Beyond the ‘Classical’ Sources
Dante’s Epistles and the Thirteenth-Century Practice of the ars dictaminis
Many enquiries about Dante’s epistles are aimed at pinpointing Dantean features and personal traits: this literary perspective is mainly concerned with his reuse of classical auctoritates or the novelty of his metaphors. This book proposes another complementary method for approaching the issue, that is to say a systematic study concerning the ‘formulaic points of contact’ between Dante’s epistles and the Italian Duecento epistolary tradition contained in those pontifical, imperial and municipal summae dictaminis that might have influenced Dante. The clauses taken for comparison are principally selected through the frame of the letters’ semi-rhythmic structure: there, automatism or semi-automatism imposed on writing through cursus rhythmicus raises compelling issues. The results of such an investigation show the potential of a systematic approach that aims at contextualizing Dante’s letters within both the teaching logic and the rhetorical practice of the Italian Duecento.