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March 19, 2016

The Decameron Day 3 Introduction and Day 3 Story 1 by Giovanni Boccaccio- Summary

The Decameron Day 3 Story 1 by Giovanni Boccaccio- Summary

It is Sunday morning. Queen Neifile awakens then goes and wakes up her companions. They all set out for their new abode. They walked a while until they came to a beautifully rich palace that was positioned above the plain of a small hill. They did not know who owned the magnificent palace, but they speculated that it must be owned by a glorious lord.

They looked around. They found a garden that was completely surrounded by walls. In the center of the garden, which they praised above all else, there was a dark green lawn that was sprinkled with flowers, and surrounded by luscious orange and lemon trees. There was a fountain made out of white marble; it had carvings all over it, and in the middle there was a figure that had water coming out of it. The water shot straight up then cascaded down like a geyser. This place was truly paradise. There were also many harmless animals about, including deer, fawns, rabbits, and hares.

After nones (usually 9 a.m.) they gathered in the garden and began their storytelling for the day.

Day 3 Story 1

Most beautiful ladies, many are those men and women who are so stupid as to be thoroughly convinced that when a young woman places a white veil over her head and a black cowl upon her back, she no longer is a woman or she no longer feels feminine desires, as if the act of making her a nun had turned her into stone...(pp. 193-4)

Storyteller: Filostrato

In this countryside, there is a convent, which is renowned for its sanctity. In the convent, there lived eight nuns and an Abbess; they were all young. A man named Nuto tended to their gardens and various other chores, but women got on his nerves with all of their nitpicking. He settled his accounts with the steward and went home to Lamporecchio. A young handsome peasant named Masetto asked Nuto where he had been for so long. Masetto heard Nuto's story and decided that he greatly desired to go there and take care of the nuns (in every way possible). Masetto decided to go there and seek a job, but he was worried about how to act; he thought that the Abbess would be uncomfortable hiring him because of his youth and beauty. He decided that he would pretend to be a deaf mute. He then took his ax and headed for the convent.

He was dressed as a poor man when he met the steward of the convent, so he gestured with his hands that he was hungry and that he would work for his food. The steward had him chop wood that Nuto had been physically unable to chop, which Masetto did with ease. The steward kept him around doing chores for a few days. One day, the Abbess noticed Masetto and asked the steward about him. They decided to give Masetto a permanent job.

Masetto worked around the convent day after day, and the nuns began to pester him the way that they had pestered Nuto, but Masetto didn't let it bother him. He continued to pretend to be a deaf mute. They used the foulest language around him since they believed that he couldn't hear him.

One day, Masetto was pretending to be asleep in the garden. Two nuns, who had been walking through the garden, watched him sleep. One of the nuns admitted to the other that she had heard from some of the women that visited the convent that the greatest pleasure in the world is being with a man. She also admitted that she wanted to know if it was true. At first the other nun was shocked by what she heard, and even asked her what she would do if she became pregnant. The first nun said that she would worry about that if it happened. Both nuns ended up agreeing that they wanted to know if what the other women said were true, so they walked up to Masetto, took him by the hand and led him to the hut where he slept when it rained. Masetto, needing no other cue, made love to the first nun while the other one kept guard. Then, the nuns switched places and he made love to the second nun. They both decided that they wanted him one more time, so they each made love to him again. They continued to amuse themselves with him whenever it was convenient.

One day, another nun was looking out of her bedroom window and saw what they were doing. She called to another of the nuns and showed her. A few more nuns came to the window. Soon all of the nuns were being serviced by Masetto. No one told the Abbess what was going on. One day, the Abbess was walking through the garden alone when she caught sight of Masetto; he was lying under an almond tree sleeping (he was exhausted from all of the sex he had been having). The wind suddenly blew his shirt up leaving completely exposed. The Abbess was overtaken by her lust; she woke him up and took him back to her bedroom. She kept him there for several days, taking her pleasure with him repeatedly. The other nuns complained amongst themselves. Finally, she let him go back to work, but called him often.

Having nine women to please took its toll on Masetto, so one day while he was with the Abbess he decided to abandon his condition and spoke to her. He explained that he could no longer go on pleasing all of them (up until then the Abbess didn't know he had been sleeping with the nuns also). She was dumbfounded when she heard him speak. Masetto explained that he had no been mute from birth, but had suffered an illness that has taken his speech; the grace of God gave him back his speech, so that he could tell her his woes. She believed him. The Abbess and her nuns all agreed to tell the nearby inhabitants that through their prayer and the merits of the saint after which their convent was names they had restored the speech of Masetto. Then, they gave him the position of steward (the previous steward had died). Finally, they set up a schedule so that Masetto could please them all without being completely exhausted.

He stayed there a long time and fathered many children. Their affairs were handled so discretely that no one had any idea what was going on there until after the Abbess died. Masetto was old and decided that he wanted to return home. The nuns allowed him to leave. He came there with only an ax, but left with his ax and a lot of money.


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