Lisabetta and Lorenzo's Tomb

Maria Clotilde Camboni 1,2


1 Le Studium Loire Valley Institute for Advanced Studies, 45000 Orléans, France
2 CESR - Centre d'études supérieures de la Renaissance UMR 7323


This paper suggests a new interpretation of the tale of Lisabetta da Messina (Decameron IV 5) in the light of a fact which has thus far been disregarded by scholars: namely, that in both medieval culture, and its basis in Roman law, an individual cannot have more than one grave. In case of dismemberment, the burial place is considered to be the place where the head is interred. Therefore, the pot of basil in Boccaccio's tale is Lorenzo's tomb, and Lisabetta beheads her dead lover in order to be able to perform suitable funeral rites. Taking this into account, her behaviour as well as other aspects of the tale take on new meaning.


Decameron IV 5
Lisabetta da Messina
Severed head
Published by

American Association of Teachers of Italian