January 2017

I attended The Ohio State University pre-Woody Hayes time. Classes covered a quarter of 10 weeks as opposed to semesters and tuition for the period cost less than a book for todays’ studies. One of my favorite courses was Italian and my professor was Ollie Moore who each day started class with “Buon Giorno.”

Dante’s Divina Comedia was required reading but my favorite was Giovanni Boccacio’s “Il Decameron.” This masterpiece of prose covered a 10-day event and a collection of 100 stories over a two week period by seven women and three men. This group, seeking to escape the Black Death epidemic, secluded themselves in a villa outside Florence and every member of the party told a story each night with the exception of personal and holy days. These tales of love ranged from erotic to tragic and were really tales of life’s lessons during the time of the 14th century.

Whatever the day’s theme, love played a part in nine of 10 tales. The women represented the virtues of Prudence, Faith, Hope, Charity, Justice, Temperance, and Fortitude and the men; Reason, Spirit and Appetite.   Women were central to the Decameron and covered a range of attitudes such as resourceful, saucy, direct, fickle, and, above all, chaste – that Boccaccio’s heroines seldom were. There was no question that this was Boccaccio’s most famous manuscript of prose fiction and he must have had some misgivings because, soon after, he joined the holy orders and wanted to destroy the Decameron for being lustful and frivolous.

I thought it was excellent reading but, keep in mind I never received an A in my Italian classes.