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July 28, 2014

The Decameron Day 1 Story 6 by Giovanni Boccaccio- Summary

The Decameron Day 1 Story 6 by Giovanni Boccaccio- Summary

Storyteller: Emilia

I remember another stinging reproach, this one made by an honest layman to a greedy clergyman by means of a remark no less amusing than commendable (pp. 52).

Not so long ago here in Florence, there lived a minor friar (inquisitor) who was entrusted with the duty to investigate heresy. Like all other clergyman, he pretended to be saintly and a great admirer of the Christianity.

One day he came upon a man who lacked in intelligence, but definitely made up for it in wealth. This man, who had been drinking, said that he had a wine that Jesus himself would want to drink. When the friar had heard this he said: "cum gladis et fustibus" [with swords and staves-Mathew 26:47] (53). The friar did not want to reform this man's faith; instead he wanted to make himself rich, which he did.

The friar had the man called before him and asked if what he had said was true. The man said it was.

The friar responded by saying: you degrade Christ by making him out to be a drunkard. And now after debasing Christ, you speak humbly; this is unacceptable. You should be burned at the stake for your words. You will be punished.

The man was so scared that he gave the friar a lot of money. This seemed to subside the friar's anger, but he still demanded that the man go to Mass at Santa Croce every morning and afterwards he was to be the friar's slave for the rest of the day.

One morning at Mass, the man heard the words "for every one of you shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit ever lasting life" (54). After Mass the man went to see the inquisitor. The inquisitor asked him if the Mass raised any doubts in him or if he had a question about the sermon. The man said that he had no doubts, but he did hear one thing that was very interesting. He said: I have great compassion for all of you friars and I feel sorry for your souls, because you will have a miserable afterlife. The friar asked him which passage had made him feel this way and the man told him. The friar said that the passage was correct, but he still didn't understand why it had affected him so. The man replied that since he had been coming to Mass everyday he had seen the friars give the poor their left over broth; so in the afterlife the friars will be drowning in broth. This made the friar very angry and if he had not already been scolded for his actions against this man he would have punished him again. The friar told him to go away and never come back.


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