Focusing on book 4 of Dante’s Convivio (The Banquet), this article analyzes the complexity of the unfinished poetic and philosophical treatise that the poet wrote at the beginning of his exile. The relevance of the Convivio within Dante’s overall production can be attributed to the presence of numerous themes dear to the poet, which sometimes emerge only in nuce and sometimes already in a mature form in the treatise. Nonetheless, Dante took many of these subjects and linguistic experimentations and elaborated on them in his later works. In particular, book 4 functions as a precedent for some of the choices, themes, and styles subsequently developed in the Commedia. However, when the inspiration for the Convivio as a vehicle for both poetic and prose production is supplanted by the larger and even more ambitious project of his Commedia, Dante abandoned the treatise and left its linguistic mission unfinished.

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