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July 28, 2014

The Decameron Day 1 Story 2 by Giovanni Boccaccio- Summary

The Decameron Day 1 Story 2 by Giovanni Boccaccio- Summary

Storyteller: Nefile

Panfilo has shown us in his storytelling that God's mercy overlooks our errors when they result from matters that we cannot fathom; in my own tale, I intend to show you how this same mercy patiently endures the faults of those who with their words and deeds ought to bear witness to his mercy and yet do the contrary; I shall show how it makes these things an argument of His infallible truth so that with firmer conviction we may practice what we believe (pp. 38).

In Paris, there once lived a great merchant named Giannotto di Civignì. He was an honest man. His business was cloth and he was very successful. He had a close friend named Abraham who was a rich Jew and he was also a very trustworthy person. Giannotto felt sorry for Abraham, because he knew that being a Jew he would go to hell. He tried to convince Abraham to convert to Christianity, but Abraham replied that no religion was better than Judaism and since he was born into it he would die a Jew. Giannotto kept trying to convince him in a very friendly manner, which started to amuse Abraham, but he remained steadfast to his religion. Finally, after Gainnotto's incessant pestering, Abraham agreed to convert on one condition: he shall go to Rome to observe the Pope and the Cardinals and if their actions live up to everything Giannotto has said he would convert to Christianity. Giannotto was very sad about Abraham's proclamation. He felt that he had wasted his time, because if Abraham went to Rome and saw what the clergy were really like he would never convert. So Giannotto asked Abraham why he would want to take such a long journey when we have the same priests here. Abraham replies that he is convinced that Giannotto is telling the truth, but he is still going to Rome. Seeing Abraham's resolve, Giannotto gave his blessing and Abraham set out for Rome immediately.

Abraham was welcomed by his Jewish friends, but he did not tell them why he had come. He observed the church very carefully and determined that they all fell victims of lust, both natural lust and a sodomy kind of lust without shame. He also determined that they were all openly gluttons, drunkards, and sots. They were greedy for money; they sold and traded everything they could, including religious objects. They called their simony "mediation" and their gluttony "maintenance" as if God didn't know better.

Abraham returned to Paris having seen enough of the Christians. Giannotto asked Abraham what he thought of the Christians in Rome. Abraham said that he didn't like them at all. In spite of all this he said that the Christian faith seems to keep growing and keeps becoming more illustrious. He said that he saw now that Christianity is the holiest of all religions; so he will convert. Abraham was baptized at Notre Dame and renamed Giovanni.


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