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March 20, 2016

The Decameron Day 4 Story 6 by Giovanni Boccaccio- Summary

The Decameron Day 4 Story 6 by Giovanni Boccaccio- Summary

Storyteller: Panfilo

In Brescia, there lived a nobleman by the name of Messer Negro da Ponte Carraro. He had a daughter by the name of Andriuola; she was a young and beautiful woman. Andriuola fell in love with her neighbor Gabriotto, who was of humble birth, but who possessed many great qualities that could rival any lords. Andriuola was able to tell him how she felt with the help of her servant. They would meet up in a beautiful garden on her father's estate and make love, and after a while they secretly married.

One night, Andriuola had a very disturbing dream: she was "in the garden with Gabriotto, both of them deriving the greatest of pleasure as she held him in her arms; and while they thus occupied, she thought she saw some dark and terrible thing come out of his body, the shape of which she was unable to distinguish, and it seemed that this thing seized Gabriotto, and in spite of her resistance, it pulled him out of her arms with amazing force and scurried off underground with him, and they never saw each other again" (332). She awakened immediately and was happy to find that it had been just a dream, but she was still frightened that what she had dreamed would come to pass, so she refused to see Gabriotto that night.

The following night Gabriotto was very anxious to see her and she could not refuse him any longer or he would become suspicious, so she fearfully let him come to the garden to see her. He asked her why she had refused him the previous day, and she told him about her dream. Gabriotto started laughing and told her not to take in stock in her dreams, because if dreams were omens then he would not have come there that night because he also had a bad dream. He dreamed that he was "out hunting in a beautiful and delightful forest and there I caught the most beautiful and charming little doe you have ever seen; she seemed whiter than snow, and in a short time she became so fond of me that she would not leave me. I seemed to be so fond of her that in order to prevent her from leaving me, I put a gold collar around her neck and held her by a chain of gold. And then I dreamed that while the doe was asleep and resting its head on my breast, a greyhound, as black as coal, appeared from nowhere, looking famished and very terrifying; she came toward me, and I seemed to offer no resistance to it, for she thrust her muzzle into the left side of my breast and kept gnawing at it until she reached my heart, which it seemed she tore out and carried off with her" (333). He then told her that he had dreamed many more terrifying dreams before and they had not come true, so why start believing them now?

Andriuola was even more scared than before, but she tried not to let on that she was. She kept a watchful eye the whole time that they were kissing and embracing, fearing that their nightmares would come true. All of a sudden Gabriotto clutched her and said that he was dying. He fell over onto the grass and died with Andriuola clutching him to her breast. Scared, she ran to her servant for help. She told her servant that she no longer wished to live, but she wanted to preserve her and Gabriotto's honor first. She told her servant to fetch the silk cloth that she kept in one of her strongboxes. They put Gabriotto's body onto the cloth with his head resting on a pillow. She then spread roses all around his body. Then, they picked up cloth by its corners and began carrying him to his home. Some officers caught them with Gabriotto's dead body and arrested them. The guards took Andriuola, her servant, and Gabriotto's body to the palace of the podesta.

The podesta had doctors examine Gabriotto's body to see if he had been murdered; they declared that he had died from a ruptured abscess near his heart. The podesta still thought that she was still a little guilty, so he offered to set her free on the condition that she sleeps with him. She refused, so he tried to take her by force, but she fought him off.

The next morning, Messer Negro heard about what had happened and immediately went to the palace of the podesta. He begged the podesta to let him take his daughter home. The podesta wanted to uphold his honor, so he told Messer Negro that he had tested his daughter's constancy and found her resolute even when he tried to employ force, and while conducting this test he fell in love with her and wished to marry her.

Andriuola fell to her father's feet and began weeping; she apologized for going behind his back and marrying someone without his consent. Messer Negro had a kind heart and began crying also; he raised his daughter up from the floor and told her that it only saddened him that she felt like she had to keep her love for Gabriotto a secret from him. He told her that he would honor Gabriotto as his son and have him honorably buried. Gabriotto's body was carried honorably through the town to his final resting place. He was mourned by the townspeople like he was a lord, instead of a mere commoner.

A few days later, the podesta followed up on his request to marry Andriuola, but she wanted nothing to do with him. Andriuola and her servant entered a convent that was renowned for its sanctity and lived there as nuns for many years.


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