De vulgari eloquentia  

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De vulgari eloquentia (On Vernacular Speech) is the title of an important essay by Dante Alighieri, written in Latin and initially meant to consist in four books, but aborted after the second. It was probably written in the years that preceded Dante's exile, between 1303 and 1305. The first book deals with the relationship between Classical Latin and vernacular, and the searching of an illustrious vernacular in the Italian area, while the second is an analysis of the structure of the song, a very important and noble literary genre.

Latin essays were very popular in the Middle Ages, but Dante made some innovations in his work: firstly the topic, which is the vernacular, was an uncommon choice at that time. Secondly, the way Dante approached this theme, that is giving to vernacular the same dignity that was only meant for Latin. Finally, Dante wrote this essay in order to analyse the origin and the philosophy of vernacular, because, in his opinion, this language was not something static, but something that evolves and needed a historical contextualisation.

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