Giovanni Boccaccio (1313 - 1375)
Between 1345 and 1347, Boccaccio is a guest at the court of da Polenta family in Ravenna. During his stay in the city, the poet closely examines the biography and literary works of Dante Alighieri, his ideal master. The results of his research were then included in the work Trattatello in laude di Dante.
Just as Dante had described the Pinewood of Classe in his Divine Comedy, so Boccaccio makes of it the setting of Nastagio degli Onesti’s tale in his Decameron. Wealthy heir of a noble family of Ravenna, Nastagio suffers from an unrequited, deep love for a young woman. After witnessing a terrible pursuit in the pine forest of Classe, Nastagio manages to win over the girl who accepts to marry him.
Boccaccio’s story inspired the art of Botticelli, who painted it on four panels for a Florentine couple between 1482 and 1483.
Giornata V, Novella VIII
In Ravenna, that most ancient city of Romagna, there dwelt of yore noblemen and gentlemen not a few, among whom was a young man, Nastagio degli Onesti by name, who by the death of his father and one of his uncles inherited immense wealth. Being without a wife, Nastagio, as 'tis the way with young men, became enamoured of a daughter of Messer Paolo Traversaro, a damsel of much higher birth than his, whose love he hoped to win by gifts and the like modes of courting, which, albeit they were excellent and fair and commendable, not only availed him not, but seemed rather to have the contrary effect, so harsh and ruthless and unrelenting did the beloved damsel shew herself towards him; for whether it was her uncommon beauty or her noble lineage that puffed her up, so haughty and disdainful was she grown that pleasure she had none either in him or in aught that pleased him. The burden of which disdain Nastagio found so hard to bear, that many a time, when he had made his moan, he longed to make away with himself. However he refrained therefrom, and many a time resolved to give her up altogether, or, if so he might, to hold her in despite, as she did him: but 'twas all in vain, for it seemed as if, the more his hope dwindled, the greater grew his love. And, as thus he continued, loving and spending inordinately, certain of his kinsfolk and friends, being apprehensive lest he should waste both himself and his substance, did many a time counsel and beseech him to depart Ravenna, and go tarry for a time elsewhere, that so he might at once cool his flame and reduce his charges. For a long while Nastagio answered their admonitions with banter; but as they continued to ply him with them, he grew weary of saying no so often, and promised obedience. Whereupon he equipped himself as if for a journey to France or Spain, or other distant parts, got on horseback and sallied forth of Ravenna, accompanied by not a few of his friends, and being come to a place called Chiassi, about three miles from Ravenna, he halted, and having sent for tents and pavilions, told his companions that there he meant to stay, and they might go back to Ravenna […]
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