This article demonstrates a systematic connection between the novelty of Petrarch’s authorship and his self-definition as an exile. Petrarch employs the unusual term exilium/esilio to substantiate his unprecedented claim that literature is a legally valid officium (civic role). Following Dante, Petrarch grounds his exilic authorship in the Christian discourse of peregrinatio: life as pilgrimage through exile. But Petrarch’s new officium allows him a measure of control over literary creation that no prior Italian writer had enjoyed. This is especially true of the “Canzoniere,” Petrarch’s compilation of his vernacular lyrics, whose singularity functions as a proxy for its author’s selfhood.