Introducing Dante

Dante's "De vulgari eloquentia" and "Monarchia"

The De vulgari eloquentia was also written in exile during the period 1304 -7. It is a treatise on the nature of poetry in the vernacular i.e. in languages other than Latin, and specifically about poetry in the Italian vernacular. In Dante's day, all major literary philosophical and theological works were written in Latin, even though Latin was no longer learnt as a mother tongue.

Dante wrote the De vulgari eloquentia to defend the value of works written in the vernacular. The treatise is written in Latin, probably in order to lend respectability to its arguments in the eyes of the intellectuals of the day. Like the Convivio, the De vulgari eloquentia was left unfinished: Dante left it in mid-sentence towards the end of Book II.

The Monarchia was also written in exile. The date of its composition is uncertain, but it is likely to have been written after the Convivio and the De vulgari eloquentia and most probably around 1317. The Monarchia is a political treatise, written in Latin, on the question of imperial authority and of the relationship between the Empire and the papacy. Dante argues that the Emperor should have universal authority over political affairs; and that his authority derives directly from God, and not - as some of his contemporaries argued-from the authority of the Pope.

© Vittorio Montemaggi, Matthew Treherne, Abi Rowson

This resource is a collaboration between the Leeds Centre for Dante Studies at the University of Leeds, and the Devers Program in Dante Studies at the University of Notre Dame