Giovanni Boccaccio was an Italian author and poet whom lived from 1313 to 1375. He is best known for the Decameron, however also wrote On Famous Women and various poems in the Italian vernacular.
General Facts The Decameron is a 14th- century medieval allegory by Giovanni Boccaccio, told as a frame story encompassing 100 tales by ten young people. The work was completed in 1351. The Decameron ranges from tales of wit, practical jokes, and life lessons and documents life in 14th-century Italy.
Frame Story In Italy during the time of the Black Death, a group of seven young women and three young men flee from plague-ridden Florence to a villa in Fiesole for two weeks. To pass the evenings, every member of the party tells a story each night. Every night one of the company chooses a new theme for the stories. Examples of the themes include: examples of the power of human will, love tales that end tragically, love tales that end happily; clever replies that save the speaker, tricks that people play on each other in general, and examples of virtue.
The Black Plague Though written for more personal reasons, Boccaccio's statement explicitly alludes to the lack of compassion and innate fear of the plague The Black Death reached the shores of Italy in the spring of 1348 unleashing a rampage of death across Europe unprecedented in recorded history. By the time the epidemic played itself out three years later, 50% of Europe had been effected. Europe faced a breakdown of social order which had a lasting effect on Europe.
The Decameron’s Effect on the Italian Renaissance Boccaccio was known for his impact on the Italian Renaissance, in a time of discovery, he helped Italians recognize their roots and traditions with his tales which urge the reader to consider deeper feelings such as compassion and the necessity of learning. “To have compassion for those who suffer is a human quality which everyone should possess, especially those who have required comfort themselves in the past and have managed to find it in others. ” “You must read, you must persevere, you must sit up nights, you must inquire, and exert the utmost power of your mind. If one way does not lead to the desired meaning, take another; if obstacles arise, then still another; until, if your strength holds out, you will find that clear which at first looked dark.”
The Decameron’s Lasting Effect Boccaccio wrote the Decameron in a time of uncertainty and fear, and his message to the people of Italy has empowered people to this day. Boccaccio preaches that in a time of fear and plague, the people must remain compassionate in order to live through rough times. Boccaccio also supports doing what brings you bliss, even if superiors( the Church in his time) look down upon you. The Decameron has remained an important piece of literature to this day due to Boccaccio’s masterful creation of stories which reflect happiness, compassion, and discovery.