Oretta and Osbech

O

Oretta appears to be the Italian form of Arete, a Greek name meaning “Virtue.” The best-known form of the name is of course Aretha. Oretta appears in the first story of the sixth day of The Decameron. While travelling with some friends, a knight offers to help her out by telling her a story to make the time pass quicker. However, he tells it so badly, she begs him to stop. He’s much better at taking a hint than telling a story, so he amiably agrees to talk about other things for the remainder of their journey.

Osbech is probably a variant of the name Usbek, whose true etymology is in much question. However, its ultimate origins seem to be Turkic. Osbech appears in the seventh story of the second day, as at least the eighth man to take the passive Alatiel as a lover. (I know I shouldn’t hold Medieval beliefs to the same standards as modern realities, but I’m far from the only person who’s a bit uncomfortable with how The Decameron, for all its empowered women, still depicts intercourse as the be-all and end-all of a woman’s sexual delight. That’s not how most women reach ecstasy, particularly not until they’ve been doing it for awhile!)

Anyway, Osbech is King of the Turks and frequently at war with the Emperor of Constantinople. While he’s in Smyrna, he goes to attack the Emperor’s son Constanzio, whom he’s heard is on the island of Chios, living a lascivious life with some woman he’s stolen and taking no measures to protect himself. Osbech and his men destroy the city and kill or take prisoner many of Constanzio’s men, and Osbech of course discovers the beautiful Alatiel, whom he marries.

Several months later, Osbech goes to war against the King of Cappadocia, an ally of the Emperor of Constantinople. Osbech is killed and his army defeated, and his vassal Antioco proceeds to seduce Alatiel.

Advertisements

3 comments on “Oretta and Osbech

  1. Chrys Fey says:

    Jeez it seems that everyone is sleeping with and seducing Alatiel.

  2. Liz Brownlee says:

    How fascinating! I’ve always been interested in names, since a child, it made naming our children very difficult! ‘Jackie’ magazine gave a way a little green book with names and their meanings and origins, and i was hooked. I have many name dictionaries. ~Liz http://www.lizbrownleepoet.com

  3. […] Lisetta and Landolfo (11 views) Mithridanes and Mita (9 views) Neifile and Nicostrato (8 views) Oretta and Osbech (14 views) Panfilo and Pampinea (14 views) Qadir and Quadressa (11 views) Rustico and Restituta (12 […]

Share your thoughts respectfully

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 )

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s