By Valerio Ferme (auth.)
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Additional info for Women, Enjoyment, and the Defense of Virtue in Boccaccio’s Decameron
And more than a sixth of the citizens perished” (1374), Villani recounts the many catastrophes that befell the city of Florence in that decade: from the fall of the great banking families (the Bardi and the Peruzzi), for which he blames not only the King of England’s insolvency (1340), but especially the “damned and covetous she-wolf, filled with the vice of avarice that rules over our blind and crazy Florentine citizens” (1529); to the infamous regency of the Duke of Athens (1424–1443); and to the recurrent famines that culminated in the 1347 one that killed over 4,000 people, as God’s punishment “for our sins, not only because of the alignment of the stars, but sometimes because, as master of the universe and of the heavenly spheres, he wishes it so” (1576–1577, emphasis added); Villani’s apocalyptic vision continues into the last pages of the Cronica, so that, at the beginning of 1348, the earthquakes that shook Italy foreshadowed not only “destruction and plagues,” but also the end of the world he kept predicting: This year, on the night of Friday, January twenty-fifth, there were a number of very strong earthquakes in Italy [ .
None of this, however, did anything to diminish the love that Paolo had inspired in her” (V, 151, 280). Eventually, the love for Paolo precipitated the events that led Gianciotto to discover the lovers in her bridal chambers and kill them both; though, as Boccaccio recounts, Francesca died only because she put herself in the way of Gianciotto’s sword, destined for Paolo: “Gianni had already raised his sword and was thrusting it downward with all his might. What happened next was not at all what Gianni had in mind: the rapier’s tip passed completely through Francesca’s bosom and pierced Paolo on the other side” (Expositions, V, par.
If one de-emphasizes the trickster valence and suggests that Dante never intended to condemn courtly love in toto as Veglia suggests, one can attribute the first valence to Boccaccio’s use of the term and, with Riva, see the book that has been given such surname as an intermediary. This raises a question: what does it become an intermediary between/for? The simplest answer is that it becomes an intermediary between the author and his readers in love, as Boccaccio suggests in the Proem. It follows that its function resides in the goals that Boccaccio (the “author”) attributes it a few lines later: to provide amusement and 22 W O M E N , E N J O Y M E N T, A N D T H E D E F E N S E useful advice for the women who suffer from the pangs of love.