The Decameron

The Decameron

by

Giovanni Boccaccio

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Elissa Character Analysis

The last female member of the brigata, Elissa is another name by which Dido, an abandoned wife from Virgil’s Aeneid, is called. In allegorical readings, then, she associates Giovanni Boccaccio’s work with Virgil as an early Italian (Roman) poet, linking his present fame to his illustrious forebears. She is the sovereign of Day VII, which takes retort and repartee as its theme. In her role as sovereign, she becomes impatient with the smutty songs Dioneo offers to sing at the end of Day V. Her own song, sung at the end of Day VI, is accompanied by adorable little sighs and stuns her companions with its veiled allusions to the damage love has caused her physically and mentally. She is the one who takes the ladies to visit the Valley of the Ladies at the end of Day VI.

Elissa Quotes in The Decameron

The The Decameron quotes below are all either spoken by Elissa or refer to Elissa. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Love and Sex Theme Icon
).
Day 2: Eighth Tale Quotes

Sweet friend and master, dearest one of all, since you are wise you will readily acknowledge that men and women are remarkably frail, and that, for a variety of reasons, some are frailer than others. It is therefore right and proper that before an impartial judge, people of different social rank should not be punished equally for committing an identical sin. For nobody would, I think, deny that if a member of the poorer classes, obliged to earn a living through manual toil, were to surrender blindly to the promptings of love, he or she would be far more culpable than a rich and leisured lady who lacked none of the necessary means to gratify her tiniest whim.

Related Characters: French Princess (speaker), Walter, Elissa
Page Number: 150
Explanation and Analysis:

But knowing her to be a woman of gentle birth, doing penance for another’s sin through no fault of her own, the Lord above, who rewards all according to their deserts, arranged matters otherwise. One must in fact conclude that He alone, out of His loving kindness, made possible the train of events which followed, in order to prevent this nobly-born maiden from falling into the hands of a commoner.

Related Symbols: Fortune
Page Number: 154
Explanation and Analysis:

The doctor was holding [Jacques] by the wrist, taking his pulse, when Jeannette […] entered the room in which the youth was laying. When he saw her coming in, the flames of passion flared up in the young man’s breast, and although he neither spoke nor moved, his pulse began to beat more strongly. The doctor noted this at once, but concealing his surprise, he remained silent, waiting to see how long his pulse would continue to beat so rapidly.

As soon as Jeannette left the room, the young man’s pulse returned to normal […] [The doctor] waited for a while, and then, still holding the patient by the wrist, he sent for Jeannette […] and no sooner did she enter the room than the youth’s pulse began to race all over again: and when she departed, it subsided.

Related Characters: Elissa (speaker), Boccaccio, Jeannette (Violante), Jacques Lamiens
Page Number: 155
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Decameron LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Decameron PDF

Elissa Character Timeline in The Decameron

The timeline below shows where the character Elissa appears in The Decameron. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Day 1: Introduction
Men and Women Theme Icon
Class and Character Theme Icon
...arise from naughtiness in their stories. They are Pampinea, Fiammetta, Filomena, Emelia, Lauretta, Neifile, and Elissa. (full context)
Men and Women Theme Icon
...Filomena urges caution: she’s worried that without male guidance they might quarrel and split up. Elissa agrees, wondering where they can find the right men. Meanwhile, Panfilo, Filostrato, and Dioneo enter... (full context)
Day 1: Ninth Tale
Men and Women Theme Icon
Elissa, hoping to give the company a good and useful moral, relates how a Gascon Gentlewoman,... (full context)
Day 2: Eighth Tale
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
...pity for Alatiel, maybe from jealousy at her sexual exploits—but everyone laughs at the ending. Elissa begins her tale next, setting it in the context of a war between France and... (full context)
Day 3: Fifth Tale
Intelligence Theme Icon
Elissa prefaces her tale with a moral, reminding her listeners against the arrogance of assuming that... (full context)
Day 4: Fourth Tale
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Elissa offers her tale as evidence against the erroneous belief that love can only strike his... (full context)
Day 5: Third Tale
Class and Character Theme Icon
Elissa, eager to obey Fiammetta’s orders, begins her tale next. In Rome—lately turned from the head... (full context)
Day 5: Conclusion
Intelligence Theme Icon
With Dioneo’s story at an end, Fiammetta crowns Elissa as the next day’s sovereign. She decrees that the next day’s theme will be people... (full context)
Moderation and Excess Theme Icon
After dinner, as Emilia begins to dance, Elissa asks Dioneo to sing. He tries a bunch of bawdy songs, which are all rejected... (full context)
Day 6: Introduction
Moderation and Excess Theme Icon
...commotion arises in the kitchen. The steward (Parmeno) explains that Liscia and Tindaro are arguing. Elissa commands them to appear and explain themselves. (full context)
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
...when Liscia, spoiling for a fight and considering him an “ignorant lout,” interrupts. She tells Elissa that Tindaro thinks he knows Sicofante’s Wife better than Liscia herself. Tindaro tried to tell... (full context)
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Elissa can’t silence Liscia during this speech, but when it ends, she asks Dioneo to pronounce... (full context)
Day 6: Ninth Tale
Class and Character Theme Icon
Leaving Dioneo the final tale, Elissa begins next, recalling Florence’s glorious past, when people displayed their generosity in fraternities dedicated to... (full context)
Day 6: Conclusion
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Moderation and Excess Theme Icon
As the laughter over Friar Cipolla’s relics dies down, Elissa places the crown on Dioneo’s head. Claiming that the kings on a chessboard are worthier... (full context)
Moderation and Excess Theme Icon
...is still high in the sky, the men fall into a game of dice while Elissa takes the ladies to the nearby Valley of the Ladies. It can only be entered... (full context)
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
...their storytelling there the next day. Panfilo begins the first dance at Dioneo’s request, and Elissa sings. (full context)
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Elissa’s song causes some puzzlement. In it, a young woman who thought love was peaceful discovers... (full context)
Day 7: Third Tale
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Moderation and Excess Theme Icon
Faith vs. Religion Theme Icon
Elissa’s tale is set in Siena. Young, handsome Rinaldo (soon to become Friar Rinaldo) has fallen... (full context)
Day 7: Tenth Tale
Intelligence Theme Icon
...tell a tale about the incredible simplicity and gullibility of the Sienese, already mentioned in Elissa’s tale. (full context)
Day 8: Third Tale
Intelligence Theme Icon
Elissa’s story has as its protagonist Calandrino, a Florentine painter and “simple, unconventional sort of fellow.”... (full context)
Day 8: Fifth Tale
Class and Character Theme Icon
Elissa’s tale reminded Filostrato of another anecdote about Maso del Saggio. Florence’s chief magistrates are often... (full context)
Day 8: Sixth Tale
Men and Women Theme Icon
Intelligence Theme Icon
Filomena’s tale, inspired by Elissa’s, also concerns Calandrino, Bruno, and Buffalmacco. A small country farm made up part of the... (full context)
Day 9: Second Tale
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Faith vs. Religion Theme Icon
Elissa’s story concerns fortune, which sometimes brings comeuppance to those who blame others for sins that... (full context)
Day 10: Second Tale
Men and Women Theme Icon
Faith vs. Religion Theme Icon
Elissa, not to be outdone by Neifile, proposes to tell a tale of generosity done by... (full context)
Day 10: Third Tale
Faith vs. Religion Theme Icon
The company is so surprised by the clerical generosity in Elissa’s tale that Panfilo must interrupt their conversation so Filostrato can tell his tale. He proposes... (full context)