The Decameron

The Decameron

by

Giovanni Boccaccio

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Gifts Symbol Icon

In The Decameron, physical gifts represent the power dynamics of relationships between people. They symbolize and enact a complex system of relationships and obligations between individuals, primarily serving to demonstrate generosity, recognize a person’s worth, or create obligations between one person and another. Kings and noblemen demonstrate generosity with gifts, including Can Grande Della Scalla; Mulay Abd Allah; and the Abbot of Cluny. Nathan offers his life to Mithridanes. Gilette, King Charles, and King Peter all provide dowries for impoverished women. Gifts can also confirm the recipient’s worth, as when the French King forgives and restores Walter with gifts. Gifts can discharge obligations between people, as when  Landolfo Rufolo repays his debt to the peasant woman who rescued him from the sea with a gift and Madonna Piccarda pays for Cuitazza’s help with the gift of a smock. Or gifts—particularly lover’s tokens—can create obligation: the Womanizing Abbot gives Ferondo’s Wife jewelry to convince her to have sex with him and the Worthy Priest tries to do the same with Belcolore; Gerbino and the Tunisian Princess express their mutual attraction through the exchange of gifts; and Rinieri demonstrates his desire and makes a claim on Elena’s affections with letters and gifts. Thus, while sometimes gift-giving can be a mutual exchange, it can also establish one-sided or imbalanced relationships and ties of obligation between people.

Gifts Quotes in The Decameron

The The Decameron quotes below all refer to the symbol of Gifts. 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 2: Fourth Tale Quotes

The stones he possessed were, he discovered, so valuable and numerous that, even if he sold them at less than their market value, he would be twice as rich as when he had set out. So that, having taken steps to dispose of his gems, he sent, by way of payment for services received, a tidy sum of money to the good woman of Corfu who had fished him out of the sea. And likewise, he sent a further sum to the people at Trani who had given him the new clothes. He was no longer interested in commerce, so he kept the remainder of the money and lived in splendor for the rest of his days.

Related Characters: Lauretta (speaker), Landolfo Rufolo
Related Symbols: Fortune, Gifts
Page Number: 96
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Decameron LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Decameron PDF

Gifts Symbol Timeline in The Decameron

The timeline below shows where the symbol Gifts appears in The Decameron. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Day 1: Seventh Tale
Class and Character Theme Icon
...to a festival, but then changes his mind and sends everyone home with poor token gifts. One of the invited entertainers, the witty Bergamino, hangs around but while he waits, he... (full context)
Intelligence Theme Icon
...identity. Discovering that he was none other than Primas, the Abbot gave him food and gifts. Chastened by this parable, Can Grande settled Bergamino’s bill at the inn, rewarded him richly,... (full context)
Day 2: Fourth Tale
Moderation and Excess Theme Icon
...way, he runs into some cloth merchants who, hearing his sorry tale, give him a gift of new clothes and a horse. (full context)
Moderation and Excess Theme Icon
When Landolfo finally arrives at his home, he sells his gems, sends a gift to the peasant woman, and repays the merchants who provided his clothes. Swearing off the... (full context)
Day 2: Eighth Tale
Class and Character Theme Icon
...and Perrot to the king, claiming the great reward, and the king gives Walter the gift of “clothes, servants, horses, and accoutrements” appropriate to his status. Walter asks Jacques to remind... (full context)
Day 2: Ninth Tale
Moderation and Excess Theme Icon
Intelligence Theme Icon
...from his shock, praises Zinerva’s virtue and strength of character, and he immediately gives her gifts of fine clothes and servants. Bernabò begs for forgiveness, which she graciously offers. Then the... (full context)
Day 3: Third Tale
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Intelligence Theme Icon
Class and Character Theme Icon
Faith vs. Religion Theme Icon
...to the Florentine Friar, claiming that the Florentine Nobleman sent them to her as a gift and she doesn’t know how to return them. The Friar again excuses his friend, promising... (full context)
Day 3: Seventh Tale
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Faith vs. Religion Theme Icon
...the other loyalty; by depriving Tedaldo of her love she was robbing him of a gift she had freely given to him. (full context)
Day 3: Eighth Tale
Men and Women Theme Icon
Faith vs. Religion Theme Icon
...that came from. Despite lingering uncertainty, the lady is eventually swayed by his compliments and gifts. (full context)
Day 3: Ninth Tale
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
...daughter is ready to become his lover, but first she wants his ring as a gift. Once Gilette has it, she wants the Noblewoman to secretly invite him to sleep with... (full context)
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Intelligence Theme Icon
Class and Character Theme Icon
...daughter—many times. Once she realizes that she’s become pregnant, Gilette gives the Noblewoman a generous gift of thanks and then returns to her inn, where she stays until she gives birth... (full context)
Day 4: First Tale
Men and Women Theme Icon
Moderation and Excess Theme Icon
Class and Character Theme Icon
...worthy coffin for Guiscardo, Ghismonda sends a return message to her father saying that his gift clearly shows how he loves her. (full context)
Day 4: Fourth Tale
Love and Sex Theme Icon
...Although he can’t find a reasonable excuse to travel to Tunis, they send messages and gifts through Gerbino’s friends while they wait for fortune to give them an opportunity to meet. (full context)
Day 5: Second Tale
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Class and Character Theme Icon
...king. Mulay Abd Allah declares that they’ve earned the right to marry, gives them splendid gifts, and sends them home, where they marry and spend the rest of their lives in... (full context)
Day 5: Sixth Tale
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
...they argue about who gets to keep her, they decide to present her as a gift to King Frederick of Sicily, a man “much addicted to pretty things of that sort.”... (full context)
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Class and Character Theme Icon
...Dressing them in fine clothes, he holds their wedding in Sicily and gives them magnificent gifts before sending them home to live happily. (full context)
Day 5: Ninth Tale
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
...instincts ultimately overpower her guilt, and she decides to ask for the bird as a gift. (full context)
Day 8: Second Tale
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Class and Character Theme Icon
Faith vs. Religion Theme Icon
...of thing” which the Priest claims to do particularly well. He offers her a small gift, but she wants money to retrieve some pawned items. (full context)
Day 8: Fourth Tale
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Class and Character Theme Icon
Monna Piccarda has an old, unattractive maid called Cuitazza. Offering to give her the gift of a new smock for her troubles, Piccarda asks her to sleep with the Provost... (full context)
Day 8: Seventh Tale
Love and Sex Theme Icon
...are returned but that she must be careful to protect her honor. While he sends gifts and she offers vague replies, she ridicules Rinieri to her lover. But her lover eventually... (full context)
Day 10: First Tale
Class and Character Theme Icon
...little discretion.” Eventually, feeling slighted that the king hasn’t confirmed his own status with such gifts, he asks for permission to go home. King Alphonso gives him a mule and allows... (full context)
Class and Character Theme Icon
...to court. To explain his comment about the donkey, he accuses the king of withholding gifts from the deserving and dispersing them in inappropriate places. King Alphonso replies that he recognizes... (full context)
Day 10: Third Tale
Moderation and Excess Theme Icon
Class and Character Theme Icon
...wishes he could add years to Nathan’s life. Nathan, always the giver, would refuse this gift. Instead, he suggests that Mithridanes could assume his identity, and he, Nathan, could become Mithridanes.... (full context)
Day 10: Sixth Tale
Love and Sex Theme Icon
...Maffeo da Palizzi) and Isotta (to Guiglielmo dell Magna), generously providing their dowries as wedding gifts. By “constant effort” he turns to “mortif[ying] his ardent longings” and finally shatters the chains... (full context)
Day 10: Seventh Tale
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Class and Character Theme Icon
...young nobleman to be Lisa’s husband, then presides over their immediate wedding. Among the many gifts he lavishes on the newlyweds, he includes two lucrative estates to serve as Lisa’s dowry.... (full context)
Day 10: Eighth Tale
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Class and Character Theme Icon
...yet married, he can do better than share and give her to Titus as a gift. Titus is delighted at the prospect but ashamed to need such incredible generosity from his... (full context)
Day 10: Ninth Tale
Class and Character Theme Icon
...their two angelically beautiful children. Adalieta gives Saladin fur-lined silk robes and silk jackets as gifts—things much nicer than a merchant would usually warrant. Saladin briefly worries that his identity has... (full context)
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
...promises to honor his instructions, and she gives him one of her rings as a gift when she bids him farewell. (full context)
Class and Character Theme Icon
...sterling worth.” The magician gives Torello a sleeping potion and Saladin fills the bed with gifts of jewels, doubloons, and treasure. (full context)
Day 10: Tenth Tale
Men and Women Theme Icon
...tears as she tells Gualtieri how aware she is that her wealth and status were gifts from him. She cherishes them, but since she does not own them, she will return... (full context)