Reading about the worldwide coronavirus pandemic reminds me of a text I studied years ago at Columbia.

The Decameron was written by Giovanni Boccacio during the time of the Black Death, a devastating global epidemic of bubonic plague that struck Europe and Asia in the mid-1300s.  In this in this work composed of 100 tales, 10 people shelter in a secluded villa just outside Florence to escape the Black Death.

The Decameron by Boccaccio

is a collection of novellas by the 14th-century Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio (1313–1375). The book is structured as a frame story containing 100 tales told by a group of seven young women and three young men sheltering in a secluded villa just outside Florence to escape the Black Death, which was afflicting the city. Boccaccio probably conceived of The Decameron after the epidemic of 1348, and completed it by 1353. The various tales of love in The Decameron range from the erotic to the tragic. Tales of wit, practical jokes, and life lessons contribute to the mosaic. In addition to its literary value and widespread influence (for example on Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales), it provides a document of life at the time. Written in the vernacular of the Florentine language, it is considered a masterpiece of classical early Italian prose.

decameron-Boccaccio_-_Decameron_MCCCCLXXXXII_ad_di_XX_de_giugno_-_3852856_Scan00015-677x1024 (1)Illustration from a ca. 1492 edition of Il Decameron published in Venice, Italy

Read more of the Wikipedia article about the Decameron HERE 


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