Meaning of the novel Decameron by Boccaccio

How to create an ideal society in the bosom of nature in solitude from the world? Giovanni Boccaccio, according to contemporaries, was an order of magnitude ahead of his generation mentally and intellectually. Therefore, his creations have remained for centuries, so that modern people can already enjoy the fruits of his mental work.

Today we will talk about the meaning of the short story “The Decameron”, and also, along the way, talk about the name and history of the creation of the work. In general, it will be interesting.

So get comfortable and let’s get started!

History of creation

Work on a collection of short stories was carried out by the author from 1348 to 1351 in Naples and Florence. It is likely that part of the story was conceived by Boccaccio before the outbreak of the plague in Florence in 1348. However, the terrible events in the city served as an impetus for creating a common plot.


There is also an alternative version. Allegedly, historians and researchers found in Giovanni’s personal correspondence mentions that the Queen of Naples herself ordered the work to support the morale of citizens, as well as their faith in a happy future after the end of the epidemic.

We will never know what happened in reality, so choose an acceptable option for yourself.

The meaning of the name

Translated from Greek, “Decameron” is “ten” and “day”, that is, “ten days”. Such names were adopted by medieval authors, as they referred to antiquity.

There existed Hexaemeron, that is, “six days”. Ancient thinkers so denoted the creation of the world by God in six days.

The Decameron, on the other hand, tells about the creation of their own local world, where people united voluntarily in the likeness of Noah’s ark.


The main character of the Decameron, so to speak, is the Florentine plague of 1348. A group of seven girls and boys decide to urgently flee the city away from death and infection, and hide in a country estate.

miniature BoccaccioPhoto:

There they spend time in bliss, telling each other interesting stories. This group of people was a kind of ideal society, where everyone was a separate person with his own opinion, where culture and equality are placed higher than the interests of one person.

All events that take place fit into 14 days. Every day, girls and boys choose their ruler, who chooses a theme that unites the whole day. There are no elections on weekends, as everyone rests. Every evening one of the girls performs a poetic ballad for the others.

Many short stories were not original creations of Boccaccio. It is known that he drew inspiration and motive from folklore, as well as anecdotes and parables.

The main meaning of the work

For Boccaccio, the main problem of his work is personal self-consciousness, as well as the development of the philosophy of humanism and culture. Within the framework of the created composition, the author tries to present to society an ideal model of existence, based on the early stages of the emergence of humanism. That is, the ideas of equality, love and freedom are promoted, which are nevertheless regulated by certain rules and democratically elected leaders.

Miniature "Decameron"Photo:

The main meaning of the Decameron is that without culture and art it is impossible to raise the level of each individual to the heights, when the whole society will refuse enslavement, selfishness and despotism.

However, the author acknowledges that it will be extremely difficult to achieve this now and in the future. The only option for now is solitude and the creation of a group of like-minded people.

Only when people meet each other halfway will it be possible to talk about creating a cult of healthy and natural relationships between citizens.

Miniature "Decameron"Photo: YouTube

Boccaccio also makes fun of a number of human vices. Most of all, he does not like hypocrisy, which eventually develops into hypocrisy. Often a person, hiding behind moral principles, commits the most vile deeds and shows his ignorance.

As an example, this is the influx of Florentine citizens into churches and temples, where the priests promised deliverance from the plague. Not understanding the reasons for the lack of medical education, the mass of citizens became infected through religious rites and sacraments.

This concludes our analysis. If you have any questions or suggestions, be sure to leave them in the comments.

And we have prepared several other interesting analyzes for you. Here they are:

How did the novel “Arc de Triomphe” by Remarque end?

The Meaning of Flaubert’s Madame Bovary

Analysis of the novel “In the First Circle” by Solzhenitsyn

And that’s all for us, so see you soon on the pages of new articles. Peaceful sky above your head.

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