Translatio Poetriae

Occitan Apprenticeship from the Latin Classroom to the Vernacular Court

Douglas Kelly    University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA    



The Occitan treatises on the art of poetry are among the earliest vernacular arts of poetry. However, they adapt the pedagogy of the classroom implicit in Latin treatises like the Poetria nova to the court milieu beginning in the thirteenth century. This paper illustrates this development by comparing the new vernacular art with the Latin art found in Geoffrey’s treatise and commentaries on it as well as in other treatises written and commented on in the twelfth-thirteenth centuries and beyond. The Occitan treatises were written for laymen; although ignorant of Latin, they wished to write in the style of the early troubadours but with adaptations to the new subject matters of fin’amors. Key documents include the different versions of Guilhem Molinier’s Leys d’Amors written for the Toulouse consistory as well as some Catalan courts. An important feature of this emerging vernacular art is the imitation and emulation of recognised masterpieces of the art, including the ‘ancient troubadours’ and some Latin pieces, as the vernacular art evolved under supervision of the Inquisition. These changes are evident in the works of model poets such as N’At de Mons and Ramon de Cornet on whom I focus in this paper. Latin pedagogy is evident in the Occitan treatises these authors exemplify, but with adaptations to the new vernacular. The troubadour influence went north to some French courts and beyond. The role of intermediaries that link different vernaculars will be briefly noted in conclusion, a rayonnement not unlike that identified in Woods’ study on the diffusion in Europe of the Poetria nova and commentary on it.

March 16, 2018
Sept. 15, 2017

Keywords: JoglarRamon de CornetLatin art of poetryN’Ar de MonsOccitan art of poetry

Copyright: © 2018 Douglas Kelly. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.