Fabula Domini Francisci Philelphi

Erat sermo inter socios, quae poena esset statuenda in uxores impudicas. Bonifacius Salutatus eam, qua Tolentinas amicus suus minatus est se uxorem suam affecturum, existimabat. sciscitantibus nobis poenam: “Franciscus Philelphus” inquit “vir haud magno aestimandus, habet uxorem satis liberalem, et mihi quandoque obsequentem. cum accessissem domum aliquando noctu, foris stans, audivi eos acriter collitigantes: increpabat enim vir uxorem, accusans impudicitiam eius. illa, ut moris est talium, negando se tuebatur. tum vir inter clamandum: ‘Iohanna, Iohanna’ ait ‘ego te neque verberabo, neque percutiam, sed in tantum te futuam, quoad plenam domum filiis reddam, atque ita solam te cum natis relinquam postmodum, et abibo.'” risimus omnes genus supplicii adeo exquisitum, quo stultus ille ulturum se uxoris flagitia putavit.
(Poggio Bracciolini, Confabulationes 49)

The Story of Francesco Filelfo

We were among friends, and it came up for discussion what punishment should be inflicted upon unfaithful wives. Boniface Salutati said the best punishment of all, according to him, was that with which a friend of his from Tolentino had once threatened his wife. And when we asked him what this might be, he said: “Franciscus Philelphus, not a very honorable man, has a wife of a generous nature, and she was even once or twice very forthcoming to me. One night I came to his house, when, listening outside, I heard the two of them engaged in a terrible quarrel. The husband was insulting his wife, accusing her of infidelity, while the woman defended herself, as women usually do on these occasions, by denying everything. Then, between shouts, the husband cried out ‘Giovanna! Giovanna*! I shall not beat you, I shall not strike you, but I shall fuck you so much that the house will be filled with children. Then I will leave you alone with them, and go away.'” We all laughed at this wonderful kind of punishment by means of which the stupid fellow thought to avenge himself for his wife’s infidelities. (tr. based on Edward Storer’s, adapted and debowdlerized by David Bauwens)

* Note: the real Francesco Filelfo (1398-1481), one of the preeminent humanists of his time, was widowed twice and married three times, but never to a Giovanna.

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