Ars dictaminis

Ars dictaminis

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The ars dictaminis was the medieval description of the art of prose composition, and more specifically of the writing of letters (dictamen). It is closely linked to the ars dictandi, covering the composition of documents other than letters. The standing assumption was that these writings would be composed in Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

, and according to well worked-out models. This made the arts of composition a subfield of rhetoric
Rhetoric
Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. As a subject of formal study and a productive civic practice, rhetoric has played a central role in the Western...

.

In business letters, it called for some form of address (e.g., “Worshipful master”); salutation (“I greet you well”); notification (“May it please you to know”); exposition (“the wool was shipped”); disposition (“and I want my money”); and valediction (“May God keep you well, at least until my bill is paid”). Clerks and scribes wrote the letters based on those rules.

Certain aspects of ars dictaminis may have its roots in the art of dictation applied by medieval Islamic humanists
Islamic ethics
Islamic ethics , defined as "good character," historically took shape gradually from the 7th century and was finally established by the 11th century...

 to classical Arabic
Classical Arabic
Classical Arabic , also known as Qur'anic or Koranic Arabic, is the form of the Arabic language used in literary texts from Umayyad and Abbasid times . It is based on the Medieval dialects of Arab tribes...

. Important figures in the development of Latin letter writing and document composition include Albericus Cassinensis, his critic Adalbert of Samaria (Praecepta Dictaminum, c. 1120), and Lawrence of Aquilegia
Lawrence of Aquilegia
Lawrence of Aquilegia was a thirteenth-century Italian canon and teacher. He is best known for his treatises on the ars dictaminis—the medieval art of letter writing...

.

External links

Timeline of the ars dictandi