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The Pleasant Nights - Volume 2

The Pleasant Nights - Volume 2

Giovan Francesco Straparola
Edited with Introduction and Commentaries by Donald Beecher
Translated by W.G. Waters
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  • Book Info
    The Pleasant Nights - Volume 2
    Book Description:

    Immensely entertaining and readable,The Pleasant Nightswill appeal to anyone interested in fairy tales, ancient stories, and folk creations.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9953-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-2)
  3. To All Gracious and Lovable Ladies, from Giovanni Francesco Straparola, Greeting
    (pp. 3-4)
  4. The Sixth Night

    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 5-6)

      The shadows of a night sombre and overcast had spread themselves everywhere around and the golden stars no longer shed their light in the spacious heavens, while Aeolus, sweeping over the salt waves with a long-drawn moan, was stirring a tempestuous sea and obstructing the efforts of mariners, when our noble and faithful band of companions, indifferent to the blustering winds and the cruel cold, made their way to the customary meeting place and sat down in due order, once they had paid their respects to the Signora. Soon after, she ordered the golden vase to be brought to her...

    • VI. Fable 1 Two Friends Who Held Their Wives in Common ALTERIA
      (pp. 7-28)

      Many are the tricks and deceptions which men practise upon one another nowadays, but among them all you will find none comparable in craft and knavery to those which friends and relatives will play against each other. Since the lot has fallen upon me to begin this evening’s entertainment with a story, I’ve decided to give you an account of the subtlety, cunning, and treachery that a certain man employed in deceiving his closest friend. Yet even though his knavish trick, for its cleverness, was entirely successful in duping him, in the end, he found himself tricked by craft and...

    • VI. Fable 2 Castorio’s Welcome Castration ARIANNA
      (pp. 29-38)

      The fable Alteria just told us with so much grace and discretion puts me in mind of a certain drollery as comic as hers which I heard told, a short time back, by a merry dame of the nobility. But if I’m not able to set it forth with the same distinction and elegance it was told to me, I ask to be held excused, seeing that nature was stingy with me when it came to the fine qualities so liberally granted to the lady I mentioned.

      Not far from Fano, a city of the Marches situated on the shore...

    • VI. Fable 3 The Widow’s Broken Promise CATERUZZA
      (pp. 39-46)

      Once a woman is thoroughly wedded to a certain practice, whether it is good or bad, she finds it hard to abstain, because the habits learned from sustained usage she will keep to the end of her days. I propose now to tell you the story of a young widow who could not break off the wanton life she had for some time been living. Even when in loving kindness her own son reproved her, the crafty dame played a wily trick upon him to carry on with her evil ways. You’ll hear about all this in the course of...

    • VI. Fable 4 Who Will Become Abbess? ANTONIO BEMBO
      (pp. 47-55)

      Modesty lends a great charm to all who possess it, yet judgment I rate even higher when it is in the possession of a man who knows himself. With the permission of the gracious ladies around me, I propose to tell a story no less witty than beautiful, although in certain ways it’s silly and indecent. I will hence do my best to relate it to you with as much modesty and propriety as is due and proper. But if by chance any part of my discourse affronts your chaste ears, I would now forestall your pardon for the offence...

    • VI. Fable 5 The Virtue of Stones ERITREA
      (pp. 56-64)

      It has often been said, dear ladies, that mysterious powers reside within words, herbs, and stones. But stones assuredly may be thought to excel both herbs and words in persuasive virtues, as you will come to understand from this little tale.

      There once lived in the city of Bergamo a miserly old priest called Father Zefiro, who, by common report, was said to be possessed of as much wealth as any man of the cloth. This prelate had a garden located beyond the city walls near the Penta Gate, itself surrounded by walls and ditches in such a way that...

  5. The Seventh Night

    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 65-66)

      As the darkness began to settle over all parts of the cool and distant west and the rays of Pluto’s beloved Proserpina penetrated to all the corners of the pitchy night, the honourable and loyal band of gentlefolk returned once more to the palace of the Signora and, hand in hand, took their accustomed seats as they had done on the previous nights. Then Molino, by the order of the Signora, had the vase brought forth, and thrusting in his hand, he drew out first the name of Vicenza, then that of Fiordiana, then Lodovica, reserving the fourth turn for...

    • VII. Fable 1 The Wife, the Courtesan, and the Witch VICENZA
      (pp. 67-92)

      To tell just how great the love of a wife is for her husband would require some time, and above all when she is married with a man to her liking. Contrarily, however, there is no hatred more rancorous than that of a woman who finds herself under the rule of a distasteful husband. For as wise men have written, a woman either loves wholeheartedly or hates without limits. All this you will easily understand if you follow carefully the tale I’ve chosen for you.

      Once upon a time, gracious ladies, there lived a merchant called Ortodosio Simeoni, a man...

    • VII. Fable 2 Malgherita Spolatina’s Death at Sea FIORDIANA
      (pp. 93-100)

      Love, as it has been described by wise men, is nothing more than an irrational desire or passion of the heart engendered by wanton thoughts. Among its ill effects are the squandering of worldly riches, wasting the strength of the body, infatuation of mind, and loss of freedom. It knows no order or reason, nor is it steadfast in anything. It is the father of vice, the enemy of youth, the destroyer of old age, and seldom or never does it lead to a good or prosperous outcome. Proof of this is the fate that once befell a woman of...

    • VII. Fable 3 Flogged at the Pope’s Court LODOVICA
      (pp. 101-112)

      Gracious and lovesome ladies, the fable so elegantly told by Fiordiana has given occasion for the shedding of many tears by reason of its woeful nature, but as this is a place better suited for laughter than for weeping, I have decided to tell you one that I hope will give you no small pleasure. It concerns the buffooneries performed by a certain Brescian who went to Rome in expectation of becoming a rich man, but who, failing in his schemes, ended his days in poverty and misadventure.

      In the city of Brescia, situated in the province of Lombardy, there...

    • VII. Fable 4 Share and Share Alike LIONORA
      (pp. 113-122)

      Great indeed, beloved and gracious ladies, is the tender love that a father bears towards his children. Equally great is the affection of close and faithful friends for each other. Great too is the attachment that a loyal citizen feels for his beloved country. But in my estimation, the love between two brothers who cling to one another with sincere and perfect affection is fully as great as any of those I have named above. Occasionally it falls out otherwise, but love of this kind gives rise to the most blessed and happy results, bringing sweet fulfilment to the projects...

    • VII. Fable 5 The Three Brothers ISABELLA
      (pp. 123-146)

      I have often heard it said that wit is always the master of force, and that there is no undertaking in the whole world, however difficult and arduous, that a man of ingenuity cannot perform. The truth of this I’ll prove to you in the short tale to follow if you’ll lend me your attention.

      In this city of ours there once lived a poor man who had three sons, but by reason of his great poverty he could find no means to feed and rear them. Thus pressed by need and aware of the cruel poverty and decaying strength...

  6. The Eighth Night

    • VIII. Fable 1 The Three Idle Rogues ERITREA
      (pp. 149-168)

      I have carefully considered, most excellent ladies, the very great number of unfortunate conditions under which mortals presently live, and of these I find the most wretched and miserable to be that of a lazy rogue, because men of this sort, given their mean-spirited idleness and obstinacy, are the most singled out for denigration and scorn. More often than not, they prefer living in rags and poverty to giving up their disgraceful conduct. This contention I’ll prove in the clearest fashion in the course of recounting my story.

      No more than two years ago, there lived in the territory of...

    • VIII. Fable 2 The Right Handling of Wives CATERUZZA
      (pp. 169-191)

      The learned and prudent physician, when he foresees that a certain disease will manifest itself in the human body, adopts those remedies and antidotes that show the greatest promise for preserving life, without waiting for the disease to gain control, because a new wound heals more readily than an old one. Likewise a husband – and here I crave pardon of all the ladies – when he takes a wife should act in the same fashion; he should never let her get the upper hand, for amends attempted later are impossible and the affliction will follow him to the grave. This is...

    • VIII. Fable 3 The Priest and the Image-Carver’s Wife ARIANNA
      (pp. 192-211)

      Gracious ladies, if all our churchmen these days – and I’m speaking now of the unworthy and not of the worthy clerics – were zealous in their studies, providing an example to the uneducated, and inclined to live in righteous ways according to their rules, the ignorant rabble would have less occasion to ridicule them and pretend to teach them their duties. For then all humankind would hold priests in high reverence and think themselves blessed of God if they could merely touch the hems of their cassocks. But because our spiritual guides have taken on the manners of secular folk, have...

    • VIII. Fable 4 Lattanzio and the Secret Arts of Sorcery ALTERIA
      (pp. 212-235)

      The judgments of men are varied, indeed, and likewise there are many kinds of desires and wishes. As the sage said, ‘Every single man is full of his own conceit’: for this reason, concerning the human race, there are some who give themselves over to the study of law, others who cultivate the art of oratory, and others who indulge in philosophical speculations, one being inclined to this thing and another to that. Nature, the mistress of our actions, guides each of our courses, for she, like a kindly mother, impels each man to pursue that which is most congenial...

    • VIII. Fable 5 The Donkey’s Skin and the Doctor’s Apprentice LAURETTA
      (pp. 236-244)

      In these days, gracious ladies, higher honours are bestowed upon mere favourites, those of noble birth or the wealthy, than upon men of science. Nevertheless, true learning may lie hidden under modest and humble trappings, yet by its own virtue it shines forth and illuminates like the rays of the sun. This truth will become manifest if, by your courtesy, you’ll incline your ears to this brief tale of mine.

      There once lived in Padua, city of Antenore, a certain physician who was not only held in high honour, but had also became very rich, although he was little versed...

    • VIII. Fable 3A The Woes of an Old Gallant ARIANNA
      (pp. 245-253)

      Gracious ladies, as Cicero writes in his bookOn Old Age, ardent wantonness is always ugly and disgraceful, but in old men it is particularly disgusting and far more blameworthy. Besides being wicked and vile in itself, it saps a man’s strength, weakens his eyesight, robs him of his intellect, makes him a disgrace and a laughing-stock, empties his purse, and, given the troublesome and brief period of pleasure it holds out as a lure, entices him into all sorts of evil. If you’ll give my fable the kind and gracious hearing that you customarily give, the truth of what...

    • VIII. Fable 3B The Merchant’s Monkey ALTERIA
      (pp. 254-260)

      The tale just told to you by my dear sister puts me in mind of an accident that befell a Genoese merchant who, for selling wine mixed with water, subsequently lost half the money which he had earned for its sale, for which reason he almost died of grief.

      In the noble city of Genoa, one in which there is great trafficking in merchandise, there lived once upon a time a certain Bernardo of the Fulgoso family, an avaricious chap, and a man involved in unlawful dealings. Now this Bernardo made up his mind to go to Flanders with a...

  7. The Ninth Night

    • IX. Fable 1 King Galafro’s Vain Precautions DIANA
      (pp. 263-275)

      So you see, dear ladies, just as fidelity, which is so much a part of every honest woman’s nature, deserves the praise and highest commendation from the mouths of all men, so its opposite, disloyalty, when it dominates a woman’s character, merits only censure, universal castigation, and blame. The former stretches out her arms in all directions and is greeted by the entire world with the most cordial welcome and caresses, while the latter, by reason of her feeble gait and defective strength, finds it difficult to advance on her way, and hence comes to misery and is forsaken by...

    • IX. Fable 2 Rodolino and Violante, or the Broken Hearts LIONORA
      (pp. 276-292)

      If the passion of love is guided by the spirit of gentleness, modesty, and temperance, it seldom fails to run a prosperous course. But when it delivers itself over to the promptings of a voracious and inordinate appetite, it becomes a scourge to men and will often lead them to terrible and disastrous ends. In the final outcome of the brief homily I’m about to relate, you will see the reason for this.

      I must begin by telling you, most gracious ladies, that Lodovico, king of Hungary, had an only son named Rodolino, and this youth, although he was still...

    • IX. Fable 3 Francesco Sforza’s Narrow Escape ISABELLA
      (pp. 293-304)

      The fable just narrated to us by Lionora opens the way to tell you of a very piteous adventure, one that, in fact, may be held for history rather than fable, because it happened to the son of a duke, who, after many tribulations, brought it about that his enemies tasted a bitter punishment for the offences they had wrought.

      In our own times there lived in Milan Signor Francesco Sforza, the son of Lodovico il Moro, the ruler of the city. This youth, both during the lifetime of his father and after his death, suffered greatly from the slings...

    • IX. Fable 4 Papiro Schizza’s Pedantry and the Scholar’s Revenge VICENZA
      (pp. 305-317)

      Kindly ladies, if with due diligence we were to investigate just how many fools and ignoramuses there are around us, we would soon realize that they are too numerous to be counted. If, moreover, we sought to know all the ills arising from ignorance, we would have to consult that great teacher of all things, experience, who would instruct us like a kindly mother. Now as the common adage goes, if we don’t want to leave with our hands full of flies, let me explain that of all the vices, pride is born first among them, for vanity is the...

    • IX. Fable 5 Of the Bergamasques and the Florentines FERIER BELTRAMO
      (pp. 318-330)

      I would remind you, comely ladies, that however great the difference is between men of wisdom and letters and men of duller and more matter-of-fact minds, sometimes it happens that sages are defeated by men of small learning. Is this not clearly set forth in the Holy Scriptures, where we may read how the simple and despised apostles confounded the understanding of those who were full of knowledge and wisdom? I will strive to set this out plainly for you in this little fable of mine.

      Some time ago – as I often heard told by my grandsires, and you may...

  8. The Tenth Night

    • X. Fable 1 Madonna Veronica Recovers Her Stolen Jewels LAURETTA
      (pp. 333-342)

      Whenever I consider and reconsider the cares and perplexities that Fortune, day by day, sends our way for tormenting wretched mortals, I often conclude that no sufferings or sorrows can match those of a woman who loves her husband most loyally, yet without just cause is despised by him in return. For this reason, we should not be at all astonished if, at times, women as unhappy and miserable as those I’ve mentioned should employ all their powers to find some remedy for their unhappy states. And if by chance such ill-fated creatures should now and again inadvertently fall into...

    • X. Fable 2 The Lion and the Ass Named ‘Brancaleone’ ARIANNA
      (pp. 343-360)

      The diversity of human affairs, the vicissitudes of time, the manner of life led by evil men, often bring it about that things beautiful seem ugly and that ugly things seem beautiful. For this reason, if it happens that anything in this fable I’m about to relate to you is found to be offensive to your ears, I ask your pardon, and that you reserve for some other occasion any punishment you may think I deserve.

      In Arcadia, a region of the Morea that derives its name from Arcadius, the son of Jove – a land in which was first discovered...

    • X. Fable 3 Cesarino the Dragon Slayer ALTERIA
      (pp. 361-393)

      In turning over the records of ancient and modern history, I have noted that prudence holds a place as one of the most illustrious and worthy virtues with which human beings are endowed, for the man who uses prudence correctly may call upon his past experience to discern matters of the present, and with mature guidance provide for the future. Wherefore, seeing that I have to take my turn at storytelling this evening, I will give you a little fable that has been recalled to my mind by the one recently told by Arianna, a fable that is neither laughable...

    • X. Fable 4 The Diabolical Testament of Andrigetto di Valsabbia ERITREA
      (pp. 394-405)

      There is a well-known proverb that a bad end awaits every bad life, and for this reason it is far wiser to live piously, as a good man should, than to give loose rein to one’s conscience or unthinkingly follow an unrestrained will, as did a certain noble citizen who, as the end of his life approached, bequeathed his soul to the enemy of mankind only to die in wickedness and despair – in keeping with the will of divine justice.

      In Como, one of the lesser cities of Lombardy, not far distant from Milan, there once dwelt a citizen named...

    • X. Fable 5 Rosolino’s Confession for Love of His Son CATERUZZA
      (pp. 406-414)

      No one can fully appreciate the ardent and tenacious love a father feels towards a morally upright and circumspect son except the man who has children of his own, for the father not only strives to give the child everything that may be necessary for his bodily sustenance, but will often put his own life in jeopardy, even shed his own blood, for the advancement and enrichment of his son. This saying I’ll prove true through the short fable that I now propose to tell you. And given that this story will move your pity rather than your laughter, I...

  9. The Eleventh Night

    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 415-416)

      The shadowy night, the healing mother to the world’s fatigues, had already fallen, and the wearied beasts and birds had gone to rest when the gentle and amiable company, putting aside all heavy thoughts, made their ways back to their customary meeting place. After the damsels had danced various steps in keeping with the prescribed order of their festivities, the vase was brought out. The first name to be drawn from it was Fiordiana’s, followed by Lionora’s, then Diana’s, Isabella’s and lastly Vicenza’s.

      After theirlironihad been brought out and tuned, the Signora gave the word to Molino and...

    • XI. Fable 1 Costantino and His Wonderful Cat FIORDIANA
      (pp. 417-445)

      It is no rare event, beloved ladies, to see a rich man brought to extreme poverty, or to find someone who, from absolute penury, has mounted to high estate. Such good fortune, I heard tell, came to a boy in dire straits, who rose from beggary to the full dignity of a king.

      Once upon a time in Bohemia there was a woman named Soriana who lived in great poverty with her three sons, one of them called Dusolino, another Tesifone, and the third Costantino Fortunato. Soriana had nothing of value in the way of household goods, with three exceptions:...

    • XI. Fable 2 The Grateful Dead, or Bertuccio and Tarquinia LEONORA
      (pp. 446-474)

      There is a common proverb which teaches us that those who perform kindly acts can never be losers. That this proverb is true is clearly shown by what happened to the son of a certain notary. For, although his mother cautioned him repeatedly about spending his money foolishly, in the end both mother and son were satisfied.

      In the castle of Trino in the Piedmont there lived in times of yore a notary, a discreet and intelligent man called Xenofonte. He had but one son, named Bertuccio, then fifteen years old, who was by nature more simple than sage. It...

    • XI. Fable 3 Wind, Water, and Shame, or the Gluttony of Dom Pomporio DIANA
      (pp. 475-482)

      It would have been my preference to have been excused this evening from the burden of telling a fable, because the truth is I can’t recall a single one that’s likely to please you. But in order not to break the rules we’ve been following so far, I’ll do my best to tell you one that may at least be worth listening to, even though you won’t gain much pleasure from it.

      At a time now long past there lived in a famous monastery a certain monk who was of a mature age and a man of renown, but a...

    • XI. Fable 4 The Buffoon and the Stolen Veal ISABELLA
      (pp. 483-490)

      There is a saying that is, for good reason, held in wide esteem, that a jester’s tricks may sometimes please, but not in every instance. Seeing that I’ve been chosen to be fourth in the order of tonight’s storytelling, I’ve been searching my memory for a fable, and the one that comes to recollection is about a certain buffoon who played a knavish trick upon a gentleman and how this gentleman tried to get his revenge, but could get no satisfaction because the jester simply put another trick upon him, and in that way even managed to get himself out...

    • XI. Fable 5 Frate Bigoccio Takes a Wife and Leaves Her VICENZA
      (pp. 491-500)

      Dear ladies, I’ve heard it said many times that virtue is surely fated to come to ruin through persistent hypocrisy – a saying that is clearly illustrated by what happened to a certain monk who was taken by all to be a man of piety and wisdom. This very man, seized with love for a young damsel, ultimately married her. When his transgression was discovered, he was forced to do severe penance for it, while the young girl was honourably bestowed in marriage. All this will become entirely clear from the story I’m about to tell.

      In Rome there once lived...

  10. The Twelfth Night

    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 501-502)

      The blithe and watchful birds had now fled before the approaching shadows of night, and the bats, enemies of the sun and sacred to Proserpine, had come forth from their customary dwellings in the caves of the rocks and were briskly wheeling their flight through the dusky air, when the honourable and courteous company of ladies and gentlemen, laying aside every troublesome and hurtful thought, merrily made their way to the accustomed meeting place. When they had all seated themselves according to their respective ranks, the Signora came forward to meet them, giving to each a gracious salute. Then, after...

    • XII. Fable 1 How Florio’s Wife Cures His Jealousy LIONORA
      (pp. 503-507)

      Again and again I’ve heard it said, dear ladies, that the cleverest stratagems of art and science are helpless when pitted against the tricks of women. The reason for this is that at her creation, woman sprang not from the dry, barren earth, but from the ribs of Adam our first father. Thus, from the beginning they were made of flesh and not of dust, even though in the end their bodies, like men’s, must come to ashes. Insofar as it is my duty to begin our pleasant entertainment tonight, I’ve decided to tell you the story of a jealous...

    • XII. Fable 2 The Simpleton’s Blackmail LODOVICA
      (pp. 508-514)

      I had made up my mind to relate to you a fable of a different nature from the one I’m about to tell you, but the story we just heard from my sister here has caused me to alter it, because I’m keen to illustrate how it often happens that there are benefits from just being a fool, with the added warning that it’s not always a wise thing to share our secrets with them.

      In Pisa, one of the noblest cities of Tuscany, there resided in our own times a certain lady most graceful and fair, although discretion compels...

    • XII. Fable 3 The Language of Animals and Pozzuolo’s Wife FIORDIANA
      (pp. 515-526)

      It is the duty of all wise and prudent men to keep their wives in due fear and subjection, and on no account to be induced by them to wear their breeches as gear for their heads. For if husbands are led to follow other courses than these, they’ll surely live to regret it in the end.

      One day, Federigo da Pozzuolo, a most talented and prudent young man, was riding towards Naples on a mare that was in foal, with his pregnant wife behind him on the crupper. At the same time, there was a young colt following its...

    • XII. Fable 4 Of the Sons Who Disobeyed Their Father’s Testament VICENZA
      (pp. 527-531)

      The greatest folly men or women can commit is to indulge the dream of doing good after they’ve passed on to the next world, for which reason, in our day, obedience to the commandments of the dead is deemed of little importance, or of no importance at all. I’ve tested this matter over and over again because of my own situation, for of all the money I’ve inherited, I’ve only been able to obtain possession of a very small portion of it. And all this has come to pass through the fault of the executors, who, out of their desire...

    • XII. Fable 5 How Pope Sixtus IV Made His Servant Rich ISABELLA
      (pp. 532-546)

      The tales told so far by my sisters have been so charming and witty that I’m afraid I will fail to please you on account of the meanness of my skill compared to theirs. But because of this, I still won’t fail to do my part in keeping up our pleasant custom, even though the fable I’m about to relate to you has already been told by Messer Giovanni Boccaccio in hisDecameron. Still, it wasn’t expressed there in the same way I propose to treat it here, seeing that I’ve added a few things to make it more acceptable...

  11. The Thirteenth Night

    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 547-548)

      Phoebus had already taken his departure from this land of ours and the clear brightness of the day was gone and faded, so that now the forms of objects no longer made themselves clearly apparent, when the Signora, having come out of her chamber accompanied by the ten damsels, went to the head of the staircase to give gladsome welcome to the gentle company that had already disembarked from their boats. When all had taken their seats according to their rank, the Signora said, ‘It seems to me that tonight it would be well and becoming – after the customary dancing...

    • XIII. Fable 1 The Huntsman and the Madman CASALI OF BOLOGNA
      (pp. 549-557)

      The task of fable-telling which the Signora has assigned to me is a daunting one, since, in my view, this activity belongs rather to the ladies than to us men. But given that my playing the raconteur is her desire and the wish of this honourable company, I’ll set to work with all my strength to satisfy your expectations. And while I may not succeed to your total delight, I hope at the least to divert you somewhat with the one I’m about to tell.

      In England there once lived a certain very rich man – the head of his family...

    • XIII. Fable 2 Diego, the Hens, and the Carmelite Friar SIGNORA LUCREZIA
      (pp. 558-568)

      The fable just related to us by Signor Ambassador was so fine and delightful a piece of work that I can’t hope to follow it with anything of my own that merits one-thousandth as much as his. But in order not to fail in keeping my own proposition, set out at the beginning of our present evening’s entertainment and thus before the tale told by Signor Ambassador, I will recite a fable showing that when it comes to malice and spite, the Spaniards surpass even the roughest boors.

      In Spain there is a city called Cordoba, near which there runs...

    • XIII. Fable 3 On the Liberality of Spaniards and Germans PIETRO BEMBO
      (pp. 569-572)

      The fable just told to us by our worthy Signora brings back to memory a certain dispute that arose from the envy kindled between the servants of a German and a Spaniard who happened to meet at the same table. Although this fable of mine is very short, nevertheless, many may find it entertaining and a source of pleasure.

      One day by chance a German and a Spaniard, having arrived at the same hostelry, ate their supper together, being served with many fine foods of all sorts and in great abundance. While they were dining, the Spaniard handed to his...

    • XIII. Fable 4 The Servant, the Fly, and the Master SIGNORA VERONICA
      (pp. 573-583)

      My most handsome gentlemen, many times have I heard it said that misdeeds committed unwittingly do not carry the same blame as those done by intent. Thus, we look more lightly on the transgressions of yokels, children, and others of like condition than on those committed by more responsible folk. Since it’s now my turn to tell a story, I’ll relate the adventure of one Fortunio, a menial, who, in seeking to kill a horsefly that was annoying his master, inadvertently killed the master himself.

      There lived in the city of Ferrara a rich grocer of good descent who had...

    • XIII. Fable 5 Vilio Brigantello, the Robber, and the Fateful Sack
      (pp. 584-588)

      A very famous poet has said that the man who takes delight in beguiling others must not cry out and lament if by chance someone should trick him instead. I have remarked that those who have an inclination to outwit their fellows very often, perhaps always, are themselves outwitted. Such a fate befell a robber who had made up his mind to slay a certain craftsman, but who was killed instead by his intended victim.

      In Pistoia, a city in Tuscany between Florence and Lucca, there lived an artisan named Vilio Brigantello, who was very rich and possessed a great...

    • XIII. Fable 6 How Lucilio Finds the ‘Good Day’ SIGNORA CHIARA
      (pp. 589-603)

      I have always understood, gracious ladies, from the writings of the world’s sages, that Fortune helps out those who are alert and help themselves and puts to flight the fainthearted and fearful. In demonstration of the truth of this saying, I’ll tell you a very brief fable, which by chance may bring you a bit of pleasure and satisfaction.

      In Cesena, an illustrious city of the Romagna, near to which flows the River Savio, there once dwelt a little widow, very poor, but of good repute; Lucietta was her name. This woman had a son, the most useless and dunderheaded...

    • XIII. Fable 7 Giorgio Hales His Master before the Tribunal FERIER BELTRAMO
      (pp. 604-610)

      The illustrious gentlemen and the adorable ladies whom I see around me have already narrated such a vast number of stories that it seems to me there is hardly any material left to serve my needs. But so as not to mar the pleasant sequence of entertainments, I’ll give it my best effort to tell you a fable that, although it may not shine with great wit, will at least give you a little pleasure and diversion, as you’ll soon see.

      Pandolfo Zabbarella, a gentleman of Padua, was, in his day, not only a brave and great-hearted soul, but a...

    • XIII. Fable 8 Midnight Feast and Famine LAURETTA
      (pp. 611-616)

      The vice of gluttony is a heinous one without any doubt, but it is nevertheless more tolerable than the vice of hypocrisy, because the gluttonous man only cheats himself, while the hypocrite, with his simulated actions, seeks to deceive others in appearing to be what he’s not. All this was proved true in the case of a certain village priest who, by means of his own hypocrisy, suffered both in body and in soul, as I’ll try to explain in just a few words.

      Close to the city of Padua stands the village of Noventa, in which there once lived...

    • XIII. Fable 9 Of Filomena the Hermaphrodite Nun ANTONIO MOLINO
      (pp. 617-629)

      The secrets of nature, most gracious ladies, are indeed mighty and numberless, nor is there in all the world a man who, by the powers of his intellect, can explain them all. I thought, for this reason, that I might tell you of a case that is not a fable, but that came veritably to pass a short time ago in the city of Salerno.

      In this city of high renown, abounding with handsome women, there lived a certain gentleman belonging to the house of Porta. He was the head of a family and the father of one daughter – a...

    • XIII. Fable 10 The Judgments of Cesare, Doctor of Laws CATERUZZA
      (pp. 630-637)

      There are three things, gracious ladies, that may be said to lay waste to the world and turn everything upside down: these three are money, hatred, and favouritism. The truth of this saying you will readily understand if you give a kind hearing to the fable I’m about to recite.

      Lodovico Mota – as you may well have heard before now – was a farsighted and wise man and one of the foremost citizens of Naples. Being unmarried, he took for his wife the daughter of Alessandro di Alessandri, also a resident of the city, and by her he had an only...

    • XIII. Fable 11 The Novice’s Night in the Barn BENEDETTO OF TREVISO
      (pp. 638-647)

      My dear ladies, fear is sometimes created from overconfidence, and sometimes from our spineless and cowardly natures, for by rights we ought to fear only those things that have a genuine power to work evil to others and to ignore all those incapable of producing harm. I want to tell you of a real adventure, not just a silly joke, that happened in our time to a certain poor novice – one that caused him serious misfortune. Having set forth from Cologne on his way to Ferrara, he passed by the abbey and along the high ground above the swamps of...

    • XIII. Fable 12 The Healing of King Guglielmo ISABELLA
      (pp. 648-654)

      All whose judgments lead them to successfully avoid everything that is noxious and to seek only things beneficial and profitable to them may truly account themselves born under a lucky star, or even more than mortal. But men of this kind, willing to conduct their lives by the best precepts, have been hard to find at any time and nowadays are scarce indeed. Yet it happened otherwise in the case of a king who received from a physician three rules for the preservation of his health, by which he regulated his life thereafter.

      I think, no I’m certain, gracious ladies,...

    • XIII. Fable 13 How Pietro Rizzato Finds a Treasure and Becomes a Miser VICENZA
      (pp. 655-665)

      Prodigality is a vice that brings a man to an end worse than avarice, because the spendthrift devours not only his own substance but other men’s as well, and when he is destitute, everyone scorns him. People want to distance themselves from him as though he were mad, an outlaw, or just to make fun of him. This is what happened in the case of a certain Pietro Rizzato, who, for all his reckless spending, ended up in total misery. Then by chance discovering a treasure, he became not only a rich man but a pinchpenny as well.

      I must...