The Decameron

The Decameron

by

Giovanni Boccaccio

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Pampinea Character Analysis

The oldest of the brigata’s women, Pampinea’s name means “full of vigor,” and she is indeed a natural leader. In allegorical readings of the book, she is associated with the Christian virtue of prudence. She is related to one of the men, although it is not clear which one, and she brings her maid, Misia, with her to the countryside. The reasonable wisdom she demonstrates in proposing the company’s sojourn in the countryside leads her companions to unanimously elect her the sovereign of Day I, and the company continues to follow the routine she establishes throughout the whole two weeks. She cares deeply about how women behave, praising the witty and the careful while criticizing the obstinate. Her own speech and actions are witty, confident, and lively. She shows both an ability to read the room and to restore balance when she counteracts a particularly grisly story (Ghismonda’s suicide) with a funny one (Friar Alberto impersonating an angel).

Pampinea Quotes in The Decameron

The The Decameron quotes below are all either spoken by Pampinea or refer to Pampinea. 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 1: Introduction Quotes

Accordingly, whether I am here in church or out in the streets or sitting at home, I always feel ill at ease, the more so because it seems to me that no one possessing private means and a place to retreat to is left here apart from ourselves. But even if such people are still to be found, they draw no distinction, as I have frequently seen and heard for myself, between what is honest and what is dishonest; and provided only that they are prompted by their appetites, they will do whatever affords them the greatest pleasure, whether by day or by night, alone or in company. It is not only of lay people that I speak, but also of those enclosed in monasteries, who, having convinced themselves that such behavior is suitable for them and is only unbecoming in others, having broken the rules of obedience and given themselves over to carnal pleasures, thereby thinking to escape and have turned lascivious and dissolute.

Related Characters: Pampinea (speaker)
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:
Day 1: Tenth Tale Quotes

Just as the sky, worthy ladies, is bejewelled with stars on cloudless nights, and the verdant fields are embellished with flowers in the spring, so good manners and pleasant converse are enriched by shafts of wit. These, being brief, are much better suited to women than to men, as it is more unseemly for a woman to speak at inordinate length, when this can be avoided, than it is for a man. Yet nowadays, to the universal shame of ourselves and all living women, few or none of the women who are left can recognize a shaft of wit when they hear one, or reply to it even if they recognize it. For this special skill, which once resided in a woman’s very soul, has been replaced in our modern women by the adornment of the body. She who sees herself tricked out in the most elaborate finery, believes that she should be much more highly respected and more greatly honored than other women, forgetting that if someone were to dress an ass in the same clothes or simply load them on its back, it could still carry a great deal more than she could, nor would this be any reason for paying it greater respect than you would normally accord to an ass.

Related Characters: Pampinea (speaker)
Page Number: 63
Explanation and Analysis:
Day 2: Third Tale Quotes

The whole company, men and ladies alike, listened with admiration to the adventures of Rinaldo d’Asti, commending his piety and giving thanks to God and Saint Julian, who had come to his rescue in the hour of his greatest need. Nor, moreover, was the lady considered to have acted foolishly (even though nobody openly said so) for the way she had accepted the blessing that God had left on her doorstep. And while everyone was busy talking, with half-suppressed mirth, about the pleasant night the lady had spent, Pampinea […] started planning what to say.

Page Number: 82-83
Explanation and Analysis:

Excellent ladies, if the ways of Fortune are carefully examined, it will be seen that the more one discusses her actions, the more remains to be said. Nor is this surprising, when you pause to consider that she controls all the affairs we unthinkingly call our own, and that consequently it is she who arranges and rearranges them after her own inscrutable fashion, constantly moving them now in one direction, now in another, then back again, without following any discernable plan. The truth of this assertion is clearly illustrated by everything that happens in the space of a single day, as well as being borne out by some of the previous stories.

Related Characters: Pampinea (speaker)
Related Symbols: Fortune
Page Number: 83
Explanation and Analysis:
Day 2: Conclusion Quotes

Come, Love, the cause of all my joy,
Of all my hope and happiness,
Come let us sing together:
Not of love’s sighs and agony
But only of its jocundness
And its clear-burning ardour
In which I revel, joyfully,
As if thou were a god to me.

Love, the first day I felt thy fire
Thou sett’st before mine eyes a youth
Of such accomplishment
Whose able strength and keen desire
And bravery could none, in truth,
Find any complement.
With thee I sing, Lord Love, of this,
So much with him lies all my bliss.

Related Characters: Pampinea (speaker)
Page Number: 188
Explanation and Analysis:
Day 3: Second Tale Quotes

On hearing these words, the King immediately came to the conclusion that the Queen had been taken in by an outward resemblance to his own physique and manner. But he was a wise man, and since neither the Queen nor anybody else appeared to have noticed the deception, he had no hesitation in deciding to keep his own counsel. Many a stupid man would have reacted differently, and exclaimed “It was not I. Who was the man who was here? What happened? Who was it who came?” But this would only have led to complications, upsetting the lady when she was blameless and sowing the seeds of a desire, on her part, to repeat the experience. And besides, by holding his tongue his honor remained unimpaired, whereas if he were to talk he would make himself look ridiculous.

Related Characters: Pampinea (speaker), Agilulf, Theodelinda, Groom
Page Number: 202-203
Explanation and Analysis:
Day 6: Second Tale Quotes

I would assuredly curse Nature and Fortune alike, if I did not know for a fact that Nature is very discerning and that Fortune has a thousand eyes, even though fools represent her as blind. Indeed, it is my conviction that Nature and Fortune, being very shrewd, follow the practice so common among mortals, who, uncertain of what the future will bring, make provision for emergencies by burying their most precious possessions in the least imposing […] parts of their houses, whence they bring them forth in the hour of their greatest need […] In the same way, the two fair arbiters of the world’s affairs frequently hide their greatest treasure beneath the shadow of the humblest trades, so that when the need arises for it to be brought forth, its splendor will be all the more apparent.

Related Characters: Pampinea (speaker), Cisti, Cimon
Related Symbols: Fortune
Page Number: 448
Explanation and Analysis:
Day 8: Seventh Tale Quotes

Feeling somewhat aggrieved that things had not worked out as the scholar had told her, she said to herself: “I strongly suspect that he was trying to give me a night like the one I provided for him; but if that was his intention, he’s chosen a feeble way of avenging himself, for the night he spent was at least three times as long, and the cold was far more severe.” But as she had no desire to be found up there in broad daylight, now prepared to descend, only to discover that the ladder had gone.

Related Characters: Pampinea (speaker), Elena, Rinieri
Page Number: 597
Explanation and Analysis:
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Pampinea Character Timeline in The Decameron

The timeline below shows where the character Pampinea 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
...temperament) to prevent any embarrassment that might arise from naughtiness in their stories. They are Pampinea, Fiammetta, Filomena, Emelia, Lauretta, Neifile, and Elissa. (full context)
Moderation and Excess Theme Icon
Intelligence Theme Icon
Faith vs. Religion Theme Icon
Having met by good fortune, when they’re done praying, Pampinea reminds the other ladies it’s natural to try to preserve their lives. In the city,... (full context)
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Intelligence Theme Icon
Class and Character Theme Icon
Instead, Pampinea proposes that they leave the city together and in comfort but “without overstepping the bounds... (full context)
Men and Women Theme Icon
...lady-loves (who are among the company) because even the terrible plague hasn’t cooled their passion. Pampinea immediately declares fortune has sent just the right men to join the group. (full context)
Men and Women Theme Icon
Class and Character Theme Icon
Neifile flushes with embarrassment and begs Pampinea to be careful; traveling together might lead to gossip. Filomena retorts that gossip can’t harm... (full context)
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Moderation and Excess Theme Icon
Intelligence Theme Icon
...and decked with flowers. Dioneo declares that he’s left his troubles behind in Florence, and Pampinea suggests a system to preserve their happiness: each day they will select a sovereign to... (full context)
Moderation and Excess Theme Icon
Intelligence Theme Icon
Class and Character Theme Icon
Pampinea assigns jobs to the servants, commanding them to keep bad news away from the company.... (full context)
Day 1: Tenth Tale
Men and Women Theme Icon
Intelligence Theme Icon
Pampinea sums up one of the day’s major themes—wit—which greatly embellishes pleasant conversation.  Unfortunately, modern women... (full context)
Day 1: Conclusion
Moderation and Excess Theme Icon
As the sun begins to set, Pampinea addresses the company, crowning Filomena the next sovereign. Filomena overcomes her modesty and gives her... (full context)
Day 2: Third Tale
Moderation and Excess Theme Icon
Class and Character Theme Icon
While everyone is laughing at Rinaldo’s good fortune (and the Lady’s!) Pampinea prepares to tell her tale, which will illustrate how inscrutable fortune’s motives are. She introduces... (full context)
Day 2: Conclusion
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Moderation and Excess Theme Icon
...the garden and then eats with laughter and merriment. After the meal, they dance while Pampinea sings a song about love, which brings joy and hope as much as it causes... (full context)
Day 4: Second Tale
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Intelligence Theme Icon
Faith vs. Religion Theme Icon
...time, but he dies a thousand daily deaths with no hope of reward. He asks Pampinea to speak next, and she—wanting to lighten the mood—decides to tell a lighthearted tale that... (full context)
Day 4: Third Tale
Men and Women Theme Icon
Moderation and Excess Theme Icon
Filostrato, annoyed that Pampinea told a funny tale, hopes that Lauretta will do better. Despite her feeling that his... (full context)
Day 5: Sixth Tale
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Pampinea, noting the power of love to induce people to face risks and endure great hardships,... (full context)
Day 6: First Tale
Men and Women Theme Icon
Intelligence Theme Icon
Filomena prefaces her story with Pampinea’s words from the first day about wit being the best way to improve polite conversation.... (full context)
Day 6: Second Tale
Class and Character Theme Icon
Filomena’s tale has reminded Pampinea of another one about Geri Spina. It shows that, while nature sometimes gives bad characters... (full context)
Day 6: Third Tale
Moderation and Excess Theme Icon
Lauretta agrees with Filomena and Pampinea about the importance of wit as a skill for ladies, noting that it must stay... (full context)
Day 6: Fifth Tale
Intelligence Theme Icon
Class and Character Theme Icon
In his tale, Filostrato proposes to expand on Pampinea’s claim that fortune sometimes hides wit in humble men with proof that it also hides... (full context)
Day 6: Conclusion
Men and Women Theme Icon
...the fish by hand. After they exit the water, dress, and return to the men, Pampinea describes the Valley to Dioneo, Panfilo, and Filostrato. (full context)
Day 7: Sixth Tale
Men and Women Theme Icon
Class and Character Theme Icon
Pampinea picks up on the idea that jealousy impairs the intellect with a story demonstrating how... (full context)
Day 8: Seventh Tale
Moderation and Excess Theme Icon
...the pig prank but feels that the chickens go too far, and they pity Calandrino. Pampinea says that her tale will offer a warning about deceiving others. Sometimes the victim of... (full context)
Day 9: Seventh Tale
Men and Women Theme Icon
Pampinea picks up on the nighttime theme by telling a tale featuring a dream which comes... (full context)
Day 9: Eighth Tale
Moderation and Excess Theme Icon
...tales have almost all recalled something said on an earlier occasion, Lauretta’s tale will answer Pampinea’s from Day 7 by describing a much less brutal vendetta where the revenge outweighed the... (full context)
Day 9: Ninth Tale
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Moderation and Excess Theme Icon
...Disobedient women deserve not just censure but harsh punishment, as her disfigurement punished Margarita in Pampinea’s tale. The proverb that says spurs are necessary for good and bad horses and “the... (full context)
Day 10: Seventh Tale
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Moderation and Excess Theme Icon
Everyone—except one Ghibelline lady—commends King Charles’s generosity; to balance the political scales, Pampinea offers a tale about a king on the Ghibelline side. A wealthy but bourgeois Florentine... (full context)