Lucio Biasiori

A Late Sixteenth-Century Lisabetta da Messina. Decameron IV, 5 and the Trial against Caterina la Pazzuccia

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Keywords: Boccaccio, Magic, Inquisition, Herbs, Folklore

The essay investigates the possible historical roots of the Decameron novella (IV, 5) dedicated to the unhappy love of Lisabetta da Messina, who puts the head of her beloved Lorenzo, killed by her own brothers, into a basilpot. Thanks to data from inquisitorial trials for magic like that against the Florentine prostitute Caterina la Pazzuccia in 1589, the article suggests that Boccaccio reused the folkloric motif of the plant growing on the remains of a body, a tradition still alive in late 16 th -century Italy. To place the roots of Lisabetta’s basil in a background where the literary motif helps the folkloric one to emerge allows us to shed new light on the problem of the invention of Boccaccio’s tale.

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