Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

The narrator

The narrator, a calculated, controlled voice, sensitive and seemingly genuine, that speaks directly to the reader. In the preface and introduction, the narrator establishes the narrative framework, describes the Florentine Black Plague of 1348, and introduces the ten storytellers. In the prologue to the fourth day, he defends himself against criticism. In the conclusion, he defends himself against charges of obscenity, slandering the clergy, and frivolity.


Pampinea (pahm-pee-NAY-ah), the storyteller who conceives the idea of the excursion into the countryside, which provides the framework for the story as a whole. She also is the one to suggest the rotation of group leadership duties. Pampinea is wise, self-possessed, and the most mature of the group, having often been in love.


Dioneo (dee-oh-NAY-oh), the wittiest, most attractive, and most self-willed of the three young men to participate in the excursion. He is the first to insist on forgetting the cares left behind in Florence and tells the first of the stories to have sexual content. He tells the last story on each of the last nine days, without regard for the topic established for that day.


Filomena (fee-loh-MAY-nah), a wise and discreet woman who seconds Pampinea’s suggestion to bring men along on their excursion, relying on truth to protect her honor and reputation should it be questioned later. She is passionate and amorous.


Elisa (eh-LEE-sah), a very young woman characterized by a powerfully passionate nature.


Fiammetta (fee-ahm-MEHT-tah), who is generous in giving love and desirous of being loved but fearful of the pain of losing love.

Ser Cepparello

Ser Cepparello (sehr chehp-pa-REHL-loh), a character in a story told by Panfilo. Known,...

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(Great Characters in Literature)

Branca, Vittore. Boccaccio: The Man and His Work. Edited by Dennis J. McAuliffe, translated by Richard Monges and Dennis J. McAuliffe. New York: New York University Press, 1976. Offers critical biography and critical analysis of The Decameron. Details of Boccaccio’s life and culture are chronologically correlated to his body of work; analysis emphasizes literary traditions.

Deligiorgis, Stavros. Narrative Intellection in “The Decameron.” Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1975. Organized by day, treating each successive story in its turn. Provides a comprehensive view of the work’s themes and its narrative framework.

De Sanctis, Francesco. “Boccaccio’s Human Comedy.” In Critical Perspectives on “The Decameron,” edited by Robert S. Dombroski. 1972. Reprint. New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1976. Analyzes the purpose, tone, and focus of The Decameron. Includes an incidental comparison of Boccaccio’s style and emphasis in The Decameron to Dante’s.

Lee, A. C. “The Decameron”: Its Sources and Analogues. New York: Haskell House, 1966. An annotated list of possible and probable sources for the individual tales told by the characters in The Decameron, plus parallels where the same stories are told by different writers of other ages and cultures. Careful collation and synthesis; a helpful index.

Mazotta, Giuseppe. “The Decameron: The Marginality of Literature.” In Critical Perspectives on “The Decameron,” edited by Robert S. Dombroski. 1972. Reprint. New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1976. Discusses The Decameron as a vehicle for interpreting history, as well as for using secular literature as a means of coping with mutability and death.