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March 22, 2016

The Decameron Day 4 Story 4 by Giovanni Boccaccio- Summary

The Decameron Day 4 Story 4 by Giovanni Boccaccio- Summary

Storyteller: Elissa

The King of Sicily, William the Second, had two children Gostanza and Ruggieri. Ruggieri, died young leaving behind a son by the name of Gerbino. Gerbino grew up to be very handsome, and was widely famous for his chivalry and gallantry.

The daughter of the King of Tunis had heard about Gerbino and without ever seeing him she fell deeply in love with him. Gerbino had also heard of her exquisite beauty and generous heart and fell madly in love with her. He longed for an excuse to travel to Tunis to meet her, but Fortune was not in his favor; so he begged one of his friends who traveled there to try and bring him news of her. One of his friends succeeded in posing as a merchant and informed the lady of Gerbino's feelings, which made the lady very happy. She told Gerbino's friend that she loved him also and gave the friend a precious jewel to give to Gerbino as proof of her love. Gerbino was happy to hear that she loved him. They would send each other messages and gifts and promised each other that they would one day meet in person. This epistolary relationship lasted for a long time, much longer than either of them wanted.

One day, the lady found out that the King of Tunis had promised her in marriage to the King of Granada and she was extremely upset; Gerbino was too when he found out. Gerbino resolved that he would get her no matter what, even if it was by force.

The King of Tunis heard about the couple's love and feared what Gerbino might do, so he sent word to King William about Gerbino's intentions and asked him to make sure that Gerbino did not attempt to interfere. King William did not know about Gerbino's feelings for the King of Tunis' daughter, so he agreed to keep Gerbino from interfering, and as a token of his word he sent the King of Tunis one of his gloves. The King of Tunis was satisfied and had a ship readied for his daughter's journey.

The young lady knew what her father was planning, so she sent one of her servants to Palermo to tell Gerbino that she was to set sail within a few days. Gerbino was hesitant, at first, to go against his grandfather, but driven by love and fear of being deemed a coward, he went to Messina where he had two light galleys made ready for battle. Once his ships were ready, he set sail for Sardinia to intersect his beloved's ship. The two ships waited in the vicinity for only a few days before they caught sight of his beloved's ship.

Gerbino's crew quickly caught up to his beloved's ship and drew their weapons. The men aboard his beloved's ship began to prepare to defend themselves. Gerbino ordered that the officers come onto his ship if they wished to avoid battle, but they retorted that he was in violation of the King Williams pledge and they would not give up anything on their ship without a fight. Gerbino caught a glimpse of his beloved and lusted after her even more than he had previously. The two crews fought each other fiercely. Gerbino set afire a small boat and drew it alongside the opposing ship; the Saracens had to either surrender or die, so they brought Gerbino's beloved out onto the deck, called to Gerbino, and then slit her veins and threw her into the sea. Gerbino was outraged. He crossed over to the burning ship and slaughtered many of the Saracens. He then returned to his ship and had the lady's body recovered from the sea, and mourned over her. He took her body and had it honorably buried on the tiny island of Ustica, and then he returned home.

When the King of Tunis heard about what had happened he sent word to King Williams that he was extremely upset about his broken promise. King Williams could not deny the King of Tunis his justice, so he had Gerbino arrested and beheaded.


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