Both Boccaccio’s Decameron and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales were written during the early Renaissance. Written during the 14th century after the Black Death devastated Europe and killed one-third of the population. So many deaths completely changed European Society. So much death changed peoples outlook on life; this lead to the beliefs of the people being closer to those of the Greeks and Roman. This lead to them all but abandoning, those of the long lived Hebrew and Christian based lifestyle.
During the Renaissance many works of literature switched from having the Christian God in authority to having the Greek/Roman gods of Fortune and Nature in authority. Since the plague affected people randomly they couldn’t see any other person or being having that much authority over life in that way. The thing that is the most distinct about the Decameron and Canterbury Tales is that they seem to have no hope for the future.
In Greek literature the sovereign figures are the gods of Olympus and the gods of the under world. Zeus is the god of the underworld and the furies rule the underworld. In addition to these, Fortune and Fate play a major part. The Greeks believed that under the authority of the god, man ruled the earth. Man was under the authority of the gods but you could choose which gods rule you complied to and the gods had different sets of rules.
Roman literature and Greek literature have a lot in common. In the Roman works the sovereignty is Jove ( the Greek God Zeus), and again Fortune and Fate are major. Men changed history and could potentially become a god after death. They believed great people such as Julius Caesar and Augustus Caesar would become immortal after death. The gods could tend to be unjust and immoral. If a human angered a god the god could turn them into an object or animal. They asserted Rome as immortal however they expressed a decline in morals. However, Roman literature expressed hope for the future.
Hebrew literature is different from Roman and Greek literature in the way that Hebrew literature only has one God. Man kind has dominion over creation, the righteous and obedient will receive eternal life in heaven. The Hebrew’s literature focused on God’s Kingdom.
Christian literature is largely based on Hebrew literature. It’s mainly focused on monotheism. The Christian God is sovereign over everything and everyone. Like Hebrew literature it has positive and negative sanctions. The righteous will receive the kingdom of heaven and the will go to hell.
In examining all of those we see that Renaissance literature in particular Boccaccio’s Decameron and Chaucers Canterbury Tales