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Framed Story: Decameron

Giovanni Boccaccio (1313 1375): Decameron (c. 1350 - 1351/53)

Giovanni Boccaccio
Full text version (English, sorted according chapters and stories)
Full text version (in one text; valuable, if you attempt to search the text for keywords)
(warning: both translations have considerable differences between each other)

The Decameron is structured in a frame narrative, or frame tale, completed by Giovanni Boccaccio in 1351 (or, according to some critics, in 1353). It opens with a description of the Black Death and leads into an introduction of a group of seven young women and three young men who flee from plague-ridden Florence to a villa in the (then) countryside of Fiesole for two weeks. To pass the time, every night, all of the members tell one story each. Although fourteen days pass, two days each week are set aside: one day for chores and one holy day during which no work is done. In this manner, 100 stories are told by the end of the ten days.

Each of the ten characters is charged as King or Queen of the company for one of the ten days in turn. This charge extends to choosing the theme of the stories for that day, and all but two days have topics assigned:

["Before beginning the story-telling sessions, the ten young Florentines, referred to as the Brigata, gather at the Basilica di Santa Maria Novella ...

... and together decide to escape Black Death by leaving the city to stay in a villa in the countryside for the next two weeks. Each agrees to tell one story each day for ten days. The stories are told in the garden of the first villa that the company stays at, which (although fictional) is located a few miles outside the city.
Under the rule of Pampinea, the first day of story-telling is open topic. Although there is no assigned theme of the tales this first day, six deal with one person censuring another and four are satires of the Catholic Church."
From ]

[2]examples of the power of fortune; ["Filomena reigns during the second day and she assigns a topic to each of the storytellers: Misadventures that suddenly end happily."]

[3]examples of the power of human will;["Neifile presides as queen during the third day. In these stories a person either has painfully acquired something or has lost it and then regained it."]

[4]love tales that end tragically; ..
[Intermzzo: "Boccaccio begins this day with a defense of his work as it is thus far completed. ... Boccaccio is probably just shooting down potential detractors.
... Boccaccio tells a story explaining how natural it is for a man to enjoy a woman's company. In this story Filipo Balducci is a hermit living with his son on Mount Asinaio after the death of his wife and travels occasionally to Florence for supplies. One day his son - now eighteen and having never before left the mountain - accompanies him because Filipo is too infirm to make the journey alone. While there the son becomes fascinated with women, even though he had never seen one before and Filipo regrets ever bringing his son to Florence.
This is commonly referred to as the 101st story of the Decameron."]
["Filostrato reigns during the fourth day, in which the storytellers tell tales of lovers whose relationship ends in disaster. This is the first day a male storyteller reigns."]

[5]love tales that end happily; ["During the fifth day Fiammetta sets the theme of tales where lovers pass through disasters before having their love end in good fortune."]

[6]clever replies that save the speaker; ["During the sixth day of storytelling, Elissa is queen of the brigata and chooses for the theme stories in which a character avoids attack or embarrassment through a clever remark.
Many stories in the sixth day do not have previous versions. Boccaccio may have invented many of them himself. He certainly was clever enough to have created the situations and the retorts."]

[7]tricks that women play on men; ["During the seventh day Dioneo serves as king of the brigata and sets the theme for the stories: tales in which wives play tricks on their husbands. Stories of this type are typical of the misogynistic sentiment of the Medieval era. However, in many of the stories the wives are portrayed as more intelligent and clever than their husbands. Though Boccaccio portrays many of the women of these stories in a positive light, most of the men in the stories are stereotypical medieval/Renaissance cuckolds."]

[8]tricks that people play on each other in general; ["Lauretta reigns during the eighth day of storytelling. During this day the members of the group tell stories of tricks women play on men or that men play on women."

[9][Emilia is queen of the brigata for the ninth day. For the second time there is no prescribed theme for the stories of the day (the only other time was during the first day)]

[10]examples of virtue [Panfilo is the king of the last day of storytelling and he orders the company to tell stories about deeds of munificence. These tales seem to escalate in their degrees of munificence until the end, where the day (and the entire Decameron) reaches an apex in the story of patient Griselda.]

Only Dioneo, who usually tells the tenth tale each day, has the right to tell a tale on any topic he wishes, due to his wit. Many authors have argued that Dioneo expresses the views of Boccaccio himself. Each day also includes a short introduction and conclusion to continue the frame of the tales by describing other daily activities besides story-telling. These frame tale interludes frequently include transcriptions of Italian folk songs. The interactions among tales in a day, or across days, as Boccaccio spins variations and reversals of previous material, forms a whole and not just a collection of stories. The basic plots of the stories including mocking the lust and greed of the clergy; tensions in Italian society between the new wealthy commercial class and noble families; the perils and adventures of traveling merchants.

Well ... coming so far, I got the opinion, that a key to the study of the Decameron would be to make a system, which describes the movement of the persons.

The scheme develops in 10 steps with 10 persons. In only few steps a person stays at the position where it had been before. The great exception is Dioneo, who in the first step takes position 4 (with this 3 positions behind Panfilo, who has No 1, and is with that 3 positions before Filostrato, who has No 7). So the 3 male members of the groups seem to be at the start mathematically arranged (1-4-7), each with two women following (Position 1 followed by 2 and 3, Pos. 4 by 5 and 6 and Pos. 7 by 8 and 9) ... above them (at the start) the queen Pampinea, which is considered the oldest of the women (with a little less than 28 years).

Well, this start position looks a little bit like a dance structure ...

The idea, that the 7 women present not "natural women", but have to be identified allegorical, for instance with the "7 virtues", is not new. In a side path I found an opinion of somebody else, that Elissa would present "Hope". Elissa is the youngest of the seven women (a little older than 18 years), so Hope might be a good choice ... so I thought. After some analyzes I agreed with my earlier assumption and the idea of somebody else: Elissa is Hope.

Position 1 ... from which I think, that it is a dance

1 Panfilo - 2 Neifile - 3 Philomena
4 Dioneo - 5 Fiammeta - 6 Emilia
7 Filostrato - 8 Lauretta - 9 Elissa
Queen of the day: 10 Pampinea

... now 9 days pass (and all the persons move), and at the 10th day (which has the theme "Virtues"), the figures have this position:

1 Neifile
2 Elissa
3 Filostrato ... man
4 Lauretta

5 Emilia
6 Fiammeta
7 Pampinea
8 Filomena
9 Panfilo ... man

10 Diodeo ... man

Diodeo has now the meta-position 10, which he already had since the evening of day 1, when the society seems to have realized, that he's the real poet ... :-) ... as explanation is given, that at the end of the first day, Diodeo asked:
[quote]Dioneo, however, when the rest had done speaking, said: Madam, as all the rest have said, so say I, briefly, that the rule prescribed by you is commendable and delectable; but of your especial grace I crave a favour, which, I trust, may be granted and continued to me, so long as our company shall endure; which favour is this: that I be not bound by the assigned theme if I am not so minded, but that I have leave to choose such topic as best shall please me. And lest any suppose that I crave this grace as one that has not stories ready to hand, I am henceforth content that mine be always the last. The queen, knowing him to be a merry and facetious fellow, and feeling sure that he only craved this favour in order that, if the company were jaded, he might have an opportunity to recreate them by some amusing story, gladly, with the consent of the rest, granted his petition. [quote]

Dioneo takes with this the "moderator place" (Nr. 10) after the "king of the day (position 9 usually) told his story".
The king of the 10th day (position number 9) is Panphilo and beside him (Nr. 8) is Filomena. Filomena had been at the 1st day one of the two ladies dancing with Panphilo ("1 Panfilo - 2 Neifile - 3 Philomena").
For both - Dioneo and Panphilo - one could say, that they reached the "highest position in the scheme" (typical for men ... :-) ...).
If we look now for the remaining man, Filostrato, then we see, that for unknown reason he has fallen down at the 10th day to position No 3, near to Elissa the youngest and possibly "Hope" (No 2) and also "Lauretta" (No. 4). And if we go now back to the "Dance of day 1", then we find precisely "7 Filostrato - 8 Lauretta - 9 Elissa" ...

If we (the readers) would expect for the last day a sorted representation of the 7 virtues, we would accept easily ...

10 Diodeo
9 Panfilo
8 Filostrato
and then (at 7-1) the seven virtues in row

... as the key system of the work (and we would know, if "Elissa is Hope" and who all the the other hidden virtues are).
But ... poets are poets, and they love to puzzle around a little bit and so Boccaccio complicated the matter. Actually the row of virtues is given in the last days , but Boccaccio also wanted to point to the hidden roles of Filostrato, Panfilo and Diodeo, naturally.

As the 7 women are "hidden virtues", so naturally also the 3 men are "something". If one has no better idea, then the 3 men are just the author (Boccaccio himself) and the 3 men personal aspects of Boccaccio.

Diodeo ... naturally is the poet.
Panfilo ... means "I love all"
Filostrato means somehow "I love you", but possibly he has difficulties about the question, whom he means. At the begin he dances with Elissa and Lauretta (first day), and at the end (last day) he still doesn't know, whom he should prefer.
And in the midst of it he exclaims:
[quote]"... nor willingly would I be called by any other name,
but only, the miserable and unfortunate Lover."[/b]

If we now - for the real order - put Filostrato at position 8 as the "3rd man" and exchange him with Filomena (moved to position 3, where she had been at day 1), then we would have in the "repaired 10th day":

1 Neifile = cardinal virtue Temperance
2 Elissa = theological virtue Hope
3 Filomena = cardinal virtue Prudentia
4 Lauretta = theological virtue Caritas
5 Emilia = cardinal virtue Fortitudo
6 Fiammeta = theological virtue Fides
7 Pampinea = cardinal virtue Justice
8 Filostrato ... man
9 Panfilo ... man
10 Diodeo ... man

The page "Brigata" presents the 10 figures in single aspects ...

1 Neifile is (in this text) honored for Modestia, which would fit with the virtue Temperance

2 Elissa is associated to Hope

3 Filomena is the only one, who plays chess (with Panfilo).. "Philomena and Pamphilus playing at the Chesse, all sporting themselves as best they pleased." ... after the third day. This might demand some prudence, so Prudentia might be correct.

4 Lauretta: The text gives her to "Justice", but I don't think, that this is correct. I give Lauretta to Caritas, mainly cause I think, that Justice is made by Pampinea, the oldest, at the first day, when she defined the rules for 10-day-stories experiment. Further I think, that Justice is the natural middle between 3 theological virtues and 3 remaining cardinal virtues.

5 Emilia is (by the text) presented as an example for narcism - I think, that this fits well with Fortitudo. It seems, that she is the "dancing-Queen".

6 Fiammetta is the great love in Boccaccio's real life and in Boccaccio's Decamerone she should present the "secret lover of Diodeo". According the "day-1-dance" Diodeo has Fiammetta and Emilia as possible partner. This is mirrored by the condition, that Fiammetta get's "somehow" the final words of all the Decamerone

7 Pampinea ... as already explained, I think, that she presents Justice.


Most difficulties in this "my representation" I see for Lauretta = Caritas and Fiammetta = Fides ... it might well be, that it was meant as Lauretta = Fides and Fiammetta = Caritas. In the Mantegna Tarocchi (which gives to Rome) Fides is higher than Caritas, however, in the Minchiate (which is from Florence) Caritas is higher than Fides. Boccaccio wrote in Florence, but the Mantegna is (possibly) nearer in time to the Decamerone. And the assumed "basis row" of the cardinal virtues in Decamerone ...

1 Neifile = Temperantia
3 Filomena = Prudentia
5 Emilia = Fortitudo
7 Pampinea = Justice

... is identical to Mantegna Tarocchi

34 Temperance
35 Prudentia
36 Fortitudo
37 Justice
38 Spes (Hope)
39 Caritas
40 Fides

.. the Minchiate (Florence), however, shows this row ..

6 Temperantia
7 Fortitudo
8 Justice
16 Hope
17 Prudentia
18 Fides
19 Caritas

... and this (again) shows a "high-flying" Prudentia, as it doesn't appear in the basis row, but ALSO at the final day of the Decamerone (with Filomena = Prudentia) taking the 8th position.

The one big confusing element about all riddles of the Tarocchi-row is "where is Prudentia gone too ?".

From the situation of the Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo Tarocchi (painted by two artists) and the from this deck developing 5x14-theory it's stated, that the first 14 trumps (made by Bembo) only included the virtue "Justice", which at this state not naturally was meant as a a "cardinal virtue". With the addition of six cards by the second painter, who, as it seems, added two triads

Sun - Moon - Star
and the 3 missing Cardinal Virtues
Temperantia - Fortitudo - Prudentia (= World)

With the Charles VI Tarot the idea, that "card World meant Prudentia", was confirmed, cause in this deck Cardinal Virtues got a signifying "octogonal halo" and the card "World" had such a halo like her sisters Fortitudo-Temperantia-Justice.

Now we meet in a text, which is about 100 years older than the Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo Tarocchi (and beside that it's a text, which had been very influential for Italian and European culture) a similar "high-flying and disguised" Prudentia called Filomena, which jumps out of the general order of the normal virtues.

"Filo..." as in "Filostrato" and "Panfilo" and also in "Filomena" translates generally as "I love" as in "Philosophy" (which means "I love wisdom" from Sophia" = "wisdom"). "Filo ... mena" lets me think of "mens, mentis", and I would translate the meaning of it with "I love understanding" or "I love thinking" and that would be a rather good name for "Prudentia" (the "babynames" literature comes to the opinion, that Filomena means "beloved", other thought of Philomela, the "Nightingale"). And I take my flight to the literary fact, that Filomena (as the only one of all 7 girls) plays chess - with Panfilo.

"Panfilo" was already before Boccaccio a literary figure with different writing forms Pamphilo, Panfilio ...

Here as a Magician in the Sola Busca deck, "Panfilio", in 1491

And here in "Andria" .. an old comedy of Terence ..

[b]Pamphilus' father had arranged for him to marry Philumena. After much curious developments it finishes luckily with Pamphilus marrying the sweet Glycerium and Philumena is free to marry Charinus, the friend of Pamphilus.

And in the Decamerone at 10th day, story 8 (Filomena's last literary contribution, which naturally has a deeper meaning) Filomena tells about a Sophronia, who shall be married to Gesippus, but Gesippus has a close friend, who falls deeply in love to the bride of the friend and finally turns about his inner conflict nearly mortal sick ... and the good friend Gesippus opens all the lucky ways, that the friend gets Sophronia, and he himself gets the sister of his friend.

This theater play "Andria" (from Terence, with Pamphilus and Philomena) was given in a big theater show in Ferrara 1491 for the wedding of Alfonso d'Este with Anna Sforza, and the Sola Busca (with a card Panfilio as "Magician") was dated to the same date "1491" cause a quote at one of the cards referring to the foundation of the city Venice. Alfonso d'Este in 1491 - short after the wedding (January 1491) - visited Venice (February/March 1491). Everybody might think, what he takes from this "strange coindence", but I would think, that the Sola Busca had been made for the marriage of Alonso d'Este.

Anyway ... but it sounds, as if this high-flying Filomena seems to be a women between two men. Usually the man has the choice ...

Pamphilus appears then also in this older text "Pamphilus de amore", described with translation here ...
... in which Pamphilus discusses with an old woman called "Anus" the conditions of his love life to Galathea (everybody might think what he wants with that, what "Anus" means in the given context, indeed Anus is also an old Latin name for "old woman ... here is the Latin text with "Anus ad Pamphilium" and "Panphilium ad Anum"
... ) and it's said in the description, that this work influenced a Pamphilus figure appearing as a seducer in Boccaccio's work "Fiammetta" (before Decamarone).

Further Boccaccio wrote a text "Filostrato" (also before Decamarone), so the conclusion is given, that Boccaccio had generated content already before the Decamarone, which filled the background - and this naturally isn't present in the Decamarone itself, but might be for Boccaccio and his contemporary readers might be taken as "known". So if we read ...
"... and Dioneo and Fiammetta sat singing together the song of
Palamon and Arcite" at the begin of the 8th day, which belongs to LAURETTA (who was just crowned then, with a LAUREL CROWN of course as all the lterary Kings and Queens in the Decamaron) and then know, that Palamon and Arcite became the first story of Chaucer's Canterbury stories, the "Knight Tale", and even more than this, it appeared already as theme in Boccacio's own "Teseida della nozze di Emilia" ...."
... then complex details show up, just indicated with a few words

And Emilia is also in the Decamerone as Fortitudo.

Filostrato appears before the Decamerone ...


Alright, I've given and interpreted a few details, based on the speaker lists of the first and the last day (which surely have an important value), which in my opinion lead to the virtue identification.
But there are more details given with the speaker lists of 2nd till 9th day, then the literary King's and Queens list and additionally a singer for each day. Further each day has a theme. And there are 100 stories at this 10x10 chess board ...

Chess ... how often does chess appear in the text? Not very often, aber it often appeas at significant places.

Maybe I tell this in my next post to this theme.
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Huck  Huck is offline
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Decameron by Waterouse

Taking a second view on the virtues-order I got a second observation, when I compared the standard row of the planets (so-called Chaldean order) with the already described order between virtues and ladies ...

8 Philomena II (= Minerva)
7 Pampinea = Justice = Saturn
6 Fiammeta = Caritas = Jupiter
5 Emile = Fortitudo = Mars
4 Lauretta = Fides = Sol
3 Philomena I = Prudentia = Venus (later Filostrato)
2 Elisa = Hope = Mercury
1 Neifile = Temperance = Moon


Looking during the research for "Lauretta" and her described character I found not much in the Decamerone text, which relates her to Fides, but more, which relates her to the "Laurel crown" for the poets.
"Sol = Apollo" constantly is related to the laurel crown, so the row of the planets would fit at this place rather splendidly. At the other planet positions:

7 Justice = Saturn ... seems good
6 Caritas = Jupiter ... seems possible
5 Fortitudo = Mars ... seems very good
4 (Lauretta-)Fides = Sol ... seems very good
3 Prudentia = Venus ... seems to be a hard contradiction !!!
2 Hope = Mercury ... seems good
1 Temperance = Moon ... seems good

Temperance is usually given with two jars filling water from one jar to the other: from empty to full, from full to empty ... this might be understood well with the behavior of the light of the moon: from empty to full, from full to empty in 29.5 days.

Prudentia clearly doesn't fit with the description of Venus ... but Filomena=Prudentia in the final order (10th day) exchanged her position from the "basis-order" (= seven female virtues from 1-7) at the position 3 to the place No 8, where Filostato should hve been positioned. "From 8 to 3 (Fillostrato), from 3 to 8 (Filomena)".

What does this mean, this "From 8 to 3, from 3 to 8" ?

In the I-Ching you have three basis-lines from the trigram (earth-man-heaven), but each basis-line has two states (yin and yang, binary scheme), and so the 3 basis-lines form 8 states (8 trigrams). With the idea "from 3 to 8".
This scheme is part of the program, how the I-Ching authors imagined the genesis of the world, which in its later state has 64 hexagrams (= 8 trigrams x 8 trigrams).

Naturally the I-Ching is Chinese and so "from far away", but it is based on a very simple basic math, which was spread around the world and is so "international", that one cannot limit its use not to China alone. Simply, one has to assume, that Boccaccio might have known about it. This "8 = 3 form" could be also addressed as a "3=7" scheme, as the 8th trigram might be identified with the summary of the 3 basic definitions. "3=7" also appears in the life-tree (Sephiroth-tree) definitions, as it appears in Kabbala:

The connections between the Sephiroth are more confusing than useful, the base is just, that the upper 3 circles (parents) are departed from the lower 7 circles (children; which actually are a 6+1-group).

When Boccaccio used 3 men and 7 women to meet inside his literary plot, then already the suspicion was given, that he might have used this binary scheme as a structural background and play. Well, he disguised this with "natural details", as poets often did to keep their reader banned to insecurity about the intentions of the poet.

Now this "simple "from-3-to-8" math is also addressable as a "1-7 scheme", as the three basic definitions are only one trigram (of the 8 trigrams). With my assumption, that the three figures Filostrato-Pamphilus-Diodeo have to be understood as just one man (= the poet), who meets the wonder of the 7 virtues in the Decamerone, I just reduce the plot to this 1-7 scheme.
8 (trigrams) x 8 (trigrams) now is just the size of a chess-board (64 fields) ... did the poet somehow reflect the chess game itself in context to his wok Decamerone? That's now an interesting question, which demands a long answer.


Chess passages in Decamerone

Chess passage 1:
First day: Just before Pamphilus starts the first story of the Decameron

In the morning, the Queene and
all the rest being risen, accounting over much sleepe to be very
hurtfull, they walked abroad into a goodly Meadow, where the grasse
grew verdantly, and the beames of the Sun heated not overviolently,
because the shades of faire spreading Trees, gave a temperate
calmnesse, coole and gentle winds fanning their sweet breath
pleasingly among them. All of them being there set downe in a round
ring, and the Queen in the middest, as being the appointed place of
eminency, she spake:
You see (faire company) that the Sunne is highly mounted, the
heate (elsewhere) too extreme for us, and therefore here is our
fittest refuge, the ayre being so coole, delicate, and acceptable, and
our folly well worthy reprehension, if we should walke further, and
speede worse. Heere are Tables, Cards, and Chesse, as your
dispositions may bee addicted. But if mine advice might passe for
currant, I would admit none of those exercises, because they are too
troublesome both to them that play, and such as looke on. I could
rather wish, that some quaint discourse might passe among us, a tale
or fable related by some one, to urge the attention of all the rest.
And so wearing out the warmth of the day, one prety Novell will draw
on another, untill the Sun be lower declined, and the heates extremity
more diminished, to solace our selves in some other place, as to our
minds shall seeme convenient. If therefore what I have sayde bee
acceptable to you (I purposing to follow in the same course of
pleasure,) let it appeare by your immediate answere; for, till the
Evening, I thinke we can devise no exercise more commodious for us.
The Ladies and Gentlemen allowed of the motion, to spend the time in
telling pleasant tales; whereupon the Queene saide: Seeing you have
approved mine advice, I grant free permission for this first day, that
every one shall relate, what to him or her is best pleasing. And
turning her selfe to Pamphilus (who was seated on her right hand) gave
him favour, with one of his Novels, to begin the recreation: which
he not daring to deny, and perceiving generall attention prepared
for him, thus he began.
So here appears the recommendation of Pampinea, presentation o Justice and Queen of the first day, not to to play Chess, Cards or Tables, but to engage in a story-telling adventure. That this whole finally turns out to be a form of Chess book, that's just the irony of the poet.
Pamphilus, possibly expressing just this Chess irony, tells then in the opening story (first of 100 others), how a rather bad man (who beside his many bad doings also had been a gamester, who cheated in dice games) finally becomes a saint ... after his death.
In the translated text also the word Cards appear, however there are arguments, that this only is due to later interpolation of the text, and that the original likely hadn't the expression "cards".

Chess passage 2:

After the end of the 10th story of the 3rd day:

...[Filostratos speaking] "... nor willingly would I be called by any other name,
but only, the miserable and unfortunate Lover."
Having thus spoken, he arose againe; granting leave to the rest,
to recreate themselves till supper time. The Garden was very faire and
spacious, affoording, large limits for their severall walkes; the
Sun being already so low descended, that it could not be offensive
to any one, the Connies, Kids, and young Hindes skipping every where
about them, to their no meane, pleasure and contentment, Dioneus and
Fiammetta, sate singing together, of Messire Guiglielmo, and the
Lady of Vertur. [b]Philomena and Pamphilus playing at the Chesse, all
sporting themselves as best they pleased.[b/] But the houre of Supper
being come, and the Tables covered about the faire fountaine, they
sate downe and supt in most loving manner. Then Philostratus, not to
swerve from the course which had beene observed by the Queenes
before him, so soone as the Tables were taken away, gave commaund that
Madam Lauretta should beginne the dance, and likewise to sing a
Filostrato has just been made "King of the day" (which means king of the 4th day) ... he proposes the theme: "Tales of lovers whose relationship ends in disaster", which is quite more depressive than Dioneo's "Tales in which wives play tricks on their husbands" (7th day) and Panfilo's turn to virtue (10th day):
"Wherefore I ordain that for to-morrow you do each of you take thought how you may discourse of the ensuing theme: to wit, of such as in matters of love, or otherwise, have done something with liberality or magnificence. By the telling, and (still more) by the doing of such things, your spirits will assuredly be duly attuned and animated to emprise high and noble; whereby our life, which cannot but be brief, seeing that 'tis enshrined in a mortal body, fame shall perpetuate in glory; which whoso serves not the belly, as do the beasts, must not only covet, but with all zeal seek after and labour to attain."
Whereby by the 3-fold male scheme so is told:

Filostrato : unlucky lover
Diodeo: half lucky - half unlucky (cheated)
Panfilo: lucky by love

At the begin of the 4th reign the author makes a few words defending his stor (the Decamerone) and then tells the story of somebody, who attempted to educate his son to a very pious life without women far off the general world, but experienced, that the son, when he turned 18 years old and it couldn't be avoided, that he saw some women, from this moment on nothing better desired than women.

So, in this moment of the "first king of literature" (the earlier regents had been Queens, at least for the Decamerone) "Philomena and Pamphilus are playing at the Chesse".
This is very symbolic ... of course.

As already explained, a major topic of the Decamerone is to explain, why and how the prudent Filomena (later 8th place) raises herself to Pamphilo (at the last day at 9th position and king of literature), and how Filostrato dropped from 8th position to 3rd, a poor victim of love.

Chess passage 4:

In the introduction of the sixth day with Eliza as "Queene"

After dinner, they sung divers excellent Canzonnets, and then some
went to sleepe, others played at the Chesse, and some at the Tables:
But Dioneus and Madam Lauretta, they sung the love-conflict betweene
Troylus and Cressida. Now was the houre come, of repairing to their
former Consistory or meeting place, the Queene having thereto
generally summoned them, and seating themselves (as they were wont
to doe) about the faire fountaine. As the Queene was commanding to
begin the first Novell, an accident suddenly happened, which never had
befalne before: to wit, they heard a great noyse and tumult, among the
houshold servants in the Kitchin. Whereupon, the Queene caused the
Master of the Houshold to be called, demaunding of him, what noyse
it was, and what might be the occasion thereof? He made answere,
that Lacisca and Tindaro were at some words of discontentment, but
what was the occasion thereof, he knew not. Whereupon, the Queene
commanded that they should be sent for, (their anger and violent
speeches still continuing) and being come into her presence, she
demaunded the reason of their discord; and Tindaro offering to make
answere, Lacisca (being somewhat more ancient then he, and of a
fiercer fiery spirit, even as if her heart would have leapt out of her
mouth) turned her selfe to him, and with a scornefull frowning
countenance, said. See how this bold, unmannerly and beastly fellow,
dare presume to speake in this place before me: Stand by (saucy
impudence) and give your better leave to answere; then turning to
the Queene, thus shee proceeded.
Madam, this idle fellow would maintaine to me, that Signior
Sicophanto marrying with Madama della Grazza, had the victory of her
virginity the very first night; and I avouched the contrary, because
shee had been a mother twise before, in very faire adventuring of
her fortune. And he dared to affirme beside, that yong Maides are so
simple, as to loose the flourishing Aprill of their time, in meere
feare of their parents, and great prejudice of their friends.
And then the Queene, somewhat offended at the folly of the former
controversie, commanded Madame Philomena, that she should give
beginning to the dayes Novels:
At this opportunity the chess fever is a general one, nobody is mentioned with name ... well, and we experience, that this chess is accompanied by a curious noise. A small drama in the otherwise peaceful household takes place about the question, what is a virgin or what is not a virgin, and that just at the day, when the probable virgin Elissa is the queen of literature, which, as already told, is the youngest of all the ladies.

Neifile, likely the second youngest, isn't likely a virgin, cause she has a lover, as we're told here.
Whilst this matter was in debate, behold, three gentlemen
came into the church, the youngest not less than twenty-five
years of age, and in whom neither the adversity of the times,
the loss of relations and friends, nor even fear for themselves,
could stifle, or indeed cool, the passion of love. One was
called Pamfilo, the second Filostrato, and the third Dioneo,
all of them well bred, and pleasant companions ; and who,
to divert themselves in this time of affliction, were then in
pursuit of their mistresses, who as it chanced were three of
these seven ladies, the other four being all related to one or
other of them.
These gentlemen were no sooner within view,
than the ladies had immediately their eyes upon them, and
Pampinea said, with a smile, *' See, fortune is with us, and has
thrown in out way three prudent and worthy gentlemen, who
will conduct and wait upon us, if we think fit to accept of
their service." Neifile, with a blush, because she was one
that had an admirer, answered
: " Take care what you say, I
know them all indeed to be persons of character, and fit to be
trusted, even in affairs of more consequence, and in better
company; but, as some of them are enamoured of certain
ladies here
, I am only concerned lest we be* drawn into some
scrape or scandal, without either our fault or theirs." Filo-
mena replied : " Never tell me what other people may think,
so long as I know myself to be virtuous ; God and the truth
will be my defence ; and if they be willing to go, we will say
with Pampinea, that fortune is with us."

The rest hearing her speak in this manner, gave consent
that the gentlemen should be invited to partake in this ex-
pedition. And, without more words, Pampinea, who was
related to one of the three, rose up, and made towards them,
as they stood watching at a distance. Then, after a cheerful
salutation, she acquainted them with the design in hand, and
entreated that they would, out of pure friendship, oblige them
with their company. The gentlemen at first took it all for a
jest, but, being assured to the contrary, immediately answered
that they were ready ; and, to lose no time, gave the necessary
orders for what they wished to have done.
So, there is a "complex relation" between the both groups (partly love-affairs, partly cousins), which by the will of the poet IS NOT EXPLAINED. Boccaccio wants, that the reader starts to solve the riddle, who is partner to whom. He just slips the information in, that Neifile is one of the "secret lovers", but it isn't said, to whom.

Solving the riddle of the first day (I've to remember my analyses of post 1) .... the speaker list of the first day:

Position 1 ... from which I think, that it is a dance

1 Panfilo - 2 Neifile - 3 Philomena
4 Dioneo - 5 Fiammeta - 6 Emilia
7 Filostrato - 8 Lauretta - 9 Elissa
Queen of the day: 10 Pampinea
There we see, that Neifile dances with Panfilo. And Neifile is very near to him. But then, c. 14 days later, at the 10th day of story-telling, we see this picture.

1 Neifile
2 Elissa
3 Filostrato ... man
4 Lauretta
5 Emilia
6 Fiammeta
7 Pampinea
8 Filomena
9 Panfilo ... man
10 Diodeo ... man
There we see, that Neifile has lost her Panfilo: Neifile is at position No. 1 and Panfilo at Nr. 9 in the farthest possible distance to each other. What has happened?

Well, somehow it was realized through analysis, that Panfilo took up relations to Filomena, the Prudentia and chess-princess... but that's no the full reason. Neifile is the moon, and it's the destiny of the Moon, that it is once in full light and another time in dark emptiness, and the period between both intervals is just 14 days.

Filostrato now, the "negative lover", seems to have one specific problem: Jealousy, the green-eyed monster.
At Filostrato's day (the 4th tragical day) he tells the macabre story of two knights, who were very good friends of each other, but one got a love affair to the wife of the other. So the cheated husband surprised the other on his way to his wife, killed him and cut his heart out of his body. Then he ordered his cook to prepare the "heart of a boar" for supper for him and his wife. When his wife became aware of the true circumstances, she jumped from the tower - dead. The knight has to flee from his own population ... all rather tragical.
At the last final day Filostrato tells another example of jealousy. One Nathan, somehow in Cathay (China), is very famous for his richness and generosity. Another man, Mitridanes, has the aim to get the same fame. But one day he is ashamed by an old woman, who begs for alms, and who goes to all his all his palace doors, which are totally 13. He gives 12 times, but at the 13th door he feels molested by her. Then she says, that she was at the palace of Nathan and got something at all 32 doors.
Mitridanes now sees no other way than to kill Nathan to get his desire fulfilled. He attempts to do so. But Nathan very quickly learns about his ambitions, but doesn't attempt to protect himself. Nathan offers his life and even to change the personalities, Mitridames to became Nathan, and Nathan becoming Mitridanes. Finally Mitridanes is ashamed about his desire: for him it's better to be "just himself" instead of somebody other. The enemy "Jealousy" is overcome.
Of special interest are the numbers of the palace doors. Nathan (32 doors) stands for wisdom, Mitridanes (palace with 13 doors) for a calendar with 13 moon months and so for "Time".

Elissa, the virgin "Hope", and in astrology "Mercury" (the god of trade and change) waits for her maturity and the "right moment". In Boiardo's Tarocchi poem we've the strange suits Fear, Jealousy, Hope, Love ... altogether 4 passions of Stoic philosophy.

The four passions were discussed: here . They were also a theme of Boccaccio's friend Petrarca in c. 1360 in "De remediis utriusque fortunae".

Elissa with Hope and Fear finds her response in Filostrato, with Jealousy (his theme) and Love (position of the planet Venus).

Chess passage 5:

End of sixth day, Dioneus becomes king and addresses the public (his Ladies).

I make no doubt (bright Beauties) but you many times have seene as
good, or a better King among the Chessemen, then I am. But yet of a
certainty, if you would be obedient to me, as you ought in dutie
unto a true King: I should grant you a liberall freedome of that,
wherein you take the most delight, and without which, our choisest
desires can never be compleate. Neverthelesse, I meane, that my
government shal be according to mine owne minde. So, causing the
Master of the Houshold to be called for, as all the rest were wont
to do for conference with him: he gave him direction, for al things
fitting the time of his Regiment, and then turning to the Ladies, thus
he proceeded.
Dioneo, right aware about his identity with the "true author Boccaccio" and aware, that all figures in his book are just chess-figures of his mind, makes an understandable joke ... :-)
... well, at his own day (evening before the 7th day), when he is the literary king.

Chess passage 6:

Inside the 7th story of the 7th day, chess princess Filomena is talking. The hero of her story, Anichino, has the aim to seduce the beautiful Beatrix, wife of the merchant Egano. Anichino's great trick: he let's Beatrice win in the Chess game. It works.

"It fortuned upon a day, that Egano being ridden to flye his Hawke at
the River, and Anichino remaining behinde at home, Madame Beatrix, who
(as yet) had taken no notice of Anichinoes love to her (albeit her
selfe, observing his faire carriage and commendable qualities, was
highly pleased to have so seeming a servant) called him to play at the
Chesse with her: and Anichino, coveting nothing more then to content
her, carried himselfe so dexteriously in the game, that he permitted
hir still to win, which was no little joy to her. When all the
Gentlewomen, and other friends there present, as spectators to
behold their play, had taken their farewell, and were departed,
leaving them all alone, yet gaming still: Anichino breathing forth
an intire sigh, Madame Beatrix looking merrily on him, said. Tell me
Anichino, art not thou angrie, to see me win? It should appeare so
by that solemne sigh. No truly Madame, answered Anichino, a matter
of farre greater moment, then losse of infinite games at the Chesse,
was the occasion why I sighed. I pray thee (replyed the Lady) by the
love thou bearest me, as being my Servant (if any love at all remain
in thee towards me) give me a reason for that harty sigh."

Well, it's Boccaccio's book and game.
What would be, if you would leave the three guys out of the book? Under this condition the 7th story of the 7th day would be the last story of the book and the game would be at 7x7-board, well, the king would be missing. Women chess.
Prudentia Filomena plays with this idea. Clever Anichino makes the woman heart's happy by letting her win. Then together Beatrice and Anichino cheat her husband Egano in a rather tricky way.
Read it, if you desire more of it ...

In this book talk forum they've a quite different model for the virtues-girls comparison as I got ...
Pampinea - 'Full of Vigor' represents Prudence
Fiametta - 'Small Flame' Temperance
Filomena - 'Faithful in Love' Fortitude
Lauretta - 'Wise, Crowned with Laurels' Justice
Neifile - 'Cloudy' Charity
Elissa - 'God is my Vow' Hope
Emilia - 'Rival' Faith

... I agree only with "Hope"
Top   #2
Huck  Huck is offline
Join Date: 02 Jul 2003
Location: Germany
Posts: 2,682

The "Filicolo" ...
.., which is not a small book ...
... "is considered to be the first novel of Italian literature written in prose." Written in 1335/36 (Boccaccio 22 years old, he was - likely - already acquainted to "Fiammetta" alias Maria Aquino in Naples and had spend before already some time in Paris) it contains a longer chess scene. It's described in this article. chess&f=false

The hero wins (deciding sympathies), when he uses the strategy already known from the Filomena chess story (7th story of the 7th day), just by losing the chess game. Naturally Filomena's story (in the Decamarone) is about 15 years younger.

The story is the theme of "Floris and Blancheflour" ..
... it seems that the chess scene (which has a key role in the story) was already part of older versions.
Top   #3
Huck  Huck is offline
Join Date: 02 Jul 2003
Location: Germany
Posts: 2,682

The work on the Decamerone (and its influence on the later Tarot) found some prolongation in the Poilly thread, see post ....
Top   #4
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