“Bocca baciata non perde ventura, anzi rinnova come fa la luna.” [1]

Decamerone u il Principe Galeotto, Giovanni Boccaccio [2]

In 1348, at the peak of the worst pandemic the world has ever known (the Black Plague or Bubonic Plague that decimated the population of the planet with approximately 200 million victims) a group of young women and men escaped from the ravaged city of Florence and took refuge in a countryside villa. In order to bear their forced social isolation, they each narrated a different tale every night for two weeks—except one day of housekeeping and the religious holidays—which eventually resulted in a hundred tales ranging from the comic to the tragic. Thus goes the script of The Decameron, a seminal book of Italian Literature, which heralded the coming of the Renaissance in a world that had been dominated by Feudalism before the pandemic.

Heavily influenced by Numerology and Mysticism, Boccaccio expressly chose seven (7) young women who represent the following:

  1. Four cardinal virtues: Prudence, Virtue, Temperance and Fortitude.
  2. Three theological virtues: Faith, Hope and Charity.

The three (3) young men represent theological virtues: Faith, Hope and Charity. [3]

Using the allegorical writing method of Dante Alighieri, this author engaged in a satirical critique of the then prevailing socio-economic-political parameters, heavily influenced by the rancid patriarchal institutions from feudal forms of administration and the Catholic Church. The exaltation of the necessary commercial values—like intelligence, astuteness and sophisticated values—is a common thread in these tales; up to that moment the European societies were dominated by only piety and loyalty.

The name Decameron is a composite of two classical Greek terms: deka (ten) and hemera (day) The subtitle of this work is a solid reference to Gallehault, a fictional king of the tale of Lancelot; he arranged the first clandestine meeting of Guinevere, King’s Arthur wife, with his friend and bodyguard, thus abetting their tragic affair. In a provocatively subversive way, Bocaccio elevated the figure of this prince to underline the hard indenture of women to the wishes of all their paternal figures. The escape of Guinevere represented the possibility of movement, of love, of freedom.

After their forced isolation from the plague ended, the European citizens came out determined to build a better society with more liberal values and tolerance for diversity, including the participation of women in some community affairs. The Dark Night of feudality was rapidly wiped off by the coming of the Renaissance.

What kind of world will emerge after the passing of the COVID-19 pandemic?

We are now living both a humongous sanitary and economic crisis at the same time. Whomever thinks that we can go back to what we had hitherto considered as “the normal” is engaging in a most dangerous delusion. For example, the evident lack of proper preparedness regarding the needed stocking of emergency supplies of protective gear and ventilators exposed the disastrously short-sighted budgets cuts of governments. Who will publicly defend the skimping on the critical social investments in order to have a dangerously low “supply on demand” policy for “just on time delivery”? That has condemned thousands of patients to a lack of efficient respiratory therapy and medical providers and care personnel to a deficient protection by disposable gear. The civic organizations and political institutions must pressure the foolish “bean counters.”

Most epidemiologists believe that the initial host of this  dangerous virus was a bat, as had been the case with the Ebola, SARS and MERS infections; the bats are known carriers of many of these organisms, which do not sicken them, but reproduce inside them. Then one day the virus found the opportunity to jump into another animal, and then into another one, and so on, until it finally arrived in a human being in that infamous Wuhan “wet market.”  Unfortunately the Chinese authorities cleaned and disinfected that place without the chance for scientists to study it appropriately to find out how it begun. This zoonotic disease, which passed between animals and humans, was propitiated by a global trade of wildlife, agricultural intensification, deforestation and urbanization that are bringing human communities in a much closer contact with wild animals’ habitats. We must aside our petty differences and engage in more holistic terms with each other; these critical issues must be urgently addressed by all the national governments.

Another major upheaval is the change of the socio-economic parameters of most societies regarding the labor opportunities that will be offered by employers. The purely physical labor will continue to be displaced by the Information Age positions, all those that can be staffed by individuals working from their own homes. Knowledge is power. The remuneration of the heroes that are now buttressing communities—physicians, nurses, nurse assistants, laboratory assistants, fire and police forces, operators of basic services, truck and delivery drivers, re-stockers of warehouse supplies, etc.—must necessarily increase to reflect their real value for the well-being of our societies.

As we are writing these lines, we are hearing the generalized hand clapping of the Parisians, exactly at their 8 PM time through the transmission of Radio France Inter, in honor of the medical and nursing personnel that are serving in their hospitals. Later on we will listen to a similar gesture occurring in Buenos Aires at their 9 PM. Now the citizens of “modern” nations are not daydreaming about the “celebrities” of entertainment and sports that have polluted almost all the spaces of public media. But… who are they dreaming about? The scientists and researchers that are actively working to bring a safe and effective vaccine against the Coronavirus to the market. Hopefully we will re-assess our way of assigning respect and admiration to the public figures.

As the saviors of Mankind, the scientists that discover and develop the lifesaving vaccine(s) will be duly respected and remembered for many generations to come.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

(This article is based on our upcoming new book Emotional Frustration – the hushed plague)

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Note. The featured image in this article is a reproduction of Bocca Baciata, an 1859 painting by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, which alludes to Boccacio’s anecdote of Alatiel.


[1] “A kissed mouth does not lose its fortune, on the contrary it renews itself just as the moon does.” This is the ending of the tale of Alatiel, a Sarracen princess who, in spite of having thousands of sexual encounters with at least eight different men, managed to marry, as a virgin bride, the King of the Algarve.

[2] Giovanni Boccaccio, Decamerone Di Messer Giovanni Boccaccio Cittadino Florentino, GALE, Eighteenth Century Collection Online, April 2018.

[3] Introduction by Wayne A. Rebhorn, Giovanni Boccaccio, The Decameron, Norton Books.

2 thoughts on “After the pandemic, how will our world look like?

  1. while I wish this weren’t happening, in any crisis there is also great beauty – this is the 1st time the whole world is pulling together to help each other. hopefully at the end of this we’ll retain our increased awareness of how truly linked we all are

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