The Decameron

The Decameron


Giovanni Boccaccio

Teachers and parents! Our Teacher Edition on The Decameron makes teaching easy.

Anticlerical Satire Term Analysis

Anticlerical satire uses humor, irony, and exaggeration to critique the Roman Catholic Church and its clergy. Medieval anticlerical satire aimed at the hypocrisy of the religious, especially after the church became incredibly wealthy and politically powerful during the 11th and 12th centuries. The pope and his cardinals, priests, and monks and nuns came under criticism from medieval writers for hypocrisy and greed, especially simony, or the practice of selling of religious favors or positions.

Anticlerical Satire Quotes in The Decameron

The The Decameron quotes below are all either spoken by Anticlerical Satire or refer to Anticlerical Satire. For each quote, you can also see the other terms 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: Second Tale Quotes

“[Nobody in Rome] who was connected with the Church seemed to me to display the slightest sign of holiness, piety, charity, moral rectitude, or any other virtue. On the contrary, it seemed to me that they were all so steeped in lust, greed, avarice, fraud, envy, pride, and other like sins and worse (if indeed that is possible), that I regard the place as a hotbed for diabolical rather than devotional activities. As far as I can judge, it seems to me that your pontiff, and all of the others too, are doing their level best to reduce the Christian religion to nought [sic] and drive it from the face of the earth, whereas they are the very people who should be its foundation and support.”

Related Characters: Abraham (speaker), Neifile, Jehannot de Chevigny
Page Number: 40-41
Explanation and Analysis:
Day 1: Fourth Tale Quotes

The girl, who was not exactly made of iron or of flint, fell in very readily with the Abbot’s wishes. He took her in his arms and kissed her a few times, then lowered himself on to the monk’s little bed. But out of regard, perhaps, for the weight of his reverend person and the tender age of the girl, and not wishing to do her any injury, he settled down beneath her instead of lying on top, and in this way he sported with her at considerable length.

Related Characters: Dioneo (speaker), Young Monk, Tuscan Abbot, The Country Girl
Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:
Day 3: Third Tale Quotes

The story I propose to relate […] should prove more agreeable to a lay audience inasmuch as the priesthood consists for the most part of extremely stupid men, inscrutable in their ways, who consider themselves in all respects more worthy and knowledgeable than other people, whereas they are decidedly inferior. They resemble pigs, in fact, for they are too feeble-minded to earn an honest living like everybody else, and so they install themselves wherever they can fill their stomachs.

Related Characters: Filomena (speaker), Florentine Noblewoman, Florentine Nobleman, Florentine Friar
Page Number: 205
Explanation and Analysis:
Day 3: Fourth Tale Quotes

Friar Puccio thought he could detect a certain amount of vibration in the floorboards. When […] he had recited a hundred of his paternosters […] without leaving his post, he called out to his wife and demanded to know what she was doing.

His wife […] who at that moment was possibly riding bareback astride the nag of Saint Benedict or Saint John Gaulbert, replied:

‘Heaven help me, dear husband, I am shaking like mad.’

‘Shaking? … What is the meaning of all this shaking?’

His wife shrieked with laughter […] ‘What,’ she replied, ‘You don’t know its meaning? Haven’t I heard you saying, hundreds of times: “He that supper doth not take, in his bed all night will shake”?’


‘Wife,’ he replied […] ‘I told you not to fast, but you would insist. Try not to think about it. Try and go to sleep.’

Related Characters: Panfilo (speaker), Friar Puccio, Monna Isabetta, Dom Felice
Page Number: 220
Explanation and Analysis:
Day 8: Second Tale Quotes

Her name was Monna Belcolore, she was married to a farmworker called Bentivegna del Mazzo, and without a doubt she was a vigorous and seductive-looking wench, buxom and brown as a berry, who seemed better versed in the grinder’s art than any other girl in the village. When […] she had occasion to play the tambourine, and sing […] and dance a reel or a jig […] she could knock the spots off every single one of her neighbors. Master Priest was so enthralled by all these talents of hers that he was driven to distraction […] Whenever he caught sight of her in church on a Sunday morning, he would intone a Kyrie and a Sanctus, trying very hard to sound like a master cantor when in fact he was braying like an ass, whereas if she was nowhere to be seen he would hardly open his lips.

Related Characters: Panfilo (speaker), Worthy Priest, Belcolore, Bentivegna del Mazzo
Page Number: 555-556
Explanation and Analysis:
Day 8: Fourth Tale Quotes

“Heaven be praised!” said the Provost, who could scarce contain his joy. “To tell you the truth, madam, I am amazed that you should have held out for so long, seeing that this has never happened to me with any woman before. And in fact, I have sometimes had occasion to reflect, that if women were made of silver you couldn’t turn them into coins, as they bend too easily. But no more of this, when and where can we be together?”

Related Characters: Provost (speaker), Emilia, Piccarda
Page Number: 571
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Decameron LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Decameron PDF