What with all the extended care she lavished
on the basil and with the richness of the soil on
account of the head rotting within it, the plants
grew beautiful as could be. and as lisabetta con
tinued in this practice, her neighbors frequently
observed it, and so they told her brothers, “We’ve
noticed that this is what she does every day.” The
brothers had been perplexed at the way she was
losing her looks and her eyes had become sunken
in her cheeks. Hearing what the neighbors re
ported, and noticing it now for themselves, they
chided her once or twice over this practice, but
to no avail; therefore they had this pot removed
from her room. When she could not find it, she
persisted in asking for it back, but it was not re
turned to her; so there was no end to her tears
and she fell ill; from her sickbed all she would
ask for was the return of her pot. The brothers
were most surprised at her persistent request and
wanted, therefore, to discover what was in this
pot; they tipped out the earth, saw the cloth and,
Paul and Andy, by Paul Warhola, 1990.
wrapped inside it, the head. This was not yet so
decomposed that they could fail to identify it as
lorenzo’s from the curly hair. astonished as they
were, they took fright at the possibility that news
of it might get out. so they buried the head and,
without another word, furtively slipped out of
Messina and moved to naples, arranging to have
all their possessions shipped after them.
The girl never stopped crying and begging
for her earthenware pot; she died weeping, and
thus her illfated love had an end.
Giovanni Boccaccio, from The decameron.
During the time that he was composing his masterwork,
Boccaccio performed various duties for the Florentine
republic, among them delivering a sum of money to
Dante’s daughter—a nun in Ravenna—in 1350.
That same year he met for the first time Petrarch,
nine years his senior, with whom he maintained an
extensive correspondence. Their English contemporary
Geoffrey Chaucer drew inspiration from some of
Boccaccio’s early works for Troilus and Criseyde and
for parts of The Canterbury Tales.