Nastagio degli onesti

Nastagio degli onesti

In the passionate episode which can be read in the Fifth day of Decamerone of Boccaccio, dedicated to love which is at first resisted and then ending happily, in which is told of the great love that the man from Ravenna, Nastagio degli Onesti, felt for a young girl, daughter of Paolo Traversi, who did not exchange his love but delighted in refusing it. Wanting to give relief to his love pains Nastagio goes to spend some days near Ravenna, at Classe. Here, walking in the pine forest he sees a naked woman running, chased by a Cavalier who si threatening her with death and two dogs, one white and the other black that are biting her. Nastagio places himself between the woman and the Cavalier trying to defend her, but the man, introducing himself as Guido degli Anastagi, tells him that this is the punishment that the woman must suffer every Friday because she refused him and drove him to suicide. When the woman dies, without having repented the pain caused to Guido, she is condemned to enduring this cruel hunt for as many years as had been her refusal. Shaken by this story, but resigned to the inevitability of divine law, Nastagio sees the cavalier tear out the woman’s heart and give it to the dogs to eat, after which her body is recomposed and the hunt begins again.

Nastagio therefore decides to prepare a banquet in the same pine forest the following Friday and to invited the girl he loves. The same terrible scene is presented to the guests, including the explanation of the hunt. The girl Nastagio loves realises how she has always down trodden his love and for fear of receiving the same treatment she immediately consents to marrying him, turning her hate into love. And so, from that moment on, all the women of Ravenna learnt to be kind towards those they love.

The novel of Nastagio degli Onesti was illustrated by Botticelli in 1483 in four panels (now in museums of Florence and Madrid) on commission by Lorenzo il Magnifico as a wedding present to Giannozzo Pucci and Lucrezia Bini.