Neifile and Nicostrato

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Neifile is one of the seven women of the brigata in The Decameron. The name derives from the Greek form Nephele, meaning “cloud.” Zeus created Nephele from a cloud, in the shape of Hera, in order to trick the mortal Ixion, who had a crush on Hera. Nephele had centaur children with Ixion, and Phrixus and Helle by Athamus.

In The Decameron, Neifile is very modest, humble, cheerful, elegant, and charming. She frequently says she can’t possibly tell a better story than the one they just heard, though she always tells her best stories after this caveat. Her stories frequently positively feature authority figures, and she believes very much in respecting and revering the status quo, hierarchies, and traditions. However, she’s also not as passive as she seems, as when she takes Filostrato to task for saying the wolves (men) have taught the sheep (women) very well.

Nicostrato features in the ninth story of the seventh day, as some over the hill nobleman in Argo, Greece, married to a much-younger and sexually unsatisfied woman named Lidia. The name means “army of victory,” derived from the Greek Nikostratos and Latin Nicostratus.

The story in which he features is one of several Decameron stories largely plagiarized in The Canterbury Tales, in this particular case as the Merchant’s Tale. Pirro, a servant, gives Lidia several very tricky tasks to perform in order to prove her love, all of which she successfully completes. After this, Lidia makes love to Pirro in Nicostrato’s sight, and convinces Nicostrato that sight was caused by a magical pear tree.

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4 thoughts on “Neifile and Nicostrato

    • Just because it may have been considered more acceptable in the Middle Ages doesn’t mean I can’t feel uncomfortable about it in the modern era. Chaucer was a great writer, and could’ve used more original ideas for his stories, or not borrowed so heavily from earlier works.

      I do have the right to express my own opinions on my own blog.

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

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