Religion in the First and the Last Day Story of the Decameron Short Summary

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The Decameron, written by Giovanni Bocaccio in the fourteenth century, is a collection of 100 stories that explore themes such as love, death, fortune, wit, sex, and religion. These stories take place during the Black Death in Florence, where religion was a significant part of everyday life in Medieval Europe. The first and last tales of the book are particularly interesting, as they represent Bocaccio’s changing view of saints. In the first story, Bocaccio focuses on the practice of making icons for the public without verifying the qualities of the saint, resulting in an evil man, Ciappelletto, being honored as a saint after his death. However, in the last story, Griselda, a woman of great virtues, represents a true saint in life. Bocaccio’s work shows a shift from a negative to a positive view of saints, highlighting the importance of true virtue and character as opposed to iconography.

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Religion in the first and the last day story of the Decameron Giovanni Bocaccio, an Italian author of the fourteenth century, is most noted for writing the Decameron, a series of 100 stories that are structured in a frame narrative. Each of these one hundred novellas presents a particular theme ranging from love, death, fortune, wit, sex and of course, religion. The action is taking place in Florence during the Black Death that struck the city in 1348.

These were the times when religion was major part of everyday life in Medieval Europe. Through the Decameron, the reader is exposed to a variety of stories discussing the Christianity and saints. There are two particular stories that represent the most interest to me as a reader, are the first and last tales of the book. Throughout his book Boccaccio goes from negative to positive view of saints. On one hand, there is the Ciappelletto described as the worst men who ever lived, but who became a saint after death (day 1, story 1).

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And, on the other hand, there is Griselda, the women of great virtues, who can be called a saint in life (day X, story X). In his very first story Boccaccio focused on the specific practice of the Churches to make icons for public most of the time without even overlooking over the facts that prove the qualities of saint. And most of the time public would be just blinded to truly differ between saint and devil. The example of this practice is shown in a story of Cepperrello of Prato[i].

In this story, Cepperrello after a lifetime devoted to evil, tricks a priest at a deathbed confession. The priest believes Cepperrello to be a most holy person and comes to be venerated as Saint Ciappelletto. And that is the main point of the whole first story Ciappelletto, an evil man, is honored as a saint after his death. While reading the first story, reader might most certainly feel sympathy towards the tricked friar and feel hatred towards the “Saint”.

But also reader discovers that Churches are the ones to blame for building iconic objects for the public. The reason for their behavior most of the time is probably looking out for greater monetary return. According to Boccaccio, “there was not a single day that was not the feast of one or more Saints. ” [ii] Endnotes ———————– [i] Boccaccio, Giovanni, The Decameron trans. G. Waldman (Oxford University Press, 1993). Day I, Story 1, p. 23 [ii] Boccaccio, Giovanni, The Decameron trans. G. Waldman (Oxford University Press, 1993). Day II, Story X

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