Giovanni Boccaccio spent his formative years at court in Naples, where he wrote several courtly romances, one of the most influential being Teseida, o delle nozze d'Emilia (Theseid, or on the nuptials of Emily). However, it was after his return to Florence that he composed his masterpiece, the Decameron. Begun in the late 1340s, it is a frame narrative comprising 100 tales told by seven women and three men who have fled to the country seeking refuge from the plague (see Black Death). Though the stories vary widely, the collection as a whole presents humans overcoming changing fortunes and inevitable tribulations using their wit and skill (ingegno).
About 1350, Boccaccio met Petrarch (Francesco Petrarca), which had a profound impact on him. Afterward, Boccaccio wrote predominantly in Latin, turning away from the Italian vernacular that he had favored before. In these later years, he produced an encyclopedic account of the gods, Genealogia gentil-ium deorum (Genealogy of the Gentile Gods), as well as two compendious catalogues of famous men and women, De casibus virorum illustrium and the De muli-eribus claris.
Boccaccio's influence in England is most profoundly felt in the work of Geoffrey Chaucer, and subsequent use of Boccaccio owes a great deal to Chaucer's translations and transmission of his work. For instance, the opening tale of The Canterbury Tales, told by the Knight, is derived from the Teseida. Book 7 of the Tese-ida is used again for the representation of the temple of Venus in The Parliament of Fowls. Filostrato, which features the story of Troilus and Cressida, inspired numerous adaptations, including ones by Chaucer, Robert Henryson, and William Shakespeare. The Decameron provides direct analogues for "The Reeve's Tale," "The Clerk's Tale," "The Merchant's Tale," "The Franklin's Tale," and "The Shipman's Tale," and it has connections with "The Man of Law's Tale," "The Pardoner's Tale," and "The Miller's Prologue and Tale." In the 15th century, John Lydgate made use of Boccaccio's work as well, as his The Fall of Princes is indebted to the De casibus via French translation.
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