Emilia and Ercolano

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Emilia is one of the seven women in the brigata of The Decameron. The name is the feminine form of Aemilius, a Latin surname derived from aemulus, “rival.” In The Decameron, Emilia is rather self-centred and narcissistic, constantly drawing attention to her looks and dancing while everyone else sings at the end of each day. Under her reign as Queen, the ninth day, people are allowed to tell stories on whichever topics they like.

Emilia tells my all-time least favourite Decameron story, the ninth story of the ninth day, where the so-called moral of the story is to learn to beat your wife so she’ll never act “uppity,” step “out of line,” or challenge anything her husband says or does. She even prefaces this story by saying men are superior to women and that all women must “know their place” and kowtow to everything their husbands want. Yeah, if she were real, I doubt she’d enjoy being beaten black and blue by some thug who thinks he can do whatever he wants just because he has a penis!

Ercolano appears in the tenth story of the fifth day. The name comes from the town of Ercolano, a town in Naples Province, Campania Region. Ercolano ultimately derives from Herculaneum, an Ancient Roman town destroyed by Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE.

Ercolano is a friend of Pietro di Vinciolo, the only known gay character in The Decameron. While Ercolano, his wife, and Pietro are having dinner one night, Ercolano discovers a lover his wife was hiding in the house. When Pietro comes home, he rants about it to his wife, who’s also currently hiding her own lover in the house. She hypocritically trashes Ercolano’s wife for hiding a lover, but then her own lover is discovered, and the three of them come to a mutually satisfying agreement.

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6 thoughts on “Emilia and Ercolano

  1. The first story does sound horrible. There are folktales like that too and I keep fighting with people who say we should keep them around because they are “tradition.” Nope.

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary – Epics from A to Z
    MopDog – 26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary

  2. “a Latin surname derived from emulous, “rival.” ”

    Where did you find this? emulous doesn’t appear in any of my Latin dictionaries, and usual word for “rival” is advorsarius or conpetitor or, funnily enough :), rival!

    • Sorry, the spelling is aemulus. I believe I wrote this post before I turned off auto-correct outside of my word processing program! I use Behind the Name to look up a lot of etymologies, and I really trust Mike’s research. Two of the meanings of aemulus are “striving to equal or excel; rivaling” and “envious; jealous,” according to several Latin dictionaries.

  3. Pingback: A to Z Reflections | Onomastics Outside the Box

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