Famous Women

ISBN-10: 0674011309

ISBN-13: 9780674011304

Edition: 2001

List price: $18.50
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Giovanni Boccaccio devoted the last decades of his life to compiling encyclopedic works in Latin. Among them is this text, the first collection of biographies in Western literature devoted to women.
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Book details

List price: $18.50
Copyright year: 2001
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publication date: 4/30/2003
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 320
Size: 5.25" wide x 8.25" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 1.056

Although Giovanni Boccaccio was born in France and raised and educated in Naples, where he wrote his first works under the patronage of the French Angevin ruler, Boccaccio always considered himself a Tuscan, like Petrarch and Dante. After Boccaccio returned to Florence in 1340, he witnessed the outbreak of the great plague, or Black Death, in 1348. This provided the setting for his most famous work, the vernacular prose masterpiece Il Decamerone (Decameron) (1353). This collection of 100 short stories, told by 10 Florentines who leave plague-infected Florence for the neighboring hill town of Fiesole, is clear evidence of the beginning of the Renaissance in Italy. The highly finished work exerted a tremendous influence on Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dryden, Keats, and Tennyson even as it established itself as the great classic of Italian fictional prose. Although Chaucer did not mention Boccaccio's name, his Canterbury Tales are clearly modeled on the Decameron. Boccaccio's other important works are a short life of Dante and commentaries on the Divine Comedy; Filocolo (1340) a prose romance; Filostrato (1335), a poem on Troilus and Cressida; and Theseus (1340-41), a poem dealing with the story of Theseus, Palamon, and Arcite. Boccassio's only attempt at writing an epic was a work that Chaucer rendered as his "Knight's Tale." Boccaccio's last work written in Italian was the gloomy, cautionary tale titled The Corbaccio (1355). The Nymph Song (1346), as a counterpiece for the Decameron, demonstrates that it is possible to read the Decameron as an allegory, with the plague representing the spiritual plague of medieval Christianity, viewed from the vantage point of Renaissance humanism. Many of the Decameron tales are indeed paganized versions of medieval sermons about sin and damnation with the morals reversed. After 1363 Boccaccio concentrated on trying to gain enduring fame by writing, in Latin, a series of lives of memorable men and women and a genealogy of the pagan gods. Boccaccio died in 1375.

Virginia Brown is Senior Fellow, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto.

Eve, Our First Mother
Semiramis, Queen of the Assyrians
Opis, Wife of Saturn
Juno, Goddess of Kingdoms
Ceres, Goddess of the Harvest and Queen of Sicily
Venus, Queen of Cyprus
Isis, Queen and Goddess of Egypt
Europa, Queen of Crete
Libya, Queen of Libya
Marpesia and Lampedo, Queens of the Amazons
Thisbe, a Babylonian Maiden
Hypermnestra, Queen of the Argives and Priestess of Juno
Niobe, Queen of Thebes
Hypsipyle, Queen of Lemnos
Medea, Queen of Colchis
Arachne of Colophon
Orithya and Antiope, Queens of the Amazons
Erythraea or Herophile, a Sibyl
Medusa, Daughter of Phorcus
Iole, Daughter of the King of the Aetolians
Deianira, Wife of Hercules
Jocasta, Queen of Thebes
Almathea or Deiphebe, a Sibyl
Nicostrata or Carmenta, Daughter of King Ionius
Pocris, Wife of Cephalus
Argia, Wife of Polynices and Daughter of King Adrastus
Manto, Daughter of Tiresias
The Wives of the Minyans
Penthesilea, Queen of the Amazons
Polyxena, Daughter of King Priam
Hecuba, Queen of the Trojans
Cassandra, Daughter of King Priam of Troy
Clytemnestra, Queen of Mycenae
Helen, Wife of King Menelaus
Circe, Daughter of the Sun
Camilla, Queen of the Volscians
Penelope, Wife of Ulysses
Lavinia, Queen of Laurentum
Dido or Elissa, Queen of Carthage
Nicaula, Queen of Ethiopia
Pamphile, Daughter of Platea
Rhea Ilia, a Vestal Virgin
Gaia Cyrilla, Wife of King Tarquinius Priscus
Sappho, Girl of Lesbos and Poetess
Lucretia, Wife of Collatinus
Tamyris, Queen of Scythia
Leaena, a Prostitute
Athaliah, Queen of Jerusalem
Cloelia, a Roman Maiden
Hippo, a Greek Woman
Megullia Dotata
Veturia, a Roman Matron
Tamaris, Daughter of Micon
Artemisia, Queen of Caria
Virginia, Virgin and Daughter of Virginius
Irene, Daughter of Cratinus
Olympias, Queen of Macedonia
Claudia, a Vestal Virgin
Virginia, Wife of Lucius Volumnius
Flora the Prostitute, Goddess of Flowers and Wife of Zephyrus
A Young Roman Woman
Marcia, Daughter of Varro
Sulpicia, Wife of Fulvius Flaccus
Harmonia, Daughter of Gelon of Sicily
Busa of Canosa di Puglia
Sophonisba, Queen of Numidia
Theoxena, Daughter of Prince Herodicus
Berenice, Queen of Cappadocia
The Wife of Orgiago the Galatian
Tertia Aemilia, Wife of the Elder Africanus
Dripetrua, Queen of Laodicea
Sempronia, Daughter of Gracchus
Claudia Quinta, a Roman Woman
Hypsicratea, Queen of Pontus
Sempronia, a Roman Woman
The Wives of the Cimbrians
Julia, Daughter of the Dictator Julius Caesar
Portia, Daughter of Cato Uticensis
Curia, Wife of Quintus Lucretius
Hortensia, Daughter of Quintus Hortensius
Sulpicia, Wife of Truscellio
Cornificia, a Poetess
Mariamme, Queen of Judaea
Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt
Antonia, Daughter of Antony
Agrippina, Wife of Germanicus
Paulina, a Roman Woman
Agrippina, Mother of the Emperor Nero
Epicharis, a Freedwoman
Pompeia Paulina, Wife of Seneca
Sabina Poppaea, Wife of Nero
Triaria, Wife of Lucius Vitellius
Proba, Wife of Adelphus
Faustina Augusta
Symiamira, Woman of Emesa
Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra
Joan, an Englishwoman and Pope
Irene, Empress of Constantinople
Gualdrada, a Florentine Maiden
Constance, Empress of Rome and Queen of Sicily
Camiola, a Sienese Widow
Joanna, Queen of Jerusalem and Sicily
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