Violante and Vieri


Violante may be an alternate Italian form of Yolanda. The name is also found in Spanish and Portuguese. I’ve never personally cared for it, since it sounds too much like “violent,” but there was little choice as to my female V name, seeing as how near-impossible it is to find them in The Decameron. There are two Violantes, in the seventh story of the fifth day and the eighth story of the second day. I’m focusing on the Violante of the fifth day, whose theme is love stories which took an unhappy turn but then ended happily.

She’s the daughter of Messer Amerigo Abate da Trapani, a Sicilian nobleman. Among Messer Amerigo’s servants is Pietro, who came into his household as a young boy captured in Armenia by Genoese pirates. Among the Turkish peasant boys, Pietro (then called Teodoro) stands out because of his noble, handsome appearance, and is believed to have another origin. Baptised with the name Pietro, he grows up in Messer Amerigo’s household with his own children, entrusted with all Messer Amerigo’s most important affairs.

Messer Amerigo has a daughter named Violante, whom he hasn’t been in any hurry to marry off.  Naturally, Violante and Pietro fall in love and eventually reveal their feelings. While seeking shelter from a rainstorm one day, they consummate their love, and arrange to have many other rendezvous. They’re both horrified when Violante becomes pregnant, and is unable to succeed in numerous attempts to miscarry.

Violante confesses to her mother when her condition becomes impossible to hide, and makes up a story to avoid implicating Pietro. Her mother gives her a good tongue-lashing, but agrees to hide her in one of their country estates. As luck would have it, Messer Amerigo stops by after a hawking trip, right as Violante is giving birth. He’s completely incensed, and tells her she’ll die if she doesn’t name the father. Once the truth is out, Messer Amerigo orders Pietro put to death, and gives Violante the choice of suicide by dagger or poisoned wine. After this is done, he plans to smash his infant grandson’s head against a wall and then throw him to the dogs.

While Pietro is half-naked and being whipped on his way to the gallows, an important older man named Fineo notices a large, bright red birthmark on his chest, and is immediately reminded of a son whom he lost to kidnappers over 15 years ago. Fineo calls him Teodoro and speaks to him in Armenian, and the soldiers stop whipping Pietro out of respect for Fineo. Of course, Pietro says he’s Armenian and the son of a a man named Fineo. Once the story reaches Messer Amerigo, he regrets his cruel, unfatherly behaviour, and arranges with Fineo for the couple to be married.

Vieri is derived from Oliviero, the Italian form of Oliver. In spite of the Latinate meaning “olive tree,” the name may actually ultimately be derived from the Germanic name Alfher (elf army or elf warrior) or the Old Norse name Áleifr (ancestor’s descendant).

Vieri was the only male V name I could find in The Decameron, which was kind of a surprise, seeing as how it’s not the most rare letter for Italian names. There are no characters named Vittorio, Vincenzo, Vittore, Virgilio, nothing. As it turns out, he’s only mentioned in passing in the eighth story of the ninth day, and doesn’t even appear as a character.

Biondello is at the fish market, buying two huge lampreys for Messer Vieri de’ Cerchi, when an infamous glutton named Ciacco spies him and inquires into his business. Biondello lies he’s buying the fish for Messer Corso Donati, who already has a lot of other huge fish for a banquet but still doesn’t have enough to feed everyone. He then invites Ciacco to dinner, which is a big surprise to Messer Corso.

Dinner consists of chickpeas, tuna bellies, and fried fish from the Arno River. Ciacco is really pissed, but doesn’t let on to Biondello. Instead, he starts planning his own trick, which earns poor Biondello a good thrashing.


3 thoughts on “Violante and Vieri

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

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