The plot of Boccaccio’s Teseida delle Nozze d’Emilia (c. 1340)


Theseus makes an expedition against the women of Scythia, wins victory in battle against them, and is married to their queen Ipolita (Book I). He returns to Athens, and immediately after departs for Thebes, at the entreaty of the Greek widows, the bodies of whose husbands the new ruler of Thebes, Creon, will not permit to be buried: Thebes is sacked, and two royal Theban cousins, Palemone and Arcita, who are found nearly dead on the battlefield, are taken back to Athens an imprisoned (Book II).  From their prison-window both see Emilia, Ipolita’s younger sister, and both fall in love with her; Arctia is released from prison at the intercession of Teseo’s friend, Peritoo, and leaves Athens (Book III). After many wanderings, he returns to Athens, sufficiently disguised by his sufferings, and serves in Teseo’s court under the name of Penteo (Book IV).  Palemone hears of this, escapes from prison, and confronts Arcita in a grove where he is accustomed to sigh out his love; they fight, but are interrupted by a hunting party under Teseo, who decrees that they must join battle in the lists for the hand of Emilia in a year’s time, with a hundred knights each (Book V).  The year passes; the champions arrive, and are described at length (Book VI).  The lovers and Emilia pray to their respective deities, and the battle is prepared for (Book VII).  The battle is described at length; Arcita has the victory (Book VIII).  Arcita is accidentally hurt, but nevertheless celebrates his victory and weds Emilia (Book IX).  Arcita dies, with much circumstance (Book X).  He is given an elaborate funeral (Book XI).  Teseo recommends that Emilia and Palemone marry; they are married (Book XII).


(from Derek Pearsall, The Canterbury Tales [Routledge, 1985], p. 118)