A crucial witness in the transmission of Dante’s epistles is manuscript Vat. Pal. lat. 1729, containing Petrarch’s Bucolicum carmen, the De monarchia and nine of Dante’s epistles, seven of which are attested by this witness only. Compiled around 1394, the manuscript belonged to Francesco Piendibeni, a cultivated humanist born in Montepulciano. Through an extended inquiry, which includes two other manuscripts from Piendibeni’s library (Vat. lat. 2940 and Par. lat. 8027), this paper puts forward a new evaluation of this copy of Dante’s letters.
The essay illustrates the characteristics of the documents issued by the Chancellor’s office of the Commune of Verona at the beginning of the XIVth century, during the rule of Alboino and Cangrande I Della Scala. These documents still show the predominant influence of the notarial tradition. The essay focuses on the figure of Ivano di Bonafine de Berinco, a notary who was the author of a collection of oratorical and documentary models entitled Eloquium super arengis. We publish here a number of letters from the Della Scala lords to Henry VII of Luxembourg, and their answers.
The article proposes a comprehensive interpretation of Dante’s 12 epistles. I first define Dante’s competence in the field of ars dictaminis, relying on the passage in De vulgari where he discusses the degrees of ≪constructio≫. I then proceed to verify the correspondence between said rhetorical theory and the writing practice developed in his epistles. In this framework, I compare Dante with other authors from the previous generation who likewise wrote in the vernacular and accorded great importance to the dictamen (Guittone d’Arezzo and Brunetto Latini). Then, I analyze Dante’s writing from a rhetorical point of view and compare his style with the stilus curie romane, which seems to be the closest to his. Finally, I examine Dante’s prophetic self-investiture and its role in providing Dante, exiled layman without a true institutional role, with a charismatic legitimization.
Dante’s epistle to the Cardinals is attested by a single manuscript, entirely copied by Boccaccio. Until very recently, scholars have regarded Boccaccio as an unreliable copyist. The article aims to show that this prejudice must be discarded. In this light, I examine on a paleographic, philological and historical ground the first lines of the text, where Dante claims his charisma as a new Jeremiah, whose authentically prophetic words fall on deaf ears. By focusing on the epistle’s language, sources and historical and doctrinal bearings, I put the text into its own right light, and thus show how some textual revisions and readings advanced by Dante scholarship are misguided.
The last five years in Dante’s life may be seen, from the vantage point of Florence’s political involvement, as the interim between two major battles that ended in defeat of the Guelf party in middle Italy. The ideological and the military heads of this party, the pope and the king of Sicily, tried to use the Guelf communes for their own means. The communes on the other hand tried to cope with the “masters” requirements as well as with their own local and regional needs. This article tries to assess the diverging needs of Florence as the most prominent Guelf city - and mainly as the point of reference for Dante even though his state of exul immeritus.
By studying Karle Witte’s documents (now preserved at the Strasbourg University Library), the article traces back the history of the first edition of Dante’s epistles in its pivotal stages: Witte’s incomplete edition from 1827, the discovery of 7 new epistles in the Vatican manuscript in 1729, the publication of Torri’s new collection in 1842, and Fraticelli’s edition from 1857 are all events that Witte’s documents witness from within, thus providing new insights for understanding how the corpus of Dante’s epistles was assembled.
In the superscription of his epistle VII to Henry VII (April 17, 1311), Dante validates himself as the first sender through the clause ≪exul inmeritus≫, already in use in his previous letters; he also refers to ≪universaliter omnes Tusci qui pacem desiderant≫ as second senders of the epistle. This is in conflict with the biographical portrait that will be presented by Cacciaguida, and especially with the claim that, from 1304 onwards, Dante’s party would have been himself (Par. XVII, 69). Since we lack documents witnessing some official charge entrusted to Dante in this political phase, scholars are divided between those who read the clause as referring to White and Ghibelline exiles, and those who see in it a reference to the Guidi Counts, who supported Henry VII. By examining all surviving historic and literary documents, I dismiss both readings and propose to read this enigmatic reference as a witness of Dante’s attempt to create a new community in support of Henry. An attempt that, in a long-term perspective, represents an ideal moment transition in the development of Dante’s strategies for shaping his audience, from those employed in his Vita nova to those which mark the prophetical attitude of the Purgatorio and Paradiso. The article also provides a new textual reading for the letter’s superscription, thus dismissing Pistelli’s proposal, who had been accepted in all subsequent editions.