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Boccaccio's The Decameron: Day 3, Story 8 (Summary)

Summary of Giovanni Boccaccio's The Decameron Day 3 Story 8


Lauretta told the eighth story of the third day.

In Tuscany, there lived an Abbot who was considered to be a very holy man by everyone who knew him; however, he had one weakness-women. He was very discreet with his affairs, so no one ever knew that he often enjoyed himself with women. He was friendly with an exceptionally stupid man named Ferondo, in part because of the ridiculous things that he did and partly because the abbot was in love with Ferondo's beautiful wife. He managed to convince Ferondo to come with his wife to the Abbey's garden from time to time, and it was there that the Abbot would speak to them of holy deeds from the past. Ferondo's wife was so moved by these stories that she wanted the Abbot to become her confessor; she asked her husband and he gave her his permission.

One day, she went to the Abbot to give her confession. She complained about how stupid and jealous her husband was; his jealousy was so bad that she was tormented daily by it. The Abbot was delighted by what he heard. He told her that he sympathized with her, and that the only way to relive herself of her suffering was to cure her husband of his jealousy. The Abbot told her that Ferondo would have to go to purgatory.

The lady asked him how Ferondo would be able to go to purgatory while he was still alive, and the Abbot told her that Ferondo would have to die in order to go to purgatory, but once he had suffered enough in purgatory they would pray to God and He would bring Ferondo back to life. The Abbot told her that she would have to remain a widow while Ferondo was in purgatory and that she would have to go back to Ferondo when he came back. She agreed. Then the Abbot asked her what reward he would get in return for curing her husband of his jealousy. She told him that she would give him whatever he wanted so long as it was in her power to give it to him. He told her that he wanted to be with her carnally. She was surprised by his desire, and questioned his holiness. He told her that one's holiness resides in one's soul, and what he is asking of her is merely a sin of the body. He tried to convince her further by telling her that no one would ever know, and that he was prepared to give her precious jewels. Finally, she agreed to his plan. The Abbot instructed her to have Ferondo come and visit him within the next day or two. Before she left he then slipped a gorgeous ring in her hand.




Ferondo came to see him a couple of days later. The Abbot had a sleeping powder that had been given to him by a prince of the East. It had the power to make someone sleep for several days without any harm coming them, plus once asleep the person would appear to be dead (ie. no pulse). The Abbot put enough powder in Ferondo's glass of wine for him to sleep for three days. Ferondo drank the wine and immediately fell asleep. The Abbot pretended to be upset and ordered many remedies to be administered to make Ferondo regain consciousness, but of course none worked. The Abbot had him placed in a tomb exactly the way he was. That night the Abbot snuck into the tomb and carried Ferondo to a burial vault, which was pitch-black inside. A monk from Bologna, whom the Abbot trusted implicitly, had come to the Abbey that day; the Abbot enlisted the Bolognese monk to help with his devious plan. They took off Ferondo's clothes and dressed him in a monk's habit, and then laid him down on some straw. The monk from Bologna was given his instructions and the Abbot left them alone in the tomb.

The next night, the Abbot went to visit Ferondo's wife dressed in Ferondo's clothes. He enjoyed himself with her all night long, and returned to the abbey in the morning.

When Ferondo awakened from his deep sleep the Bolognese monk attacked him with some branches; Ferondo was surprised and let out a loud scream. Ferondo was confused and crying and kept asking where he was. The monk would reply that he was in purgatory. He was shocked to find out that he was dead. When the beating was done the monk gave Ferondo food and drink; Ferondo was stunned to find out that the dead eat and drink. Once he was done eating, the monk began to beat him with the branches again. Ferondo asked the monk why he was beating him and the monk replied that it was God's will that he be beaten twice a day on account of his jealousy. Ferondo told the monk that he didn't know that God looked down on jealousy, because if he did he would never have acted jealous. The monk told him that if he was ever to return to life he should remember this lesson and not act jealous anymore. Ferondo asked the monk if the dead ever returned to life and the monk said they did if God wished it.

Ferondo was kept in the vault for ten months, and all the while the Abbot enjoyed himself with Ferondo's wife. One day, the lady realized that she was pregnant and told the Abbot. They decided that it was time to resurrect Ferondo, so that she could say that he was the father of her child.
The next night, the Abbot, disguising his voice, spoke to Ferondo . He told him that he would be returned to the world and that he would have a son born to him that he was to name Benedetto. Ferondo was overjoyed. The Abbot put enough powder in Ferondo's wine to make him sleep for four hours. Once he was asleep they dressed him in his clothes and carried him back to the tomb. The next morning, Ferondo awakened and saw light streaming into the tomb. He yelled for help and the monks came to his aid; when they realized that it was Ferondo calling out to them they ran terrified to the Abbot. The Abbot pretended to be amazed by the whole thing, and even had the monks sing Miserere.

Ferondo returned home. Everyone who saw him ran away scared. He managed to convince them that he had died, gone to purgatory, and then been returned to life. He told them all elaborate stories about purgatory and dead relatives. He then slept with his wife and made her pregnant, or so he thought. The fame of the Abbot's holiness was increased by this whole affair. Ferondo was cured of his jealousy, and the lady was as faithful to her husband as she had before he was sent to purgatory, except for the occasional tryst with the Abbot. In the end, all were happy.

Sources

Boccaccio, Giovanni. The Decameron. New York: Signet Classics, 1982.

Published on March 19, 2016 by Sophia Brookshire © All Rights Reserved

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