Latin essay by Dante Alighieri. Although meant to consist of four books, its writing was abandoned in the middle of the dante alighieri de vulgari eloquentia pdf book.
Finally, Dante wrote this essay in order to analyse the origin and the philosophy of the vernacular, because, in his opinion, this language was not something static, but something that evolves and needed a historical contextualisation. Dante interrupted his work at the fourteenth chapter of the second book, and though historians have tried to find a reason for this, it is still not known why Dante so abruptly aborted his essay. Indeed it is an unfinished project, and so information about its intended structure is limited.
Though at some point, Dante mentions a fourth book in which he planned to deal with the comic genre and the “mediocre” style, nothing at all is known about the third book. It is thought, however, that the first book was meant to be a sort of preface to the following three books, and so shorter than the others.
In the beginning, Dante tackles the historical evolution of language, which he thinks was born unitary and, at a later stage, was separated into different idioms because of the presumptuousness demonstrated by humankind at the time of the building of the Tower of Babel. Romance languages identified by their word for ‘yes’: oc language, oïl language and sì language.
He then discusses gramatica, “grammar”, which is a static language consisting of unchanging rules, needed to make up for the natural languages. In chapters ten to fifteen of the first book, Dante writes about his search for the illustrious vernacular, among the fourteen varieties he claims to have found in the Italian region. In the second book, Dante deals with literary genres, specifying which are the ones that suit the vernacular. Dante takes inspiration from rhetorical essays in Latin, Occitan, Sicilian, and Italian, and from philosophical readings.