November 3, 2020
Saffredent tells the story of a jealous nobleman who seduces the Queen of Naples, whose husband the king is having an affair with the nobleman’s wife. The two love affairs continue for many years, to the delight and pleasure of all four parties and without the king’s knowledge, even though the nobleman has a clever inscription placed on a set of antlers in his home that should suggest to the king that he may be wearing a cuckold’s horns: “Io porto le corna, ciascun lo vede, / Ma tal le porta, che no lo crede” (“I wear horns, everyone can see it, / But another wears them, who does not believe it”).
Sigmund Freudenberger’s depiction of this novella for the eighteenth-century illustrated Heptameron shows the unwitting king admiring the handsome antlers as his lover, the nobleman’s embarrassed wife, looks away.
Saffredent’s lesson to the ladies is clear: “When your husbands give you little roe-deer horns, make sure that you give them great big stag’s antlers!” It falls to Ennasuite to provide a counterpoint to this lesson, with another tale of a virtuous woman.