Golden Cup in Decameron

Step 6 of 7

Role of the golden cup

No sepulchre less of worth than one of gold has beseemed a heart such as this; and in this my father hath done discreetly.From Payne’s translation of Decameron

The symbolic meaning of the cup in this novella is not so much the cup itself, but the material that it is made of: gold. When Boccaccio writes about gold, ‘oro’ in Italian, it may refer to gold florins, but more often refers to the higher classes: it is mentioned, for example, in the novella of a merchant and in that of a doctor.

In this case, however, there is something positive about this golden cup. Guiscardo was only a servant of Tancredi, but now that his heart lies in a cup made of gold, he has been, as it were, lifted up to a higher class. It also underlines the goodness of his heart, and in that respect it can be regarded as a plea for a focus on nobleness of heart instead of nobleness by birth.