The Decameron

Author: Boccaccio Giovanni  | Date: 1350


Michiele Scalza proves to some young men that the family of the Baronchi was the most noble in the world, for which he gets a good supper.

Michiele Scalza, a young Florentine, had so facetious and productive a genius that the principal youth of Florence took a great deal of pleasure in and thought it an honour to enjoy his company. Being one day at Mont Ughi with many gentlemen, the discussion happened to run upon the antiquity and nobility of the Florentine families. Some gave the preference to that of the Uberti, others to that of the Lamberti, everyone speaking, as people ordinarily do, according to their different humours and interests.

When Scalza heard what they all had to say, he smiling cried: "You are none of you in the right. I will maintain the family of the Baronchi to be the most ancient and noble not only in Florence but also in the whole world. All philosophers and such as can be supposed to know that family,. I’m confident, are of my opinion; and that you may not mistake my meaning I must tell you I mean the Baronchi our neighbours, who dwell near Santa Maria Maggiore." They all presently fell a-laughing, and asked him whether he took them for people of the other world that they should not know the Baronchi as well as he. "Gentlemen," says Scalza, "I am so far from taking you for people of the other world that I will lay any one of you a good supper enough for six on what I affirm, and be judged by whom you please."

The wager was laid, and they all agreed to leave the decision to Pietro di Florentino, who was then present. Everyone expected Scalza would lose, and began to laugh at him beforehand. He that was to determine the matter, being very judicious, first heard the reasons of the opposite party, and then asked Scalza how he could prove his assertion.

"I will prove it so sufficiently," says he, that you shall all be thoroughly convinced. Gentlemen," says he, "by how much a family is most ancient by so much it is most noble. The family of the Baronchi is the most ancient in Florence, ergo it is the most noble. I have nothing, then, to prove but the antiquity of the Baronchi. This will appear in that Prometheus made them at the time that he first began to learn to paint, and made others after he was master of his art. To convince you of this, do but examine the figures of the one and the other: you’ll find art and proportion in the composition of the one, whereas the others are but rough-drawn and imperfect. Among the Baronchi you’ll meet with one with a long narrow face, another with a prodigiously broad one; one is flat-nosed, another has a nose that measures an ell; one has a long chin and jaws like an ass, another has his short and flat, and is monkey-faced. Nay, there are some of them that have but one eye either larger or lower than the others have. In a word, their faces for all the world resemble such as children make when they first begin to draw. Prometheus, you will allow, must be no great master when he made these figures, as I told you before; and consequently they must be more noble as they are more ancient."

So diverting an argument made them all to laugh heartily. The representation he gave of the Baronchi was so ust and natural that they all agreed he had won: and nothing was heard for a full quarter of an hour but "Scalza has won!" and "The Baronchi are the most ancient and noble family in all Florence!"


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Giovanni Boccaccio

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Chicago: Boccaccio Giovanni, "The Sixt Day, the Sixth Novel," The Decameron Original Sources, accessed February 6, 2023,

MLA: Giovanni, Boccaccio. "The Sixt Day, the Sixth Novel." The Decameron, Original Sources. 6 Feb. 2023.

Harvard: Giovanni, B, 'The Sixt Day, the Sixth Novel' in The Decameron. Original Sources, retrieved 6 February 2023, from