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July 21, 2014

The Decameron Day 2 Story 6 by Giovanni Boccaccio- Summary

The Decameron Day 2 Story 6 by Giovanni Boccaccio- Summary

Storyteller: Emilia

The vicissitudes of Fortune can be painful and irritating, but since whenever they are discussed, our minds, which are easily lulled to sleep by her promises, are as often rudely awakened, I nevertheless believe that no one, whether he be fortunate or unfortunate, should ever tire of hearing about them, since these accounts provide the fortunate with a warning and the unfortunate with consolation (pp. 113).

Manfred, the King of Sicily, was away fighting in Benevento while his trusted man Arrighetto Capece of Naples governed Sicily. Arrighetto was married to Beritola Caracciola, who was renowned for her nobility and beauty. At the battle in Benevento King Charles killed King Manfred and took possession of Sicily. Once Arrighetto heard the news of Manfred's death, he immediately prepared to leave Sicily; however, is plan was thwarted when King Charles' followers took him hostage.

Madam Beritola did not know what had happened to her husband; so she fled with their eight year old son Giuffredi, and unborn child. They left Sicily on a small boat headed to Lipari. In Lipari, Madam Beritola gave birth to a son that she named "the Outcast". Madam Beritola hired a nurse, and they all left Lipari and headed to Naples, where her parents lived.

A strong wind forced their ship to the island of Ponza. The captain of the ship pulled into one of the bays of island to wait out the storm. Everyone decided to go to shore, and hang out on the beach. One day a pirate ship pulled into the bay. The pirates captured their boat and took everyone hostage except Madam Beritola, who had become accustomed to going off by herself, to grieve the loss of her husband. When she returned to shore and realized what had happened, she was very sad about the loss of her boys. When night was upon her she decided to return to the cave where she went during the day to lament the loss of her husband. She spent the night in the cave both scared and sad. By the hour of tierce (approx. 9am) she had become so hungry that she decided to eat grass. While she was eating she saw a doe go into a cave near by and then leave again. Madame Beritola's curiosity was ignited and she went to see what was in the cave. She found two roebucks in the cave. She picked them up and breastfed them from her own breast. They saw her as a mother and all four (includes the doe) of them became a family. As time went by Madam Beritola became more like an animal.

A few months after Madam Beritola had been deserted upon the island of Ponza another ship sought refuge from a storm in the bay, and they remained there for several days. A nobleman named Currando and his wife were aboard the ship. Everyone on the ship went ashore to explore the island. Their dogs picked up the scent of Madam Beritola's roebucks and began to chase after them. The roebucks went back to the cave where Madam Beritola was, and she chased away the dogs. Currando and his wife saw her and they were amazed at her animal-like appearance. Madam Beritola told them all about herself, and her resolution to stay upon the island.

Currando was upset when he heard Madam Beritola's story, because he had known her husband. He offered to take her to her parent's home in Naples or adopt her as his sister, but she refused both. Currando left his wife with her, hoping that she could talk Madam Beritola into coming with them. The lady laboriously tried to convince Madam Beritola to come with them and she finally succeeded. Madam Beritola, the doe, and the two roebucks boarded Currando's ship, and they headed to his castle. Once they arrived Madam Beritola put on mourning attire and began to serve as the mistress' lady-in-waiting, and she also continued to care for the roebucks.

Meanwhile, the pirates who had captured Madam Beritola's ship had arrived in Genoa. They divided up their booty equally amongst the owners of the galley. The nurse and two boys were the possessions of Messer Guasparrino Doria, and they were to work as domestic servants. The nurse was scared that the boys would be recognized and hurt; so she changed the older boy's name to Giannotto di Procida, if anyone should ask the two boys were her children. They were to keep their identity a secret. They lived like this for many years.

When Giannotto reached sixteen years old he left Messer Guasparrino's service, and sought fortune upon the galleys that sailed between Genoa and Alexandria. He sailed on those galleys for about three years without obtaining higher status. Giannotto had heard that his father was still alive in King Charles' prison. He went to Lunigiana and began to serve Currando Malaspina. Giannotto hardly ever saw his mother, because she was always with Currando's wife; even when the two did see each other they did not recognize one another.

One day Giannotto saw Currandos recently widowed daughter named Spina, and they fell passionately in love with each other. They became intimate not long after they met, and like fools they began to be reckless with their affection for one another. One day they were out for a walk with Currando, his wife, and servants. The two love birds walked far ahead of everyone, and when they thought that they were far enough ahead they found an area that was enclosed by trees and began to make love in the grass. They lost track of time, and they were discovered by Currando and his wife. Currando was extremely upset and had them both bound and taken away; he intended to have them put to death for their shameful acts. At first, Currando's wife agreed that they needed to be punished, but when she discovered what her husband intended to do, she changed her mind. She convinced Currando to put then in prison, and to make them as uncomfortable as possible; so that they could lament over their sinful transgressions, which he did.

Giannotto and Spina had been imprisoned for a year when the King of Aragon, Peter, and Messer Gian di Procida led a rebellion against King Charles and seized Sicily. Currando was very happy about this new turn of events. Giannotto was told about this by one of his jailers, and Giannotto was happy, but saddened by the fact that he was to spend the rest of his life in jail. He told the jailer that his father was Arrighetto Capece, and he also told the jailer that his real name is Giuffredi. The jailer told Currando what Giannotto had said; Currando pretended not to be interested, but he went to Madam Beritola and asked her if she had a son named Giuffredi. She told Currando that it was true and her son would be twenty-two years old by then. Currando had Giannotto secretly brought to him, and he questioned the boy about his past until he was convinced that Giannotto was who he said that he was. Currando offered Giannotto his freedom and the Spina's hand in marriage. Currando had Spina brought their in secret, and the two lovers exchanged marriage vows that very night in Currando's presence.

A couple of days after the lover's secret marriage, Currando summoned his wife and Madam Beritola. He asked Madam Beritola how she would feel if he restored her eldest son to her as his son-in-law. She told him that she was overjoyed at this, and would be forever grateful. A few days after this Currando asked Giuffredi how he would feel if he was reunited with his mother. Giuffredi said that he would be very happy to see his mother again. Currando had the two mothers brought before them. Madam Beritola remembering Currando's earlier words studied Giannotto and found him out to be her son; she threw her hands around his neck in unspeakable joy, and once he realized who she was he hugged her back just as tightly.

Giufredi asked Currando to rescue his younger brother from the service of Messer Guasparrin Doria, and to send someone to Sicily to find out whether his father was dead or alive. The messenger went to Messer Guasparrin and told him all that Giufreddi had said about his heritage, and begged him to let the "outcast" return home with him. Messer Guasparrin questioned the nurse, and since she knew that it was now safe to tell the truth, she told him everything. He realized his mistake and tried to rectify it as much as he could by giving his eleven year old daughter to the boy to take as his wife. Once the two were married, the couple and Messer Guasparrin went to Currando's castle.

Arrighetto was freed during the rebellion in Sicily, and King Peter restored all of his previous titles and positions to him. He was very excited to hear the news of his wife and son, and sent an envoy to bring them to Sicily. After the festivities at Currando's castle Madam Beritola, Giufreddi and his wife, and the "outcast" and his wife returned to Sicily. They were greeted by Arrighetto, who was happy to have them all back. They lived the rest of their lives happy and thankful.


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