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Summary of Boccaccio's "The Decameron: Day 5, Story 1"

Summary of Giovanni Boccaccio's The Decameron Day 5 Story 1


Panfilo tells us the first story of the fifth day.

On the island of Cyprus there once lived a very wealthy nobleman named Aristippo. He was fortunate in all areas but one, his son Galeso, who was taller and more handsome than all of Aristippo’s other sons, but he was a complete idiot. Despite the efforts of tutors and beatings from his father Galeso was inarticulate and had the manners of a beast, so everyone started calling him Cimone, which loosely translates to numbskull. Aristippo gave up hope and sent Cimone away to live at their country villa with their peasants, so that he didn’t have to see his greatest disappointment anymore. Cimone was glad to be amongst the peasants, because he didn’t have to try to be someone that he wasn’t when he was with them. 




One afternoon in May, Cimone entered a beautiful wooded area while going from one of his family's properties to another with his stick on his shoulder; Fortune led him to a meadow that was surrounded by tall trees and a beautiful woman asleep in the green grass. She was wearing clothes that were so transparent that you could see every inch of her, and at her feet were the lady's sleeping servants (two women and one man). Cimone was enraptured by the lady and leaned against his stick gazing upon her for some time. He examined every inch of her and found her to the most beautiful woman that anyone had ever seen. He wanted more than anything to see her eyes, because that was the one part of her that he still had yet to examine; he wanted so badly to waken her, fortunately, he had enough sense to know that he should respect her, so he anxiously waited for her to waken on her own.  Finally, the girl, whose name is Efigenia, awoke and saw Cimone staring at her. Cimone was famous in those parts for his brutishness and good looks, so it didn't surprise him when she asked him by name what he was doing there. He ignored her question and stared into her sweet eyes. He began to feel a pleasure rise up in him that he had never felt before; the lady noticed this and feared that he might yield to his baser desires and compromise her honor, so she awakened her maidservants and left the meadow. Cimone accompanied them home, and then went to his father's home and declared that he never wanted to go back to the country. His father was troubled by this declaration, but allowed Cimone to stay.  

Cimone asked his father if he could wear the same kinds of clothes and ornaments that his brother wore, to which his father most happily granted. He then began to associate with more honorable young men, and in no time--much to everyone's amazement--he became very skillful in learning, especially philosophy. His manner of speaking changed from that of rustic to refined. He became an accomplished musician, singer, horsemanship, and martial arts both on land and sea. In less than four years, he became the most charming and well-mannered young man of Cyprus.  

Cimone, who had refused to be called Galeso because Efigenia had addressed him as Cimone, sought Efigenia's hand in marriage many times, but her father refused him time and again citing that he had already promised her to a nobleman in Rhodes named Pasimunda 

Finally, the time came for Efigenia to marry Pasimunda, so he sent a ship to bring her to Rhodes. Cimone heard of this and decided that he would win her hand in marriage. He quietly had a ship outfitted for battle and waited out in the sea for Efigenia's ship to leave Cyprus. Once Efigenia's ship was out to sea Cimone quickly overtook the ship. He warned them that if they didn't anchor their ship and take down their sails that he would sink them. They tried to flee, but Cimone swung a grappling hook towards the stern of their ship, hooking the two ships together. Cimone boarded the Efigenia's ship and began slaughtering any crew members that dared to challenge him; soon the crew realized that they were no match for him and gave themselves up as Cimone's prisoners. Cimone then took a weeping Efigenia aboard his ship and let the remaining crew member's of her previous ship go. Cimone and his friends decided not to go back to Cyprus right away, but instead to sail to Crete where they would be safe amongst their many friends and family. 

That night Fortune changed Cimone's fate. The sky grew dark with storm clouds and the sea became rough due to the high winds. Efigenia blamed Cimone for the gods sending them such a terrible storm, and cursed his love for her. The storm brought them close to land and the men did everything they could to get the ship towards shore. When they succeeded they quickly realized that they had arrived at Rhodes and the ship that they had freed the day before was sitting anchored in the bay. Cimone and the crew became distressed and fought with all of their might to escape that place, but it was all to no avail; instead, they were driven ashore. They were all captured and taken to the village. The men were condemned to life in prison despite Pasimunda's attempts to have them executed.  

Pasimunda's younger brother Ormisda had been trying to marry Cassandrea, a young and beautiful noblewoman, for some time now, but the wedding had kept being postponed, but now that Pasimunda was getting married he decided to reopen the negotiations with Cassandrea's parents. Everyone agreed that Ormisda and Cassandrea would get married the same day that Pasimunda and Efigenia got married. Lisimaco, the highest magistrate of Rhodes and the one who imprisoned Cimone, was greatly distressed by this because he was in love CassandreaLisimaco devised a plan to kidnap Cassandrea, so that he could have her all to himself. He decided to use Cimone as his accomplice.  

Lisimaco had Cimone brought to his bedroom secretly the following evening and laid out his plan for retrieving their beloveds. Cimone agreed to the plan. In two days, the new brides were to go to their new homes. On that appointed night, Cimone and Lisimaco went to the home and went upstairs where the ladies were and took Cassandrea and Efigenia. When they were descending the stairs Pasimunda came towards them with a big club, but Cimone struck him so hard on the head that he fell to the ground dead. Ormsida came to his brother's aide, but Cimone struck him dead like he had his brother. They sailed to Crete and married their beloveds. This whole affair caused quite an uproar for some time in Cyprus and Rhodes and they were exiled, but eventually it all blew over and they were both able to return to their home with their brides, living happily ever after.  

Summary of Giovanni Boccaccio's The Decameron Day 5 Story 1 Sources

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