The Decameron

The Decameron
Boccaccio - Decameron, MCCCCLXXXXII ad di XX de giugno - 3852856 Scan00015.tif
Illustration from a ca. 1492 edition of Il Decameron published in Venice
AuthorGiovanni Boccaccio
Original titleDecamerone
LanguageItalian (Florentine)
GenreFrame story, novellas
PublisherFilippo and Bernardo Giunti
Published in English
LC ClassPQ4267

The Decameron (n/; Italian: Decameron [deˈkaːmeron, dekameˈrɔn, -ˈron] or Decamerone [dekameˈroːne]), subtitled Prince Galehaut (Old Italian: Prencipe Galeotto [ˈprentʃipe ɡaleˈɔtto, ˈprɛn-]) and sometimes nicknamed l'Umana commedia ("the Human comedy"), is a collection of novellas by the 14th-century Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio (1313–1375). The book is structured as a frame story containing 100 tales told by a group of seven young women and three young men sheltering in a secluded villa just outside Florence to escape the Black Death, which was afflicting the city. Boccaccio probably conceived of The Decameron after the epidemic of 1348, and completed it by 1353. The various tales of love in The Decameron range from the erotic to the tragic. Tales of wit, practical jokes, and life lessons contribute to the mosaic. In addition to its literary value and widespread influence (for example on Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales), it provides a document of life at the time. Written in the vernacular of the Florentine language, it is considered a masterpiece of classical early Italian prose.[1]


The book's primary title exemplifies Boccaccio's fondness for Greek philology: Decameron combines two Greek words, δέκα, déka ("ten") and ἡμέρα, hēméra ("day"), to form a term that means "ten-day [event]".[2] Ten days is the period in which the characters of the frame story tell their tales.

Boccaccio's subtitle, Prencipe Galeotto (Prince Galehaut), refers to Galehaut, a fictional king portrayed in the Lancelot-Grail who was sometimes called by the title haut prince ("high prince"). Galehaut was a close friend of Lancelot and an enemy of King Arthur. When Galehaut learned that Lancelot loved Arthur's wife, Guinevere, he set aside his own ardor for Lancelot in order to arrange a meeting between his friend and Guinevere. At this meeting the Queen first kisses Lancelot, and so begins their love affair.

In Canto V of Inferno, Dante compares these fictional lovers with the real-life paramours Francesca da Rimini and Paolo Malatesta, whose relationship he fictionalises. In Inferno, Francesca and Paolo read of Lancelot and Guinevere, and the story impassions them to lovemaking.

Dante's description of Galehaut's munificence and savoir-faire amidst this intrigue impressed Boccaccio. By invoking the name Prencipe Galeotto in the alternative title to Decameron, Boccaccio alludes to a sentiment he expresses in the text: his compassion for women deprived of free speech and social liberty, confined to their homes and, at times, lovesick. He contrasts this life with that of the menfolk, who enjoy respite in sport, such as hunting, fishing, riding, and falconry.[3]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Decamerone
العربية: ديكاميرون
asturianu: Decamerón
azərbaycanca: Dekameron
беларуская: Дэкамерон
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Дэкамэрон
български: Декамерон
bosanski: Dekameron
brezhoneg: Il Decameron
català: Decameró
čeština: Dekameron
Cymraeg: Decamerone
dansk: Dekameron
Deutsch: Decamerone
español: Decamerón
Esperanto: Dekamerono
euskara: Dekamerona
فارسی: دکامرون
français: Décaméron
Gaeilge: Decamerone
galego: Decamerón
한국어: 데카메론
հայերեն: Դեկամերոն
hrvatski: Dekameron
Bahasa Indonesia: Decameron
italiano: Decameron
עברית: דקאמרון
ქართული: დეკამერონი
Latina: Decameron
latviešu: Dekamerons
lumbaart: Decameron
magyar: Dekameron
македонски: Декамерон
Nederlands: Decamerone
日本語: デカメロン
norsk nynorsk: Dekameronen
occitan: Decameron
polski: Dekameron
português: Decamerão
română: Decameronul
русский: Декамерон
shqip: Dekameroni
Simple English: Decameron
slovenčina: Dekameron
slovenščina: Dekameron
српски / srpski: Декамерон
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Decameron
suomi: Decamerone
svenska: Decamerone
Türkçe: Decameron
українська: Декамерон
Tiếng Việt: Mười ngày
中文: 十日談