Boccaccio's Ovid wrote the Decameron for men

Boccaccio's Decameron written for men

In the Decameron’s preface, Boccaccio declares that he wrote this book for charming ladies suffering from lovesickness.  The Decameron’s critics, who typically have not closely considered its preface, have tended to take the Decameron’s declared audience literally.  That’s a fundamental mistake.  In writing the Decameron, Boccaccio adopted the literary position of Ovid and wrote Ovidian instruction in love for men.[1]

The Decameron’s preface begins with the author ironically describing himself as lovesick unto death.  A specific description isn’t necessarily, because the author has a classic case of courtly love:

I have been enflamed beyond measure by a most exalted, noble love, which, were I to describe it, might seem greater than what is suitable for one in my low condition.  Although I was praised and held in high regard for that love by those discerning individuals to whose attention I had come, it was nevertheless extremely painful to endure [2]

Unlike the ideal courtly lover, the author doesn’t pursue onerous works of love servitude or organize a wide-ranging contest of men-against-men violence.  The author simply gets over it: “my love abated in the course of time of its own accord.”  Getting over it, not death, is a low-realistic resolution of lovesickness.  It sets an Ovidian tone of irony.

The author then ironically claims to offer a remedy to women in love.  The women in love are women of courtly imagination: charming women who “keep the flames of love hidden within their delicate breasts.”  They are subjugated by men and confined with the home.  That’s an elite fable.  Plain-speaking ordinary folk know better.  Listen to the maid Licisca.  She interrupts the introduction to Day 6 of the Decameron and declares:

this guy is such an ass that he really believes young women are all so foolish that they’re willing to waste their time waiting around for their fathers and brothers to marry them off, which six times out of seven takes them three or four years longer than it should.  Brother, they’d be in a fine state if they postponed it that long!  I swear to Christ — and I should really know what I’m talking about when I swear like that — I don’t have a single neighbor who was a virgin when she got married, and as for the married ones, I sure know about all the different kinds of tricks they play on their husbands and how often they play them.  Yet this muttonhead wants to teach me about women as if I were born yesterday!

Underscoring its literary irony, the Decameron’s preface adapts a passage from Ovid’s Heroides to describe activities that distract men from melancholy and burdensome thoughts.[3]  The courtly ideal of love did not admit such distractions.  Such distractions did not help Ovid to overcome the despair of his exile.  Love and despair debilitate men more than they do women.  Boccaccio taunts men’s unwillingness to acknowledge their weakness by ironically directing the Decameron’s preface to women.

Other parts of the Decameron’s meta-frame also indicate that the Decameron was intended for men.  The Decameron ends with a direct address to ladies and its dual title:

As for you, charming ladies, may His grace and peace be with you always, and may you remember me if perhaps any of you have benefited in any way from having read these stories.

Here ends the Tenth and final Day of the book called Decameron, also know as Prince Galeotto.

In Dante’s Commedia, Francesca declared “a Galeotto was the book and he that wrote it” that caused her and her lover Paolo to fall into the circle of Hell for adulterers.[4]  The author’s plea to be remembered in the context of a blessing jars ironically with the alternate title of his book, Prince Galeotto.

Galeotto, the final word of the Decameron, points to its actual audience of men.  Galeotto is the Italian word for the character Gallehault in the early thirteenth-century French prose romance Lancelot.  In that work, the noble knight Gallehault was lovingly devoted to the noble knight Lancelot.  Boccaccio, writing a highly learned response to Dante, subverted Francesca blaming Gallehault and the author of the book for her fall.  The Decameron, Prince Gallehault, serves its readers, actually gendered as Lancelot.  Boccaccio’s Decameron, like his Corbaccio, presents to men the comic realism of women and their relationships with men.  The Decameron, like the Corbaccio, instructs men in the Ovidian art of love for flesh-and-blood women.

Other parts of the Decameron‘s meta-frame place men in the social position of its readers.  In the introduction to Day 4 and in the Author’s Conclusion, the author addresses five objections to the Decameron from men and women, respectively.  The women’s objections concern the style of the book: too licentious, some stories should have been omitted, some stories were too long, the book is too frivolous and insubstantial, and it shouldn’t have told the truth about the friars.  The women’s objections arise from within the text of the Decameron.  They are not anchored in social reality.  The men’s five objections, in contrast, come from the world outside the text: the author is too devoted to women and thereby neglects men, the author is too old to be orienting his life to women, the author could better enhance his reputation by writing in a high style on lofty matters, the author’s writing won’t earn money, and the stories the author wrote didn’t actually happen.  These objections are anchored in the real social position of men.  Historical evidence indicates that the readers of the Decameron were primarily men in Boccaccio’s social class.[5]

Boccaccio as Ovid, instructing men in love, is evident in the concluding play of the Decameron’s preface.  The preface refers to readers in the second person (“you”) and ladies in the third person (“by the ladies I mentioned”; “the ladies of whom I have been speaking”).  The preface concludes:

I believe that as they read them, their suffering would come to an end.  Should this occur — and may God grant that it should — let them thank Love who, in freeing me from his bonds, has granted me the ability to attend to their pleasures.

In the context of the preface, attending to the ladies’ pleasures most literally means relieving their lovesickness.  The Decameron’s stories are filled with sexual intrigue.  That’s not sensible medicine for curing lovesickness.  Thanking Love for being cured of lovesickness adds to the irony.

Pressing from behind Boccaccio’s ladies are men.  They are Boccaccio’s you, and Boccaccio’s you becomes they.  Men read women with the useful instruction of the Decameron, and then women’s suffering in lovesickness comes to an end.[6]  Boccaccio more than Ovid makes clear his concern for more than superficial linguistic brilliance.  Boccaccio’s magnanimously uses his freedom from courtly love to attend to women and men’s pleasures of flesh-and-blood love.  Boccaccio seeks to be a blessing.  May God grant through Boccaccio that men and women will be thankful for that love.

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[1] Hollander (1997) p. 89 describes the Proemio (preface) as “probably the most neglected part of the Decameron.”  Id. p. 90 further declares that the Decameron is “one of the worst read masterpieces that the world possesses.”  Hollander insightfully relates the Proemio to both Dante and Ovid:

If Boccaccio is Ovid, he is also Dante.  … The sense of an author-protagonist who has recently escaped from a life-threatening situation pervades both proemial passages {of Dante’s Commedia and Boccaccio’s Decameron}.  … In their former difficulty each is aided by the counsel of a ‘friend’: in Dante, this was Virgil, sent by Beatrice; in Boccaccio, as I have proposed, the adviser is Ovid.

Id. p. 101.  Id., pp. 93-100, associates the second part of the Proemio with Ovid’s Remedia amoris.  Hollander seems to me to under-estimate both Boccaccio’s Ovidian irony and his Dantean moral seriousness.

[2] Giovanni Boccaccio, Decameron, Preface, from Italian trans. Rebhorn (2013) p. 290.  All subsequent quotes from the Decameron are from Rebhorn’s translation.

[3] Presented and discussed in Hollander (1997) p. 99.  The relevant passage in Ovid is Heroides 19.5-16.

[4] Dante, Inferno 5.137.

[5] Kirkham (1993) pp. 118-9.  In 1373, Boccaccio wrote to Maghinardo Cavalcanti with consternation that “honorable ladies of your household” were reading the Decameron.  Id., p. 121, observes:

Courtly and stilnovistic conventions, which make it de rigueur to privilege woman, easily account for the sex of Boccaccio’s readers.

The privileging of women goes far beyond stilnovistic conventions.  Boccaccio formally writing for women is a far more sophisticated literary move than a mere literary convention.

[6] In the cant of contemporary criticism, the above is a unified reading.  Migiel (2003) and Sherberg (2011) put forward readings of the Decameron unified by contempt for men and ignorance of the realities of men’s lives throughout history.  Both cap their works with misandristic, injury-obscuring invocations of men’s violence against women.  The best response to such oppressive, soul-deadening criticism is to skip the class.

[image] Jean, Duke of Berry, receiving the book from the translator, Laurent de Premierfait; Royal 18 D VII f. 2, from Giovanni Boccaccio, translated by Laurent de Premierfait, De casibus virorum illustrium (Des cas des ruynes des nobles hommes et fammes).  France, c. 1440.  Thanks to the British Library.


Hollander, Robert. 1997. Boccaccio’s Dante and the shaping force of satire. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Kirkham, Victoria. 1993. The sign of reason in Boccaccio’s fiction. Firenze: L.S. Olschki.

Migiel, Marilyn. 2003. A Rhetoric of the Decameron. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Rebhorn, Wayne A., trans. 2013. Giovanni Boccaccio. The Decameron. New York : W.W. Norton & Company.

Sherberg, Michael. 2011. The governance of friendship: law and gender in the Decameron. Columbus: Ohio State University Press.

criminal law doesn’t accommodate men’s sex differences

Why are ten times more men than women held in U.S. prisons and jails?  That’s because men are more aggressive and more risk-taking, if not just more evil, than women.  Why are five times more men than women members of the U.S. Congress?  That’s because of discrimination against women and social devaluation of women.  If you don’t know those answers to those questions, you’re not well-educated and don’t belong in polite society.

criminalizing and incarcerating men

Criminal law accommodates sex differences, but not to reduce criminalization and punishment of men.  A leading neuroscientist’s best-selling books provide insight into sex differences and social development.  She describes men as providing the baseline of criminal behavior:

The social and scientific view of innate good behavior in girls is a misguided stereotype born out of the contrast with boys.  In comparison, girls come out smelling like roses. … By all standards, men are on average twenty times more aggressive than women, something that a quick look around a prison system will confirm. [1]

Criminal law doesn’t accommodate men’s greater aggressiveness.  Criminal law does, however, accommodate effects of women’s reproductive biology:

adolescent girls and adult women have regular, dramatic shifts in their moods and behavior because, in fact, the very structure of their brains is changing, from day to day and from week to week.  The medical name for an extreme emotional reaction during the weeks before the period, triggered by ovarian estrogen and progesterone hormones, is premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).  Women who have committed crimes while suffering from PMDD have successfully used it as a defense in France and England by establishing temporary insanity. [2]

In 2001, a woman in Texas confessed to drowning her five children.  At trial in 2002, a jury found her guilty of murder. That verdict was reversed due to the false testimony of an expert witness.  In a subsequent trial in 2006, another jury found her not guilty by reason of insanity.  A leading biological anthropologist provided the sort of view that evidently became influential:

the woman who drowned her five children in the bathtub in Texas is a tragic example of the need for a support system.  “She should not have been alone in that house with five young kids and a record of depression – it’s a no-brainer.  Not even a mentally healthy woman should have to be in that situation.” [3]

The need to have more persons at home with kids to prevent killings underscores the importance of improving men’s opportunities to withdraw from the paid labor force and spend time at home with their children.  More generally, most legal systems at least formally endorse equal justice under law.  But sex differences are significant to criminal law.  The neuroscientific scholar of sex differences observed:

pretending that women and men are the same, while doing a disservice to both men and women, ultimately hurts women. [4]

Human societies reflect human biological nature developed and expressed socially.  Human societies, like other primate societies, are gynocentric.  Humans, with their extraordinary intellectual capabilities and highly developed social institutions, have proven capable of acknowledging sex differences when they hurt women.  At the same time, human societies criminalize men with no regard for sex differences.

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[1] Brizendine (2006) p. 29.  Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, a leading anthropologist, described id. as “a timely, insightful, readable, and altogether magnificent book” (quotation on book jacket).

[2] Id. p. 48.

[3] Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, in Dowling et al. (2003).

[4] Brizendine (2006) p. 161.

[image] Shata Prison.  Thanks to Ori and Wikipedia.


Brizendine, Louann. 2006. The female brain. New York: Morgan Road Books.

Dowling, Claudia Glenn, Jenny Gage, and Tom Betterton. 2003. “The Hardy Sarah Blaffer Hrdy.” Discover 24(3).

COB-93: best bureaucratic jobs are in paper

Despite the unfortunate development of new information technologies, the best bureaucratic jobs remain concerned with shuffling paper.  Deep within an abandoned coal mine in Pennsylvania, bureaucrats in outstanding jobs have worked for decades to this day processing the retirement paperwork for all federal government retirees.  They collect paper documents into files and then type the files into an electronic database.  Computers and electronic databases have changed a lot over the years.  But the job of collecting paper documents together into a file has changed little.  That job is unlikely to change rapidly in the future.  Shuffling paper makes for secure jobs.

paper is the soul of bureaucracy

The advantages of paper are many.  Paper has extremely low power consumption, is immune to cyber attacks, and doesn’t need to be constantly updated.  Paper is the most general interface technology for connecting different information systems. Paper thus supports a wide variety of bureaucratic jobs:

I used to work for a medical billing company. My job was to print patient and billing information from a database. Then I would manually type all of the information that I just printed out into another database.  {forkboy2}

I used to work for a place called Orthonet where case managers would type physical therapy costs into a spreadsheet, print it out, and hand it to me and another guy to type it into another spreadsheet. We kept our mouths shut and collected that sweet $14/hr to be that extra cog in a very inefficient machine. {kegtech}

Almost every workplace I have been in has had mind-numbing soul-crushing inefficient manual tasks. Those tasks are almost inevitably designed a decade or more ago by the people who are now seniors/management. They don’t like to see their long refined process and work flushed down the drain and respond to any suggestions with absolute hostility.

It doesn’t matter how nicely you go about it; if you don’t love and adore and gush over their paperwork baby then they will view you and the rest of your opinions with contempt and slowly freeze you out until you’re out of a job. I fell for it the first few times. But eventually I worked out “open door policy” means tow the line or it’s game over. {im_cody}

Most reports, even if they are written electronically and never printed out, are designed to be printed.  They have a first page, and another page, and another page, and another page, etc., until the last page.  That organization allows management to count easily how many pages of work employees have done.  Reports intended to be weighty must be printed on heavy paper.  A paper report must be filed in a cabinet to show that it has enduring value. No one cares about datasets.  But reports produced are measurable outputs.  Paper, whether actually used or not, is the controlling form for bureaucracy.  Shuffling paper is the soul of bureaucracy.  It’s the substance of the best bureaucratic jobs.

In other bureaucratic issues this month, financial services companies are pondering how to migrate automated teller machines (ATMs) from legacy Windows XP systems.  If financial services companies had remained with tellers processing paper deposit and withdrawal slips, they wouldn’t now be facing the difficult question of how to migrate from Windows XP.

Microsoft recently released the source code for the MS-DOS operating system from 1981.  Releasing this code undoubtedly required many levels of management approval.  Hence it’s not surprising that it took 33 years for the code to be released.  Open-source projects that release code more rapidly should consider whether they are staying current with best bureaucratic practices.

A Harvard Business Review blog has ignored obvious bureaucratic economics in examining “why good managers are so rare.”  These management experts think that the limiting factor is inmate managerial talent:

Most companies promote workers into managerial positions because they seemingly deserve it, rather than because they have the talent for it. This practice doesn’t work. Experience and skills are important, but people’s talents — the naturally recurring patterns in the ways they think, feel, and behave — predict where they’ll perform at their best. Talents are innate and are the building blocks of great performance. Knowledge, experience, and skills develop our talents, but unless we possess the right innate talents for our job, no amount of training or experience will matter.

That’s ridiculous.  The easiest way to look like a good manager to hire a lot of other bad managers.  By continually increasing the ranks of management, bureaucratic development works to increase the number of good managers. If good managers are rare, the cause is bureaucratic under-development.

That’s all for this month’s Carnival of Bureaucrats.  Enjoy previous bureaucratic carnivals here.  Nominations of posts to be considered for inclusion in next month’s carnival should be submitted using Form 376: Application for Bureaucratic Recognition.

Alibech, Rustico, and the life of Saint Pelagia

A story in Boccaccio’s Decameron is set in the Egyptian desert of the desert fathers.  The young hermit Rustico dwelling there unexpectedly encountered the beautiful girl Alibech.  Dioneo, the narrator of this story, foretells the story as putting the Devil back into Hell:

I want to tell you how to do it.  Perhaps you’ll even be able to save your souls once you’ve learned it. [1]

Dioneo’s story should be understood in the context of the Life of Saint Pelagia, an early Christian story of ascetic holiness.  Both Dioneo’s story and the Life of Saint Pelagia affirm the natural goodness of human sexuality.  They also recognize the human tendency toward deception and self-centeredness.  At the beginning of the Decameron, Pampinea chartered the brigata with the fullness of good life:

We should go and stay on one of our various country estates, shunning the wicked practices of others like death itself, but having as much fun as possible, feasting and making merry, without ever trespassing the sign of reason in any way. [2]

In Dioneo’s story and the Life of Saint Pelagia, the sign of reason mirrors the sign of selfless self-giving in true love.

He who moves heaven and all of its stars
Made me, for His delight,
Refined and charming, graceful, too, and fair,
To give to lofty spirits here below
A certain sign of that
Beauty abiding ever in His sight.
But mortals imperfect,
Who can’t see what I am,
Find me unpleasing, nay, treat me with scorn. [3]

In the Life of Saint Pelagia, Pelagia’s well-cultivated physical beauty served as inspiration to a higher beauty.  Pelagia was an actress, dancer, and courtesan.  In the company of young men and wearing nothing but jewelry, Pelagia paraded by Bishop Nonnus and other bishops.  Bishop Nonnus intently looked at her.  He delighted in her beauty.  Her beauty inspired him to cultivate beauty of the soul to please God the eternal lover.  His fellow bishops lacked that lofty spirit.  They scorned Pelagia’s obvious physical beauty.  They thus deceived themselves and denied natural male sexuality.[4]

Saint Ursicinus, a hermit saint

The story of Alibech and Rustico plays these keys of asceticism and beauty, self-centeredness and deception.  The story begins with unreason.  Alibech was the fourteen-year-old daughter of a very rich man in the Muslim land of Tunisia.  She was naive and not conscious of her own contradictory motivations:

She was not a Christian, but having heard how greatly the Christian faith and the service of God were praised by the numerous Christians living in the city, one day she asked one of them how God could be served best and with the least difficulty.[5]

Christians praising the Christian faith isn’t reasonably inspiring to non-Christians.  A desire to best serve God isn’t consistent with a desire to serve God with the least difficulty.  In any case, a Christian told Alibech that she could best serve God by becoming a holy recluse in the desert.  Alibech unreasonably sought to do just that:

the following morning, moved not by a reasonable desire, but rather by a childish whim, she set out secretly for the Theban desert all by herself without letting anyone know what she was doing.

Alibech set out into the desert as an unholy fool.

Rustico led himself into temptation with Alibech.  In the desert, Alibech went up to a holy man’s hut and asked him to teach her how to serve God.  The hermit, with appreciation for his natural sexual desire for a beautiful girl, told her that he could not be her teacher.  He advised her to seek someone more capable.  Another hermit similarly advised Alibech.  Then she came to Rustico.  He was willing to put himself to the test.  He took Alibech into his cell and made a bed for her from palm fronds.  His holy resolve soon dissolved.  He designed a scheme to gain consensual carnal knowledge of Alibech.

Rustico told Alibech that the most pleasing service to God is to put the Devil back into Hell.  Rustico told the girl to do whatever he did.  Then he took all his clothes off.  He knelt down and had her kneel down just in front of him:

as they knelt in this way, and Rustico felt his desire growing hotter than ever at the sight of her beauty, the resurrection of the flesh took place.  Staring at it in amazement, she said, “Rustico, what’s that thing I see sticking out in front of you, the thing I don’t have?”

Holy hermits aspired to put their flesh to death symbolically with ascetic practices.  The resurrection of the flesh — Rustico’s genital erection — was a reversal of monastic asceticism.[6]  Echoing the disparagement of men’s genitals in medieval European literature, Rustico described his penis as the Devil.  He described Alibech’s vagina as Hell.  With Alibech’s enthusiatic consent, Rustico put the Devil back into Hell.  They went on to put the Devil back into Hell seven times, a virtuous number, before they rested for awhile.  Alibech came to enjoy immensely putting the Devil back into Hell.  At her insistence, they had sex even when Rustico didn’t want to.  According to the United Nations’ judgment of criminality, Alibech raped Rustico repeatedly.  Rustico became thin and exhausted. In a symbolic transfer of Alibech’s fiery lust, her father’s house burned down, killing him and all the family except for Alibech.

The story of Alibech and Rustico represents self-centeredness and deception.  Personal whim propelled Alibech out into the desert to seek to serve the Christian understanding of God.  After she experienced sex, she insistently demanded sex with no respect for Rustico’s exhaustion.  Beneath Alibech’s expressed desire to serve God was her own self-centeredness.  Rustico, on the other hand, betrayed his ascetic commitment as a monk and intentionally deceived Alibech with his story of putting the Devil back into Hell.

Beyond Alibech’s and Rustico’s problems of sexual desire are more important problems of self-centeredness and deception.  True love, which can encompass sexual love, is impossible with deception and self-centeredness.  That’s the higher meaning of Boccaccio’s story of Alibech and Rustico.[7]

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[1] Giovanni Boccaccio, Decameron, Day 3, story 10, from Italian trans. Rebhorn (2013) p. 290.  Id. Notes, n. 1, p. 889 states, “There are only the vaguest antecedents for this story.”  Several early saints were named Rustico (Rusticus): Saint Rusticus of Verona (died c. 290),  Saint Rusticus of Narbonne (died c. 461), and Saint Rusticus of Lyon (died 501).  While two of these saints were bishops, Rustico also suggests “rustic” or uncultured.

Perhaps a more relevant referent for Rustico is Boccaccio’s imagination of the monk Rusticus of Toulouse. Jerome’s surviving collection of letters include a letter to Rusticus (letter 125) in 412. Jerome warned Rusticus of a woman’s ability to seduce a monk.

Alibech sounds Arabic and is thus appropriate for a girl from Tunisia.  An early fifteenth-century text from North Africa tells the story of men who were sexual heroes and who would have been Alibech’s equals.

[2] Id. Day 1, Intro., trans. Rebhorn (2013) p. 16.  I’ve replaced “overstepping the bounds of reason” with “trespassing the sign of reason” based on Kirkham (1993), Introduction.

[3] Decameron, Day 3, Conclusion, Lauretta’s song, trans. Rebhorn (2013) p. 298.  The first line quoted above parallels the end of Dante’s Commedia in Paradiso, 33.145, “The love that moves the sun and the other stars.” Id. Notes, p. 890, n. 3.  Id n. 4 observes of Lauretta’s song:

Critics have attempted to link it to Boccaccio’s own life and to allegorize it in various ways, but with little success.

The relevant allegory seems to me to be the speaker of the song having been the bride of Christ, also understood as the Church.  In addition to the stanza quoted above, a key line:

Although I’d come to earth
For all men’s good, of one I’m now the slave.

That line makes little sense realistically and personally. It makes sense allegorically as representing the political position of the Church in Florence at a specific time.

[4] The Life of Saint Pelagia was a hagiography that probably originated in a mid-fifth-century Syro-Palestinian milieu.  It was well-known in medieval Italy; a Latin translation survives in a late-twelfth-century or early thirteenth-century Italian manuscript.  Here’s discussion of the Life of Pelagia, with citations to source texts.  Storey (1982), pp. 164-7, discusses the tale of Alibech and Rustico in relation to the literary tradition of Vite Patrum, but doesn’t mention the Life of Saint Pelagia.

[5] Decameron, Day 3, story 10, from Italian trans. Rebhorn (2013) p. 290.  All subsequent quotes are from id. pp. 291-2.

[6] Illustrating perennial social repression of strong, independent male sexuality, the story of Alibech and Rustico was multilated and repressed in editions of the Decameron from the sixteenth century to the twentieth century:  “this story — when printed at all — was sometimes so radically abridged or altered as to be rendered virtually unrecognizable if not downright nonsensical.”  Kirkham (1981) pp. 79-80.  In English translations, sometimes the key passage wasn’t translated.

[7] Emphasizing the story’s context in Day 3, in the Decameron, and in all of Boccoccio’s works, Kirkham (1981) reads the story of Alibech and Rustico to instruct, “Illicit love leads to perdition.”  Id. p. 93.  Alibech is forced to return to town and marry.  Rustico, after burdensome sexual demands, is restored to his betrayed monastic solitude.  Those outcomes are less than Alibech’s and Rustico’s ill-formed desires, but not necessarily equal to perdition.  Moreover, “illicit love leads to perdition” is rather vague instruction for students.  Is sex outside of the legal institution of marriage necessarily illicit?  Boccaccio, one might reasonably suppose, pondered that question.

[image] Saint Ursicinus, a hermit living about 600 in present-day Switzerland. Thanks to Yesuitus2001 and Wikipedia.


Kirkham, Victoria. 1981. “Love’s labors rewarded and paradise lost (Decameron, III, 10).” Romanic Review, vol. LXXII, no. 1, pp. 79-83.  Reprinted as Ch. 6 in Kirkham (1993).

Kirkham, Victoria. 1993. The sign of reason in Boccaccio’s fiction. Firenze: L.S. Olschki.

Rebhorn, Wayne A., trans. 2013. Giovanni Boccaccio. The Decameron. New York : W.W. Norton & Company.

Storey, Harry Wayne. 1982. “Parodic Structure in ‘Alibech and Rustico’: Antecedents and Traditions.” Canadian Journal of Italian Studies 5 (3), pp. 163-176.