The Convivio and the De vulgari eloquentia were written in a specific phase of Dante’s life (1303-6) and clearly define his intellectual identity at the time as that of a ‘lay philosopher’ and a theorist of the vernacular. The article examines some characteristics common to both treatises (§ 2), and in particular tracks down two major thematic strands that they share: that of ‘rationality’ (§§ 3.1-2), resulting from Dante’s strong intellectual preferences for Aristotelian philosophy in this phase; and that of ‘nobility’ (§§ 4.1-2), arising from Dante’s search for a political order capable of overcoming the violence and disorder endemic in the life of the communes. Two target audiences are identified for the two treatises (§ 5): for the Convivio, the noblemen and nobelwomen of the feudal regimes and Signorie that Dante had met in the Apennines and the Po Valley in his early years of exile; for the De vulgari eloquentia, university philosophers, vernacular poets and masters of the artes dictandi. The article outlines the most likely political and biographical circumstances in which the two treatises were conceived and composed (§ 6): Verona emerges as the most likely place where the Convivio was devised in 1303-4 (§ 6.1); and Bologna, with its favorable political and cultural conditions and its libraries, is argued to be the most probable location where both treatises were written for the most part in 1304-6 (§ 6.2). This article closes (§ 7) by proposing some lines of further research.