The Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio is best known for the Decameron. For his Latin works and his role in reviving Hellenistic learning in Florence, he may be considered one of the early humanists. The culture of Giovanni Boccaccio is rooted in the Middle Ages, but his conception of life points forward to the Renaissance. Boccaccio's work reflects both his middleclass mercantile background and the chivalric ideals of the Neapolitan court, where he spent his youth. He strove to raise Italian style to an art form nurtured in both medieval rhetoric and classical Latin prose; he had immense admiration for his great Italian contemporaries Dante and Petrarch, as well as for the classical authors. In this sense Boccaccio's vernacular humanism contrasts with Petrarch's classical humanism. Boccaccio's father, Boccaccio di Chellino, was a merchant from the small Tuscan town of Certaldo. About 1312 he went to Florence and there worked successfully for the powerful banking company of the Bardi and Peruzzi. The exact date and place of Boccaccio's illegitimate birth are unknown. Despite tales of his birth in Paris of a Parisian noblewoman, a story derived partly from some of Boccaccio's early works whose autobiographical value is disputed, it seems that he was born in 1313 in Certaldo or more likely in Florence, where he spent his childhood. In 1321 Giovanni began to study Latin. But his father did not encourage his literary interests, and by 1328 Boccaccio was in Naples to learn commerce, probably with the Bardi. After 6 years of fruitless apprenticeship, Boccaccio abandoned commerce and reluctantly studied canon law for another 6 years. Later he regretted this lost time. However, the years were not wasted. Through his father's contacts, Boccaccio was introduced to the cultivated society of the court at Naples. There he knew scientists and theologians, men of letters and the law. He learned astronomy and mythology and was introduced to Greek language and...
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