Neifile Quotes in The Decameron
“[Nobody in Rome] who was connected with the Church seemed to me to display the slightest sign of holiness, piety, charity, moral rectitude, or any other virtue. On the contrary, it seemed to me that they were all so steeped in lust, greed, avarice, fraud, envy, pride, and other like sins and worse (if indeed that is possible), that I regard the place as a hotbed for diabolical rather than devotional activities. As far as I can judge, it seems to me that your pontiff, and all of the others too, are doing their level best to reduce the Christian religion to nought [sic] and drive it from the face of the earth, whereas they are the very people who should be its foundation and support.”
Meanwhile, with the matter proceeding along these lines, word had reached Marchese and Stecchi that the judge was giving him a rough handling and had already put him on the strappado. “We have made a fine mess of things,” they said, shaking with fright. “We have taken him out of the frying-pan and dropped him straight in the fire.” Being determined to leave no stone unturned, they tracked down their landlord, and explained to him what had happened. The landlord, who was highly amused at their tale, took them to see a man called Sandro Agolanti, a Florentine living in Treviso who had considerable influence with the ruler of the city.
“Now we shall discover whether the wolf can fare any better at leading the sheep than the sheep have fared in leading the wolves.”
On hearing this, Filostrato laughed and said: “Had you listened to me, the wolves would have taught the sheep by now to put the devil back in Hell, no less skillfully than Rustico taught Alibech. But you have not exactly been behaving like sheep, and therefore you must not describe us as wolves…”
“Allow me to tell you, Filostrato,” replied Neifile, “that if you men had tried to teach us anything of the sort, you might have learned some sense from us, as Masetto did from the nuns, and retrieved the use of your tongues when your bones were rattling from exhaustion.”
On perceiving that the ladies had as many scythes as he had arrows, Filostrato abandoned his jesting and turned to the business of ruling his kingdom.
Excellent ladies, to my way of thinking there are those who imagine that they know more than others when in fact they know less, and hence they presume to set this wisdom of theirs against not only the counsels of their fellow men, but also the laws of Nature…Now, there is nothing in the whole of Nature which is less susceptible to advice or interference than Love, whose qualities are such that it is far more likely to burn itself out of its own free will than to be quenched by deliberate pressure. [So I will] tell you a story about a lady who … sought to be wiser than she actually was, and by flaunting her cleverness in a matter that was beyond her competence, succeeded at one and the same time in driving both Love and life from the body of her son.
God in heaven, you think he had picked you up out of the gutter! […] These country yokels, they move into town after serving as cut-throat to some petty rustic tyrant, and wander about the streets in rags and tatters, their trousers all askew, with a quill sticking out from their backsides, and no sooner do they get a few pence in their pockets than they want the daughters of noble gentlemen and fine ladies for their wives. And they devise a coat of arms for themselves and go about saying: “I belong to such-and-such a family” and “My people did so-and-so.”