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July 28, 2014

The Decameron Day 1 Story 8 by Giovanni Boccaccio- Summary

The Decameron Day 1 Story 8 by Giovanni Boccaccio- Summary

Storyteller: Lauretta

Dear companions, the previous tale moves me to tell you how a worthy courtier, in like fashion and not without results, attacked the covetous ways of a very rich merchant; and although the gist of this story is similar to the last, I would not have you find it less pleasing since good eventually resulted from it (pp.60).

Messer Ermino de' Grimaldi of Genoa was one of the richest citizens of Italy. Despite being very wealthy he was extremely frugal. He did not dress fancily, and he would deprive himself of food and drink. Because of his frugality he was known as Messer Ermino Miser.

While Messer Ermino Miser's wealthy was increasing, due to him not spending his money, a courtier named Guiglielmo came to Genoa. Courtiers are known for dedicating all of their time to speaking badly about each other, accusing each other of false deeds, and they used their charming words to lead men into doing bad things. Guiglielmo was greatly honored by the people of Genoa.

Guiglielmo heard of Messer Ermino Miser's greed and wanted to go and see him. Ermino received him like he was a close friend. He then took Guiglielmo and some other gentlemen to one of his new houses. He asked Guiglielmo: "tell me something never before seen, that I could have painted in the main hall of this house" (62).

Guiglielmo replied that he could not name something that had never been seen before, but he could name something that Messer Ermino had never seen before.

Ermino asked him what that was, and Guiglielmo replied "generosity" (62).

Messer Ermino felt very ashamed after hearing this and said that he will have it painted and from now on no one will ever say that I am not generous. Messer Ermino did indeed become the most generous person in Italy. He would entertain anyone, foreign or domestic, who came to his home.


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