The Decameron is a collection of one hundred stories told by seven women and three men who flee Florence to escape the plague. They stay at a villa in the country and, to amuse each other, tell stories. Each of them has to tell one story per day for ten days and thus the name Decameron comes from the Greek for 'ten days'. The subject of the stories is love. One of my favorites and most giggle worthy is about the hermit Rustico who persuades a young woman to play a pious game with him called 'putting the devil into hell'. You can imagine what that game was about.
Griselda is the subject of the last story in Boccaccio's Decameron and is a story about a beautiful peasant woman, Griselda, who is married by the Marquis of Saluzzo because his subjects beg him to take a wife. He believes women are evil things but he is convinced by Griselda's mild manner and beauty that she might make a good wife. It turns out she is mild, good and decent but he decides to test her meekness by abusing her and calling her names. This does not change her nature so he tests her further by taking their daughter, soon after she is born, and telling his wife he does not like the girl and is going to have her killed. Griselda tells him that she will bow in his judgement. Ack!!! And then, and then, he proceeds a few years later to have their son killed soon after being born and again she does not complain!! The children were not really killed; the marquis sends them away to a kinswoman of his to be secretly raised.
Griselda, still loving her husband and obeying him in all things, is tested one more time by the heartless bastard. He tells her that he does not love her anymore and is going to marry someone else - a 12 year old girl at that - and would she please help his new bride get dressed for the wedding. Griselda does his bidding in that too, uncomplaining.
The 'bride' is her daughter and, since she passed the test, the idiot husband reunites her with her children and restores her to her position but his subjects think rather less of him for being such an ass. I am not sure what Boccaccio's point was with this story - was she an example for women to live up to or an example of how foolish men can be?
Griselda was a popular story. Petrarch translated it in to latin and, from him, it made it in to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales as the Clerk's Tale. Charles Perrault, otherwise known as Mother Goose, includes her story in his Fairy Tales in Verse. It is appropriate that he places her story in a book on fairy tales since this is clearly what it is. What woman could still love a man whom she believes has murdered both of their infant children? Even after he has beaten her down with emotional and verbal abuse? Only a man could invent a story like that.
BEATLES SONG OF THE WEEK
......Christus! Scis non facilis est,
Scis quo modo durum erit,
Quo modo res agunt,
Me crucifigere agunt.
Habui denique fugam in Lutetia,
Ferias iuxta Sequanam.
Petrus Spadicus me vocavit dicere,
Te in matrimonium ducere in Mons Calpe iuxta Iberiam.
Christus! Scis non facilis est....