The vice of anger is nothing more “than a sudden and thoughtless impulse, which incited by some unhappiness we feel, drives all reason from us, blinds the eyes of the mind with darkness, and consumes our souls with burning rage” (314). Women are more likely to succumb to this vice than men; so “I intend to strengthen ourselves against such anger by telling you a story of the love of three young men and as many young ladies, as I said earlier, and how through the anger of just one of them their happiness changed to misery” (315).
In the city of Marseille, there lived a prosperous merchant of humble birth by the name of N’Arnald Civada. He was known for both his honesty and business integrity. His first three children were girls and the rest of his kids were boys. The eldest two daughters were fifteen-year-old twins, who went by the names of Ninetta and Magdalena. The third daughter was fourteen years old and went by the name of Bertella. These three girls were all set to marry their betrotheds, but they had to wait for their father to return from Spain.
Ninetta was in love with a young nobleman by the name of Restagnone. He was poor, but she loved him all the same. They had been enjoying each other’s company for some time without raising any suspicion. Restagnone found out that two wealthy friends, Folco and Ughetto, had fallen in love with Magdalena and Bertella. Restagnone thought that he might be able to use their love for his financial benefit, so he would accompany them when they went to visit their ladies.
One day, Restagnone, invited the two friends to his house. When they arrived he told them that he would be able to make it so that they would never again have to part from their beloveds, and all that he asked in return was a third of their pooled wealth. He told them to pick a place and all six of them would go there and live like one big happy family. He promised them that the girls would also bring along a good portion of their father’s wealth. The two friends agreed immediately. Restagnone then went to his beloved Ninetta and told her of his plan; she agreed to it and told him that her sisters would do whatever she wanted them to do. He then returned to the two friends and told them that everything was set. The two friends decided that they would all go to Crete, so they sold off their properties and converted all they had into cash on the pretext that they were starting a new business. They bought a brigantine and decked it out lavishly. Ninetta had no trouble convincing her sisters to go along with the plan.
One night, all six boarded the brigantine and sailed off. They didn’t stop until they reached Genoa. It took them eight days to reach Crete, but once they were there all three couples built lavish mansions and began to live like lords.
It wasn’t long before Restagnone began having regrets and his love for Ninetta began to diminish. It was at one of the many banquets that Ninetta threw that Restagnone met a beautiful and noble lady. He fell in love with her and began to shower her with gifts. It wasn’t long before Ninetta found out about this and became extremely jealous; he couldn’t even make a move without her knowing about it. The more jealous that she became the more she pushed Restagnone towards his new love. Over time, her love turned to blind hatred and she resolved to kill him for all that he had put her through.
Ninetta asked a local Greek woman to help her concoct a poison. Restagnone unknowingly drank the poison and died. Everyone, including Ninetta, wept bitterly for him as they buried him honorably. A few days after Restagnone was buried, the Greek woman was arrested for some crime that she had committed, and under torture she admitted to helping Ninetta kill Restagnone. The Duke of Crete had Ninetta quietly arrested, and she confessed to killing Restagnone.
Folco and Ughetto learned from the Duke why Ninetta had been arrested and they told their beloveds. Magdalena feared that her sister would be burned at the stake, which was the customary punishment for her infraction. The Duke of Crete had been trying to court Magdalena for quite some time, but she had up until that point denied him any physical attention; so she decided to give into his desires as long as he released Ninetta, and their affair was kept secret.
The Duke agreed, and had Folco and Ughetto detained overnight by the police on the pretext of finding out what they knew about the affair that Restagnone had. He then had Ninetta put into a sack on the grounds that he was going to throw her in the sea, but instead he took Ninetta to Magdalena. He enjoyed himself with Magdalena that night, and in the morning he begged her to send Ninetta away so that he would not get blamed for her not dying.
Folco and Ughetto were released the next morning and went home to console their wives, because they had heard that Ninetta had been drowned. The two sisters tried to keep the fact that their sister was still alive a secret, but it wasn’t long before Folco discovered the truth. He questioned Magdalena endlessly, and she finally confessed to her misdeed with the Duke. Folco was so grieved that he took a sword and killed her. He then went to where Ninetta was hiding and told her that was going to take her where her sister wanted her to go. They went down to the docks and boarded a small boat and were never heard from again.
The Duke found out about Magdalena’s murder and was irate. Ughetto and Bertella were blamed for the murder, and so fearing for their lives they boarded a ship and sailed to Rhodes where they lived in poverty until their death, which was no long after that.
Boccaccio, Giovanni. The Decameron. New York: Signet Classic, 1982.