Giovanni Boccaccio’s work 14th-century Italian advice on how to survive an epidemic & how to maintain mental wellbeing

529455-good-dog-greg-650-b062c7937f-1484633792

The spread of the Covid-19 virus has triggered an epidemic of advice. This advice is important, but it seems destined to make our lives more miserable and isolated. However, there is an unusual source of counsel which offers another way to deal with an epidemic. That source is the Decameron.

The Italian Renaissance author Giovanni Boccaccio wrote the Decameron in the wake of the plague outbreak in Florence in 1348. The disease ravaged the city, reducing the population by around 60 per cent. Boccaccio described how Florentines “dropped dead in open streets, both by day and by night, whilst a great many others, though dying in their own houses, drew their neighbours’ attention to the fact more by the smell of their rotting corpses”.

Social bonds broke down as “this scourge had implanted so great a terror in the hearts of men and women that brothers abandoned brothers, uncles their nephews, sisters their brothers”, and “fathers and mothers refused to nurse and assist their children”.

Some people retreated into their houses, while others formed groups and staggered through the city on multi-day benders. The ten friends who the Decameron follows leave Florence for a deserted villa in the countryside. Upon arriving in their rural idyll, they spend their days telling amusing and often racy stories.

Today, we see the Decameron as a collection of entertaining stories to keep next to your bed. In the 14th century, it was a form of social prescribing. According to Pace University’s Martin Marafiot, Boccaccio’s prescription for an epidemic was a good dose of “narrative prophylaxis”.That meant protecting yourself with stories.

Boccaccio suggested you could save yourself by fleeing towns, surrounding yourself with pleasant company and telling amusing stories to keep spirits up. Through a mixture of social isolation and pleasant activities, it was possible to survive the worst days of an epidemic.

Full Article On

https://www.newstatesman.com/2020/03/coronavirus-survive-italy-wellbeing-stories-decameron

 

If you wish you can Leave a Reply. We will publish it after moderation. Insults and Spam are automatically deleted. Thank you for visiting my blog today.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: