Tractatus virtutum Boncompagni
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§1  Introduction.  Virtues in the ars dictandi achieved by avoiding and removing vices. 

§2  It is a virtue to begin speeches, letters, privileges and testaments with a humble style and gradually increase the level of style up to the end.   The prophets, evangelists, apostles and all the disciples of Christ observed this doctrine in both the Old and the New Testments, with the exception of John the Evangelist.  Christ himself employed simple beginnings when he spoke in mortal flesh. 
§3  The Latin and Greek church fathers began with a humble style, a practice followed today by the Roman curia and all dictators of emperors and kings, by philosophers and their posterity, and by todays Greeks, from whose founts the streams of Latin eloquence flow.  Since Boncompagno wishes to follow such weighty authority, he confidently rejects the judgment of the Orleans masters, who say that ornate words and quotations from authorities should always be put in the beginning. 
§4  Two exceptions to the doctrine requiring that beginnings be made in the stilus humilis are sermons and some penitential letters, which require quoted authorities at the beginning. 
§5  The types of penitential letters requiring quoted authorities are enumerated and a reason is given why preaching requires authorities to be introduced. 
§6  The prudent dictator will exercize caution in quoting authorities. 
§7  Invective against plagiarists.  Allusion to the fable of the tortoise, to the QTS incident, to Horace Ep. 1.3.19-20; quotation from Buchimenon Libri materiarum XI. 

§8  Words to avoid in beginning a letter or a passage are listed. 
§9  More words to avoid, and some grammatical classes of words to avoid in beginning a letter or a passage.  A few words to avoid in beginning a sentence. 

§10  Function and necessity of conjuctions, adverbs and prepositions indicated by means of corporate metaphors (shipbuilding and the human body). 
§11  Conjunctions change the whole meaning of an expression by either affirming or by doubting (conjecturally). 
§12  The conjunction `if': its use in papal letters which rules on points of law, where points of fact are still uncertain; its fundamental role in legal glosses. 
§13  The affirmative, doubting and negative uses of the conjuction `since' in letters of delegated judges.  Ornamental use of since.  Although grammarians treat `since' as equivocal with `because', they are not, just as `do' seems to have the same meaning as `make', one can correctly say `I make a gift' but not `I do a gift'.  Also `since' can better be put at the beginning of a passage than `because'. 
§14  Quote from Buchimenon Libri transumptionum I to show that in rhetoric there are no truly equivocal words, as the dialecticians consider them.  Buchimenon's invective against Aristotle. 
§15  Two words similar to `because' which cannot be put at the beginning of a passage.  Opinion of some (which Boncompagno considers absurd) about need for following words corresponding to `since' or `because' placed at the beginning of any passage. 

§16  Two citations from Buchimenon Libri materiarum 5 show difference between rhetors and grammarians or dialectitians. 
§17  Criticism of grammarians for following Aristotelian doctrine and criticism of above-stated opinion concerning need for following words corresponding to initial `since' or `because'. 

§18  Difference between two different words meaning `although': one of them sometimes takes a following corresponding word `yet'. 
§19  Differences between `when' and `while'. 
§20  Differences between `therefore' and `on that account'. 

§21  Discussion of six negative adverbs with stylistic cautions concerning usage. 
§22  Further stylistic advice about negatives, with specific strictures about letters, privileges and sermons, as opposed to rhetorical orations. 

§23  The use of the adverbs `further' and `moreover' to make transitions in discourse. 
§24  Differences among eight adverbs of similitude.  Some may be placed at the beginning of a passage, others may not. 

§25  It is a virtue to avoid a deformed construction, such as when an adjective is placed to far from its noun, which might obscure the meaning of discourse. 
§26  It is a virtue to place an adjective so that it does not seem to apply to two different nouns. 

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© Steven M. Wight, Los Angeles 1998

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