Encyclopedia of Renaissance Philosophy

Living Edition
| Editors: Marco Sgarbi

Ars Dictaminis

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-02848-4_1067-1


The ars dictaminis describes the medieval tendency to organize intellectual activities following precise rules when dealing with oral presentation of written messages. It consists of a system of guidelines, examples, and prescriptions for composing letters on the basis of rhetorical directions drawn from ancient oratory. The successful diffusion of the system throughout the European universities lies in the growing demand for public correspondence among various political and religious institutions in the Late Middle Ages. Public officials found in this art a useful method and numerous examples, helpful in different situations, in order to draft a great deal of letters fitting for the most various authorities, with the due respect for social hierarchy.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Camargo, M. 1996. Ars dictaminis. In Encyclopedia of rhetoric and composition, ed. T. Enos, 36–38. New York: Garland Pub. 2010.Google Scholar
  2. Faulhaber, C.B. 1978. Letter­writer’s rhetoric: The summa dictaminis of Guido Faba. In Medieval eloquence: Studies in the theory and practice of medieval rhetoric, ed. J.J. Murphy, 85–111. Berkeley: University of California.Google Scholar
  3. Grendler, P.F. 1991. Schooling in renaissance Italy: Literacy and learning, 1300–1600. Baltimore 1989: 111–141.Google Scholar
  4. Murphy, J.J. 1981. Rhetoric in the middle ages. Berkeley 1974: 194–268.Google Scholar
  5. Patt, W.D. 1978. The early ars dictaminis as response to a changing society. Viator 9: 133–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Witt, R.G. 1982. Medieval ‘Ars Dictaminis’ and the beginnings of humanism: A new construction of the problem. Renaissance Quarterly XXXV: 1–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Witt, R.G. 1983. Brunetto Latini and the Italian tradition of “Ars dictaminis”. Stanford Italian Review III: 5–24.Google Scholar
  8. Witt, R.G. 1986. Boncompagno and the defense of rhetoric. Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies XVI (1): 1–31.Google Scholar
  9. Witt, R.G. 2000. In the footsteps of the ancients. The origins of humanism from Lovato to Bruni. Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
  10. Witt, R.G. 2012. The two Latin cultures and the foundation of renaissance humanism in medieval Italy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Classe di Scienze UmaneScuola Normale SuperiorePisaItaly

Section editors and affiliations

  • Marco Sgarbi
    • 1
  • Peter Mack
    • 2
  1. 1.University Ca' Foscari VeniceVeniceItaly
  2. 2.The Warburg Institute, School of Advanced StudyUniversity of LondonLondonUnited Kingdom