Giovanni Boccaccio

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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.
A sweet little mouth with lips like rubies.
Whereas a single cock is quite sufficient for ten hens, ten men are hard put to satisfy one woman.

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.


  • Se medesimi esaltando con parole da fare per istomacaggine le pietre saltar del muro e fuggirsi.
    • They boosted themselves with such nauseating self-praise as to make the stones jump out of the walls and flee.
    • Il Corbaccio (c. 1355), "The Labyrinth of Love" (tr. Normand Cartier)

The Decameron (c. 1350)[edit]

Unless otherwise stated, translations are from The Decameron, trans. G. H. McWilliam (Penguin, 1972), ISBN 0140449302
  • Non come uomini, ma quasi come bestie, morieno.
    • Dying more like animals than human beings.
    • First Day, Introduction
  • Natural ragione è di ciascuno che ci nasce, la sua vita, quanto può, aiutare e conservare e difendere.
    • Every person born into this world has a natural right to sustain, preserve, and defend his own life to the best of his ability.
    • First Day, Introduction
  • Peccato celato e mezzo perdonato.
    • A sin that's hidden is half forgiven.
    • First Day, Introduction
    • J. M. Rigg's translation: Sin that is hidden is half forgiven.
  • Le cose mal fatte e di gran tempo passate son più agevoli a riprendere che ad emendare.
    • Wrongs committed in the distant past are far easier to condemn than to rectify.
    • 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
  • Lo ingannatore rimane a pié dello ingannato.
    • The deceived has the better of the deceiver.
    • Second Day, Ninth Story (tr. J. M. Rigg)
  • 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
  • La gente è più acconcia a credere il male che il bene.
    • People are more inclined to believe in bad intentions than in good ones.
    • 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
  • Sola la miseria è senza invidia nelle cose presenti.
    • In the affairs of this world, poverty alone is without envy.
    • Fourth Day, Introduction
  • Chi è reo e buono è tenuto
    Può fare il male e non è creduto.
    • He who is wicked and held to be good, can cheat because no one imagines he would.
    • 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 (tr. J. M. Rigg)
  • Una boccuccia piccolina, le cui labbra parevan due rubinetti.
    • A sweet little mouth with lips like rubies.
    • Fourth Day, Conclusion
  • E poco appresso levatasi la luna, e 'l tempo essendo chiarissimo, [egli] vegghiava.
    • Shortly afterwards the moon rose with a very clear sky, and [he] kept watch.
    • Fifth Day, Third Story (tr. J. M. Rigg)
  • Se egli fu lieto assai, la letizia della giovane non fu minore.
    • And if his own joy knew no bounds, the girl was no less delighted on seeing him.
    • Fifth Day, Third Story
  • Uno amore...a lieto fin pervenuto, in una novelletta assai piccola intendo di raccontarvi.
    • I propose to tell you a very brief tale about a love which...ran a smooth course to its happy conclusion.
    • Fifth Day, Fourth Story
  • Ci cacciano in cucina a dir delle favole colla gatta.
    • They banish us to the kitchen, there to tell stories to the cat.
    • Fifth Day, Tenth Story (tr. J. M. Rigg)
  • 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.
    • The nature of wit is such that its bite must be like that of a sheep rather than a dog, for if it were to bite the listener like a dog, it would no longer be wit but abuse.
    • Sixth Day, Third Story
  • Sempre non può l' uomo un cibo, ma talvolta desidera di variare.
    • It frequently happens that people grow tired of always eating the same food, and desire a change of diet.
    • Seventh Day, Sixth Story
  • Per lo primo colpo non cade la quercia.
    • An oak is not felled by a single blow of the axe.
    • Seventh Day, Ninth Story (tr. J. M. Rigg)
  • Ogni giusto re primo servatore dee essere delle leggi fatte da lui.
    • A just king must be the first to observe those laws that he has himself prescribed.
    • Seventh Day, Tenth Story
  • Le forze della penna sono troppo maggiori che coloro non estimano che quelle con conoscimento provato non hanno.
    • The power of the pen is far greater than those people 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 (tr. J. M. Rigg)
  • Leggiadre donne, infra molte bianche colombe aggiugne più di bellezza uno nero corvo, che non farebbe un candido cigno.
    • Charming ladies, the beauty of a flock of white doves is better enhanced by a black crow than by a pure white swan.
    • Ninth Day, Tenth Story

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