March 2, 2020

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March 2, 2020




Il Decameron is a collection of 100 stories by Giovanni Boccaccio.  Some of the tales are erotic.  They are told by seven women and three men, who take refuge in a villa outside Florence, over a ten-day period, during the Black Death, c.1350.  Il Decameron was written in Italian, rather than in Latin, an early example of the use of the vernacular.  The bookwas composed about 1352, with revisions around 1371.  It was greatly influential, inspiring writers, like Chaucer and Shakespeare.

Typical of the erotic stories is the Masetto tale, the first story shared on the third day.  Masetto, a young man, gets a job as a gardener in a convent.  He pretends to be mute and slow to gain sympathy from the nuns.  He ends up having sex with all of them, including the Abbess.  Worn out finally, Masetto reveals that he is not disabled and begs the Abbess for a way to service all the nuns without exhausting himself.  After the Abbess and the nuns devise a schedule for him, all are happy.  The story ends with Masetto old now, the father of many children by the nuns.

Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375) was an Italian writer, scholar and diplomat.  Besides Il Decameron, his many works included Il Filostrato, Teseida , Il Filocolo, La Caccia di Diana, Comedia delle Ninfe Fiorentine, Amorosa Visione, De Claris Mulieribus, De Casibus Virorum Illustrium, Esposizioni Sopra la Commedia di Dante and Corbaccio.  Boccaccio was especially concerned with the oppression of women.  He was close to Francesco Petrarch, another Italian writer, and the two greatly influenced each other.

Il Decameron is a delightful book, if a bit outrageous at times.  Very bawdy!

(Above is a still from Piers Paolo Pasolini’s film of Il Decameron).

                                                                                                          S. Gray

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