BOCCACCIO, GIOVANNI°


BOCCACCIO, GIOVANNI°
BOCCACCIO, GIOVANNI° (1313–1375), Italian author, whose greatest work, Il Decamerone, contains a number of Jewish elements. The son of a Florentine merchant, Boccaccio was apprenticed in his youth to a merchant in Naples and may have come into contact with some of the Jews who were flourishing in Neapolitan commerce at that time. He later introduced Jews into two of the early tales of the Decameron (the second and third story of the "First Day" of the cycle). Boccaccio summarized the second story as follows: "Abraham, a Jew, at the instance of Jehannot de Chevigny, goes to the court of Rome, and having marked the evil life of the clergy, returns to Paris and becomes a Christian" (because God would tolerate such conduct only in followers of the true faith). His summary of the third story is "Melchisedech, a Jew, by a story of three rings, averts a great danger with which he was menaced by Saladin." He uses the character of Abraham to criticize the contemporary ecclesiastical establishment and the corruption of the clergy, and that of Melchisedech to praise human wisdom. Both tales are based on medieval literature, Christian as well as Jewish. A story of three rings or three precious stones, representing the debate as to the relative excellence of the three monotheistic religions, is used by early English, French, and Italian writers. The theme also appears in Jewish literature in the Shevet Yehudah (ch. 32) of solomon ibn verga (ed. Y.F. Baer (1947), 78–80). Although this was not published until 1550, the author was undoubtedly quoting a story which was well-known long before he wrote his book. Debates between representatives of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are often to be found in medieval Hebrew literature. Boccaccio's choice of Jews as heroes would appear to result from the great emphasis he placed on wisdom and tolerance, both of which he regarded as Jewish characteristics. In his very earliest stories he stressed the keen intelligence of the Jew, his freedom from blind ideology, and his adaptability. Regarding the Jewish character as essentially realistic and individualistic, he also used his two heroes to mock any regimented approach to life. Boccaccio had an important and formative influence on European literature. The strongest echo of his Melchisedech story occurs in Nathan the Wise (1779), a play on the theme of religious tolerance by the German dramatist gotthold ephraim lessing . Some reflection of the "three rings" story has also been detected in the casket scene in shakespeare 's Merchant of Venice. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: G. Paris, La leggenda di Saladino (1896); idem, La Poésie du Moyen-Age, 2 (1895); M. Penna, La Parabola dei tre anelli e la tolleranza nel Medio Evo (1953); H.G. Wright, Boccaccio in England… (1957); H. Hauvette, Boccace… (1914); R. Ramat et al., Scritti Su Giovanni Boccaccio (1964). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: S. Zoeller, in: Aschkenas 7, 2 (1997), 303–39; A.L. Mittleman, in: Harvard Theological Review 95, 4 (2002), 353–72; M. Aptroot, in: Zutot 3 (2003), 152–59. (Isaac Garti)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Boccaccio, Giovanni — Boccaccio, Giovanni, Giovanni, ein liebenswürdiger Dichter und der beste Prosaist Italiens, wurde als der Sohn eines italienischen Kaufmannes 1313 zu Paris geboren, zeitig nach Florenz gebracht, wo er sich dem Handel widmen sollte, sich aber in… …   Damen Conversations Lexikon

  • Boccaccio, Giovanni — • Biography and overview of the author s major works Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006 …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Boccaccio, Giovanni — (1313–1375)    Boccaccio was an Italian poet and writer of prose fiction, largely influenced by DANTE and his close friend PETRARCH, and with those two is considered one of the three great writers of the Italian trecento (i.e., 14th century). His …   Encyclopedia of medieval literature

  • Boccaccio, Giovanni — (1313 1375)    One of the three great Italian authors of the 14th century (along with Dante and Petrarch) who established the Tuscan dialect as Italy s literary language. Born near Florence to a merchant employed by the Bardi bank and a woman… …   Historical Dictionary of Renaissance

  • Boccaccio, Giovanni — born 1313, Paris, France died Dec. 21, 1375, Certaldo, Tuscany Italian poet and scholar. His life was full of difficulties and occasional bouts of poverty. His early works include The Love Afflicted (с 1336), a prose work in five books, and The… …   Universalium

  • Boccaccio, Giovanni — (1313 1375)    Considered one of the greatest Italian poets in history, Boccaccio was born either in the Tuscan town of Certaldo or in Florence. He spent his youth in Naples where his father worked as representative of the Bardi bank. There he… …   Dictionary of Renaissance art

  • Boccaccio, Giovanni — ► (1313 75) Escritor renacentista italiano. El centro de su obra es el culto al amor y a la inteligencia. En sus obras juveniles, Filocolo (1336), Filostrato (1338), trata el amor desde su perspectiva autobiográfica. Recoge temas mitológicos,… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Boccaccio,Giovanni — Boc·cac·cio (bō käʹchē ō , chō ), Giovanni. 1313 1375. French born Italian poet and writer whose classic work, the Decameron (1351 1353), is a collection of 100 tales set against the melancholic background of the Black Death. * * * …   Universalium

  • BOCCACCIO, GIOVANNI —    the celebrated Italian raconteur, born near Florence; showed early a passion for literature; sent by his father to Naples to pursue a mercantile career; gave himself up to story telling in prose and verse; fell in love with Maria, a beautiful… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Boccaccio, Giovanni —  (1313–1375) Italian writer …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.