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July 21, 2014

The Decameron Day 2 Story 5 by Giovanni Boccaccio- Summary

The Decameron Day 2 Story 5 by Giovanni Boccaccio- Summary

Storyteller: Fiammetta

The precious stones found by Landolofo...remind me of a story no less full of dangers than the one recounted by Lauretta, but it differs from hers in that these dangers all occur within the space of a single night, as you about to hear, whereas in her story they happened over a period of several years (pp. 99-100).

Andreuccio di Pietro was a young horse dealer from Perugia. There was a rumor going around that in Naples horses were being sold cheaply, and when Andreuccio heard this he set out for Naples with 500 gold florins in his purse. The following morning he went to the market in Naples, and saw many horses that he wished to buy, but he could not find any bargains. Andreuccio, who was naïve in these sorts of dealings, pulled out his purse several times showing his 500 florins to dealers so they knew that he meant business; however, he was not cautious about who else saw his money.

One time he did this a young Sicilian woman, who was a prostitute, saw his purse. There was an older Sicilian woman with the girl, who when she saw Andreuccio she went over and embraced him. He recognized her and she promised to visit him at his inn later. Andreuccio did not buy any horses that morning. The girl began to question the older woman about Andreuccio once the older woman had left him. She asked who he was, where he came from, what he was doing in the city, and how she knew him. The young woman intended to use the information that the older woman told her to get Andreuccio's money. The older woman knew Andreuccio's family very well, and told the young woman everything she wished to know. The young woman devised a plan to get Andreuccio alone.

She sent the old woman on errands for the rest of the day, and then sent a servant girl to Andreuccio's room at the inn. The servant told Andreuccio that a genteel lady wished to see him. Andreuccio assumed that the girl was talking about a lady that was in love with him, and asked her where and when she wanted to meet him. The girl told him she would see him any time that he wished. Andreuccio told the girl to lead the way, and they went to a district of Naples known as Malpertugio (or "Evilhole"). Andreuccio was so naïve that he did not suspect anything when they entered this slum; he was blinded by the prospect of meeting a beautiful and respectable lady.

Andreuccio entered the house; he and the "respectable" lady met on the stairs, and the lady embraced him tightly. She led him through her sitting room and into her bedroom. He looked around at all the beautifully expensive things, and was convinced that she was everything that her servant had said she was. They sat together on a chest at the foot of her bed, and she told him that he was her brother. She told him that she was happy that God had allowed her to see one of her brothers before she passed away, and that now she could die in peace. She told him that their father had been loved by many, especially her mother. Her mother put aside her honor to be with Pietro, their father, and she was born of that union. Pietro left Palermo and returned to Perugia, and never thought of her or her mother again. Her mother had married her off to a rich man from Agrigento. Her husband had been in cohorts with King Charles, and when King Frederick found out they were forced to flee from Sicily with only a few of their possessions. They decided to take refuge here in Naples, and King Charles restored them to their previous wealth, and still looks after their needs today.

Andreuccio believed everything she said to be true. He told her that he was very happy to have a sister with him in Naples, because he was all alone. He only had one question for her: "how did you know I was here?" (104). She told him that an old woman, who knew their father, had told her. She then began asking him questions about his family, making sure to use their names. He was fully convinced that she was who she said she was, and they talked for a long time. The lady insisted on him staying for dinner. She pretended to send someone to the inn to inform them that he would not be returning for dinner. Once dinner was over Andreuccio once again rose to leave, but the lady would not hear of it, insisting that Naples was not a place to go wandering around at night. She also told them that she had her servant tell the inn that he would not be returning that night.

The lady gave her room to Andreuccio, and she went off to sleep in another room. Andreuccio disrobed and went to use the toilet. He stepped on a plank that was not securely nailed down, and he crashed through the planks and into the alley. The chamber boy rushed to tell his lady what had happened, and when she saw that he had left his clothes, she locked the exit where Andreuccio had fallen through and took his money. Andreuccio realized he had been tricked when the boy did not respond to his screams, and when he banged on the door to no avail. He was very sad to lose both his money and a sister all in one night. He banged on the door ferociously and screamed as loud as he could, awakening the neighbors. They yelled at him to leave the decent lady alone. The lady's servant came to the window pretending to be drowsy from sleep, and told him that he was crazy and that he had never been inside the house. Andreuccio was furious and began to bang on the door with a rock, and soon the lady's pimp came to the window, also looking drowsy from sleep and threatened come down and beat him up. Some of the neighbors knew who this man really was, and advised Andreuccio to leave immediately or risk death. Andreuccio took the warning and sorrowfully began walking back towards the inn.

Andreuccio began to become overwhelmed by the stench he was giving off, so he decided to head down Catalan Street and bathe in the sea. He walked along until he saw two men with lanterns walking towards him; he decided to take shelter in a hut until they passed, but both men came into the hut and began examining their tools. One of them remarked that there was an awful stench in the hut, and began looking around. They saw Andreuccio and asked him who he was. He told them everything. One of the men remarked that it was Spitfire's place where he had been duped. They told him that he was lucky that he wasn't murdered. The two men took pity on Andreuccio and invited him to come along with them, and he could make more money than he lost. Andreuccio agreed to help them.

The Archbishop Messer Filippo Minutolo of Naples had been buried that day. They were going to rob his grave; they particularly wanted the ruby ring that was on his finger. Andreuccio stank so badly that they decided to give him a bath at the well, but the bucket was missing. They decided to tie a rope around Andreuccio and lower into the well so that he could bathe himself; once Andreuccio was down in the well the two men saw some policemen heading their way. They ran off, leaving Andreuccio at the bottom of the well. The policemen began pulling up the rope, which they thought had a bucket attached to it. When Andreuccio neared the top of the well, he grabbed onto the side. The policemen were scared and ran away as fast as they could, leaving their weapons. When Andreuccio saw the weapons and he was confused. He decided to leave that spot immediately without touching anything. Not long after this all happened Andreuccio ran into his two companions, who were returning for him. They explained what had happened.

All three of them continued onto the cathedral. They managed to pry up the tomb far enough so one of them could get in and retrieve everything. The two men made Andreuccio go in the tomb. He was scared that these two men would take advantage of him, so he took the ruby ring off of the archbishop and put it on his finger. He gave the two men everything else, and when he was done the two shut Andreuccio into the tomb. He was very sad, and passed out. When he regained consciousness he tried to open the tomb himself, but couldn't. He heard people outside the tomb, who seemed like they were there to steal from the tomb. When they had it propped open, they had an argument about who should go in. The priest decided that he was going to go in; when Andreuccio saw the priest climbing in he grabbed the priest's leg. This terrified the priest, and they all ran out of the church. Andreuccio was very pleased, because they left the tomb wide open. Andreuccio found his way back to the inn, and told them what had happened. The inn keeper advised him to leave Naples immediately, so Andreuccio went back to Perugia.


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