The Decameron



  • William Shakespeare's 1605 play All's Well That Ends Well is based on tale III, 9. Shakespeare probably first read a French translation of the tale in William Painter's Palace of Pleasure.
  • Posthumus's wager on Imogen's chastity in Cymbeline was taken by Shakespeare from an English translation of a 15th-century German tale, "Frederyke of Jennen", whose basic plot came from tale II, 9.
  • Lope de Vega adapted at least twelve stories from the Decameron for the theatre, including:
    • El ejemplo de casadas y prueba de la paciencia, based on tale X, 10, which was by far the most popular story of the Decameron during the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries
    • Discreta enamorada, based on tale III, 3
    • El ruiseñor de Sevilla (They're Not All Nightingales), based on parts of V, 4
  • Molière's 1661 play L'école des maris is based on tale III, 3.
  • Molière borrowed from tale VII, 4 in his play George Dandin ou le Mari confondu (The Confounded Husband). In both stories the husband is convinced that he has accidentally caused his wife's suicide.
  • Thomas Middleton's play The Widow is based on tales II, 2 and III, 3.
  • The ring parable from tale I, 3 is at the heart of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing's 1779 play Nathan the Wise.[12]
  • Alfred, Lord Tennyson used tale V, 9 for his 1879 play The Falcon.

Prose works

  • The tale of patient Griselda (X, 10) was the source of Chaucer's "The Clerk's Tale". However, there are some scholars who believe that Chaucer may not have been directly familiar with The Decameron, and instead derived it from a Latin translation/retelling of that tale by Petrarch.
  • Martin Luther retells tale I, 2, in which a Jew converts to Catholicism after visiting Rome and seeing the corruption of the Catholic hierarchy. However, in Luther's version (found in his "Table-talk #1899"), Luther and Philipp Melanchthon try to dissuade the Jew from visiting Rome.
  • The story of Griselda (X, 10) was also the basis for the 1694 verse novel Griseldis by Charles Perrault, later included in his 1697 collection Histoires ou contes du temps passé.
  • Jonathan Swift used tale I, 3 for his first major published work, A Tale of a Tub (1704).


  • John Keats borrowed the tale of Lisabetta and her pot of basil (IV, 5) for his poem, Isabella, or the Pot of Basil.
  • At his death Percy Bysshe Shelley had left a fragment of a poem entitled "Ginevra", which he took from the first volume of an Italian book called L'Osservatore Fiorentino. The plot of that book was in turn taken from tale X, 4.
  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow adapted tale V, 9 for the poem "The Falcon of Ser Federigo", included in his 1863 collection Tales of a Wayside Inn.


  • Tale IV, 1 was the basis for Child ballad 269, "Lady Diamond".[13]


  • The Venetian writer Apostolo Zeno wrote a libretto named Griselda in 1701, based in part on tale X, 10, and in part on Lope de Vega's theatrical adaptation of it, El ejemplo de casadas y prueba de la paciencia. Various composers wrote music for the libretto, including Carlo Francesco Pollarolo (Griselda, 1701), Tomaso Albinoni (Griselda, 1703), Antonio Maria Bononcini (Griselda, 1718), Alessandro Scarlatti (Griselda, 1721), Giovanni Bononcini (Griselda, 1722) and Antonio Vivaldi (Griselda, 1735).
  • Giuseppe Petrosinelli in his libretto for Domenico Cimarosa's comic opera The Italian Girl in London uses the story of the heliotrope (bloodstone) in tale VIII, 3.

Film and television

  • Decameron Nights (1924) was based on three of the tales.
  • Decameron Nights (1953) was based on three of the tales and starred Louis Jourdan as Boccaccio.
  • Pier Paolo Pasolini's The Decameron (1971) is an anthology film which includes nine of the stories.
  • The 2007 film Virgin Territory is a romantic comedy based on the framing story of The Decameron.
  • The 2017 comedy The Little Hours adapted tales III, 1 and III, 2.

Wrongly considered to be adaptations

  • Chaucer's "The Franklin's Tale" shares its plot with tale X, 5, although this is not due to a direct borrowing from Boccaccio. Rather, both authors used a common French source.
  • The motif of the three trunks in The Merchant of Venice by Shakespeare is found in tale X, 1. However, both Shakespeare and Boccaccio probably came upon the tale in Gesta Romanorum.

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