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Giovanni Boccaccio

Italian author and poet
In the affairs of this world, poverty alone is without envy.
Do as we say, not as we do.
Sin that is hidden is half forgiven.

Giovanni Boccaccio (16 June 131321 December 1375) was a Florentine poet and story-writer who helped to initiate the humanist movement. His most famous work is The Decameron, a collection of 100 novelle or tales.


Whereas a single cock is quite sufficient for ten hens, ten men are hard put to satisfy one woman.

The Decameron (c. 1350)Edit

Unless otherwise stated, translations are quoted from the version by J. M. Rigg (1903) – full text online
  • Natural ragione è di ciascuno che ci nasce, la sua vita, quanto può, aiutare e conservare e difendere.
    • To fortify, preserve, and defend his life to the utmost of his power is the dictate of natural reason in every one that is born.
    • First Day, Introduction
  • Peccato celato e mezzo perdonato.
    • Sin that is hidden is half forgiven.
    • First Day, Introduction
  • Le cose mal fatte e di gran tempo passate son più agevoli a riprendere che ad emendare.
    • The wrongs of long-ago are much more easily censured than redressed.
    • Second Day, Fifth Story
  • Bocca baciata non perde ventura, anzi rinnuova come fa la luna.
    • A kissed mouth doesn't lose its freshness, for like the moon it always renews itself.
    • Second Day, Seventh Story (tr. G. H. McWilliam [Penguin, 1972] ISBN 0140442692)
  • Lo ingannatore rimane a pié dello ingannato.
    • The deceived has the better of the deceiver.
    • Second Day, Ninth Story
  • Io ho inteso che un gallo basta assai bene a diece galline, ma che diece uomini posson male o con fatica una femina sodisfare.
    • I have always been given to understand…that whereas a single cock is quite sufficient for ten hens, ten men are hard put to satisfy one woman.
    • Third Day, First Story (tr. G. H. McWilliam)
  • La gente è più acconcia a credere il male che il bene.
    • Folk are more prone to believe evil than good.
    • Third Day, Sixth Story
  • Fate quello che noi diciamo e non quello che noi facciamo.
    • Do as we say, not as we do.
    • Third Day, Seventh Story (tr. G. H. McWilliam)
  • Sola la miseria è senza invidia nelle cose presenti.
    • In the affairs of this world, poverty alone is without envy.
    • Fourth Day, Introduction (tr. G. H. McWilliam)
  • Chi è reo e buono è tenuto
    Può fare il male e non è creduto.
    • Whoso, being wicked, is righteous reputed,
      May sin as he will, and 'twill ne'er be imputed.
    • Fourth Day, Second Story
  • Come la copia delle cose genera fastidio, cosl l'esser le desiderate negate moltiplica l'appetito.
    • While superfluity engenders disgust, appetite is but whetted when fruit is forbidden.
    • Fourth Day, Third Story
  • Essere la natura de' motti cotale, che essi come la pecora morde deono cosi mordere l'uditore, e non come 'l cane: percio che, se come cane mordesse il motto, non sarebbe motto, ma villania.
    • Touching the nature of wit I purpose but to add one word, to remind you that its bite should be as a sheep's bite and not as a dog's; for if it bite like a dog, 'tis no longer wit but discourtesy.
    • Sixth Day, Third Story
  • Sempre non può l' uomo un cibo, ma talvolta desidera di variare.
    • One cannot keep ever to the same diet, but would fain at times vary it.
    • Seventh Day, Sixth Story
  • Per lo primo colpo non cade la quercia.
    • 'Tis not the first stroke that fells the oak.
    • Seventh Day, Ninth Story
  • Ogni giusto re primo servatore dee essere delle leggi fatte da lui.
    • 'Tis the prime duty of a just king to observe the laws that he has made.
    • Seventh Day, Tenth Story
  • Le forze della penna sono troppo maggiori che coloro non estimano che quelle con conoscimento provato non hanno.
    • The might of the pen is greater far than they suppose, who have not proved it by experience.
    • Eighth Day, Seventh Story
  • Chi mal ti vuol, mal ti sogna.
    • Who means ill, dreams ill.
    • Ninth Day, Seventh Story
  • Leggiadre donne, infra molte bianche colombe aggiugne più di bellezza uno nero corvo, che non farebbe un candido cigno.
    • Gracious ladies, one black crow among many white doves will more set off their beauty than the whitest swan could do.
    • Ninth Day, Tenth Story (a revised translation by W. K. Kelly)

External linksEdit