The Role of Panfilo in the Decameron
Panfilo devotes himself to love. He believes that love conquers all. In this respect, he is the antithesis of Filostrato, who is a man defeated by love. They even have opposite names (panFILO, FILOstrato). Throughout his tales, he pits love versus several formidable adversaries. In his first tale, the love of God overcomes the gullibility of the people of Burgundy. They pray to a man who was quite evil in life, and certainly belonged in Hell, but God answered their prayers anyway because of the purity of their faith. On the fourth day, he is forced by Filostrato to tell a tale in which love does not conquer all, as their outcomes are unhappy. Panfilo cooperates with Filostrato, but in the end love still carries on. The story he tells shows two lovers (Andreuolo and Gabriotto) ripped apart by death. However, after Gabriotto is killed, Andreuolo stays true and faithful to him. Her lover may be dead, but her love for him never subsides and she refuses to marry anyone else. While this story does have an unhappy ending as Filostrato prescribed, Panfilo makes a point to show how love still lives on and is not defeated by death.
Panfilo continues to demonstrate the power of love as he pits it against Fortune in the fifth story. After love has turned Cimon from a bumbling idiot into a fine gentleman, its force is so strong within him that he fights like a lion and captures Iphigenia. Fortune takes over at this point, and with a storm sends him to the island of Rhodes where he is thrown in jail and Iphigenia is sent off to marry another man. At this point, his situation looks hopeless. But, once the Magistrate's love for Cassandra causes him to release Cimon in order to help him gain Cassandra's hand in marriage, Cimon is given another opportunity. That was all he needed. Driven by his immense love for Iphigenia, he storms in on her wedding and captures here, slaying anyone (including the bridegroom) who dares stand in the way of his love. He succeeds in escaping with his maiden, and goes on to live happily with her for many years. The Magistrate's love brought him to experience the same excellent fate with Cassandra.
Panfilo presents two more adversaries to love before the end of the Decameron. In his seventh tale, Lydia is in love with Pyrrhus and accomplishes three extremely difficult tasks in order to attain his love. And, on seeing her accomplish all of these tasks, he comes to love her as well. She takes great risks and does everything right under the nose of her husband, but it is all clearly worth it to her. She wants Pyrrhus's love, and nothing else. And, though her tasks seemed near impossible at the onset, she accomplished them and attained her goal. And finally, in his ninth tale, love conquers the watchful eyes of a protective father. Pinuccio loves Niccolosa, and goes to great lengths to make love to her. By sneaking into her father's...