Madonna Filippa/Melchisedech e il Saladino - Giovanni Boccaccio
Guerra Edizioni, Letture Graduate per Stranieri, Italian Graded Readers
Nella settima novella della sesta giornata del Decameron si racconta di come Rinaldo de’ Pugliesi torva sua moglie, madonna Filippa, in compagnia del suo amante. Per questo la fa chiamare in tribunale dove madonna Filippa, con una risposta intelligente, riesce ad evitare la morte e a far cambiare la legge. Nella terza novella della prima giornata si racconta di come l’ebreo Melchisedech riesce, con una breve storia, ad evitare l’inganno che il Saladino gli aveva preparato.
Madonna Filippa, being found by her husband with her lover, is cited before the court, and by a ready and clever answer acquits herself, and brings about an alteration of the statute. Filostrato narrates this tale which modern readers with their ideas of gender equality can appreciate.
Saladin, a powerful sultan, finds that his treasury is exhausted. Melchizedek, a Jew, has money enough to cover the shortfall, but Saladin believes he is too avaricious to lend it fairly. Saladin tries to trick Melchizedek into giving offense (and justifying the seizure of his wealth) by asking him whether Judaism, Christianity, or Islam is the true word of God. Melchizedek evades the trap by comparing it to the story of a merchant who had a precious ring and three virtuous sons. Having promised the ring (and with it, his estate) to all three, the king had two equally precious copies made and gave one ring to each son. Thus it could not be determined who was heir to the estate. Likewise, it cannot be determined which faith is the truth. Saladin appreciates Melchizedek's wisdom and decides to be honest with him. In the end, Saladin gets his loan and repays it and Melchizedek gets Saladin's respect and gifts of praise for his intelligence.