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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Boccaccio's Decameron

Back in College I read some of the stories from Boccaccio's Decameron in a class and recently can't seem to get one particular story out of my head.

The Decameron is a set of 100 tales probably of folk origin which are set into a backdrop story about a group of people who are isolating themselves from the Black Plague in Europe. They stay together for 10 days over the Summer in 1348 and keep each other entertained by telling 10 stories a day.

The story which has stuck with me is the 1st one, a story about an evil guy who dies in a strange town and from his death bed tells the Priest all kinds of lies about the good deeds he has done during his lifetime. The Priest has to believe him, and after his death has him canonized. It's genius for its insight into people and for its satire of the Catholic Church. This set of stories is compared with Chaucer's Canterbury Tales which sort of do the same thing, but from an English perspective.

Summaries for all the Decameron stories are on Wikipedia here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summary_of_Decameron_tales.

The Decameron Story Tellers are hiding out from the Plague for 10 days during the Summer of 1348 in isolation with each other. I looked back at the date which is given, just for curiosity's sake. Summer 1348. Ha Ha! What a great Summer to entertain each other with stories. Mercury was conjunct the North Node at the beginning of Leo. Because it went Retrograde this transit basically lasted from the end of June to the beginning of August. What better story telling opportunity than an aspect like this?

I doubt there's any correspondence to what really happened in real life. There seems to be no known birth date for Boccaccio even, but after looking at this I certainly wonder how much might be based on reality.

The Other Planets from this Summer helped, of course. Venus and Mars had a conjunction in Libra in August, if you've ever read some of the stories from the Decameron you know what that's about.

The Outer Planets were helping as well. Jupiter was in Gemini and Uranus was squaring the Nodal Axis all Summer as well. Funny how that can be read as great for spreading communicable diseases as well as for story telling. Saturn was in Pisces which explains the extreme grief that was going on all around and the need for isolation.

Pluto was in Aries which explains "Death by Inflammation." I guess the disease was spread by Rats. Not sure what rules the poor critters. The next year, of course, Saturn moved into Aries and there was a conjunction of Saturn to Pluto. That's probably when the Plague got its name "Black Death;" Saturn and Pluto relating to the color Black.

Supposedly Boccaccio really did start writing the stories around this time. From what I remember from my College Class, the stories were thought to be a collection of folk tales that were compiled by Boccaccio. It took ten years for him to complete the Decameron. I bet it only really took 9 years: that's a Lilith Return Cycle, tee hee.

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