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Summary of Boccaccio's "The Decameron: Day 2, Story 7"

Giovanni Boccaccio's The Decameron quote: "...no man alive can choose any one desire as being wholly secure from the accidents of chance, and so if we wish to live properly, we should resign ourselves to accepting and possessing whatever is given to us by Him who alone knows what we need and has the power to provide it for us."
Storyteller: Panfilo

The moral of the story is that "no man alive can choose any one desire as being wholly secure from the accidents of chance, and so if we wish to live properly, we should resign ourselves to accepting and possessing whatever is given to us by Him who alone knows what we need and has the power to provide it for us" (128).

Beminedab, the Sultan of Babylon, had a daughter named Alatiel, who was said to be the most beautiful woman ever in history. The Sultan gave Alatiel to the King of Algrave to marry, because King Algrave helped him defeat the Arabs.

The Sultan put her on a ship and it set sail from Alexandria, destined for her future husband. When the ship had passed Sardinia a violent wind made the seas rough. The sailors managed to weather the storm for two days, but on the third day the ship sprung a leak. The sailors decided to abandon ship, and all of them piled into the life boat; the life boat could not support their weight and they all drowned. Alatiel and her ladies-in-waiting remained onboard the ship, which ended up crashing into the island of Majorca and became stuck onshore.

The storm had passed by the next morning. The women did not know what had happened to all of the men, and they became very sad and scared. Pericone da Visalgo happened to be riding along the beach when he spotted the lady's ship. He ordered one of his servants to go aboard and find out as much as he could. The servant came upon the ladies, who were scared and begging for mercy; however, they did not speak the same language so they tried to convey to him their misfortune through sign language. The servant returned to his master, and told him everything. Pericone had the women and their belongings taken to his castle.

He knew that Alatiel was of noble birth by the way she was clothed and how the other women treated her. He found her to be very beautiful and decided to take her as his wife, unless she was already married and in which case he would take her as his mistress. He was very frustrated by the fact that they couldn't understand each other, but he tried to fulfill his desires despite this impediment. Alatiel knew what he wanted, but put him off every time he tried. She knew that she would have to give into him sooner or later, but she had vowed to herself that she would only give herself to her husband. She ordered her servants not to reveal who they were unless an opportunity arose that would guarantee their freedom, plus she ordered them to remain chaste.




Pericone was becoming increasingly frustrated by Alatiel rejecting him; so he devised a plan to have her. He threw a party and ordered the server to give Alatiel various mixtures of wine, which made her into a happy drunk. She let her guard down and joined in with the festivities; she danced with some women who were doing a Majorcan dances. Pericone saw to it that the festivities went late into the night, and after everyone left he alone escorted her back to her room. Once back in her room, Alatiel took off her clothes and got into bed followed by Pericone. They began to make love. Alatiel had never made love before; so when she felt what it was like she was sorry she had put Pericone off for so long. After that night Alatiel and Pericone enjoyed many nights of making love.

Pericone had a brother named Marato who was twenty-five years old. He thought that Alatiel was extremely beautiful and wanted her for himself; so he devised a plan that would allow him to take Alatiel away from his older brother. A ship was to set sail for Chiarenza in the Morea; Marato convinced the owners of this ship to wait for him and his lady before they set sail. That night Marato hid in his brother's house, and when night fell he let his companions into the house. Marato's companions murdered Pericone and took Alatiel, who was scared and crying. Marato and Alatiel boarded the ship and it immediately set sail. Marato consoled Alatiel and soon she forgot all about Pericone.

The two ship owners fell in love with Alatiel and decided to share her amongst themselves. One day, when they got the opportunity they pushed Marato overboard. Alatiel was very sad and the two ship owners tried to comfort her. The two owners began to fight over which one of them was to be the first to sleep with her, and soon it came to blows. One of them was killed while the other was seriously wounded.

Once in Chiarenza, Alatiel went ashore with the wounded man. Her reputation for being the most beautiful woman alive spread throughout the city, and to the ears of the Prince of Morea. When he finally saw her he fell passionately in love with her, and believed that he should possess her. The relatives of the wounded man heard about the Prince's desire and sent Alatiel to him, which made both her and the Prince very happy. He treated her more like a wife than a mistress, and she became more beautiful.

The Duke of Athens heard about her beauty, and came to visit with the Prince, who was his relative and friend. The Prince introduced Alatiel to the Duke and the Duke fell passionately in love with her. Neither man could understand her, but that did not affect the love that they felt for her. The Duke decided that he must have her at any cost.

One day, the Duke enlisted the help of one of the Prince's servants named Ciuriaci. That night Ciuriaci let the Duke and his accomplice into the Prince's chamber; Alatiel was asleep and the Prince was standing naked before the window. Ciuriaci snuck up behind the Prince stabbed him and pushed him out of the window. The Duke's accomplice took out a rope that he had been hiding and strangled Ciuriaci with it, and with the help of the Duke threw him out of the window to join the Prince's body. When the deed was done, the Duke made love to the half-asleep Alatiel with the blood of Ciuriaci still on his hands. Later, they took the grieving Alatiel to one of the Duke's villas outside of Athens; he was already married, so she had to remain a secret. Alatiel was looked after very well at the villa.
The next day, the bodies of Ciuriai and the Prince were found by a madman, who dragged Ciuriaci's dead body around town by the very rope that had strangled him. The dead Prince's brother was elected the new ruler, and they set about to seek revenge on the Duke. When the Duke heard about the Prince's preparations for war, he readied for it as well. The Emperor of Constantinople's son Constanzio came to help the Duke, bringing with him the Emperor's nephew Manovello. The Duchess was Constanzio's sister and she told her brother the reason why the Prince was preparing to wage war on them. She was greatly grieved, and asked them to make things right again. The two men had heard about Alatiel and asked the Duke to let them meet her, which he did. When Constanzio met Alatiel he completely excused the Duke's actions, because he understood why he had done what he did. He fell in love with her and vowed to take her for himself at whatever cost.

The time came for the Duke to march against the Prince's army; so they traveled out to the border territories to try and prevent the Prince's army from going any further into the city. Constanzio saw his chance to be with Alatiel; so he faked being sick and the Duke sent him home to the caring hands of the Duchess. After Constanzio had been there a few days he spoke to his sister about taking Alatiel away. The Duchess agreed to her brother's plan, because she believed he was doing this for her honor and not his lustful desires.

Constanzio arranged for a ship to be prepared and docked outside of the place where Alatiel was living. He and his companions went to see her. Constanzio got her alone on the pretense of discussing the Duke; once out of sight he had his men snatch her and take her on board the ship. Constanzio feared that his father would take Alatiel away from him; so they traveled as far as Chios and took refuge there. The lady was very sad, but was comforted by Constanzio and decided to make the best of what Fortune had given her.

Osbech, the King of the Turks, came to Smyrna, and after hearing about Constanzio stealing Alatiel and how he did not have much protection decided to go to Chios. Constanzio's men were either killed or taken hostage; the town was plundered and burned to the ground. Once back in Smyrna, Osbech looked over his loot and discovered the beautiful Alatiel. He married her immediately and enjoyed peaceful bliss for many months.

When the Emperor, who had been planning to attack Osbech for some time, had heard about what had happened to his son, he joined forces with Basano the King of Cappadocia to attack Osbech. When Osbech heard about this he gathered his army and went to fight Basano's army, leaving Alatiel with one of his trusted vassals, Antioco. Osbech's army was defeated and he himself was killed. Basano marched into Smyrna and everyone bowed down to him.

Antioco was an old man, but he fell passionately in love with Alatiel as if he were a young man. She was pleased to be with him, because he was the first man in years that knew her language. Their relationship quickly progressed from friendly to intimate. When they heard that Osbech was killed they decided to flee and they went to Rhodes taking with them some of Osbechs most valuable possessions. They stayed with Antioco's Cypriot merchant friend. Not long after they arrived Antioco fell mortally ill, and left all of his possessions including Alatiel to his friend. A few days after Antioco passed away, the merchant decided that he wanted to return to Cyprus; so he asked Alatiel what she wanted to do. She decided that she wanted to go with him. He thought it would be wise to have Alatiel pose as his wife until they reached Cyprus.

Once on the ship they were given a small cabin to share. At some point during the journey they took their friendship to the next level and began having sex. Even after they arrived in Cyprus they remained together.

One day, while the merchant was out of town, a poor nobleman named Antigono came to Cyprus on business. He happened to walk by the merchant's home and saw Alatiel. He recognized her from somewhere, but he could not remember where from. When Alatiel saw the man she recognized him as one of her father's servants in Alexandria. She sent for him, and he confirmed that he was indeed Antigono. She asked him if he had ever seen her in Alexandria, and he instantly recognized her. He asked her how she ended up in Cyprus, because everyone in Egypt thought she had died at sea long ago. She told Antigono everything.

He said that since she had always concealed her identity that he could restore her to her previous position, and see to it that she marries the King of Algrave like originally planned. Antigono went to the King and told him that he found the Sultan's missing daughter, who has remained chaste all this time. He told the King that the Sultan would be forever grateful if he helped Alatiel return to her homeland. The King agreed and invited her to join them. They treated her very well, and sent her home under the care of Antigono. She was received by the Sultan with great ceremony. He asked her how she happened to be alive all this time, and why she had not sent word of her condition.

She told her father that around the twentieth day at sea there was a huge storm that shipwrecked her ship on the shore of Aiguesmortes. Many peasants came to loot the ship, her two servants that lived through the storm were taken off my two men, and she was taken by another two men. When four men on horseback came galloping up they let her go, and they questioned her. They did not understand each other's language; so they put her on one of their horses and took her to a convent where she worshiped Saint Peter-the-Big-in-the-Valley. She told them that she was the daughter of a Cyprus nobleman, because she was scared of what they might do to her if she told them the truth. The Abbess asked her if she wanted to return to Cyprus, and she said that she would like nothing more. About two months ago, some of the Abbess' family stopped by the convent on the way to Jerusalem and convinced them to take Alatiel to her father in Cyprus. Once they arrived in Cyprus, fate brought her Antigono. She told Antigono in their language to greet her as his daughter, which he did. Antigono then brought her to the King and he sent her home.

The Sultan sent a letter to the King of Algrave detailing Alatiel's adventure and told him that if he still wished to marry her that he could. He was very pleased and sent for her. They married, and even though she had slept with eight men before him, she made him believe that she was still a virgin.

They lived happily together for the rest of their lives.




Sources

Boccaccio, Giovanni. The Decameron. Translated by Mark Musa and Peter Bondanella, Signet Classic, 1982.

Quote in Graphic at the top of the page can be found on page 128.


Published on July 21, 2014 by Sophia Brookshire © All Rights Reserved

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