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Summary of Boccaccio's The Decameron: Day 2, Story 1

Giovanni Boccaccio's The Decameron quote: "Dearest ladies, it happens many times that someone who attempt to fool others, especially in those matters worthy of reverence, is himself tricked, often to his own harm. Hence, in deference to the Queen's command and in order to begin the proposed theme of the day, I shall begin our storytelling with a tale which tells what happened to a fellow citizen of ours who was at first most unlucky but then, contrary to all his expectations, things changed for the better."

Day 2 Introduction

The Queen ordered that they spend the day as they had yesterday. When they gathered together to begin their story time, Queen Filomena asked Neifile to begin telling her story.

Day 2, Story 1 Summary

Storyteller: Nefile

A German named Arrigo, living in Treviso, hired himself out as a porter. He was a very poor man, but considered to be a very good and holy man. Legend has it that when he died all the bells in largest church in Treviso started ringing by themselves. The people of Treviso considered this to be a miracle, and began calling Arrigo a saint. Soon after the bells started they went to Arrigo's house and carried his body to the cathedral. The sick, lame, crippled, and blind followed behind his body hoping that they would be cured once they touched it.

During these events, three men arrived in Treviso; their names were Stecchi, Martellino, and Marchese. These men spent their time traveling to various courts and performing for the lords. They would put on disguises and impersonate whoever they wished. When they arrived in Treviso they were very curious about what was going on.

Marchese said: we wanted to go and see the body of the saint, but I'm worried that there will be no room in the cathedral.

Martellino said: don't worry I will find a way for us to see the saint's body.

Marchese asked him how he intended to do that.

Martellino replied: I intend to dress up as a cripple, and you two will accompany me to the saint's body, holding me up.

Stecchi and Martellino liked this plan and they all left the inn for the cathedral. When they reached a place that was deserted, Martellino transformed himself into a cripple. He was so horrible to look at that no one would doubt that he was a cripple. They all went to the church; Marchese and Stecchi pretended to be pious, and they made their way to the front of the cathedral. Some men that were standing close to the saint's body lifted Martellino up onto the saint's body.




Martellino stayed there on top of the saint's body for a while, and then he slowly lifted himself up as if he was suddenly cured. Everyone cheered.

There happened to be a man from Florence in the audience, who knew Martellino. When he discovered that the cripple was Martellino, he started to laugh.

Some people around him heard him laugh and asked him what he meant when he said that Martellino wasn't a cripple.

These men were very angry when they heard that Martellino was well versed in the art of transformation, and it was all an act. They rushed up to where the body was and said seized the traitor, who mocked their saint. They pulled him away from the body and began to beat him up.
Marchese and Stecchi didn't know what to do. They shouted out "Kill Him!" because they were scared that they would be beat up too if it was found out that they were with Martellino. Marchese thought of a plan suddenly and went up to the head German officer outside of the church. He begged the officer to go and arrest the man that stole his hundred gold florins. Over a dozen guards went to Martellino and arrested him. They took him to the palace; the mob following close behind. When the mob found out that he was being arrested for pick pocketing, they all claimed that they had stole from them too.

When the judge questioned Martellino, Martellino gave him very sarcastic answers. He acted as if he did not care, which made the judge very angry. The judge ordered him to be taken to the rack and given a few turns; in order to get him to confess. After he had been on the rack a while, the judge asked him whether it was true that he had pick pocketed all of those men.

Martellino agreed to confess, but he asked to have every man come before them and say when and where they were pick pocketed. After they tell this, he will confess whether he did it or not. The judge agreed to this condition and he called some of the men before them.

The men said that he had stolen their purses eight, six, and four days ago
.
Martellino replied that this was impossible, since he had only come to Treviso a short time ago. He asked the judge to verify this with the custom's officer at the city's gate and the innkeeper where he was staying.

Marchese and Stecchi felt guilty about what was happening to their friend. They went to the innkeeper and told him what had happened. The innkeeper laughed hysterically, but took them to see Sandro Agolanti, who was very influential in the government. He also laughed hysterically when they told him what had happened. After he was done laughing, he asked the governor to see Martellino. The judge did not want to let him go; he had some unknown grudge against Florentines. He finally released Martellino into the governor's custody.

Martellino told the governor everything and begged him to let him leave Treviso. The governor laughed hysterically, and when he was done Martellino, Marchese, and Stecchi escaped from Treviso.




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 73.

Published on July 25, 2014 (last updated on November 9, 2017) written by Sophia Brookshire © All Rights Reserved

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