Giovanni Boccaccio


UPON the outskirts of the city of Naples lies the tomb of Virgil. The body of the great poet was laid there nineteen years before the beginning of the Christian Era, and during all the tumultuous centuries which followed he was never entirely forgotten. The Italians, with the indestructible monuments of Rome constantly under their eyes, could never entirely forget that her greatness had been a physical reality, and in their minds no name was more closely associated than his with the grandeur which he had celebrated.

His fame had, indeed, undergone strange transmogrifications. Few to whom his name was still vaguely familiar had any idea of the character of his works, and fewer still had read them. He must, they thought, have been a mighty magician — like Aristotle. He had, so legend asserted, created a marvelous brazen fly, and from him Reynard the Fox had learned certain valuable secrets. Even as we approach the period with which we are concerned, a period during which he was again read as a poet, we see that certain fantastic notions still prevailed. For had he not, it was asked, definitely revealed the divine character of his inspiration by clearly predicting in one of his Eclogues the coming of Christ, and did not even students of profane literature agree that his deepest significance lay, not in the vain fables which he recounted, but in the allegorical meanings which were hid within them ?

Virgil was, in short, a symbol of intellectual greatness which each age had interpreted in terms it could understand, and though the time had come again when certain newly refined ears caught his sweet melody, they were frightened by the perception of delights which had no relation to that plan of salvation which, so the Church insisted, should be the sole concern of man.

Here undoubtedly was the voice of the world, hints of that human culture which had no relation to the only culture tolerated by a harsh God, and timidly men sought to deny that it contained any principle inimical to the philosophy which they accepted. But more and more his voice was heard. Ideas of fame and glory, aspirations toward tenderness and beauty, began to attach themselves to his name. He was the great poet in a sense unknown to the grim ages just past, and his fame was a glimmer from some civilization which had begun to seem once more desirable.

This Virgil had lain some thirteen centuries in his tomb when a young Italian in his ardent twenties stood meditating at night beside it. His father was one of those Italian merchants who were establishing the solid bourgeois prosperity upon which the culture of the Renaissance was to be founded, and he himself was, without exactly knowing it, a typical representative of the new man. He had been accustomed from boyhood to cities more stately and more comfortable than any known in the Western world outside of Italy; he had been at a court whose fashion and sophistication made it infinitely removed from the semi-barbarous state of society which still dominated the rest of Europe; and though he had applied himself somewhat to study, he was, by nature and experience, worldly. As he stood in a ferment to which love added its perplexities, his mind turned to that ‘sweet poesy’ which since childhood had delighted him, and the soul of Virgil spoke across the centuries.

Contemplating that tomb and meditating for a long time with suspended soul both upon him whom the tomb enclosed and the fame of those bones, he began suddenly to accuse and to lament the fate which had violently constrained him to devote himself to trade, which he hated. From this he was seized with a sudden love of the Pierian Muses, and returning to the house he broke with all merchants and gave himself ardently to the study of poetry; in which, in a short space of time, his noble intelligence and his ardent desires being joined, he became admirably proficient.

Such at least is the account given of the conversion of Giovanni Boccaccio by his contemporary and earliest biographer, Filippo Viilani, who wrote it down in his Le vite d’uomini illustri fiorentini six or seven years after Giovanni had died.

One may, indeed, suspect a touch of poetry in this account itself, but if poetry is there it is poetry of that sort which reveals the deepest truth, for if it is not literal fact it is at least significant allegory. The world of things human, not the world of things divine, was the one which Boccaccio longed to feel and to sing; he was compelled to reach back across many intervening centuries to touch hands with men who had dropped the thread which he was to try to pick up, and it was at the ashes of Virgil that he would light his own torch.

Two other men, Dante Alighieri and Francesco Petrarca, shared with him the literary fame of his century. Succeeding ages have studied both more assiduously than they have studied him, but he was, nevertheless, more completely than either of the others a representative of a new kind of culture.

From whatever the other two wrote concerning life as their contemporaries lived it, certain lines went out to points of reference outside that life. In Dante they went out to great principles, fixed in eternity, by which all human events must be judged; in Petrarch they went out to the customs and the opinions of the ancient world; but in Boccaccio the world of sense and experience was, for the first time since the classical age, complete in itself. Life as he and his fellows lived it needed nothing which it did not itself furnish to establish its values. Even if God had never existed and the Romans had never lived, Florence and Naples contained delight enough and meaning enough to form the subject of art. He took time, not eternity, for his province, and experience as his only guide and judge.


It is not certain whether Paris, Florence, or the little town of Certaldo gave Boccaccio birth, but he was born in the year 1313, and born, significantly enough, from a temporary union between his father and a Parisian woman whom the former had met in the course of a mercantile journey and whom he shortly after abandoned. Giovanni, as a matter of course, received an elementary education, and, as a matter of course also, was apprenticed to another eminent merchant in order that he might learn the trade of his father; but before he had even learned what poetry was he had made little rhymes of his own, and he spoke bitterly in later life of the six years which he had wasted in trade.

His father, anxious to see him established in some lucrative profession, suggested the study of the canon law, but the affairs of the Church interested him as little as those of trade and the only result was the loss of another six years. He had, however, managed to make that study serve as an excuse for taking up his residence in the gay city of Naples, and it is there that the real story of his life begins.

Naples under the rule of King Robert was not a city to which either a merchant or a scholar would entrust his son without misgiving, for the refinement and freedom of its manners might well be expected to corrupt both the prudent industry of the one and the moral gravity of the other. Robert, like so many of the petty rulers of the Renaissance, was suspected of having mounted the throne over the murdered body of his brother, but he was a liberal and capable ruler, and his ideals were the new ideals of refinement and beauty which were rapidly undermining the whole mediaeval world. Under his rule Naples had become the centre of fashion in Italy at a time when Italy was leading the world in the achievement of that bodily comfort which makes fashion possible. Poets and scholars were honored there, but the day was already passing when poetry and scholarship were affairs of the cloister or inevitably connected with an austere piety. At Naples the days were given to fêtes champêtres, the nights to splendid entertainment and amorous intrigue; there, in short, had already been founded that paradoxical society, nominally Christian but in all its acts fundamentally pagan, which was to rule Italy for two centuries and gradually reach the depths of hypocritical corruption which made it possible for a Borgia to sit upon the papal throne and hold his orgies in the Vatican itself.

We do not know at what age Boccaccio first saw the resplendent city, but he seems to have been taken there as a child, and he has left us an account— how fanciful we do not know — under the guise of an allegory which describes his first sight of the new streets and which tells how his heart beat with delight when he met. ‘a most beautiful girl, in aspect gracious and fair, dressed all in garments of green which befitted her age and recalled the ancient dress of the city,’ who welcomed him to it with a kiss. In any event, the memory of the city seems to have remained in his mind as that of a sort of earthly paradise, and he was glad of any excuse — trade or the common law — which would enable him to become one of its citizens. In Naples he instinctively recognized his own spiritual home, and it in turn developed in him the joyous aspects of his nature.

Hitherto he had been compelled to listen to merchants ‘skillful only in putting money into coffers’ maintaining that poetry was not lucrative, when ‘they ought to have blushed to attack celestial things which they do not comprehend and should have confined themselves to crawling among things which the baseness of their spirits makes them barely able to understand.’ Here, on the other hand, poetry was valued at its true worth, as the sole means by which a man’s memory might be carried down to future ages, and here too was a daily life which afforded a perpetual gratification to his wakened and eager senses.

Boccaccio’s sensuality — of which more must later be said — was of a sweet and gentle sort. Nothing merely coarse or ugly delighted it, and it was marked by none of the ferocity which so often accompanied the sensuality of the Italian; but young and fresh though it was, it had seldom any admixture of anything not essentially sensual. He loved fields and flowers because he was exquisitely sensitive to the beauty of form and color and not at all because he saw in them anything of a mystical beauty too deep for tears; and so also he loved women for the grace and beauty of their bodies and not at all because love was, as his master Dante thought, the lowest rung in the ladder which leads up to God. For such a nature, Naples, with its sunny days spent with beautiful women in the fields and its soft nights spent with these same ladies in brilliant assemblages, was a very paradise.


It is hardly necessary to say that in such an atmosphere Boccaccio fell in love. Indeed, he did so more than once, and he has left us the literary names of two ladies, Pampinea the ‘white dove’ and Abrotonia ‘the blackbird,’ who played the Rosaline to his Romeo. But the lady who remained for him throughout his youth the symbol of love was she who has come down to us under the name of Fiammetta, or the ‘little flame.’ The first of his books was w ritten, he tells us, at her command, and in all but one of the other works of imagination which he wrote in the vulgar tongue she plays the rôle of a sensual Beatrice.

Doubtless the element of literary convention plays a part in all this. Petrarch with his Laura as well as Dante with his Beatrice had made it obligatory upon any poet to exalt a queen of his heart, and if Boccaccio had experienced no enduring passion it would have behooved him to invent one. But Fiammetta was a woman of flesh and blood whom Boccaccio had, in the flesh, embraced. Try as he would, in describing his love, to refine it away into that pale and decorous shadow which the convention of courtly poetry demanded, it remains substantial and real. In the person of Fiammetta one may recognize, not the inspirer of an ideal passion, but the woman who first called out and satisfied the most ardent desires of which he was capable and who therefore remained in his mind as the symbol of that substantial sort of love which it was his particular function to celebrate.

This Fiammetta has been almost certainly identified with one Maria, the illegitimate daughter of King Robert, but practically all that we know of her comes from Boccaccio himself, who wove some version of their love affair into more than one of his works. His stories are not in all respects consistent with one another, and all are embroidered with fancy. It is easy to see him forming a legend on the model afforded by the story of Dante and Beatrice, and far less aware than later readers have been of how different the meanings of the two stories were; but all that he tells us of her is significant both of the literary conventions of his day and of the way in which he was preparing himself for his greatest achievement by discovering how inappropriate these conventions were for the expression of what was most important and valid in himself.

On a beautiful spring morning, Saturday the Vigil of Easter, he had gone with a fashionable company to the ten o’clock Mass in the Franciscan Church of San Lorenzo. Gay as the court of Naples was, intellectual skepticism was no important part of the life there, and Boccaccio was no more inclined than his companions to question the authority of the Church or to neglect its ceremonies. On this particular occasion he noted in himself the sweetness of the melody which the choir was singing and he listened to the holy Mass being celebrated by a priest, ‘successor to him who first girt himself humbly with a cord, exalting poverty and adopting it.’

For the moment at least he was living spiritually in that mediæval world of which Francis was the finest flower, and he felt himself touched by its sober poetry.

Yet at that very instant the Renaissance entered. Suddenly he became aware of the presence of a beautiful young woman, and in an instant there rushed in upon him the whole complex of ideas and desires of which a beautiful woman is the symbol. At the vision he forgot both the humble Francis and the pale God whom Francis served. The prayers which he had addressed to them had been half the result of habit, — the voice of his forefathers, not of himself, — but now a prayer gushed forth to the god who was really his.

‘O Love,’ he cried, ‘most noble lord whose strength not even the gods were able to resist, I thank thee for setting happiness before my eyes: already my cold heart, feeling the softness of thy rays, begins to warm itself. Therefore I, who for a long time have fled frightened from thy mother, now pray thee to enter with thy deity into my heart. No longer is it possible for me either to fly from you or to desire to fly, but humbly and devotedly I surrender myself to thy will.’

Of this lady who now made him the worshiper he had doubtless long wished to be he has left no description which will differentiate her from the subject of countless poems in the tradition of courtly love. She was, he says, tall and slender. Her hair, ‘so blond that the world holds nothing like it,’ shaded a white forehead of noble width, beneath which were the curves of two black and most slender eyebrows, two roguish eyes, and cheeks ‘of no other color than milk.’ Yet this very absence of particularity is significant in the history of one w ho was already in love with love, and when Boccaccio saw Fiammetta he felt all of the emotions he was supposed to feel.

‘No sooner had I seen her than my heart began to tremble so violently that I felt it through every pulse, and not knowing why nor perceiving what had happened, I began to say, “Alas, what is this?”’ But when he saw that she, aware of his gaze, hid her face with a veil, he moved from his place to another from which he could still see her, and, probably not wholly aware of the irony, he feasted his eyes upon her beauty while the priest sang the office ‘full of sweet melody.’ Once she looked at him, and when the service was over he joined his companions at the church door and saw her pass out.

Next day — it was Easter — he went again to the church, and was rewarded by a sight more beautiful than before. She was shining with gold, made beautiful, he says, ‘by both nature and art,’ and when he saw her he remembered the little girl, dressed, like her, in green, who had welcomed him to the city of Naples and who had later appeared to him in a dream. ‘This,’ he said to himself, ‘is she who was ordained to rule my mind, and who was promised me for lady in my dreams.’


Now when Dante, whose story of the beginning of his ‘New Life’ here doubtless colored strongly Boccaccio’s experience, first saw Beatrice he went away and meditated. He talked with her only once, and he made no effort to cultivate in the flesh even a friendship with her who was the symbol of his desire and his salvation. The theologized love which he celebrated was detached wholly from love in the earthly sense, and he had no idea of compromising the value of Beatrice as a symbol by any knowledge of Beatrice as a woman. Boccaccio, on the other hand, however much he might admire Dante and however much he might fancy their experiences similar, was by no means capable of understanding such odd behavior in a lover. The experience which he had just received was no mere unadorned lust of the flesh, for it was the inspiration of a thousand beautiful fancies and poetic ideas, but neither was it an affair of the mind alone. He could meditate beside the tomb of Virgil, but he could be a practical gallant as well, — doubtless, even, had been one before, — and so it was toward practical steps that he turned his attention.

Fiammetta was married. Some youth nearer her own station in life than the humble student who had glimpsed her at her devotions had already taken her from the convent where she had been bred and established her as one of the reigning beauties of Naples.

Well might Boccaccio lament, as he tells us that he did, the social gulf which separated them, and not without excuse were the moments of despair which alternated with youthful hope. But if this difficulty was great, it was, fortunately for him, the greatest which he had to face, since the technical virtue of Fiammetta was more easily assailable than the pride of her position. She was known to have had lovers before now, and she would be committing no very startling infraction of the code of Naples if she should have them again.

In those days love, springing into a new luxurious growth, had not yet been assimilated by society, and it was essentially a lawless thing. The mediæval Church, with its utter distrust of the flesh, had looked with suspicion upon ardent passion even in marriage, and the new sense of its worth had grown up as a thing apart, an affair of poets and courtiers, not of moralists or theologians. It had its code, — both Boccaccio and Fiammetta had heard it expounded during the sessions of that Court of Love which constituted one of the amusements of Naples, — but that code had no relation to the code of the Church. Ovid’s Art of Love was an important part of its canonical scriptures, and Ovid was no great respecter of the matrimonial institution. Decorum required that love should be secret, but the ladies of Italy had accepted the Spartan conception of virtue — it was necessary only that one should not be found out.

It was, then, no difficult matter for Boccaccio to make the acquaintance of his lady. He encountered her at a fashionable gathering, — in the parlor of a convent! — and, the talk turning upon the romances of love which ladies read in their hours of idleness, Boccaccio spoke of the ancient tale of Flore and Blanchefleur, and Fiammetta, turning to him, bade him write down for her such a romance as that. ‘Hearing,’ he says, ‘the sweetness of the words which came from that gracious mouth and remembering that never once till this day had that noble lady asked anything of me, I took her prayer for a command and saw therein hope for my desires.’ For us the result was some seven hundred pages of youthfully elaborate prose; for him it was the first step in his serious literary career and a new claim upon the attention of his lady.


Here, as everywhere, the story of Boccaccio is confused, but from now on the love affair which was to remain for him the most emotionally significant event of his life, and which was to furnish the centre of the experience out of which he formed his art, developed with great rapidity. At first Fiammetta would have none of him and he was cast into despair, but soon he became an accepted member of her band, and in the ambiguous, half-formal rôle of cavalier servente he spent his days and nights either in gay society or in inditing amorous verse. Whatever pretense he may have kept up before this to a study of the canon law was now abandoned. But to Boccaccio in the full tide of his romantic awakening the sage reproofs of those who reproached him with wasting his time did no more than reveal their groveling souls, and speaking of Love he could triumphantly reply:—

Oh, how many are the good things that proceed from him! Who moved Virgil? Who Ovid? Who else but he inspired both them and the other poets who have established their eternal fame in sacred verses which would never have come to our ears had it not been for him? What shall we say of his virtue? What indeed if not that he had power to give such sweetness to the harp of Orpheus that he called with that sound the surrounding forest, that he made the running streams pause, and the fierce lions and all the other animals come with the timid deer into his presence; that likewise he quieted the infernal furies and gave sweet repose to sorrowing shades; and besides all that, that it availed to recover his lost wife.

Therefore Love is not the slayer of honor, as you say, nor the cause of indecent perplexity, nor the provoker of vices, nor the donor of empty anxiety, nor the unworthy occupier of other people’s freedom; therefore with all skill and all effort ought everyone who is not his servant strive and endeavor to win the grace of so gracious a lord, and to become his servant quickly, because it is through him that we become virtuous. That which is pleasing to the gods and to the strongest men should be pleasing to you also; follow him, love him, serve him, and may such a lord live always in our souls.

One day when a company had repaired to a wood he found himself alone with Fiammetta, and she gave him such proof of her favor that he knew that the time had come when he might hope for more than a mere tolerance of his love. But he knew also the depths of her coquetry, and that he must appear to seize what he would have. Bribing her maid in the absence of the husband, he made his way to her chamber and there, while she accepted his presence but seemed to reject his further advances, he poured out the eloquence of his love; and when that was not enough he, not unwillingly, played out the comedy to its last extravagance. Drawing a dagger from his belt, he exclaimed: ‘I come as an ardent lover to obtain relief for my burning desires; thou alone canst assuage them, or tell me to die; surely I will only leave thee satisfied or dead. Not that I seek to gratify my passion by violence or to compel any to raise cruel hands against me; but if thou art deaf to my entreaties, with my dagger I shall pierce my heart.’ Not even Fiammetta could demand gallant rhetoric more extreme or more accomplished than that, and now for the first time she yielded to her enraptured lover.

Even though space allowed, the modesty of English would scarcely permit to be translated here the passages in which Boccaccio describes this meeting, and yet only by reading them can one quite grasp the state of his soul. For him, if not for Fiammetta, the gallant game had grown earnest, and he reached the height of sensual experience. Untouched by mystical solemnity, it was nevertheless enriched and intensified by the whole complex of ideas with which his love of poetry connected it. It was the great secular sacrament, and in it he was experiencing for himself that which was the subject of the great poets whom he had studied. All the fresh, full ardor of his nature found itself here for the first time satisfied, and he had not yet learned the meaning of satiety. He could conceive of no felicity beyond this and he could not perceive in it any lack. As long as even the memory of it remained vivid it was bound to seem the most significant of human experiences, something beside which all creeds and doctrines were pale.

But, if Boccaccio was thus essentially naïve, Fiammetta was an experienced coquette. Love was no new thing to her, and she gave herself with no illusions like this. For some months, for a year perhaps, their felicity endured, but at the end of that time Boccaccio could hide from himself no longer the fact that their union was not what he had supposed. Fiammetta had passed on to other delights and he was expelled from the only paradise which it is given to a nature like his to know.

Doubtless he had thought little of the future, but the future was now before him. Some sort of calamity overtook his father, with whom he had quarreled, but upon whom he had nevertheless depended. Sometime after the close of the affair with Fiammetta, Boccaccio was called upon to leave even the scene of his happiness and betake himself once more to the grim city of Florence, which had always seemed to him so cold and so ignoble. In Naples he had lived poetry; here at best he could only write it.


Such was the donnée of experience with which Boccaccio began his literary labors, and, commonplace as it may seem in its superficial aspect, it was sufficient to furnish him with as many problems as his genius could, in its whole lifetime, solve. The whole of his passionate youth had been thrown into that experience, and the thoughts and feelings which it generated were the realest things that he ever knew. No art and no philosophy which did not recognize and interpret what he had there lived through could ever, until the coming of middle age had quieted his passions, have any validity for him.

He had given himself to an experience in the course of which his consciousness had reached the intensest level of which it was capable, and it was the quality of that experience which he must somehow communicate. Innocently sensual as a faun, and quite as ignorant of the fact that the tortures of the flesh are no less real than its ecstasies, he had surrendered himself to love only to awake and find how bitter an awakening can be. And his tragedy was not one which could resolve itself in any traditional way.

What he felt was not the sense of sin which theology would have taught him to expect and for which it could offer its remedies. His suffering led him toward no renunciation of the flesh, for the flesh was still for him, potentially at least, the source of all beauty. A natural man in a natural world, he had been deprived of the thing which made that world most delightful, and though his tragedy was purely secular it was immeasurably poignant for all that. He knew that love, considered merely as a natural phenomenon, was great and powerful, but he had no fit vehicle for the expression of the intensity of emotion which he had felt.

Dante, the only one of his contemporaries who had written passionately of passion, had been able to do so only by identifying it with God and the universe. And that, according to current modes of thought, was the only way in which it could be done. Moreover, the half of Boccaccio which was scholar and critic recognized the supremacy of Dante and of Petrarch. In his humility he never dared to imagine any lack in either of them, and yet in neither could he find anything which corresponded to his own experience, for neither had ever been capable of anything at once so intense and so purely human. The passion which the tepid Petrarch could never have understood Dante had reserved for God and ambition, and if any other poet of his time had given himself so utterly to a purely human passion, that poet had not been able to communicate his experience. There were ways in which what passed for the love of God could be expressed, and there was a courtly convention which, under the guise of allegory or through the use of classical mythology, one might use to elaborate gallant conceits; but there was no contemporary literature of passion as intense and yet as unadorned as his needed to be. It was not the Platonized love of Dante which had been visited upon him any more than it was the mere literary convention of Petrarch, but instead the implacable Aphrodite whose might the pagans had felt and whose power Boccaccio was now constrained to admit. He had to confess and to consolidate a worldliness, passionate and yet wholly naturalistic, which had grown up in the Italian courts without ever having found literary expression, and he was not yet capable of creating a new literary style which should imply, as it must, a new sort of acceptance of the natural universe.

Nor did Boccaccio, in any of his youthful works, succeed in approaching his subject matter except through the devious ways which the tradition of allegory suggested. Sometimes he imitates the allegory of Dante, and sometimes he and Fiammetta are transmogrified into huntsmen and nymphs. They inhabit, not Naples of the fourteenth century, but some vague classic Arcadia, and they speak, not the language of their passion, but a poetic jargon pieced together out of the showy scraps of a rhetoric which is tawdry and faded. Boccaccio was feeling with intensity and vigor, but he was interpreting his emotions in terms not genuinely appropriate to the quality of his experience.

Neither the Filocolo — which he undertook, it will be remembered, at Fiammetta’s bidding and which he was years in completing — nor either of the other two works, the heroic Filostrato and the epic Tcseide, which he wrote while still at Naples, carried him far upon his way. Concerned as each of them is with an old story, and, as far as he could make each, conventional in feeling, none represents a real struggle with his problem, and not until, returned sadly to Florence, he embarks upon his Ameto does he come to grips with it.

Written partly in prose and partly in verse, the form of this piece is that of the pastoral, and its theme is love. Ameto, a semi-savage youth who subsists upon the spoils of the chase and who may be taken, perhaps, as a symbol of the animal in man, happens one day to come suddenly upon Lia, a divinely beautiful nymph, and he is seized with the, to him, unknown passion of love. Through its miraculous influence he becomes aware of his own rudeness and, inspired by a new vision of human refinement and feeling, he persuades Lia to accompany him in the hunt. Winter, however, separates them, and it is not until spring has come again that he finds her with a company of nymphs and shepherds in the neighborhood of a temple. Each of the nymphs in turn now tells the story of her life and love, and by each the soul of Ameto is ravished still further. While he listens with his ears, his eyes devour the charms of each nymph in turn; and, picturing to himself in no very delicate terms the delight of possessing one of them, he is all but lost in a sensual ecstasy, when suddenly the goddess of true love descends in her own person and reveals herself, no less to the surprise of the reader than to the surprise of Ameto, as the queen of a quite Christian heaven. Briefly she rebukes his sensual misconceptions; she bids him accept all that he has seen as symbolical, and the pastoral comes to an abrupt close with a hymn to the Trinity. Looking back, we perceive that the company of nymphs, in spite of the wholly gallant character of their adventures, really represent a collection of the chief abstract virtues and that the whole composition is a grotesquely unsuccessful allegory.

In this preposterous mélange one may easily discover certain significant features both in the feeling and in the expression. But more significant yet is the theme upon which the Ameto begins. Later, in one of the most famous and perfect tales of the Decameron, he returned to it with perfected art, yet even here instinct led him to the meaning of that Renaissance of which he was a significant part, for love was at once the beginning and the symbol of that secular culture whose value it was his function to affirm, and, in spite of the inappropriate tag with which the Ameto is concluded, it is this which he is inarticulately struggling to assert.

(To be continued)

  1. There are many doubtful points in the biography of Boccaccio. In this study I have always adopted the one of several possibilities which seemed to me the most probable, without stopping to debate the question. The best recent treatments of the life as a whole are Edward Hutton’sGiovanni Boccaccio and Henri Hauvette’sBoccace. To both of these I am much indebted. — AUTHOR