Abstract: Among the hundreds of medieval treatises on letter writing (artes dictandi) are at least four that are written entirely in hexameter verse. Moreover, the verse treatises by Jupiter Monoculus and Otto of Lüneburg are preserved in dozens of fourteenth- and fifteenth-century manuscripts, where they are usually accompanied by commentaries. The surprising popularity of these texts is due in part to their curricular association with the most successful general composition textbook of the Middle Ages, Geoffrey of Vinsauf's Poetria nova, which is also written in hexameters. In addition, they served the same pedagogical functions as the verses that are embedded in many prose artes dictandi: they give pleasure through variety, they provide concise summaries of doctrine, and they facilitate memorization through the use of meter and (often) rhyme.
- Copyright 1996, The International Society for the History of Rhetoric