Rustico and Restituta

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Rustico is the Italian form of Rusticus, a Latin name meaning “rural” and ultimately derived from the Latin word rur, “country; open land.” Since Rustico is one of the two main characters in my favouritest Decameron story, the tenth story of the third day, it was a given I was going to choose this for my male R name. I’ve read this story so many times, I practically know it by heart.

Alibech is a naïve young girl who lives in Capsa, Tunisia, and is about fourteen. Though she’s not Christian, she’s heard from many local Christians how pleasurable it is to serve God. She asks someone how to best and most quickly serve God, and is told to become a recluse in the Egyptian desert. Without telling anyone, she sets off on this naïve, impulsive mission, and finds a holy man in a hut. He’s too tempted by her beauty to take her in, but he directs her to a nearby fellow who can teach her much better.

This holy man is Rustico, who’s anxious to test his willpower. However, when night comes, he shrugs his shoulders and surrenders without a battle. As he’s questioning her, he realises she’s as naïve as she appears, and knows exactly how to proceed. Alibech is so ridiculously naïve, she has no idea they’re having sex under the guise of “putting the Devil back into Hell.” She soon becomes so horny, she wears Rustico out, and the few times he is able to get it up, “it was like tossing a bean into the mouth of a lion.”

During the ongoing battle between Rustico’s Devil and Alibech’s Hell, a fire occurs in Capsa, and Alibech’s father and brothers all die. Thus, Alibech is left the heir to all their money and possessions. Along comes Neerbale, a young man who’s wasted all his money in sumptuous living. When he hears Alibech is still alive, he sets out to look for her so he can get a piece of her fortune. Rustico is relieved when Neerbale takes Alibech off his hands, but Alibech is furious. When she tells the other women how she was serving God in the desert, they have a good laugh, and say people do that there too and that Neerbale will be extremely useful to her in serving God in that way.

Restituta is the feminine form of Restitutus, a Latin name which means “replaced,” “rebuilt,” “restored.” There was a fourth century martyr named Saint Restituta. In The Decameron, Restituta appears in the sixth story of the fifth day, whose theme is love stories which started out unhappily but then ended happily.

Restituta lives on the isle of Ischia, the daughter of nobleman Marin Bolgaro. On the nearby isle of Procida lives Gianni di Procida. They fall in love and frequently see one another. When Gianni can’t find a boat, he swims to Ischia and back. One day, while Restituta is collecting seashells, she’s kidnapped by some young Sicilians from Naples and eventually given to King Frederick in Palermo.

The King is of course very taken by this beautiful young girl, but since he’s unwell, he gives orders for her to be put up in one of his sumptuous apartments, in a garden called La Cuba. Back in Ischia, everyone is going crazy over this abduction, particularly because no one can figure out who did it. Gianni goes craziest of all, and has his own frigate fitted out so he can sail in the direction of the kidnappers. When he reaches Palermo, he discovers what’s happened, and despairs of ever regaining her.

However, since he’s overwhelmed by passion, he sends his frigate home and remains in Palermo to try to catch a glimpse of Restituta. One day, walking in La Cuba, he finally sees her, and they figure out a way for him to rescue her. As luck would have it, the night Gianni comes to rescue her, the King also happens to finally be feeling better and decides to help himself to Restituta. He’s furious when he discovers her and Gianni lying naked in one another’s arms, and is about to stab them with his dagger when he realises how cowardly it is for anyone, let alone a king, to murder two sleeping naked people.

Instead, he orders Restituta and Gianni to be tied together, still naked, and burnt at the stake in the public square after daybreak. While they’re tied back to back in the square, as the wood is stacked, all the young men admire Restituta’s body and all the young women admire Gianni’s body. This news reaches Ruggieri de Loria, the King’s Admiral, who recognises Gianni and orders the executioners to not do anything else until they receive orders. He then informs the King about the young lovers’ identity, saying without Restituta’s father and Gianni’s uncle, he wouldn’t enjoy his power. The King is mortified, and arranges for their wedding.

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5 thoughts on “Rustico and Restituta

  1. Wow, I can’t imagine I didn’t find your blog earlier! I love onomastics and am also an #AtoZChallenge participant! Glad I found you.

    Rustico sounds cool. I like its meaning of “rural”.

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

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