Giovanni Boccaccio – The Decameron
Giovanni Boccaccio was a famous Italian writer and humanist in the Middle Ages. He was born in 1313 (most likely in Certaldo) as the on of the merchant Boccaccino di Chellino and an unknown parishioner. His father acknowledged him his son around 1320 and provided him with decent education.
In 1321, he began to teach Latin, but his father did not approve of his interest in literature, so he sent him to Naples to learn how to become a trader. After 6 years of unsuccessful learning, Giovanni left school and spent the next 6 years devoting himself to studying law. Later, he wrote in his writings that he regrets these “in vain years spent”.
However, they were not wasted in vain. Through the acquaintances of his father, Giovanni met with people from the Naples court. He met scientists and theologians, writers and lawyers. He learned something about atronomy and mythology, and he became acquainted with the Greek language and culture. He read Latin authors, French adventurous novels and Italian poetry. Giovanni Boccaccio matured in Naples and became a writer.
Giovanni Boccaccio’s earliest work is “Caccia di Diana ” (Diana’s hunt) written in 1334. In it, the events in the Naples court were described in verses. Then he wrote several other love poems, such as “Filostrato” and “Filocolo”.
In 1340, his father, who was impoverished, invited him to return to Florence. Little is known about his life after returning to Florence, but his works in the period between 1341 and 1346 changed considerably. He began to write pastoral novels and allegorical poems such as “Ninfale fiesolano” and “Amorosa visione” (Vision of Love).
In 1349, after the death of his father, Boccaccio began to work on his most famous and best work, “The Decameron”, which he ended in 1353. The Black Plague that ruled in 1348 inspired Giovanni to write his masterpiece, which consists of 100 stories. In “The Decameron” characters are the story tellers. Talking the story takes 10 days and hence the name “The Decameron”. This work contains various genres – comedy, tragedy, adventure and greatly depicts life in the Middle Ages. That is why “The Decameron” became a model for writing Italian prose.
In the autumn of 1350, Boccaccio hosted Francesca Petrarch, famous Italian poet. The long-standing friendship between the two artists began. Petrarch had a significant influence on Boccaccio’s philosophy and humanism.
Between 1354 and 1355 Boccaccio was engaged in politics and went to diplomatic missions. Later, he continued to write again, and between 1356 and 1361, works were created: “Buccolicum carmen “, “De mulieribus claris “, “Genealogia deorum gentilium libri” and “Trattatello in laude di Dante”.
In 1362, a monk prophesized Boccaccio’s death and advised him to immediately leave his life work and dedicate himself to religion. After the conversation with the monk, Boccaccio intented on destroying all his works, but Petrarch convinced him not to give up on it, and invited Boccaccio to visit him in Venice.
He soon got sick, but enthusiastically accepted the task of reading Dante’s “Divine Comedy” every day in a church. But, as the disease weakened him, he had to stop reading. On December 21, 1375, Giovanni Bocaco passed away.