x, 4; x, 10

  Bologna, praise of ladies of, vii, 7

  Brescia, iv, 6

  Bridge of Greese, ix, 9

  Brigantine, a, iv, 3

  Brindisi, ii, 4

  Bruges, ii, 3

  Brunetta, vi, 4

  Bruno, a painter, viii, 3; viii, 6; viii, 9; ix, 3; ix, 5

  Buffalmacco, a painter, viii, 3; viii, 6; viii, 9; ix, 3; ix, 5

  Buffia, the land of, vi, 10

  Buglietto, viii, 2

  Buonaccorri da Ginestreto, Ser, viii, 2

  Buonconvento, ix, 4

  Burgundians, wickedness of, i, 1

  Cacavincigli, viii, 9

  Calabria, v, 6

  Calais, ii, 8

  Calandrino, a painter, viii, 3; viii, 6; viii, 9; ix, 3; ix, 5

  Camaldoli, ix, 5

  Camerata (under Fiesole), vii, 1; ix, 5

  Campi, v, 9

  Candia, iv, 3

  Capsa (Tunis), iii, 10

  Carapresa, v, 1

  Carthage, iv, 4

  Casolan apple, iii, 4

  Cassandra, v, 1

  Castel Guglielmo, ii, 2

  Castello da Mare di Stabia, x, 6

  Catalina Madonna, x, 4

  Catella, iii, 6

  Caterina di Lizio, v, 4

  Cathay, x, 3

  Cavalcanti Guido, iv, Introd.; vi, 9

  Cecco, son of Angiulieri, ix, 4

  Cecco, son of Fortarrigo, ix, 4

  Cephalonia, island of, ii, 4

  Cerchi, Vieri de, ix, 8

  Certaldo, vi, 10

  Charles, King, the victorious, x, 6

  Chastity, Neifile on, viii, 1

  Chattilon, Sieur de, vi, 10

  Chremes, x, 8

  Chess, iii, 10

  Chiassi (near Ravenna), v, 8

  Chichibio, a cook, vi, 4

  Chios, ii, 7

  Ciacco, the glutton, ix, 8

  Ciapperello da Prato, i, 1

  Cicale, v, 4; v, 10

  Ciesca, niece of Fresco da Celatico, vi, 8

  Cimon. (See Galesus.)

  Cino da Pistoia, iv, Introd.

  Cipseus, father of Iphigenia, v, 1

  Cisti, the baker, vi, 2

  Ciuriaci, chamberlain to the Prince of Morea, ii, 7

  Ciuta, maid to Monica Piccarda, viii, 4

  Civellari, Countess of, viii, 9

  Clergy, corruption of, i, 6 and 7; iii, 7; viii, 2 and 4
    gluttony of, i, 2
    live by alms, iii, 4
    simony of, i, 2

  Cluny, Abbot of, i, 7; x, 2

  Compline, iii, 4

  Confession of the dying, i, 1

  Constantine and Manuel, nephews of Emperor of Constantinople, ii, 7

  Constantinople, iii, 7

  Coppo di Borghese Domenichi, v, 9

  Corfù, ii, 4

  Corsairs, Genoese, v, 7

  Corsignano, ix, 4

  Corso Donati, ix, 8

  Crete, iv, 3; v, 1; x, 9
    Duke of, iv, 3

  Crivello, v, 5

  Crucifixion, punishment of, x, 8

  Currado Gianfigliazzi, vi, 4
    King of Sicily's lieutenant, v, 7
    de' Malespini, ii, 6

  Customs, old Florentine, vi, 9

  Cypriotes, the, histories of, v, 1

  Cyprus, i, 9; ii, 4; ii, 7; iii, 7; v, 1
    merchants of, x, 9

  Dante, iv, Introd.

  Dead, return of, vii, 10

  Dego della Ratta, vi, 3

  _Decameron_, Boccaccio's defence of, iv, Introd. and Epilogue
    contemporary opinion of, iv, Introd. and Epilogue
    ladies of, Proem
      effect of Dioneo's most licentious tale on, iii, 3
      Fiammetta's story, iii, 6
      her gravity and severe manner, iii, 5
      Filomena's cynical prayer, iii, 3

  Dentistry, vii, 9

  Dianora, Madonna, x, 5

  Dining, water served for hands, i, 7

  Dogana, viii, 10

  Dominic, St., vii, 3

  "Don Meta," viii, 9

  Dreams, iv, 6

  Egano de' Galluzzi, vii, 7

  Egina, ii, 7

  Egypt, x, 9

  Elena, viii, 7

  Encarch, a Catalan, ii, 9

  England, ii, 3; ii, 8

  England, Barons of, borrow from Lombards, ii, 3
    daughter of King, disguised as abbot, ii, 3
    fair ladies of, vii, 7
    King of, ii, 3
    Queen of, viii, 9

  Epicureans, vi, 9

  Epicurus, i, 6

  Ercolano, v, 10

  Ermellina, wife of Aldobrandino Palermini, iii, 7

  Fableaux, French, iii, 10

  Faenza, v, 5

  Fano, v, 5

  Fast Days, Friday and Saturday, wearying therefore, Proem, ii, 10

  Faziuolo da Pontremoli, iii, 7

  Federigo di Filippo Alberighi, v, 9

  Federigo di Neri Perlgolotti, i, 7

  Felice, Dom, iii, 4

  Ferondo, iii, 8

  Ferrara, viii, 10

  Fiammetta, description of, iv, 10
    her knowledge of the evils of Naples, ii, 5

  Fiesole, viii, 4
    pardoning at, vii, 1

  Filippa, wife of Rinaldo de' Pugliesi, vi, 7

  Filippello Fighinolfi, iii, 6

  Filippo, son of Niccolò Comacchini, ix, 5

  Filippo Argenti, ix, 8

  Filippo Minutolo, Archbp. of Naples, ii, 5

  Filippo Santodeccio _alias_ Tedaldo Elisei, _q.v._

  Fineo of Armenia, v, 7

  Fiordaliso, Madonna, ii, 5

  Fire, death by, v, 6
    penalty of murder, iv, 7

  Fire-ship, use of, iv, 4

  Flagellants (Battuti), iii, 4

  Flanders, iv, 2

  Florence, iii, 7; iii, 9; iv, 7; v, 9; vi, 2; vi, 3; vii, 6; viii, 7;
        ix, 8
    account of, iii, 7
    Fra Cipolla's journey in, vi, 10
    Podestas of, from the Marche, viii, 5
    rich in humanity, iii, 6
    wiles abound in, iii, 3
    Algarve, vi, 10
    Baldacca, inn at, vi, 10
    Borgo de' Greci, vi, 10
    Corso degli Adimari, vi, 9
    S. Croce, i, 6
    S. Giovanni, viii, 3
      tombs around, vi, 9
    Loggia de' Cavicciuli, ix, 8
    Macino, viii, 3
    S. Maria Novella, Proem, viii, 9
    S. Maria della Scala, viii, 9
    S. Maria a Verzaia, viii, 5
    Mercato Vecchio, ix, 3
    Ognissanti, field of, viii, 9
    Or San Michele, vi, 9
    S. Pancrazio, iii, 4
      quarter of, vii, 1
    S. Paolo, iv, 7
    Parione, vi, 10
    Plague in, Proem
    Porta a S. Gallo, viii, 3
    Porta S. Piero, vi, 3
    S. Reparata, vi, 9
    Ripoli, convent of the ladies of, viii, 9
    Sardinia (a suburb), vi, 10
    Via del Cocomero, viii, 9

  Florentine customs, vi, 17. (See Palio and under Camerata.)

  Florin, iii, 3

  Forese da Rabatta, vi, 5

  Forlimpopoli, viii, 9

  Fortune in love, its results, iii, 7

  Foulques, iv, 3

  Fra Alberto da Imola. (See Berto della Massa.)

  Fra Cipolla, vi, 10

  Fra Nastagio, iii, 4

  Fra Rinaldo, vii, 3; vii, 10

  France (as opposed to Provence), iv, 9
    blood royal of, vi, 8
    fair ladies of, vii, 7
    King of, iii, 9; vii, 7; x, 9
    Queen of, viii, 9

  Francesca de' Lazzari, ix, 1

  S. Francis, iv, 2; vii, 3
    Order of, iii, 4. (See also Puccio de' Rinieri for a Tertiary called

  Frederic, Emperor, v, 5; x, 9
    Second, i, 7; ii, 5; ii, 6; v, 6

  Fresco da Celatico, vi, 8

  Friar of S. Anthony, vi, 10

  Friars admitted freely to prisoners, iii, 7
    attacks on, i, 1 and 2; iii, 3 and 10; iv, 2; vii, 7
    character of, iii, 7
    dirtiness of, iv, 2
    executors of wills, iv, 2
    hypocrisy of, iv, 2
    immorality of, with nuns, iii, 7, and elsewhere
    meanness of, i, 6; i, 7
    Minor, i, 6; viii, 9
    old and new, iii, 7
    power over women, iii, 7
    rapacity of, iii, 3
    tricks of, iv, 2
    truth about. (See _Epilogue_.)

  Friars, vanity of, iii, 7
    wickedness of, iii, 7

  Friuli, x, 5

  Fulvia, x, 8

  Fulvus, Titus Quintius, x, 8

  Gabriel, St., Archangel, iv, 2
    feathers of, vi, 10

  Gabriotto, iv, 6

  Gaeta, beauty of coast thence to Reggio, ii, 4

  Galen, i, 6

  Galeone, vi, 2

  Galesus (or Cimon), v, 1

  Gangrene, iv, 10

  Garden, songs in, by torchlight, iii, 10
    love scene in, iv, 7, _et passim_

  Gautier, Count of Antwerp, ii, 8

  Gemmata, ix, 10

  Genoa, i, 5; i, 8; ii, 6; ii, 9; iii, 3; iv, 3; viii, 1
    nobility of, i, 8

  Genoese carracks, piracy by, ii, 4

  Gentile Carisendi, x, 4

  Gerard of Narbonne, iii, 9

  Gerbino, grandson of Guglielmo, of Sicily, iv, 4

  Geri Spina, vi, 1; vi, 2

  German guards, ii, 1

  Germans, disloyalty of, viii, 1

  Gherardo di Bonsi, vi, 10

  Ghibelline, some of the seven ladies were, x, 8

  Ghino di Tacco, x, 2

  Ghismonda, daughter of Tancred, Prince of Salerno, iv, 1
    her defence of love, iv, 1

  Ghita, Monna, vii, 4

  Giacomina, v, 4

  Giacomino da Pavia, v, 5

  Gian di Procida, ii, 6

  Giannello Sirignario, vii, 2

  Gianni, v, 6

  Gianni di Barolo, Dom, x, 10

  Gianni Lotteringhi, master spinner, vii, 1

  Gianni di Nello of Porta S. Piero, vii, 1

  Giannole di Severino, v, 5

  Giannucolo, father of Griselda, x, 10

  Gigliuozzo Saullo, v, 3

  Giliberto, x, 5

  Gillette of Narbonne, iii, 9

  Ginevra the Fair, x, 6

  Giosefo, ix, 9

  Giotto, vi, 5

  Giovanna, v, 9

  S. Giovanni, vi, 3

  Giovanni del Bragoniera, vi, 10

  Giovanni Gualberto, San, iii, 4

  Girolamo di Leonardo Sighieri, iv, 8

  Gisippus, x, 8

  Giusfredi, ii, 6

  Gostanza, v, 2
    daughter of Guglielmo of Sicily, iv, 4

  Granada, King of, iv, 4

  Grassa the tripe woman, viii, 5

  S. Gregory, his forty masses, iii, 3

  Grignano, Niccolò da, ii, 6

  Grimaldi, Ermino de', i, 8

  Griselda, x, 10

  Guasparrino d' Oria of Genoa, ii, 6

  Guasparruolo da Saliceto, viii, 9

  Guccio Imbrata, iv, 7; vi, 10

  Guglielmo, King of Sicily, v, 7
    II, King of Sicily, iv, 4
    Borsiere, jester, i, 8
    della Magna, x, 6
    da Medicina, v, 5
    and the Lady of Vergiù, iii, 10

  Guidi, the Counts, vii, 8

  Guido degli Anastagi, v, 8

  Guidotto da Cremona, v, 5

  Guillaume de Cabestaing, iv, 9

  Guiscardo, iv, 1

  Gulfardo, German mercenary, viii, 1

  Hawking, vi, 4

  Holy Land, vi, 10

  Holy Sepulchre, iii, 7; vii, 7

  Hormisdas, v, 1

  Horse, buying a, iii, 5

  Hugnes, iv, 3

  Husband as confessor, vii, 5

  Immorality, abbot's excuse for, iii, 8
    Filomena's prayer, iii, 3
    of the times, Epilogue, vi, 10

  Imola, vi, 2

  India, vi, 10

  Inns, iii, 7

  Inquisition, i, 6

  "Intemerata," vii, 1

  Iphigenia, v, 1

  Ippocrasso, viii, 9

  Ireland, ii, 8
    life in, "a very sorry suffering sort of life," ii, 8
    Stamford in, ii, 8

  Irony of Boccaccio against the Church, i, 2, _et passim_

  Isabella, vii, 6

  Isabetta, ix, 2
    wife of Puccio de' Rinieri, _q.v._

  Ischia, v, 6

  Isotta the Blonde, x, 6

  Jacques Lamiens. (See Violante, daughter of Gautier.)

  Jancofiore, viii, 10

  Jasmine blossom, viii, 10

  Jealousy, vii, 5

  Jehannot de Chevigny, i, 11

  Jerusalem, ix, 9
    relics in, vi, 10

  Jesters in Boccaccio's day, i, 8
    their business of old, i, 8

  Klarenza, ii, 7

  Knight of the Bath, viii, 9

  Lagina, iv, 7

  Lamberto de' Lamberti, ii, 3

  Lambertuccio, vii, 6

  Lamentations of the Magdalen, a devotion, iii, 4

  Lamporecchio, iii, 1

  Landolfo di Procida, v, 6

  Landolfo Ruffolo, ii, 4

  Lapuccio, viii, 2

  Laterina, viii, 9

  Latin spoken by poor women, v, 2

  Lauds, iii, 3

  Laud-singers of S. Maria Novella, vii, 1

  S. Laurence, vi, 10

  Law, injustice of, to women, vi, 7

  Lawyers, wickedness of, i, 1

  Lazistan, v, 7; ix, 9

  Lazzarino de' Guazzagliotri, vi, 7

  Legnaia, viii, 9

  Leonardo Sighieri, iv, 8

  Leonetto, vii, 6

  Lerici, ii, 6

  Levant, the, iii, 8; v, 7

  Licisca, a servant, Introd. to, vi, 10

  Liello di Campo di Fiore, v, 3

  Lipari Islands, ii, 6; v, 2
    women of, sailors, v, 2

  Lippo Iopo, painter, vi, 10

  Lisa, x, 7

  Lisabetta, iv, 5

  Lisetta da Ca' Quirino, iv, 2

  Lizio da Valbona, v, 4

  Lo Scacciato, ii, 6

  Lodovico _alias_ Anichino, vii, 7

  "Lombard Dogs," i, 1

  Lombards, i.e. Italian merchants, bankers, i, 1
    in London, ii, 3
    one marries daughter of King of England, ii, 3
    usury of, ii, 3

  Lombardy, ix, 2; x, 9

  London, ii, 8; iii, 2

  Lorenzo of Pisa, iv, 5

  Lotto, second-hand dealer, viii, 2

  Louis, son of Gautier, ii, 8

  Love, cause of death, iv, 8
    great humaniser, v, 1
    lovers pleading, iii, 5
    making, a strange, iii, 5
    may not be held in partnership like money, ii, 7
    to be loved, ix, 9

  Lunigiana, i, 4; ii, 6; iii, 7

  Lusca, vii, 9

  Lydia, vii, 9

  Lysimachus, v, 1

  Madeleine, twin sister of Ninette, iv, 3

  Maffeo da Palizza, x, 6

  Magistrates, mistaken zeal of, xii, 7
    trick against, viii, 5

  Magra, the, ii, 6

  Majorca, ii, 7

  Malagevole, iv, 7

  Malgherida de' Ghisolieri, i, 10

  Manfred, ii, 6; x, 6

  Mangione, ix, 5

  Manico di Scopa, viii, 9

  Mannuccio della Cuculla, vii, 1

  Marato, brother of Pericone, ii, 7

  Marches, viii, 5

  Marchese, Florentine actor, ii, 1

  Marcus Varro, x, 8

  Maremma, iv, 2
    "in the world and in ----," vi, 6

  Margarita, ix, 7

  Maria Bolgaro, v, 6

  Mariabdela, King of Tunis, v, 2

  Marriage, early age of, ii, 6; iv, 3
    in bed, ii, 3
    merchant's idea of a perfect, ii, 9
    without a priest, v, 4

  Marseilles, iv, 3

  Martellino, Florentine actor, ii, 1

  Martuccio Gomito, v, 2

  Masetto, iii, 1

  Masetto da Lamporecchio, iii, 10

  Maso del Saggio, vi, 10; viii, 3

  Matilda, Lady, her laud, vii, 1

  Matteuzzo, viii, 5

  Mattins, iii, 3; iii, 4; iii, 8

  Melchisedec, i, 3

  Melisso, ix, 9

  Menzogna, land of, vi, 10

  Merchants of Italy, ii, 6; and see Lombards
    hatred of, i, 2
    think by marriage to have gentility, vii, 8

  Messina, iv, 4; iv, 5; viii, 10

  Meuccio di Tura, vii, 10

  Michele Scalza, vi, 6

  Mico da Siena, poet, x, 7

  Milan, iii, 5; viii, 1; x, 9

  "Milanese fashion" (to find a coarse moral in a tale), iii, 4

  Minerva, v, 6

  Minghino di Mingole, v, 5

  Minuccio d' Arezzo, x, 7

  Mita, Monna, vii, 10

  Mitridanes, x, 3

  Modena, x, 4

  Monaco, ii, 10
    pirates of, viii, 10

  Monferrato, Marquis of, i, 5

  Monks attacked, i, 4; iii, 4; iii, 8; ix, 10

  Mont' Ughi, vi, 6

  Monte Asinaio, iv, Introd.

  Monte Morello, vi, 10; viii, 3

  Monte Nero, ii, 10

  Montesone, cross of, viii, 9

  Montfort, Guy de, x, 6

  Montisci, viii, 3

  Morality, _passim_. (See ii, 9.) Boccaccio emphasises the base view
        of women. The whole story is told to this end, and the ladies
        themselves endorse this view. (See ii, 10.)
    in merchant class, ii, 9

  Morea, ii, 7
    Prince of, ii, 7

  Mother-in-law's tirade, vii, 8

  Mourning, Florentine fashion of, iv, 8

  Mugnone, viii, 3; ix, 6

  Murderers beheaded in place of crime, iii, 7

  Musciatto, Franzesi, i, 1

  Musical boxes in beds of lovers, viii, 10

  Naldino, v, 2

  Naples, ii, 5; iii, 6; iv, 5; v, 6; vii, 2; viii, 10
    arrival in, on Sunday eve at vespers, ii, 5
    Bagnio in, iii, 6

  Naples, body-snatching in, ii, 5
    Charles I of, ii, 6
    Charles II of, ii, 5
    dangers of evil quarters in, ii, 5
    loveliest city in Italy, iii, 6
    mistress tricked into love in, iii, 6
    Ruga Catalina, ii, 5
    summer pleasures of, iii, 6
    tilting, jousting at, iii, 6
    Via Avorio, vii, 2

  Narnald Cluada, iv, 3

  Narsia, viii, 9

  Nastagio degli Onesti, v, 8

  Nathan, x, 3

  Neerbale, iii, 10

  Negro da Ponte Carraro, iv, 6

  Nello, painter, ix, 3; ix, 5

  Neri Mannini, vi, 6

  Niccola da Cignano, viii, 10

  Niccola da S. Lepidio, viii, 5

  Niccolò Comacchini, ix, 5

  Niccolosa, ix, 5; ix, 6

  Niccoluccio Caccianimico, x, 4

  Nicostratus of Argos, vii, 9

  Nightingales, v, 4; vi, Epilogue

  Ninette, iv, 3

  Noble birth, Boccaccio's admiration of, iii, 7

  Nones, iii, 6; v, Introd., vi, 10

  Nonmiblasmetesevoipiace, Father, Patriarch of Jerusalem, vi, 10

  Nonna de' Pulci, vi, 3

  Nornieca, viii, 9

  Nuns attacked, iii, 1 and 7; ix, 2

  Nuta, vi, 10

  Nuto Buglietti, viii, 2

  Nuto, a gardener, iii, 1

  Octavianus Cæsar, x, 8

  Octroi officers vexatious people, viii, 3

  Old Man of the Mountain, iii, 8

  Orange blossom, viii, 10

  Oretta, Madonna, vi, 1

  Orsini, v, 3

  Osbech, king of Turks, ii, 7

  Paganino da Mare, a corsair, ii, 10

  Palermini, Aldobrandino, iii, 7
    Rinuccio, ix, 1

  Palermo, ii, 5; iv, 4; v, 6; viii, 10; x, 7

  Palio in Florence, the, vi, 3

  Panago, the Counts of, x, 10

  Paris, i, 1; i, 2; i, 7; ii, 8; ii, 9; iii, 9; iv, 8; vii, 7; viii, 7;
        viii, 9

  Pasignano, the most holy god of, vii, 9

  Pasimondas the Rhodian, v, 1

  Pasquino, iv, 7

  Paternoster, S. Julian's, ii, 2

  Pavia, iii, 2; x, 9
    S. Piero in Ciel d' Oro, x, 9

  Penance, a curious, iii, 4

  Peretola, vi, 4; viii, 9

  Pericone da Visalgo, ii, 7

  Peronella, vii, 2

  Perrot, ii, 8

  Persia, x, 4

  Perugia, ii, 5; v, 10

  Philippe le Borgne, i, 5

  Pietro di Vinciolo, of Perugia, v, 10

  Picardy, ii, 8

  Piccarda, Monna, viii, 4

  Piero di Fiorentino, vi, 6

  Pietro. (See Teodoro.)

  Pietro del Canigiano, viii, 10

  Pineta of Ravenna, the, v, 8

  Pinuccio, ix, 6

  Piracy, ii, 10

  Pirates, Italian, ii, 4

  Pisa, ii, 10; viii, 10

  Pisa, women of (ugly), ii, 10

  Pistoia, iii, 5; ix, 1
    church of Friars Minor, ix, 1

  Podestà, power of, ii, 1

  Poison, iv, 1; iv, 3

  Ponza, island of, ii, 6

  Pope, v, 7
    Boniface, ii, 6; ii, 10

  Porcellana, privileges of, vi, 10

  Poverty no bar to _gentilesse_, iv, 1

  Prato, vii, 7
    S. Lucia di, viii, 7

  Prester John, viii, 9

  Priest, a body-snatcher, ii, 5
    concerned in pig-stealing, viii, 6

  Priests, Belcolore's verdict on, viii, 2
    great pesterers of women, viii, 4
    and village life, viii, 2
    wrongers of husbands, viii, 2

  Primasso the grammarian, i, 7

  Procida, v, 6

  Provençals = Troubadours, iv, 9

  Provence, iv, 3

  "Psalter, the" = a nun's veil, ix, 2

  Publius, Quintis Fulvus, x, 8

  Puccini, Bernardo, x, 7

  Puccino. (See Stramba.)

  Puccio, Fra. (See Puccio de' Rinieri.)

  Puccio de' Rinieri, iii, 4

  Purgatory, iii, 8

  Pyrrhus, vii, 9

  Quintillian, vi, 10

  Radicofani, x, 2

  Ragnolo, Braghiello, iii, 8

  Ravello, ii, 4

  Ravenna, v, 8

  Ravenna, every day a saint's day in, ii, 10
    women of, easy lovers, v, 8

  Reconstruction, crime of, iv, 7

  Relics, vi, 10

  Religious (friars), stupidity of, iii, 4
    incapable of earning a livelihood, iii, 3
    reasons for retirement from world, iii, 3
    vanity of, iii, 3

  Restagnon, iv, 3

  Restituta, v, 6

  Rhodes, ii, 7; iv, 3; v, i

  Ribi, viii, 5

  Ricciardo di Chinzica, judge of Pisa, ii, 10; iv, 10

  Ricciardo de' Manardi da Bertinoro, v, 4

  Ricciardo Minutolo of Naples, iii, 6

  Ricciardo of Pistoia, called Zima, iii, 5

  Rimini, vii, 5

  Rinaldo d' Asti, ii, 2

  Rinaldo de' Pugliesi, vi, 7

  Rinieri, viii, 7

  Robbery, highway, ii, 2

  Romagna, v, 4; v, 8; ix, 6
    cloth of, vi, 5

  Rome, v, 3
    bears and wolves near, v, 3
    country around, state of, in Boccaccio's day, v, 3
    deserted during papal exile, v, 3
    faction in, v, 3

  Romeo and Juliet. (See Sleeping potion.)

  Rose water, viii, 10

  Roses, white and red, iv, 6

  Roussillon, Bertrand de, iii, 9

  Roussillon, Guillaume de, iv, 9
    Isnard de, iii, 9

  Ruberto, King, vi, 3
    lover of Sismonda, vii, 8

  Ruggieri de' Figiovanni, x, 1

  Ruggieri, son of Guglielmo of Sicily, iv, 4

  Ruggieri da Jeroli, iv, 10

  Ruggieri dell' Oria, v, 6

  Rustico, iii, 10

  Sage-bush, poisonous, iv, 7 (See Toad.)

  Saint, scene at shrine of, ii, 1
    how to become a, iii, 4

  Saladin, i, 3; x, 9

  Salerno, iv, 1; iv, 10
    basil of, iv, 5
    beauty of, ii, 4
    fair of, viii, 10

  Saluzzo, x, 10
    Marquis Gualtieri of, x, 10

  Salvestra, iv, 8

  San Gallo, near Florence, pardoning at, iv, 7
    Lucifer of, viii, 9

  San Gimignano, iv, 5

  Sandro Agolanti, ii, 1

  Santa Fiora, Counts of, x, 2

  Saracens, iv, 4
    ships of the, v, 2

  Sardinia, ii, 7; iii, 8; iv, 4

  Saturday is holy after One, i, 1

  Scala, Cane della, i, 7

  Scalea in Calabria, v, 6

  Scannadio, ix, 1

  Scarabone Buttafuoco, house of (a dangerous brothel), ii, 5

  Scholars a match for the devil, viii, 7
    rash for woman to try conclusions with, viii, 7

  Scotland, King of, ii, 3

  Scott, Michael, viii, 9

  Seneca, vi, 10

  Settignano, viii, 3

  Sicilian vespers, ii, 6

  Sicily, iv, 4; v, 2; v, 7; x, 9
    French in, x, 7

  Sicofante and his wife, vi, Introd.

  Siena, vii, 3; vii, 8; ix, 4; x, 2
    S. Ambrose of, vii, 3
    Camollia di, viii, 8
    Campo Reggi, vii, 10
    Porta Salaia, vii, 10

  Sienese, simplicity of the, vii, 10

  Simona, iv, 7

  Simone, a doctor, ix, 3
    da Villa, viii, 9

  Sinigaglia, unhealthiness of, in summer, viii, 3

  Sismonda, Monna, vii, 8

  Sleeping potion used by abbot, iii, 8

  Smyrna, ii, 7

  Sodomy, i, 1; v, 10
    of clergy, i, 2

  Soldan, consort of, viii, 9

  Solomon, vi, 10; ix, 9

  Sophronia, x, 8

  Spain, iv, 3; x, 1. (See also Basques.)
    Alfonso of, x, 1

  Spina, daughter of Currado de' Malaspina, ii, 8

  Spinelloccio Tanena, viii, 8

  Spinning, iv, 7

  Spitting in church, i, 1

  Squacchera, viii, 9

  Stadic, the (chief of police in Naples), iv, 10

  Stake erected in Piazza at Palermo, v, 6

  Stecchi, an actor, ii, 1

  Stramba _alias_ Puccino, iv, 7

  Strappado, the, ii, 1; iii, 2

  Sunday observance, i, 1

  Supper in garden, iii, 10

  Susa, v, 2

  Talano di Molese, ix, 7

  Tamignano della Porta, viii, 9

  Tancred, Prince of Salerno, iv, 1

  "Te lucis ante terminum," vii, 1

  Tedaldo Elisei, iii, 7

  Tedaldo de' Lamberti, ii, 3

  Teodoro, v, 7

  Tessa, Monna, wife of Gianni Lotteringhi, vii, 1
      wife of Caladrino, viii, 3; viii, 6; viii, 9; ix, 3; ix, 5

  Thebaid desert, iii, 10

  Theodelinde, wife of Agilulf, King of Lombardy, iii, 2

  Tierce, Proem; iv, 10; v, 3; v, 6; v, 7; viii, 8

  Tilt and joust in honour of mistresses, iii, 5; iii, 6

  Tingoccio Mini, vii, 10

  Toad poisonous, iv, 7

  Tofano, vii, 4

  Torello d' Istria da Pavia, x, 9

  Torrenieri, ix, 4

  Torture, ii, 3; ii, 9; iv, 10; v, 7. (See also Strappado.)

  Trani, ii, 4

  Trapani, v, 2; v, 7

  Travelling in fourteenth century (from England to Rome), ii, 3

  Traversari, Paolo, v, 8

  Trecca, viii, 5

  Tresanti, Pietro da, ix, 10

  Treviso, ii, 1

  Trial of bread and cheese, viii, 6

  _Troilus and Cressida_, vi, Introd.

  Trudaro, vi, Introd.

  Truffia, land of, vi, 10

  Tunis, iv, 4; v, 2
    King of, iv, 4

  Uberti, Neri degli, x, 6

  Udine, x, 5

  Ughi, S. Maria, vi, 2

  Usimbalda, Abbess, ix, 2

  Ustica island, iv, 4

  Usury, i, 1
    reviled by the people, i, 1

  Val d' Arno, viii, 7

  Val d' Elsa, vi, 10

  Valle delle Donne, vi, 10, Epilogue

  Varlungo, near Florence, viii, 2

  Venetians all unstable, iv, 2

  Venial sins quit by holy water, iii, 4

  Venice, vi, 10
    common sink of abomination, iv, 2
    Grand Canal, iv, 2
    Piazza di S. Marco, iv, 2
    Rialto, iv, 2

  "Verdiana Santa," v, 10

  Vergellesi, Francesco dei, iii, 5

  Vespers, iii, 4; v, 2; v, 3; x, 7
    and a surgical operation, iv, 10

  Villa Cuba, v, 6

  Villeggiatura, v, 9

  Violante, v, 7
    daughter of Gautier, ii, 8

  Wales, ii, 8

  Washing hands before dining, ii, 2

  Wax images as votive offerings, vii, 3

  Were-wolf, ix, 7

  Whipping of women servants, vi, Introd.

  Wine, Greek, ii, 8
    Vernaccia, ii, 10

  Wit, vi, 3

  Wives, partnership in, viii, 9

  Women, an old woman's advice to, v, 10
    attack on, vii, 7
    Boccaccio dedicated to them from boyhood, iv, Introd.
    Boccaccio's defence of a love of, iv, Introd.
    cause of Boccaccio's verses, iv, Introd.
    excuses for taking lovers, iii, 5
    frailty of, ix, 9
    honour intact until they sell their love, viii, 1
    injustice of law to, vi, 7
    obedience to their husbands, iii, 6
    occupations of, iii, Prelim.
    sleep naked, ii, 9

  Wool trade, iv, 7

  Zeppa di Mino, viii, 8

  Zima. (See Riccardo of Pistoia.)

  Zinevra, ii, 9

  Zita Carapresa, ix, 10


  Abrotonia, 22, 23, 138, 320

  Abruzzi, the, 117

  Absalom, 88

  Acciaiuoli, family of the, 101

  Acciaiuoli, Andrea, 237 note, 242 note

  Acciaiuoli, Angelo, 222 note

  Acciaiuoli, Niccolò, 5 note, 122 note, 148, 156, 224
    Boccaccio's letters to, 24 note, 59 note, 61
    friendship with Boccaccio, 57, 150 note
    probable invitation to Boccaccio, 108, 113, 203 note
    schemes for Louis of Taranto, 116-18

  Accoramboni, Paolo, 217 note

  Achilles, 75

  Acquasparta, Cardinal of, xv

  Acquettino da Prato, Giovanni, 8

  Acrimonia, 85, 86

  _Acta Sanctorum_, 198 note

  Adam, 224, 243

  Adimari, Antonio, 104

  Adiona, 85, 86

  Æneas, 57, 202, 274

  Affrico, 11, 12, 93, 304

  Afron, 86

  Agamemnon, 81

  Agapes, 85, 86

  Agnes de Perigord, 44

  Aimeric, Cardinal, 113, 114

  Albanzani, Donato degli, 227 note

  Alberighi, Federigo degli, 307

  Alberigo, Frate, 261 note

  Albert of Hapsburg, xiv, xix

  Albertazzi, 296 note

  Alberti, the, 57

  Alberto da Imola, Fra, 309

  Albizzi, the, 104

  Albornoz, Cardinal, 164, 167, 208, 217

  Aldobrandini, the, 104

  Alexander IV, 309

  Alexander the Great, 89

  Alexandria, 66, 94

  Alexis, 122, 215 note

  Allegri, Francesco, 213

  Alleiram, 34

  Altomonte, Count of, 110

  Altoviti, Guglielmo, 102, 104

  Alunno, Niccolò, 25 note

  Amalfi, _La Regina Giovanna nella tradizione_, 115 note

  Amaryllis, 164 note

  Amazons, the, 79

  Ambrosio, Matteo d', 222 note

  _Ameto_, 179, 183 note
    autobiographical nature of, 6, 7, 9 note, 10, 11, 13, 61, 86, 87
    beauty of women in, 22 note
    Boccaccino, 97 note
    date of, 62, 70 note
    dedication of, 194 note
    description of the, 84-7
    Fiammetta in, 29 note, 30, 32 note, 36, 52, 85, 323 note
    journey to Naples, 15, 16, 320
    Lia, 22 note
    publication of, 87

  Amicolo, Franceschino da Brossano, 213-16, 219 note

  _Amorosa Visione_, 25 note, 26 note, 62
    date of, 96
    dedication of, 87, 132 note, 348, 349
    description of, 88
    Fiammetta in, 29 note, 30, 35, 37, 41, 43 note
    Lucia, 22 note

  Anchises, 155, 272

  Andalò di Negro, 323

  Andrew, King of Hungary, marriage of, 108 note, 109-11
    administration of, 112-14
    murder of, 114, 121, 124

  Andronicus, 191

  Anselmi, _Nuovi documenti_, 4 note

  Antellesi, the, 101

  Anubis, 237-40

  Apaten, 86

  Apiros, 86

  Apollo, 229, 239

  Apuleius, 48, 58, 84, 88, 316

  Aquila, 15

  Aquino, Conte d', 9 note, 30, 31

  Aquino, Maria d'. _See_ Fiammetta

  _Arabian Nights_, 292, 296

  Aragon, 16

  Arcadia, 155

  _Arch. di Stato Firenze Mercanzia_, 4 note, 5 note

  _Arch. Stor. Ital._, 151 note, 163 note, 209 note, 218 note

  _Arch. St. per le prov. nap._, 31 note, 109 note

  Arcite, 80-3

  Aretino, Domenico, on Boccaccio's birth, 8, 9 note

  Arezzo, xiv, 151, 153, 156, 157

  Argo, 121, 122

  Ariosto, Ludovico, 94 note

  Aristotle, 234

  Arno, the, xx, 10, 94 note, 126

  Arnolfo di Cambio, xiii

  Arquà, 282 note, 285

  _Ars Amandi_, 12 note, 25, 33

  Arthur, King, 26

  Artois, Charles d', 110

  Ascalione, 69

  Ascham, Roger, 312

  Astrology, Boccaccio's belief in, 235

  Athens, 79
    Duke of, 101, 244 note

  Atlas, 64, 94

  Avernus, lake of, 53

  Aversa, 113-15, 117, 150 note

  Avignon, 60, 114, 151, 164, 167, 171, 218, 219
    Boccaccio in, 165-7, 170, 209, 211, 212
    ceded to the Holy See, 118
    Petrarch in, 190
    popes in, xviii, xix, 15 note, 152 note
    Robert the Wise crowned in, 17, 31
    siege of, 217

  Azzo da Correggio, 60

  Baal, 88

  Babylon, Sultan of, 66

  Baddeley, _King Robert the Wise_, 109 note, 113-15 notes

  Bagno, 53

  Baia, Fiammetta at, 39, 40, 47, 49, 53-5, 67, 92, 134, 136, 138, 139,
        141, 303 note

  Baldelli, on Boccaccio in Romagna, 119, 120
    on Boccaccio's embassies, 149-51
    on Boccaccio's letters, 222 note
    on Boccaccio's master, 24 note
    on Boccaccio's meeting with Fiammetta, 323
    on Boccaccio's metres, 94
    on Pilatus, 203 note
    on the _Vita di Dante_, 120 note, 183 note
    The _Rime_, 132 note, 133
    _Vita di Boccaccio_, 7 note, _et passim_

  Baldi, Piero de', 100, 103

  Baluzius, _Vitæ Paparum_, 115 note

  Balzo, Ugo del, 116, 117

  Bandino, 132

  Barbi, ed. _Vita Nuova_, 254 note

  Bardi, the, 104
    Franceschino de', 128

  Barlaam, 190, 191, 195

  Baroncelli, Gherardo, 98 note

  Barrili, Giovanni, 48

  Bartoli, _I precursi del Boccaccio_, 70 note, 304 note

  Bartolo del Bruno, Niccola di, 87

  Bartolommeo da Siena, 198 note, 307

  Bassi, P. A., 84

  Beatrice, Dante's. _See_ Dante

  Beatrice di Dante, 120, 148, 259, 268

  Beauveau, Louis de, 78

  Bechino, 248 note

  Belcolore, Monna, 306, 309

  Bella, Giano della, xiv

  Bellona, 86

  Benedict XI, xviii, 109

  Benevento, xiii, xiv

  Benn, A. W., 304 note

  Benvenuto da Imola, 104 note, 144, 220 note, 269, 277, 282 note, 321

  Bergamo, xx

  Brescia, xx, xxi, 264

  Berlin, Hamilton MS. in, 171 note, 311

  Berlinghieri, Arriguccio, 307

  Bernardino da Polenta, 119 note, 151

  Bernicole, in _Giornale Dantesco_, 120 note

  Bertinoro, 150 note

  Bertolotto, _Il Trattato dell' Astrolabio_, 26 note

  Betussi, G., 132 note, 270 note
    _Genealogia_, 321 note

  Baumgarten, 208

  Biagi, G., _La Rassettatura del Decamerone_, 310 note
    _La vita privata dei Fiorentini_, 126 note

  Biagi and Pesserini, _Codice Diplomatico Dantesco_, 120 note

  _Bianchi_, the, quarrel with the _Neri_, xiii-xvi
    support Henry VII, xix

  Biancofiore, letters to Florio, 25
    story of, 63-9

  Biscioni, 257 note

  Bisdomini, Cerrettieri, 106, 107

  Black Death in Italy, 125, 147, 171, 292

  Boccaccino, humble origin of, 4
    in Florence, 4, 10
    position in Paris, 5-10
    sells Corbignano, 11, 325-34
    relations with his son, 13
    in Naples, 20-2, 321
    displeased with his son, 45
    ruined, 57, 59 note, 88
    marriage of, 87
    second marriage of, 62 note, 98, 127
    home of, 97
    death of, 128, 130, 145
    will of, 145

  Boccaccio, Francesco di, 13, 14, 59 note, 319

  Boccaccio, Giovanni, humanity of, xi, xii, 304
    compared with Dante and Petrarch, xi, 144, 222, 224, 305
    numerous works of, xi. (_See separate headings_)
    their autobiographical character, xii, 6, _et passim_
    declines the title of poet, xii, 94, 144, 228
    bibliography of, 3 note
    signatures of, 3 note
    epitaph of, 3 note, 291
    will of, 3 note, 289, 350-4
    birth of, xxi, 3-9, 43 note
    parentage of, 3, 6-10
    childhood of, 10-12, 320
    studies of, 12, _et passim_
      English, 355-62
    dislike of commercial life, 12-14, 19
    sent to Naples, 14-16, 19 note, 319-21
    first years there, 18-20
    friendship with Calmeta, 20-2, 323
    presented at Court, 21
    studies Canon Law, 22, 24, 44, 321-4
    his early loves, 22
    dreams of Fiammetta, 23, 30
    reads the classics, 25, 62
    reads Dante, 25, 253
    reads the French romances, 26
    meets Fiammetta, 27-30, 33 note, 71 note, 321-4
    his love for Fiammetta, 27-53, 130-2, 135, 136, 174, 197, 198 note
    period of uncertainty in love, 35-43, 140
    period of courtship, 36, 44-50
    period of _possesso completo_, 35-40, 51-3, 140
    betrayed by Fiammetta, 39, 40, 53-6, 141, 180
    reads Petrarch, 45
    writes _Rime_, 46, 47, 56
    abandons the law, 47, 48
    his literary studies, 48, 58
    change of fortune, 56
    leaves Naples, 59-61
    his life in Florence, 61, 62, 96-9
    his early works, 62-96
    returns to Naples, 95, 99, 107-9, 113, 119
    on Walter, Duke of Athens, 101, 106
    on Robert the Wise, 110 note
    relations with Queen Giovanna, 117 note
    in Romagna, 117, 119, 259
    meets King Louis of Hungary, 124
    translates Livy, 119 note
    during the plague, 126-9
    returns to Florence, 128, 130, 145
    appointed guardian to his brother, 128, 130, 145
    his songs, 132-44
    embassy to Ravenna, 146, 148-52
    embassy to Forlì, 150

  Boccaccio first meets Petrarch, 153, 155, 190, 225
    offers him a chair at the Florentine University, 157-60, 225
    reproaches Petrarch with lack of patriotism, 160-1, 164 note, 192,
    becomes Camarlingo, 162
    at work on the _Decameron_, 162, 170-2
    embassy to Ludwig of Brandenburg, 162
    embassy to Avignon, 165-7
    opinion of Charles IV, 167
    his changed attitude to women, 172, 176-89
    his children, 173 note, 214-16
    his anthology of Cicero and Varro, 190
    visits Petrarch in Milan, 192, 193, 226
    studies Greek under Pilatus, 193-206, 209
    his spiritual troubles, 197-203
    offered post of Apostolic Secretary, 201, 227
    visits Petrarch in Venice, 203, 204, 207, 226
    embassy to Avignon, 209-12
    stays in Genoa, 210
    does not go to Pavia, 210, 226
    in Certaldo, 1366, 212
    visits Venice again, 212-16, 226, 282
    embassy to the Pope, 1365, 216, 218
    visits Naples, 219-22
    his indignation with Montefalcone, 220
    returns to Certaldo, 1371, 222
    his Latin works, 223
    his creative work, 224, 267
    as Petrarch's disciple, 224-48
    his _Elogium_ on Petrarch, 228
    appointed to expound the _Divine Comedy_, 249-53, 269, 279, 281
    as a student of Dante, 253-7, 267
    his _Vita di Dante_, 257-69
    returns to Certaldo, 270, 281
    his _Comento sopra Dante_, 270-8
    his illness, 280
    his letter on Petrarch's death, 282-8
    his collection of relics, 289
    his death, 290

  Boccaccio as the greatest of story-tellers, 291-316
    English works on, 355-9
    and Dante, works on, 359
    Chaucer and Shakespeare, works on, 360-6

  Boccaccio, Jacopo di, 98, 99, 128, 130, 145, 270

  Boghton-under-Blee, 296

  _Boll. di Soc. Dant. Ital._, 252 note

  Bologna, 123
    Dante in, 263, 264
    Visconti take possession of, 147, 148, 151, 152, 164

  Bolsena, 156

  Boniface VIII establishes the _Neri_ in Florence, xiv-xvi
    death of, xviii

  Bordini, the, 104

  Bostichi, Bice de', 98

  Brescia, xx, xxi, 264

  Brienne, Count of, 101

  Brossano, Francesco da, 45 note, 153 note, 282

  Bruna di Ciango, 289 note

  Bruni, Francesco, 209 note, 210

  Bruni, Leonardo, 258 note

  Brutus, 88

  _Bucolics_, 247

  Buonaccorsi, the, 101

  Buonamichi, Francesco di Lapo, 289 note

  Buonconvento, xxi

  Buonmattei, 183 note

  Burton, _Anatomy of Melancholy_, 316

  Cabannis, Roberto de, 113, 116

  Cabannis, Sancia de, 113, 116

  Cabassoles, Philip de, 110, 112

  Calandrino, 306

  Calchas, 71, 73

  Caleone, 6, 86, 87

  Calmeta, friendship with Boccaccio, 20, 48, 58, 323

  Calò, _Filippo Villani_, 8 note

  Camarlinghi, the, 162, 216

  Campaldino, xiv

  Canestrini in _Arch. St. It._, 165 note, 218 note

  _Canzoni_, Dante's, 272

  Cappelletti, _Osserv. e notiz. sulle fonti del Dec._, 304 note

  Capua, 15, 50, 57

  Cara, 69

  Carbonara, 112 note

  Carducci, Giuseppe, 9, 93 note
    on the _Ninfale_, 93
    on the _Vita di Dante_, 184 note

  _Carme_, 254, 256, 263 note

  Carthage, 63, 89

  Casa di Boccaccio, 11, 325-34

  Casentino, the, xx, xxi, 107, 257 note, 264

  Casetti, _Il Boccaccio a Napoli_, 14 note, 31 note, 32
    in _Nuova Antologia_, 323 note
    on Fiammetta, 42

  Cassandra, 74

  Castalia, 229

  Castel Capuano, 116

  Castellamare, 114

  Castel Nuovo, 116

  Castello dell' Ovo, 117

  Castor and Pollux, 81

  Castracani, Castruccio, 100

  Castracaro, 150 note

  Catherine de Courteney, 44

  Cato, 88

  Cavaillon, Bishop of, 110

  Cavalcanti, Maghinardo de', xiii, 279, 281 note

  Cavicciulli, the, 104, 106

  Cecco da Meleto, 123

  Cerchi, the, 104

  Certaldo, Boccaccio in, xi, 3, 7, 8, 10, 195 note, 212, 222, 270, 281,
        284, 288
    S. Jacopo, 289 note, 290

  Chalcidius, 272 note

  Charles of Anjou, King of Naples, xviii, 16
    enters Florence, xvi
    genealogical table of, 111 note

  Charles IV, 163-8

  Charles of Apulia, 88

  Charles, Duke of Calabria, 18, 21, 44, 100-2, 109-10, 148

  Charles, Duke of Durazzo, 39 note, 110-17

  Charlemagne, 88

  Charles Martel, death of, 16
    son of Giovanna, 115-18

  Charles of Valois, xv, xix

  Chaucer, Geoffrey, and Boccaccio, English works on, 360-2
    foreign works on, 362-4
    debt to Boccaccio, 224, 257, 305, 311-13
    in Italy, 313 note
    _Canterbury Tales_, 84, 296, 313
    _Treatise on the Astrolabe_, 322
    _Troilus and Criseyde_, 73 note, 76 note, 78

  Chellino, Boccaccio di. _See_ Boccaccino

  _Chiose sopra Dante_, 270 note

  Churchyard, Thomas, _Praise of Poets_, 312

  Ciampi, _Monumenti_, 150 note

  Ciani, Gioacchino, 198, 203 note

  Ciappelletto, Ser, 309

  Cibele, 86

  Ciccarelli, Lorenzo, 277 note

  Cicero, 88, 154, 159, 190, 226, 234, 288

  Cimbri, the, 241

  Cini, Bettone, 103

  Cino da Pistoja, 24, 25, 253

  Cipolla, Fra, 202, 297 note, 306, 309

  Cisti, 306

  Città di Castello, 15 note

  Claricio, Girolamo, 90

  Claudian, 88

  Claudius, 230

  Clement IV, 262 note

  Clement V, flies to Avignon, xviii
    crowns Robert the Wise, 17, 31
    supports Robert the Wise, 110
    supports Andrew of Hungary, 112-18

  Clement VI, 157
    death of, 164

  Cleopatra, 18, 88, 136, 241

  Clerc, _Discours_, 68 note

  Clonico, 69

  _Cobler of Caunterburie_, 314

  Cochin, H., _Boccaccio_, 24 note
    _Études Italiennes_, 280 note
    _Un Amico del Petrarca_, 192 note

  Colonna, Cardinal, 17

  Colonne, Guido delle, 77

  Columbini, Giovanni, 198 note

  _Comento sopra Dante_, 12, 127 note, 136, 201 note, 202 note, 225 note,
        234 note, 268 note, 269 note, 270-8
    children in, 215
    summary of, 270-8

  Comneno, Alessio, 26 note

  _Compendio_, 257 note, 269. _See Vita di Dante_

  Conrad, Duke of Teck, 163

  Constance, Empress, 236

  Constantinople, 191, 204

  Convenevole da Prato, 110

  _Convito_, 254 note, 267, 272

  Coote, H. C., 313 note

  Corazzini, _Lettere di Boccaccio_, 9 note, _et passim_
    on the _Egloghe_, 120 note

  _Corbaccio_, 19, 190, 197
    attitude to women, 134, 138 note, 237
    date of, 170
    influence of Dante in, 254
    story of, 182
    title of, 181

  Corbignano, sale of, 11, 325-34

  Coriolanus, 241

  Cornelia, 88

  Corneto, 217

  Corradino, 88

  Costanza, 241

  Cotier, Gabriel, 95

  Council of Trent, 310 note

  Creighton, _History of the Papacy_, 152 note

  Cremona, xx

  Creon, 80

  Crescimbeni, 94 note

  Crescini, _Contributo agli Studi sul Boccaccio_, 4 note, _et passim_
    _Due Studi_, 22 note
    _Idalagos_, 6 note
    _lucia non Lucia_, 22 note
    on Boccaccino, 99
    on Boccaccio's birth, 9 and note
    on Calmeta, 20
    on Fiammetta, 35, 36, 38, 323 note
    on the _Rime_, 137, 143
    on the _Teseide_, 83
    on the two bears, 14 note
    on the _Visione_, 89 note

  Criseyde, 71-7

  Criti, 210

  Crowe and Cavalcaselle, ed. Hutton, 18 note

  Cugnoni, Prof., 133

  Cuma, 67

  Curia, the, 309

  Cyprus, 26 note, 185

  D' Ancona e Bocci, _Manuale della Lett. Ital._, 321 note

  Dafni, 210

  Danäe, 239

  D' Annunzio, Gabriele, 297

  Dante Alighieri, xi, xiii, 16, 88, 151, 175, 179, 222, 224, 289 note
    daughter of. _See_ Beatrice di Dante
    birth of, xiii
    one of the _Bianchi_, xiv
    in exile, xvi, xx, 253, 257 note
    his dream of the empire, xvii
    letters of, xx
    death in Ravenna, 120
    his Beatrice, 135, 136, 142-4, 186, 198, 263, 265, 307
    influence on Boccaccio, 25, 77
    life of, by Boccaccio, 120. _See Vita di Dante_
    Boccaccio's sonnet to, 142, 254
    Boccaccio expounds, 249-53
    and Boccaccio, English works on, 359
    _De Monarchia._ _See infra_
    _Divine Comedy._ _See intra_
    _Rime_, 267

  Dante, Jacopo di, 268

  Daphne, 210, 215 note, 229

  "Dares Phrygius," 77

  Dati, Goro di Stazio, _Storia di Firenze_, 104 note

  Davidsohn, _Forschungen zur Geschichte von Florenz_, 4 note, 21 note
    _Il Padre di Boccaccio_, 4 note, 21 note

  De Blasiis, _Cino da Pistoia_, 24 note, 25 note
    _De Casibus_, 21 note
    _La Dimora di Boccaccio in Napoli_, 14 note, _et passim_
    Le _Case de' Angioni_, 44 note

  _Decameron_, 31, 33 note, 63, 105 note, 127 note, 190, 224, 240
    as a source of inspiration, 311
    attitude to women in, 174-9
    Black Death in, 125, 128, 292
    Church's treatment of, 310
    clergy in, 202, 306, 308
    compared with the _Divine Comedy_, xi, 309
    contrasted with _Corbaccio_, 172
    date of, 162, 170-2, 181, 183 note
    Dogana, 19 note
    Fiammetta, 174
    foreshadowed in _Filocolo_, 69, 70
    friars in, 309
    human comedy, the, xi
    humanism of, 305
    impersonal character of, xi, 291
    known in England, 311-16
    La Valle delle Donne, 302
    MSS. of, 171 note, 311
    palaces of, 298-302
    Petrarch on, 311
    plan of, 296
    Proem, 172 note, 173, 174, 292-6
    prose style of, 310
    protagonists of, 297, 305, 306
    sources of, 304
    title of, 292 note
    Tuscan setting of, 11
    synopsis of and works on, 367-93
    index to, 394-406

  _De Casibus Virorum Illustrium_, 5 note, 6 note, 21 note, 101 note,
        108, 124, 201 note, 223, 234 note, 243-4, 275, 313 note

  _De Claris Mulieribus_, 224, 275
    story of, 236-43
    attitude to women in, 240-2

  _De Genealogiis Deorum_, 119, 194, 201, 220, 224, 230, 235, 245-7,
        272 notes, 275, 321
    Andalò di Negro, 26 note
    autobiographical nature of, 12 note, 24, 45 note
    material of, 245-7
    on commercial pursuits, 13, 19, 21 note, 22 note

  Deiphobus, 75

  Dejob, _A propos du Décaméron_, 305 note

  Della Torre, _La Giovinezza di Boccaccio_, 8 note, _et passim_
    _St. della Accademia_, 53 note
    on Boccaccio's journey to Naples, 15, 57, 59 note, 60 note, 319
    on Calmeta, 20
    on Fiammetta, 31, 36, 38, 42

  _De Monarchia_, 267
    claims of the Empire, xvii

  _De Montibus_, 4 note, 223, 228 note, 235, 245, 248, 275

  De Nohlac, _Les Scholies_, 194 note, 203 note
    _Pétrarque et son jardin_, 192 note
    _Pétrarque sur Homère_, 191 note, 206 note

  De Sade, 158

  Desjardins, _Négotiations Diplomatiques_, 5 note

  _De Vulgari Eloquentia_, 267

  Diana, 86, 93

  "Dictys Cretensis," 77

  Dido, 57, 240

  Diomede, 74, 75

  Dioneo, 86, 295, 297, 302

  Dionisi, 257 note

  _Divine Comedy_, xi, 87, 90, 183 note, 226, 291
    compared with the _Decameron_, 309
    expounded by Boccaccio, 136, 249-53, 257, 266, 269. _See Comento
        sopra Dante_
    Petrarch on, 227 note
    _Inferno_, 254 note, 267, 269, 270, 273, 312, 324 note
    _Paradiso_, 13 note, 104 note, 143 note, 253 note, 268, 271,
        319 note
    _Purgatorio_, 253 note, 258 note, 271

  Dobelli, _Il culto del Boccaccio per Dante_, 26 note, 46 note,
        253 note

  Doccia, La, 304

  Donati, Amerigo, 106

  Donati, Corso, xv, xvi, 104, 106

  Donati, Gemma, 184

  Donati, Manno, 104

  Donato de' Martoli, Gian, 7, 214

  Doni, forged letter by, 24 note

  Dryden, John, 311, 315

  Duff Gordon, Lina, _Home Life in Italy_, 50 note

  Duguesclin, Bertrand du, 217

  Duraforte, Astorgio di, 123, 148

  Edward III of England, 57 note

  _Egloghe_, 19 note, 167, 235
    evidence of the, 120-2, 124
    Boccaccio's children in, 214 note

  Egon, 164 note

  Eletta, Petrarch's granddaughter, 88, 214-16

  Elisa, 174, 294, 297

  _Elogium di Petrarca_, 228, 231 note

  Elsa, the, 290

  Elyot, Sir Thomas, _Boke of the Governors_, 315 note

  Emilia, 79-82, 85, 86, 174, 294

  Esmondson, Godfrey, 245 note

  Eucomos, 6

  Euganean Hills, 227 note, 285

  Euripides, 204

  Eusebius, _De Temporibus_, 195

  Eve, 224, 236, 243

  Faenza, 150 note

  Faggiuola, Uguccione della, 264, 267 note

  Faraglia, _Barbato di Sulmona_, 21 note, 48 note

  Fauno, 120-2

  Felice, King of Spain, 64, 65

  Feramonte, 69

  Ferrara, 84, 164

  Ferrara, Marquis of, 218

  Ferretus Vicentinus, 120 note

  Fiammetta, bastard daughter of Robert the Wise, Boccaccio's love for,
        6, 9 note, _et passim_
    prevision of, 16 note, 23, 30, 320
    Boccaccio's meeting with, 19 note, 27-30, 33 note, 321-4
    descriptions of, 28, 29, 46, 47
    birth of, 30-2
    in the care of nuns, 32, 42
    marriage of, 33
    her voluptuous nature, 33, 34
    accepts Boccaccio's suit, 35-40, 48-53
    betrays Boccaccio, 54, 180, 242
    death of, 127-30, 279
    Boccaccio's poems to, 137
    in the _Ameto_, 85
    in the _Amorosa Visione_, 87-9
    in the _Decameron_, 294

  _Fiammetta_, the, 10, 31 note, 32 note, 47 note, 224
    Boccaccino in, 14 note
    criticism of, 92
    date of, 62, 74 note, 90, 96
    Florence, described in, 96 note, 108
    meeting of Boccaccio and F., 28 note, 29 note
    Naples, described in, 18, 44, 45
    on marriage, 34 note
    Panfilo, in, 59 note
    publication of, 93
    sources of, 93
    story of, 51-5, 91, 98
    strategy of love, 49 note, 50

  Fiesole, 11, 12, 84, 94, 299, 304, 309

  Filippa la Catanese, 108 note, 113, 114, 116, 244, 306

  Filippo, Patriarch of Jerusalem, 211

  _Filocolo_, 51 note, 52 note, 55, 56, 138 note, 179
    Abrotonia, 22
    autobiographical nature of, 6, 7, 9 note, 10, 12, 13, 23, 67, 78, 319
    Calmeta, 20
    criticism of, 68
    Dante, 25 note
    date of, 62
    Fiammetta, 28-33 notes, 37 note, 38 note, 43 note, 66, 322
    Florio, 54 note, 63-9
    germ of the _Decameron_, xii
    influence of Dante in, 253
    Naples, 19
    narrative of, 63-8
    on the _Ars Amandi_, 25
    origin of name, 66 note
    publication of, 70
    _Questioni d' Amore_, 66, 69, 70
    source of, 68
    two bears, 10 note, 14, 319 note
    written at Fiammetta's bidding, 42, 43, 63

  Filomena, 174, 294, 296

  Filostrato, 174, 295, 297

  _Filostrato_, The, 70-8, 313
    criticism of, 76, 77
    date of, 47, 62, 70 note, 78
    dedication of, 70, 78
    Fiammetta, 28 note, 29 note
    influence of Dante in, 253, 26 note
    narrative of, 71-7
    publication of, 78
    secret vice, 34 note
    song by Cino, 25 note
    sources of, 77

  Fiorentino, Anonimo, 277

  _Floire et Blanceflor_, 68 note

  Florence, allied with King Robert against Henry VII, xix-xxi, 17
    allied with Siena and Perugia, 15 note
    appeals to the Pope, 152, 163
    appeals to Ludwig of Brandenburg, 163; and Charles IV, 163
    appoints Boccaccio to expound Dante, 249-53, 267, 269
    at Hawkwood's mercy, 208
    Bishop of, xv
    Boccaccino in, 4, 10
    Boccaccio in, 25 note, 59, 60 note, 96-107, 150
    Boccaccio's birth claimed for, 8, 9
    Casa di Boccaccio, 57 note
    employs Boccaccio as ambassador, 146-52, 157, 165, 209-12, 218
    Henry VII's attack on, xxi, 17
    Leon Pilatus in, 193
    makes terms with the Visconti, 164, 165
    Mercato Vecchio, 105
    _Neri_ established in, xiv-xvi
    offers Petrarch a chair in the university, 157-60
    Or San Michele, 120 note, 146, 148, 151
    Petrarch in, 153-7, 225
    Piazza di S. Croce, 102
    Piazza della Signoria, 102
    plague in, 125, 147, 293
    political condition of, 1341-5, 96, 100-7; 1352-9, 165-9
    prosperity of, xiii
    _Rettori_, 103
    Robert the Wise in, 17, 31
    S. Ambrogio, 62, 99, 107
    S. Felicità, 97, 99, 107
    S. Maria del Fiore, 106
    S. Maria Novella, xvi, 294
    S. Stefano ad portam ferram, 252 note
    S. Stefano della Badia, 252, 269
    Signori, 102, 103
    threatened by Milan, 147-8, 151-3, 162
    trades with France, 5
    university of, 157, 193

  Florio, story of, 25, 42, 63-9

  Foligno, 123

  _Forest of Fancy_, 314

  Forlì, 122 note, 127, 149, 150 note, 164 note, 171

  Foscolo, _Disc. Storico, sul testo del D._, 172 note, 184 note,
        257 note, 310 note
    on the _Vita di Dante_, 184 note

  Fracassetti, _Lettere di Petrarca_, 119 note, 123 note, 203 note

  France, papacy under influence of, xviii

  Franceschino da Brossano, 45 note, 153 note, 282

  Francesco da Buti, 277

  Fra Roberto, 112

  Fratticelli, The, 278

  Frederic II, 236
    death of, xiii

  Frederic III of Sicily, 221, 267 note

  Frescobaldi, Bardo, 100, 103, 104

  Galen, 88

  Galeone, 66, 67, 69

  Galeone, Gianello, 307

  Galletti, _Philippi Villani, Liber_, 8 note

  Gamba, _Serie dei Testi di Lingua_, 251 note, 257 note

  Gambatesa, Carlo di, 113

  Gannai, 7

  Gardner, E. G., _S. Catherine of Siena_, 217 note

  Gaspary, A., 108 note
    _Filocolo oder Filocopo_, 63 note

  Gebhart, _Prologue du Décaméron_, 296 note

  Gelli, 277

  Gemma, 259 note, 263, 264

  Genoa, 17, 26 note, 44, 147, 148
    Boccaccio in, 210, 211

  _Georgics_, 247

  Gerace, Bishop of, 191

  Germany, feudal union with Italy, xix

  Gerola, _Alcuni documenti_, 252 note

  Gharamita, 6

  Gherardi, Ruberto, _La Villeggiatura di Maiano_, 97 note, 335-47

  Ghibellines, the, xiv, 11
    support Henry VII, xix

  Giardino, Pier, 268

  Gigli, _Il Disegno del Decamerone_, 91 note
    _I sonetti Baiani del Boccaccio_, 24 note

  Ginguené, 9

  Giotto, xiii, 289 note
    in Naples, 18
    tower of, 100

  Giovanna, Queen of Naples, 218, 221
    marriage of, 109-11
    influence of, 112
    suspected of her husband's murder, 115, 122, 124
    second marriage of, 116-18
    sells Prato, 148
    and the _Decameron_, 171
    in _De Claris Mulieribus_, 224, 236, 242

  Giovanni of Florence, 109

  Giovenale (Juvenal), 183 note

  Giulia Tropazia, 63, 64, 88

  Giulio di Boccaccio, 215 note

  Glorizia, 64

  _Gonfaloniere_, the, xiv

  Gonzaga, 167

  Goth, Bertrand de, xviii

  Graf, _Fu Superstizioso il Boccaccio_, 198 note

  _Grandi_, the, in power, xiv

  Grantham, H., 70 note

  Graziosa, 69

  Greene, Robert, _Perimedes the Blacksmith_, 314 note

  Gregory XI, 221

  Grillo, Giovanni, 25 note

  Griselda, 33 note, 297 note, 306, 307, 311

  Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln, 308

  Gualdrada, 236

  Gubbio, 217 note

  Guelfs, the, xiv, xxi, 152, 163
    triumph at Benevento, xiii
    Robert the Wise, 16

  Guercin du Crest, Anton, 95

  Guglielmo da Ravenna, 214

  Guido da Polenta, 119 note, 150

  Guinevere, 38 note, 42, 89

  Hager, _Programmata III_, 289 note

  Hamilton MS., 171 note

  Hannibal, 88

  Harrington, Sir John, _Apology of Poetry_, 312

  Harvey, Gabriel, 312

  Hauvette, H., _Ballades du Décaméron_, 297 note
    _Il MS. Berlinese_, 171 note
    _Le Professeur de Grec de Boccace_, 194 note
    on the _Corbaccio_, 181 note
    _Recherches sur le Casibus_, 224 note, 243 note
    _Une Confession de Boccace_, 22 note, 108 note, 323 note

  Havemann, _Geschichte des ausgangs des Tempelherrenordens_, 5 note

  Haviland, John, 245 note

  Hawkwood, Sir John, 208

  Hecate, 52 note

  Hecker, _Boccaccio Funde_, 12 note, 48 note, 108 note

  Hector, 73, 233

  Hecuba, 88

  Helicon, 229, 285

  Henry VII, 5, 31, 163, 264
    crowned in Rome, xx, 17
    death of, xiii, xxi
    election of, xix
    his attack on Florence, xxi
    opposed by Robert the Wise, 17

  Henry VIII of England, 243 note

  _Heroides_, 25

  Herrick, Robert, 133

  Heywood, William, _Ensamples of Fra Filippo_, 126 note
    on Perugia in 1323, 15 note
    _Palio and Ponte_, 104 note

  _History of Trytone and Gesyppus_, 315 note

  Hollway-Calthrop, Mr., _Petrarch_, 112 note, 201 note

  Homer, 81, 88, 231, 233, 276, 285
    translation of, 191, 195, 196, 203, 205, 226

  Horace, 88, 257 note, 262, 288
    _Epistolæ_, 156

  Hortis, 9, 108 note, 125 note, 149 note
    _Acceni alle Scienze_, 53 note, 223 note, 235 note, 245 note
    _Boccaccio Ambasciatore_, 159 note, 162 note, 165 note, 209 note,
        210 note, 212 note, 217 note
    _Le Donne famose_, 224 note, 242 note
    on the _Eclogues_, 122 note, 123 note
    _Studi sulle Opere Latine di Boccaccio_, 25 note, 220-3, 236, 241,
        _et passim_

  _Hundred Merry Tales_, 296, 315 note

  Hutton, Edward, 315 note
    _Country Walks about Florence_, 12 note, 299 note, 300 note, 303 note
    _See_ Crowe and Cavalcaselle

  _Hystoria Troiana_, 77

  Ibrida, 6, 86, 97 note

  Idalagos, 6, 14, 67, 319
    learns astronomy, 20

  Ilario, 67

  _Il Cortigiano_, 34 note

  _Il Falso Boccaccio_, 270

  _Iliad_, 77, 191, 205, 276

  _Ilias Latina_, 191

  Il Sangro, 15

  Imola, 90

  _Inferno._ _See Divine Comedy_

  Innocent IV, 309

  Innocent VI, policy of, 164-8

  Ippolyta, 79

  Isabella, 307

  Isernia, 15

  Iseult, 89

  Italy, federation of, 161

  Jacopo, Domenico di, 145 note

  Jaggard, Isaac, 315

  Jason, 88

  Jean d'Anjou, 44

  Jeanne, mother of Boccaccio, 9, 87, 97

  Jerusalem, King of, 16

  Joan, Pope, 236

  Juliet, 33 note

  Katzensteiner, Diapoldo, 163

  Keats, John, 311

  Knights Templars, 5, 6

  Koch, Dr., 313 note

  Koeppel, _Studien_, 314 note

  Koerting, _Boccaccio's Leben_, 9 note, 257, 323, _et passim_
    on the _Rime_, 138 note

  Kuhns, _Dante and the English Poets_, 312 note

  Lælius, 155

  La Fontaine, 311

  Lagonessa, Giovanni di, 116

  Lagonessa, Rostaino di, 116

  Lana, Jacopo della, 269

  Lancelot, 38 note, 42, 89

  Landau, _Vita di Boccaccio_, 9, 60 note, 81, 138, 149 note, 155 note,
        165 note, 170 note, 184 note, 323
    _Die Quellen des Dekam._, 304 note

  Landino, 277

  Lando, Giovanni di, 25 note

  Landor, W. S., 304

  Lapo da Castiglionchio, 156

  Laura, Petrarch's, 135, 142-4, 193

  Laurentian library, 226 note, 254 note

  Lauretta, 294

  La Valle delle Donne, 302, 303

  Lello di Pietro Stefano, 207

  Leonetto, 307

  _Leucippe and Clectophon_, 94 note

  Lia, 22 note, 84, 86, 89, 98 note

  _Libro delle Provvisioni_, 249, 251 note

  Licisca, 297 note

  Lionel, Duke of Clarence, 219

  Lipari Islands, 101

  Livy, Boccaccio translates, 88, 119 note

  Lodovico, 307

  Lo Parco, _Petrarca e Barlaam_, 190 note

  Louis of Bavaria, 100

  Louis of Durazzo, 117

  Louis of Hungary, invades Italy, 121-5, 150 note
    invades Naples, 117, 118

  Louis of Taranto, 113, 116-18, 124

  Lownes, M., 315

  Lucan, 276

  Lucca, 44, 84, 257 note
    pays tribute to Robert the Wise, 17
    sold to Pisa, 100, 101, 103

  Lucia, 22 note

  Ludwig of Brandenburg, 162

  Lucrece, 18, 51 note

  Lunigiana, 264

  Lybia, 185

  Lycia, 155

  Lydgate, John, _The Falle of Princes_, 101 note, 106 note, 244 note

  Lydia, 307

  Lyons, 95

  Machiavelli, Niccolò, _Lettere_, 186 note
    on Walter, Duke of Athens, 101, 104, 107

  Macon, Antoine Le, 315

  Macri Leone, ed. _Vita di Dante_, 184 note, 257 note, 263 note,
        269 note

  Magliabecchiana library, 277

  Malatesta, Pandolfo, 208

  Malatesta, Sigismondo, 123

  Malespina, Moruello, 264, 267 note

  Mancini, the, 104

  Mancini, _Poggio Gherardo_, 299 note

  Manetti, 132 note

  Manfredi, the, 150 note

  Manicardi e Massera, _Introduzione al Canzoniere_, 46 note, 48 note,
        133 note, 134, 136 note, 139, 143

  Mannelli, Francesco, 171 note, 311

  Manni, 145 note, 217 note
    _Istoria del Decameron_, 10 note, 170 note, 128 note, 222 note,
        251 note, 270 note, 304 note
    on Boccaccio's birth, 8

  Mantua, 164, 167

  Mare Morto, 67

  Margherita di Gian Donato, Boccaccino marries, 7, 9 note, 10, 11 note,
        13, 59, 299

  Maria, Duchess of Durazzo, 110

  Marie de Valois, 44

  Mario di Boccaccio, 215 note

  Marmorina, 64, 65

  Mars, 65, 81

  Martial, 88

  Martini, Simone, his portrait of Robert the Wise, 18

  Martino da Signa, Fra, 120, 125, 270

  Martoli, Donato de', 7

  Mary of Hungary, 111 note

  Marzano, Goffredo, 110

  Massalino, 69

  Massamutino, 65

  Massera, _Le più antiche biografie del Boccaccio_, 8 note, 12 note

  Matteo da Signa, 214 note

  Mazalotti, the, 104

  Mazzinghi, _Brief Notice of Recent Researches_, 263 note

  Mazzuchelli, 132 note
    _Gli Scrittori d' Italia_, 217 note, 270 note

  Mazzuoli, Zanobi, 12

  Mazzuoli da Strada, Giovanni di Domenico, 12

  Medea, 88

  Medici, the, 104, 106
    Giovanni de', 102

  Mehus, Abate, _Ambrosii_, 149 note

  Melezino, Niccolò di, 116

  Meldola, 150 note

  Menedon, Longanio, 69

  Mensola, 11, 12, 93

  Méril, Edélestand du, 68 note

  _Metamorphoses_, 25, 48

  Michele, Dietifeci di, 167

  Midas, 87

  Milan, 90, 147
    Petrarch in, 188, 192, 196, 219, 226
    power of, 147, 148, 151-3

  Milanesi, Gaetano, 278
    _Il Comento di Boccaccio_, 249 note, 251 note, 252 note, 271 note,
        277 note

  Mini, G., _Il Libro d' Oro_, 4 note

  Minos, 81

  Miseno, 67, 139

  Molay, Jacques de, 6

  Molière, 311

  Monaldi, Guido, _Diario_, 252 note

  Monte Cassino, 220 note

  Monte Ceceri, 94 note

  Montefalcone, Niccolò di, 219-21

  Monte Falerno, 58, 59

  Monteforte, Pietro di, 203 note, 222

  Monte Miseno, 49

  Montferrat, Marquis of, 208

  Montorio, 64

  Montorio, Duke of, 69

  Monza, 168

  Moore, Dr. E., _Dante_, 257 note, 268 note

  Mopsa, 85, 86

  Morandi, _Antol. della Critic. Mod._, 224 note

  Morcone, Contessa di, 113

  Morelli, Giovanni, on the plague, 126

  Morini, _Il prologo del Decameron_, 296 note

  Morley, Lord, 243 note

  Morrozzo, Matteo di, 103

  Moschus, 87

  Mugnone, the, 94, 302

  Mundo, 237-40

  Mussafia, _Il Libro XV_, 224 note, 248 note

  Mussi, Luigi, 257 note, 269 note

  _Nachgeahunt_ of Whetstone, 315 note

  Naples, xxi, 289
    Angevins in, xix
    Boccaccio in, 11 note, 13, 16-18, 150, 219, 220, 222 note, 321
    court of, 18, 21, 26, 44
    invaded, 147
    King of. _See_ Charles of Anjou and Robert the Wise
    political condition in 1344, 108-18
    S. Chiara, 109
    S. Lorenzo Maggiore, 18 note, 27, 30, 42, 71 note

  Narcissus, 81, 215 note

  Nationality, spirit of, xvii, xviii

  Negro, Andalò del, 20, 26
    _Tabula_, 36

  Neifile, 174, 294, 299

  Nelli, Francesco, 156, 164 note, 193 note, 203 note, 207

  _Neri_, the quarrel with the _Bianchi_, xiii-xvi

  Nero, 233

  Nestor, 81

  Niccolò di Vegna, 11

  Nicoletti, 132 note

  _Ninfale Fiesolano_, countryside in, 11
    criticism of, 94
    date of, 62, 93, 96
    publication of, 95
    sources of, 94
    story of, 93, 94

  Niobe, 89

  Nisus, 155

  _Notable History of Nastagio and Traversi_, 314 note

  Novati, _Giornale St. d. Lett. It._, 226 note

  Novello da Polenta, Guido, 265

  _Odyssey_, 191, 205, 276

  Olympia, 214 note

  Orcus, 81

  Ordelaffi, Francesco degli, 120-5, 128, 149-51, 171

  Orlandini, Baldo, 5 note

  _Orlando Furioso_, 312

  Orsini, Niccolò degli, 221 note, 222 note, 225 note

  Orsini of Sovana, Count, 117

  Ostasio da Polenta, 117, 119, 149, 150

  Ovid, 33, 87, 246, 257 note, 262, 289
    _Amoris Remedia_, 182
    Boccaccio's love of, 25, 45, 48
    _Heroides_, 93
    _Metamorphoses_, 12 note, 94

  Oxford, Dante in, 263 note

  Paccio, 109

  Paccone, Biagio, 25 note

  Padua, 93, 153, 164, 167
    Boccaccio in, 219, 226
    Dante in, 263 note, 264
    Petrarch in, 157-60, 191, 193, 195, 219, 225, 285, 313 note

  Painter's _Palace of Pleasure_, 314, 315 note

  Palemon, 80-3, 120

  Palio, the, 104

  Pallas Athene, 86

  Pamfilo, 91, 98, 120, 295, 297

  Pampinea, 22, 23, 138, 174, 294, 296, 320

  Pan, 164 note

  Pandarus, 71, 73, 76

  Paolina, 237-40, 241, 243

  Paolo da Perugia, 48

  Paolo il Geometra, 248 note

  Papacy, fall of the, xiii, xviii
    the medieval idea of, xvi
    the, removes to Avignon, xviii

  Papia, _Elementarium_, 320 note

  "Pargoletta," 257 note

  Paris, 24 note
    Boccaccino in, 5
    Boccaccio's birth in, xxi, 3, 6, 7
    Dante in, 258 note, 263, 264, 266
    Homer translation in, 206, 276

  Paris of Troy, 81, 88

  Parker, Henry, Lord Morley, 243 note

  Parma, 100, 153

  Parmenione, 69

  Parnassus, 229

  Partenope, 66

  Paur, 257 note

  Pavia, Petrarch in, 210, 212, 226

  Payne, Mr. John, 316

  Pazzi, the, 104

  Peleus, 81

  Pelli, _Memorie_, 120 note, 257 note

  Penelope, 57, 206

  Pepoli, the, 152

  Percopò, _I bagni di Pozzuoli_, 53 note

  Perini, Dino, 269

  Peritoo, 79, 80

  Perseus, 239

  Perugia, 15, 24 note, 148, 151, 152, 163 note, 164

  Peruzzi dal Parlagio, the, 17, 57 note, 101

  Peter of Aragon, 217

  Petrarch, xi, xiii, 175, 179, 222
    birth of, xvi, 4 note
    reports Boccaccio's birth in 1313, 6, 7, 10 note
    on Robert the Wise, 17, 110, 111
    Boccaccio reads, 45
    Boccaccio's friendship with, 45, 59, 146, 150, 155, 156, 190, 223-35
    visits Naples, 60, 109, 111, 112, 154
    on Naples, 112
    letters to and from Boccaccio, 119, 120 note, 153 note, 155, 156,
        159, 188, 194, 199-201, 204, 205, 207, 210, 212-16
    his Laura, 135, 136, 142-4, 153, 158
    Boccaccio's sonnet to, 136, 143
    first meeting with Boccaccio, 152, 155, 190, 225, 287
    in Rome, 153 note, 156
    character and position of, 154
    offered a chair in Florence, 157-60
    his studies in Greek, 190, 206
    in Padua, 219, 313 note
    Boccaccio's master in classical attainments, 223, 224, 232-5, 242,
    Boccaccio's opinion of, 225-32, 246, 247
    will of, 227, 231, 287 note
    on the _Decameron_, 227
    on the _Divine Comedy_, 254-6
    his hatred of the vulgar tongue, 255 note
    illness of, 280 note
    death of, 282
    known in England, 312
    _Africa_, 159, 228, 231, 287
    _De Remediis_, 243
    _De Viris Illustribus_, 236, 243
    _Egloga_, 110 note, 122 note
    _Epistol. Fam._, 190, 205, 225, 231, 233, 255 notes
    _Epistol. Sen._, 194, 203, 205, 207, 210, 225, 227, 233 notes
    _Epistol. Varie_, 196 note
    _Italia Mia_, 167
    _Trionfi_, 90, 288

  Petroni, Pietro, 198, 201, 202, 226, 232, 233

  Pheneus, 155

  Philip IV of France, xv, 5
    asserts the rights of the State against the Papacy, xviii
    supports Henry VII, xix

  Philip of Taranto, 44

  Phœnix of Poets, 228

  Piero, Gabriele di, 70

  Pilatus, Leon, relations with Petrarch, 191-3
    in Florence with Boccaccio, 193-8, 203-5, 276
    translation of Homer, 206

  Pinelli, _Corbaccio_, 183 note
    _La moralità nel Decam._, 305 note

  Pisa, xxi, 100, 125, 157, 168
    plague in, 147
    indemnity to Florence, 208

  Pisani, the, xiii

  Pistoia, 17, 148, 151

  Pizzinghe, Jacopo, 221 note, 222 note, 229 note

  Plato, 191, 196, 226
    _Timæus_, 272

  Plautus, 246

  _Pleasant and Sweet History of Patient Grissel_, 315 note

  _Pleasant History of Galesus, Cymon_, 314 note

  Po, the, 219

  Poe, E. A., 132

  Poggibonsi, xxi

  Poggio, Andrea, 268

  Poggio Gherardo, 12 note, 97 note, 299, 304, 335

  Pola, 69

  Polissena, 73

  Poliziano, _Stanze_, 82 note

  Pomona, 86

  Pompeano, 55

  Pompey, 89

  Poppea, 241

  Portinari, Folco, 263

  Porto Ercole, 117

  Posilipo, 58, 285

  Pozzuoli, 67

  Prato, 17, 151, 162
    bought by Florence, 148, 150 note

  Priam of Troy, 71

  Proba, 241

  Prometheus, 141

  Provence, Count of, 16

  Prunella, 307

  Pruneo, 94

  Psyche, 316

  Pucci, Antonio, 138 note

  Pygmalion, 81

  Pynson, Richard, 101 note, 244 note

  Pythias, 155

  _Questioni d' Amore._ _See Filocolo_

  Quintillian, _Institutions_, 156

  Quinto Lelio Africano, 63

  Raimondo di Catania, 113, 116

  Rajna, Pio, _L' Episodio_, 53 note, 69 note
    _Le fonti_, 94 note, 292

  Rambaldo di Vaqueiras, 68 note

  Ravello, Lorenzo di, 25 note

  Ravenna, Boccaccio in, 119, 120, 148, 149, 151, 159, 164 note, 259
    Dante in, 158, 265

  Renaissance, the, xii, 206, 227 note
    beginning of, xxi
    Boccaccio a pioneer of, 248

  Renier, _Di una nuova opinione_, 131 note
    _La Vita Nuova e Fiammetta_, 22 note, 24 note, 63 note

  Rhadamanthus, 81

  Riccardiana library, 277

  Rienzi, 128

  Rieti, 15

  Rigg J. M., 299 note, 300 note, 315 note, 316

  _Right Pleasant Historie of the Mylner of Abingdon_, 315 note

  _Rime_, 53 note, 54, 56, 179, 227 note
    accepted canon of, 133
    analysed, 134, 136, 137
    certainties of, 136
    Fiammetta, 46, 47
    influence of Dante in, 253
    love poems of, 137-44
    on Dante, 275
    on death, 282
    order of, 133

  Rimini, 149, 150

  Rinaldo, Fra, 309

  Robert the Wise, King of Naples, 87, 121, 154, 242
    opposes Henry VII, xix-xxi, 17
    relations of Boccaccino with, 5
    Fiammetta, the daughter of, 6, 9 note
    influence of, 16-18
    coronation of, 17, 31
    portrait of, 18
    entertains Petrarch, 60
    appealed to by Florence, 100
    death of, 109
    will of, 110

  Roberto, Fra, 112

  Roberti, Dionisio, da Borgo Sansepolcro, 24 note, 59

  Rodoconachi, _Boccace_, 241 note, 245 note

  Romagna, 117, 147, 149

  _Roman de Thèbes_, 83

  Roman Empire, xiii, xvii

  Rome, 87, 171
    Castel S. Angelo, xx
    Henry VII crowned in, xx, 17
    Lateran, xx, 17, 67
    papal exile from, xiii, xviii
    Petrarch in, 153 note, 156
    S. Peter's, xx

  Romeo, 22

  Rosaline, 22

  Ross, Mrs., 97 note, 335
    _Florentine Villas_, 299 note

  Rossellini, _Della casa di Boccaccio in Certaldo_, 288 note

  Rossetti, D., _Petrarca, Celso e Boccaccio_, 158 note, 228 note,
        247 note

  Rossetti, D. G., translations of, 133 note, 138, 142, 275, 276

  Rossetti, W. M., 313 note

  Rossi, the, 104

  Rossi, Pino de', 194, 209

  Rucellai, Nardo, 102
    the, 104, 106

  Rufolo, Niccolò, 25 note

  Rustichesi, Francesco, 102

  Rustico, Fra, 309, 315 note

  Sacchetti, Franco, 125, 144
    _Novelle_, 313

  Sachs, Hans, 311

  Sadoc, 66

  S. Agata, Count of, 110

  Sainte-More, Benoît de, _Roman de Troie_, 77

  Salimbeni, the, 218

  Sallust, 88, 159

  Salonica, 191

  Salutati, Coluccio, 144, 282 note

  Salvatico, Count, 264

  Salvi di Dini, 11

  Salviati, _Il Decamerone_, 170 note

  Salvini on Boccaccio's birth, 8

  Samnium, 70

  Sancia, Queen, 110, 114

  Sanesi, 145 note
    on Lia, 98 note

  Sanguinetto, Filippo di, 110

  S. Anne, feast of, 105

  Sansovino, 132 note

  S. Anthony of Padua, 153

  S. Arcangelo a Baiano, 32, 42

  Sarzana, 164

  Saturn, 69, 88

  S. Augustine, 246
    _Commentary_, 190, 226
    Confessions of, xii

  Savi-Lopez, P., _Sulle fonti delle Teseide_, 83 note

  S. Bartholomew's Day, xxi

  S. Benedict, Order of, 32

  Scala, Alberto della, 258 note, 264

  Scala, Cane della, 167, 267 note, 273

  Scala, Martino della, 100, 104

  Scartazzini, 257 note

  S. Catherine of Siena, 308

  Scefi, Guglielmo da, 106, 107

  Schaeffer-Boichorst, 257 note

  S. Chiara, 18

  Schuck, 245 note

  Schulz, _Denkmäler_, 18 note

  Scipio Africanus, 63

  S. Clemente, Cardinal di, 115

  Scott, F. N., _Boccaccio and Sidney_, 224 note, 247 note

  Scythia, 79

  S. Dominic, 309

  Sempronia, 241

  Seneca, 59 note, 230, 276
    wife of, 240

  Serravalle, Giovanni di, 263 note

  Settignano, 11, 94 note, 299, 335

  Settimo, Guido, 211

  Seville, 64

  Sevin, Adrien, 70

  S. Felicità, 11

  S. Francis, 202, 289 note, 309

  S. Gregory, monastery of, 191

  Shakespeare, William, xii, 224, 257, 292, 306, 311
    and Boccaccio, works on, 365, 366
    his "dark lady," 130
    _Troilus and Cressida_, 75 note

  Sichæus, 81

  Sicily, King of, 16, 17
    love in, 52 note

  Sidney, Sir Philip, 224 note, 311, 312
    his Stella, 130, 131
    _Defense of Poesie_, 312

  Siena, 15, 125, 127, 163 note, 164, 217, 218, 258 note
    opposes Henry VII, 17
    allied with Florence, 151, 152
    plague in, 147, 148

  Sigeros, Nicolas, 191

  Silvanus, 160, 164 note, 228, 284

  Silvio, 214 note

  Simonides, 164 note, 207

  Sismonda, 307

  S. Isidoro di Siviglia, _Origines_, 320 note

  S. James of Compostella, 63, 69

  S. Jerome, 184 note, 195, 246, 263 note

  S. John Baptist's Day, 104

  S. John of the Cross, 198

  S. Lazarus, 202

  S. Lorenzo dell' Arcivescovato di Capua, 57, 59

  S. Louis of Toulouse, 18

  S. Marco, Cardinal di, 115

  S. Maria di S. Sepolchro dal Pogetto, 289 note

  S. Maria Maggiore, 57 note

  S. Mary's Day, 17

  S. Michael, 202

  Smyrna, 285

  Società de' Bardi, 5, 21, 57 note

  Socrates, 230

  Sofonisba, 241

  Solerti, _Le vite di Dante, Petrarca e Boccaccio_, 8 note

  Solomon, 88

  Solon, 261

  Sophocles, 204
    _Antigone_, 28 note

  S. Paul, 198

  Spenser, Edmund, 130, 312

  S. Pier Maggiore, 11

  Spoleto, siege of, 15

  Squarciafico, Girolamo, 70, 132 note

  Squillace, Count of, 110

  S. Scholastica, 32

  S. Severino, Count Ugo di, 221

  S. Stefano, Certosa di, 219

  Statius, 257 note, 262
    _Thebais_, 59, 83

  Stella, Sidney's, 130

  S. Thomas Aquinas, his idea of the Papacy, xvi, xvii

  Stilbone, 210

  Strozzi, the, 104

  Suares, 289 note

  Sulmona, 15, 289
    Barbato di, 111

  Sulpicia, 241

  S. Valentine, 153

  Symonds, J. A., 315 note
    _Boccaccio_, xii note

  Tacitus, 219, 220 note
    _Annals_, 276

  Tanfani, _Niccolò Acciaiuoli_, 148 note, 150 note

  Taranto, Catherine of, 111 note, 113, 115
    Philip of, 117
    Robert of, 113, 116

  Tarlati, the, 15 note

  Tarlton's _News out of Purgatorie_, 314

  Tasso, 94 note

  Tatius, Achilles, 94

  Teano, 15

  Teck, Duke of, 163

  Tennyson, Lord, 311

  Terence, 226 note, 246

  Terlizzi, Count of, 116

  _Teseide_, 62, 74 note, 76, 78, 313
    criticism of, 82, 83
    dedication of, 79, 83
    narrative of, 79-82
    publication of, 84
    sources of, 83

  Testili, 120-2

  Teza, _La parola Decameron_, 292 note

  Tezza, Monna, 306

  _Thebais_, 59

  Thebes, 80, 89

  Theocritus, 87

  Theophrastus, 263 note

  Theseus, 79, 80

  Thessaly, 194

  Thomas, William, _Dictionarie_, 312

  Thorold, Algar, _Dialogue of S. Catherine of Siena_, 308 note

  Thrace, 81

  Tiberius Cæsar, 237, 240

  Tindaro, 297 note

  Tiraboschi, 132 note
    _Storia della Lett. Ital._, 9 note, 22 note, 119 note, 158 note,
        257 note

  Tironea, 94

  Tityrus, 122

  Todeschini, _Opinione_, 203 note

  Tommaso d' Alessandria, 95

  Torre, Giovanni di, 25 note

  Tosca, Giovanni della, 102

  Tottel, 101 note

  Toynbee, Paget, _Bibliography of Genealogia_, 224, 247, 248, 252 notes
    _Boccaccio's Commentary_, 220 note, 270 note, 271 note
    _Dante in English Literature_, 263 note, 312 note
    _Dante Studies and Researches_, 221 note
    _Life of Dante_, 268 note

  Trapani, 147

  _Trattatello in Lode di Dante_, 258 note

  Traversari, Guido, _Bibliografia Boccaccesca_, 3 note
    _Il Beato Pietro Petroni_, 198 note

  Traversi, Antona, 9, 155 note
    _Della patria di Boccaccio_, 6 note, 8 note
    _Della realtà dell' amore di Boccaccio_, 49 note, 131 note
    _La Lia dell' Ameto_, 22 note
    _Le prime amanti di Boccaccio_, 22 note
    on the _Rime_, 134, 138
    on the _Vita di Dante_, 184 note

  Trebizond, 26 note

  _Trionfi_ of Boccaccio, 90

  Trissino, 94 note

  Tristram, 89

  Troilus, 70-7

  _Troilus and Criseyde_, 313 note

  Tropea, Mambriccio di, 114

  Tropea, Tommaso di, 114

  Troy, 89

  Tullia di Petrarca, 212-16, 219 note, 284

  Tura, Agnola di, 147

  Turbeville's _Tragical Tales_, 314 note

  Tuscany, Boccaccio's childhood in, 10, 320
    claims of Holy See on, xiv
    power of Florence in, xiii
    Vicar-General of, xv

  Twyne, Thomas, _Schoolmaster_, 314 note

  Tyrol, Count of, 162

  Ubertino di Corigliano, 221

  Ugo, King of Cyprus and Jerusalem, 224, 247

  Ulysses, 57, 81, 205, 206

  Urban IV, 262 note

  Urban V, dissatisfaction with Florence, 208-12, 217
    enters Rome, 217, 218
    death of, 219, 221

  Urbino, 264

  Valdelsa, 4

  Valla, Bruno, 95

  Vanello, Francesco di, 145 note

  Varlungo, 309

  Varro, 190, 226

  Vega, Lope de, 311

  Velasquez, 292

  Venafro, 15

  Veneto, Luca, 78

  Venice, 44, 70, 78, 84, 148, 269
    alliance of 1353, 164
    Boccaccio in, 203, 207, 209, 213, 226, 282, 283

  Venus, 65, 81, 86, 92

  Vernon, Lord, 270 note

  Verona, 100, 153, 164, 167
    Dante in, 258 note, 264, 266

  Vesta, 86

  Via Francigena, 15

  Villa Ciliegio, 304 note

  Villani, Filippo, _Le Vite d' uomini illustri Fiorentini_, 4 note,
        7 note
    _Liber de Civitatis Florentiæ_, 236 note, 245 note
    on Boccaccino, 7, 8, 13
    on Petrarch and Boccaccio, 155

  Villani, Giovanni, _Cronica_, 17 note, 31 note, 101 note, 104 note,
        122 note
    on Robert the Wise, 17, 109 note
    death of, 125-7

  Villani, Matteo, _Cronica_, 125 note, 281 note
    on the plague, 125
    on Boccaccio's love affairs, 132

  Villa Palmieri, 300, 304

  Villari, _First Two Centuries of Florentine History_, xv, 5 note

  _Villeggiatura di Maiano, La_, 335-47

  Villon Society, 316

  Vincolo, Pietro di, 307

  Vincent de Beauvais, 233

  Vincent, I., 70

  Vindelin da Spira, 269

  Violante di Boccaccio, 214 note, 215

  Virgil, Boccaccio's love of, 58, 87, 88, 154, 159, 202, 230, 257 note,
        262, 285, 288, 312
    _Æneid_, 67 note, 83, 94, 240, 247, 272

  Visconti, the, 100, 160, 192, 208, 212, 217
    take Bologna, 146, 147
    treaty with Florence, 164

  Visconti, Duke Galeazzo, 219

  Visconti, Giovanni, 161

  Visconti, Violante de', 219

  _Vita di Dante_, 120 note, 170, 193 note, 234 note
    attitude to women in, 183-8, 189, 237
    authority of, 260, 268
    critical opinions on, 257-60
    date of, 170, 183, 254, 259
    summary of, 261-6
    versions of, 257 note, 269

  _Vita Nuova_, 16 note, 272
    date of, 258 note
    Boccaccio on, 266, 267

  Viterbo, 217, 218

  Voigt, _Pétrarque, Boccace_, 232 note, 234 note, 245 note

  Volpi, _Una Canzone di Cino da Pistoia_, 25 note

  Volumnia, 241

  Waldron's _Literary Museum_, 243 note

  Wallis, William, 315 note

  Walter, Duke of Athens and Count of Brienne, 101-7

  Warner, William, _Albion's England_, 315 note

  Wayland, John, 101 note

  Weller, Mr., 240

  _Westward for Smelts_, 314 note

  Whibley, Charles, 315 note

  Wicksteed, P. H., _Early Lives of Dante_, 185, 258 note, 269 note
    on the _Vita di Dante_, 258, 259

  Witte, 9, 108 note, 117, 163 note, 222 note
    _Dekameron übersetz_, 323 note
    _Essays on Dante_, 257 note

  Woodcocke, Thomas, 70 note

  Young, B., 93

  Zanobi da Strada, 108 note, 123, 168

  Zardo, _Il Petrarca_, 219 note

  Zenati, _Dante e Firenze_, 48 note

  Zenobia, 241

  Zilioli, 132 note

  Zumbini, B., _Il Filocolo del Boccaccio_, 6 note, 68 note


  Italic text is denoted by _underscores_.
  Superscripts are denoted by ^  eg xvj^o.

  Obvious typographical errors and punctuation errors have been
  corrected after careful comparison with other occurrences within
  the text and consultation of external sources.

  Modern practice in Italian texts contracts (removes the space from)
  vowel elisions, for example l'anno not l' anno, ch'io not ch' io.
  This book, in common with some similar English books of the time, has
  a space in these elisions in the original text.  This space has been
  retained in the etext.  The only exceptions, in both the text and
  etext, are in French names and phrases, such as d'Aquino and d'Anjou.

  Except for those changes noted below, misspelling by the author,
  and inconsistent or archaic usage, has been retained. For example,
  well known, well-known; Africo, Affrico.

  p. xvii 'he granted' replaced by 'be granted'.
  p. xxiv 'TWO EMBASSIES TO' replaced by 'THE EMBASSIES TO'.
  p. 77 'Benôit' replaced by 'Benoît'.
  p. 116 'Castel Capuana' replaced by 'Castel Capuano'.
  p. 154 'More-ever,' replaced by 'Moreover,'.
  p. 194 'repellant' replaced by 'repellent'.
  p. 195 'Cesarea' replaced by 'Cæsarea'.
  p. 326 'Paoli pro partibus' replaced by 'Pauli pro partibus'.
  p. 336 'in ciu Affrico' replaced by 'in cui Affrico'.
  p. 337 'vie puì credibile' replaced by 'vie più credibile'.
  p. 339 'Mensola una della' replaced by 'Mensola una delle'.
  p. 340 'nuova si Mensola' replaced by 'nuova di Mensola'.
  p. 340 'ed i monto' replaced by 'ed i monti'.
  p. 340 'Mensola tradì là' replaced by 'Mensola tradì la'.
  p. 340, 342 'Girasone' replaced by 'Girafone'.
  p. 343 'avuti sa dua' replaced by 'avuti da sua'.
  p. 373 'Bernarbò' replaced by 'Bernabò'.
  p. 390 'Biondella' replaced by 'Biondello'.
  p. 392 'Torella' replaced by 'Torello'.

  Footnote [116] (p. 32) 'Cassetti' replaced by 'Casetti'.
  Footnote [179] (p. 51) 'Rome toun' replaced by 'Rome town'.
  Footnote [306] (p. 97) 'chuise' replaced by 'chiuse'.
  Footnote [359] (p. 128) 'epecially' replaced by 'especially'.
  Footnote [393] (p. 148) 'Niccola' replaced by 'Niccolò'.
  Footnote [426] (p. 164) 'v.s.' replaced by 'u.s.'.
  Footnote [576] (p. 254) "Apollo' all, ultimo" replaced by
                             "Apollo, all' ultimo".
  Footnote [576] (p. 254) 'diritti in lono' replaced by 'diritti in loro'.
  Footnote [660] (p. 300) 'sowewhat' replaced by 'somewhat'.

  Index to Decameron: Aquamorta; entry moved to correct alphabetic order.
  Index to Decameron: Licisca; 'to vi, vi, 10' replaced by 'to, vi, 10'.

  Index: 'Altovite' replaced by 'Altoviti'.
  Index: 'Bruni, Leonardi' replaced by 'Bruni, Leonardo'.
  Index: 'Cini, Bettoni' replaced by 'Cini, Bettone'.
  Index: 'D'Ancona e Bacci' replaced by 'D'Ancona e Bocci'.
  Index: Divine Comedy; '257, 257, 266,' replaced by '257, 266,'.
  Index: 'Eletta ... grandaughter' replaced by 'Eletta ... granddaughter'.
  Index: 'Floire et Blancefor' replaced by 'Floire et Blanceflor'.
  Index: 'Francesco da Buto' replaced by 'Francesco da Buti'.
  Index: 'Gigli ... sonnetti' replaced by 'Gigli ... sonetti'.
  Index: 'Libro delle Provvisione' replaced by '... Provvisioni'.
  Index: 'Lunigiano' replaced by 'Lunigiana'.
  Index: 'Massamutin' replaced by 'Massamutino'.
  Index: 'Mersalino' replaced by 'Massalino'.
  Index: 'Palma, 100' removed; '100' added to 'Parma' entry.
  Index: 'Scefi' retained, though text on p. 106 has 'Assisi'.
  Index: 'S. Isidoro di Seviglia' replaced by '... Siviglia'.
  Index: 'Squarcifico' replaced by 'Squarciafico'.
  Index: 'Tanfani, Niccolò Accaiuoli' replaced by '... Acciaiuoli'.
  Index: 'Tirona' replaced by 'Tironea'.

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