The Decameron

The Decameron


Giovanni Boccaccio

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The Decameron: Day 3: Introduction Summary & Analysis

On Sunday morning, accompanied by birdsong and flowers, the company moves to a new place, which is every bit as beautiful and well-appointed as the first. It has a lavish, walled garden so full of fragrant flower beds, elaborate fountains, and clever streamlets that they consider it an earthly Paradise. It is also stocked with charming, nearly tame animals. After following the normal course of their day, they gather to tell tales.
The brigata move from one “locus amoenus,” an idealized setting characterized by order, beauty, and safety, to another. Although the ravages of the plague aren’t mentioned again after the introduction to Day 1, the repeated descriptions of the lovely settings in which the brigata spend their time continue to emphasize the order, moderation, and pleasantness of their surroundings, in contrast to Florence, which represents the world’s chaos. The new garden is enclosed by a wall, making it a “hortus conclusus”—literally “enclosed garden” in Latin—which has associations with heavenly or Edenic settings generally. The nearly tamed wild animals add to the sense that this garden is like the Garden of Eden. The “hortus conclusus” also has associations with love in the literature of fin’amors (refined loving). This garden recalls the gardens of other famous medieval books about love, specifically The Romance of the Rose, by Jean de Meun and Guillaume de Lorris. In The Decameron generally, gardens represent what balance and moderation can achieve, as they are spaces which gain their charm after human ingenuity is applied to harmoniously arrange natural elements.
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