Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate November 2001

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The works of the early Renaissance figure Giovanni Boccaccio not only issued a profound influence upon the literature of the 13th and 14th centuries, his works also forged way into modern literature. Born into a wealthy family, Boccaccio was brought up with every advantage: the finest education, lifestyle and important friends. He also spent three years leaning Greek and in the entire Italian peninsula was one of only about a dozen men that could read Greek. His parents encouraged him into the studies of law and business; he went to Naples to learn canon law, the laws of the Roman Catholic Church. Realizing that he had no desire to learn the ways of the courts, Boccaccio moved to Paris where his humanistic interests were able to flourish. After studying the poetry of Petrarch, Boccaccio devoted his life to literature and published his first work, the "Filocolo", and began his career as a writer.

Boccaccio struggled, and made no notable accomplishments in writing until he moved back to Florence.

In 1348, Florence suffered the initial effects of the Black Death, which took the lives of his father, stepmother and numerous friends. This event inspired him to write his most noted work, in 1350, the "Decameron". It is at this time also when Boccaccio has his first meeting with Petrarch, a fellow humanist and idol to Boccaccio. The greatest accomplishment of the "Decameron" lies in the variety of the adventures, diversity of characters, and the analysis of feeling and passion. Furthermore, the complex sentence structures are similar to that found in Shakespeare's work. The temperamental humor and anecdotes in the Decameron were to the expense of the clerics in the church. Boccaccio later regretted these free statements of his youth.

Boccaccio holds the honor of being one of the earliest humanists. His literary works have influenced modern writing and he was a scholar of the first rank.