The Boy Who Had Never Seen a Woman

Boccaccio's Story of Filippo Balducci and His Son

and other tales similar to Aarne-Thompson-Uther type 1678

selected and edited by

D. L. Ashliman

© 1998-2011


  1. Filippo Balducci and His Son (abstracted from The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio).

  2. An Inexperienced Youth (Italy, The Facetiæ of Poggio).

  3. A Young Monk Wanted to Have a Goose (Germany).

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Filippo Balducci and His Son

Giovanni Boccaccio

When Filippo Balducci lost his wife to death, he resolved to devote himself and his young son to God. Consequently he gave his worldly possessions to charity, then took his little son to the slopes of Mount Asinaio, where they lived together in a cave, completely secluded from the ways and temptations of the world. In this remote sanctuary, Filippo taught his son about God and the saints, protecting him always from distractions and sin.

Only after the boy reached the age of eighteen did the father feel it safe to expose him to the outside world.

"Surely," thought Filippo, "his years of devotion and prayer in this place of solitude will now defend him against the ways of the world." And the two of them, father and son, set off for the city of Florence.

Everything was new and amazing for the son: houses, palaces, churches, horses, and people. Filled with amazement, he asked his father about every unfamiliar thing, and Filippo dutifully provided names and explanations for all that they saw, that is, until they happened upon a party of beautiful young women. The boy, who until now had never beheld such a sight, could not take his eyes from them.

"Do not look at them," warned Filippo.

"But what are they?" asked the son.

"Oh, they are just geese," replied Filippo, wanting to divert the boy's attention from the young women.

"Please, father," begged the boy, "let me have one of those geese. I could put something into its bill.

"No!" exclaimed the father. "Their bills are not where you think they are, and they require special feeding. And furthermore they are evil!"

Poor Filippo now regretted having taken his son from his protective sanctuary, for even as he spoke, he realized that however clever his responses were, they were no match for the boy's natural inclinations.

An Inexperienced Youth

Italy, The Facetiæ of Poggio

A young Bolognese, a simple-minded ninny, had married a beautiful maiden. The first night, not being in the least up to his business, since he had never before frequented any woman, he did not succeed in consummating the marriage. The next morning, being asked by a friend how matters had fared overnight: "Sadly," he sighed; "for, after repeated endeavours, I could never find in my wife the aperture I was told of."

Seeing his silliness: "Hush, for God's sake," said the friend; "speak not a word about it; how unpleasant, and what a shame for you if the thing were known!"

The simpleton begged for his advice and assistance: "I'll undertake," said his interlocutor, "to bore that aperture for you, if only you stand a first rate supper; but I shall require eight days to perform the operation, which is a very difficult one."

The idiot assented, and, at night, secreted his mate with his wife, himself retiring to another bed. After the interval agreed upon, the road had been so well opened by friendly exertions, that no more thorns were to be feared: the husband was sent for: "I have toiled and moiled for your service," said his obliging companion, "but the requisite orifice is at last made."

The young woman, now thoroughly initiated, congratulated her husband, praising highly his friend's labour. The fool, overjoyed at his wife's perforation, gave his best thanks to his comrade, and paid the supper.

A Young Monk Wanted to Have a Goose


A hermit once took a young monk to the city. He had raised him since childhood, and the old monk now wanted put the young one to a test. Arriving in the city, they saw a number of women walking to and fro. Filled with amazement, the young monk stared at them with calf's eyes. Until now he had never seen a woman, for since his earliest childhood he had been raised in a monastery.

He asked the old monk what these things were.

The old monk answered, saying, "They are geese." The women were wearing white veils and white cloaks.

The young monk left good enough alone and said nothing more. Afterward, when the two were back at their monastery, the young monk began to cry bitterly.

The old monk asked him why he was crying.

The young monk replied, "Father, why should I not be crying! I wanted every so badly to have a goose!"

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Revised March 18, 2013.