More on Boccaccio and Ovid

More on Boccaccio and Ovid:

Boccaccio, The Decameron

Decamaron introductionThis was a prose story collection of one hundred tales (the title means ‘Ten Days'). The text is divided into ten sections, representing ten days. Each ‘day' contains ten stories. Boccaccio attributes each tale on any one day to a different story-teller. His tellers are presented as a group of young aristocrats, male and female, who are spending time at a country house, a healthy place where they hope to escape the plague which is sweeping through Florence. 

Comparison with The Canterbury Tales

  • Boccaccio gives each day a theme. He also attempts no social mix. Many of his stories are comic tales of the ‘fabliau' type
  • Chaucer's tales are varied in themes and morality. His tellers vary in class and age and there is a far greater variety of genres and styles employed.

It is not certain whether or not Chaucer knew The Decameron, though he knew other works by Boccaccio, including his Filocolo, which also contains inset stories.

Ovid, Metamorphoses:

Ovid was one of the greatest Roman poets. The Metamorphoses was a popular collection of stories, widely known during the medieval period. It was certainly known to Chaucer and inspired some of his own poetry. 

Comparison with The Canterbury Tales 

Metamorphoses is a story collection in which all the tales have a unifying feature: they tell of mythic transformations (‘metamorphoses' means changes of shape). The presence of explicit themes contrasts with The Canterbury Tales with its great variety of themes and genres.

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