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date: 22 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

In analyzing medieval Latin prose, one should think not in terms of a monolithic “medieval” style, but rather of a wide range of styles and stylistic devices that an author may employ or discard from work to work, or even within a single work. The choice of a style may be influenced by content, but is not dictated by it. Above all, the use of a given stylistic feature is meaningful only within a system of conventional expectations that links author and audience. Late antique grammarians identified rhetorical figures and laid down rules on spelling and usage, but their focus was on verse rather than prose. Medieval handbooks of prose composition are late and limited to particular genres. A prose work may be divided by verse interludes, in the mixed form known as prosimetrum. Ludwig Traube famously observed that there is no such thing as “medieval Latin” and that, consequently, there can be no grammar or dictionary of it. The same is true of medieval Latin prose style.

Keywords: Latin prose, medieval style, prosimetrum, Ludwig Traube, medieval Latin

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