Story 34

December 4, 2020

Today’s story, of two foolish friars who think a butcher is planning to slay them when he is actually talking about his pigs, is one of the shortest tales in the Heptameron, but it is followed by one of the longest discussions (longer than the story itself!) as our storytellers consider why tales of folly are funnier than tales of wisdom—because “everyone takes pleasure in things that resemble himself,” Hircan says!—and approaches to overcoming the self and self-pride, according to ancient philosophers (Diogenes and Plato) and the Bible (Paul’s letter to the Romans). As in their comments on stories 26, 30, and 33, they soundly condemn pride. Parlamente states that “arrogance is a vice we should fear above all others, because it is born of the death and destruction of all the virtues,” and Longarine says that even sin is useful when it draws our attention to our imperfections, noting that “God’s grace is great indeed when we stumble and commit some visible fault which makes us see clearly the plague hidden within us.” “Look how far we’ve come,” Simontaut marvels at the end of the discussion, “We started with folly and we end up with philosophy and theology!”

Since the Seigneur de Fors relates this tale to the Duchess of Angoulême—Louise de Savoie, mother of Marguerite de Navarre and François I—here is a sculpture of her from around 1515 (the year her son became king) at the Louvre in Paris.

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