The Decameron

The Decameron

by

Giovanni Boccaccio

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Decameron can help.

The Decameron: Day 10: Conclusion Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The company discusses Dioneo’s tale until sunset. Panfilo, noting that wisdom includes remembering the past, understanding the present, and thinking about the future, asks what they should do next. They have achieved their goals in leaving Florence two weeks ago, having relaxed, stayed healthy, and had a break from the plague’s anguish. And they’ve done this with decorum: some of the tales have been racy, the food and wine have been plentiful, and they’ve danced (all things that could encourage “unseemly behavior” in those with weak character); everyone has behaved honorably. He recommends they return to Florence to avoid discord, gossip, or uninvited guests. But if they want to stay, he will crown the next day’s sovereign. After some debate, the company unanimously decides that Panfilo’s recommendation is “sensible and just,” and plans are made to depart in the morning.
The difficulty modern readers have understanding how to interpret Dioneo’s tale about Griselda seems to be mirrored in the brigata, which discusses it at length. However, as the day draws to an end, they turn their attention back towards the real world. Panfilo’s argument is based in the idea that everything should be done in moderation—the virtue which the brigata exemplifies above all else. Thus far, they have modeled the possibility of a balanced society, but in a nod towards the chaos inherent in the real world (and not the gardens of the country estates around Florence), Panfilo suggests that their artificially perfect order can’t be maintained permanently. Returning to the city—resigning themselves to the chaos and upheaval of the world after their diverting vacation—suggests that turning away from chaos and pain becomes excessive itself, at a certain point.
Themes
Moderation and Excess Theme Icon
Quotes
After dinner, they sing and dance, and Fiammetta offers a song about love and jealousy. The joy of someone who could love without feeling jealousy would be complete. But since the song’s persona has a wise, brave, and well-spoken lover, and other women can doubtless see these charms, she worries that one of them will try to steal his heart, just as he has stolen hers. She frets that men are vulnerable to feminine wiles, and the possibility of losing his love makes her “heartsick.” Finally, she warns anyone who might try to steal him that she will make the thief weep bitterly for her crime.
Fiammetta’s final song closes out the tales on the theme of love. But this love is mixed with jealousy, paralleling the way that the moderation and order represented by the brigata is tempered by the chaos and disorder inherent in human life. Having the perfect lover isn’t sufficient to guarantee happiness because anything once possessed can be lost.
Themes
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Moderation and Excess Theme Icon
Dioneo quips that if Fiammetta would name her lover, she’d prevent anyone taking him by accident. At midnight, the company retires to bed, and at the crack of dawn they return to Florence. The ladies go first to Santa Maria Novella and then to their homes, while the men go off in search of “other diversions.”
When the brigata returns to Florence, the women go home, and the men go find other things to do. This parallels the difference in the genders outlined by Boccaccio in his justification for the project: The Decameron is dedicated to women who need diversion since they can’t go out and do things to distract themselves from their pain when they’re feeling unrequited love.
Themes
Men and Women Theme Icon