How Dante Became Dante: His Intellectual Formation in Florence between Laici and Clerici (1294-1296)

Doctoral Dissertation


This dissertation examines Dante Alighieri’s intellectual formation and explores the ways in which a laicus such as the poet might have gained access to theological and philosophical knowledge in 1290s Florence. Since in Convivio II.XII.7 the poet claimed that he attended the “disputations of the philosophizers” in Florence’s convent schools where “Philosophy was truly revealed” to him, this research presents the transcriptions of several hitherto unedited “disputations” that were held in the Franciscan convent of Santa Croce in 1295. This material helps establish the kind of influence that these disputations might have had on the theological and philosophical aspects of Dante’s early works and on his self-fashioned public profile before his exile in 1302. I argue that these debates (as well as other forms of mediated knowledge such as florilegia and compilationes) provided Dante with basic theological and philosophical information. I also trace the presence of this ‘knowledge’ in the Vita nova and in the canzone Le dolci rime d’amor, the works that Dante wrote around the time that he attended the Florentine convent schools. This learning experience allowed Dante to develop ideological viewpoints that are ‘antithetical’ to some of the doctrinal positions of Florentine friars. Finally, I maintain that the doctrinal complexity of the Vita nova and Le dolci rime was essential for Dante to distinguish himself among the lay and clerical intellectuals of contemporary Florence, and helped him to build his reputation as “vero filosofo” as well as a leading intellectual in the second half of the 1290s.


Attribute NameValues
Author Lorenzo Dell'Oso
Contributor Christian R. Moevs, Committee Member
Contributor Anna Pegoretti, Committee Member
Contributor Zygmunt G. Barański, Research Director
Contributor Theodore J. Cachey Jr., Committee Member
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline Italian
Degree Name Doctor of Philosophy
Banner Code

Defense Date
  • 2020-06-03

Submission Date 2020-06-09
  • Italian Studies

  • Dante Studies

  • Medieval Studies

  • English

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

Departments and Units
Catalog Record


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