The Decameron

The Decameron


Giovanni Boccaccio

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

The Decameron: Day 8: Conclusion Summary & Analysis

Lauretta, commending Pietro dello Canigiano’s wisdom, elects Emilia the next day’s sovereign. Emilia notes that times of rest are necessary for productivity, so she proposes that the next day’s tales address the topics that please their tellers. After supper, she asks Panfilo to sing a song.
Emilia releases the brigata from a specific theme for the second-to-last day of storytelling, allowing Giovanni Boccaccio a place in the carefully orchestrated structure of The Decameron to find homes for tales which build on, complicate, and compete with tales previously told.
Moderation and Excess Theme Icon
Panfilo’s song speaks of love’s joyful suffering; it is in the voice of a lover who is “happy burning in [love’s] flame.” The closer the singer is to his love, the more he burns, although he cannot reveal her identity. All he can divulge is that he found “salvation and sweet grace” and that he conceals “a rapture I may not reveal.”  The rest of the company attends very closely to his words, trying to guess what they conceal, but no one guesses correctly.
Panfilo’s song, like all the rest, draws on the traditions of fin’amors (refined loving), including the common image of unrequited love as a burning fire and describing fulfilled love in spiritual terms. It contributes to the book’s exploration of the irresistible force of love over human actions. His song is highly suggestive of consummation since the singer experienced a “rapture” that he can’t explicitly share. This, like Fiammetta’s song earlier, subtly complicates Dioneo’s later claim that all the members of the brigata have always maintained the strictest self-control and moral rectitude.
Love and Sex Theme Icon