1 Biography 2 Historical identity
2.1 False ascription as King Solomon 2.2 Identification as Avicebron
3.1 Fons Vitæ 3.2 Influence within Judaism 3.3 Influence on Scholasticism
4.1 The Improvement of the Moral Qualities 4.2 Mivchar HaPeninim
5 Poetry 6 See also 7 References 8 Further reading 9 External links
Little is known of Gabirol's life, and some sources give contradictory
information.:xvi Sources agree that he was born in Málaga, but are
unclear whether in late 1021 or early 1022 CE.:xvii The year of his
death is a matter of dispute, with conflicting accounts having him
dying either before age 30 or by age 48.
Gabirol lived a life of material comfort, never having to work to
sustain himself, but he lived a difficult and loveless life, suffering
ill health, misfortunes, fickle friendships, and powerful
enemies.:xvii—xxvi From his teenage years, he suffered from some
disease, possibly lupus vulgaris, that would leave him embittered
and in constant pain. He indicates in his poems that he considered
himself short and ugly. Of his personality,
Moses ibn Ezra wrote:
"his irascible temperament dominated his intellect, nor could he rein
the demon that was within himself. It came easily to him to lampoon
the great, with salvo upon salvo of mockery and sarcasm.":17–18
He has been described summarily as "a social misfit.":12
Gabirol's writings indicate that his father was a prominent figure in
Córdoba, but was forced to relocate to
By age 17, he had composed five of his known poems, one an azhara ("I am the master, and Song is my slave") enumerating all 613 commandments of Judaism.:xix At age 17, he composed a 200-verse elegy for his friend Yekutiel:xiv and four other notable elegies to mourn the death of Hai Gaon. By age 19, he had composed a 400-verse alphabetical and acrostic poem teaching the rules of Hebrew grammar.:xxv By age 23 or 25,:xxv he had composed, in Arabic, "Improvement of the Moral Qualities" (Arabic: كتاب الصلاح الأخلاق, translated into Hebrew by Judah ben Saul ibn Tibbon as Hebrew: תקון מדות הנפש At around age 25, or not,:xxv he may have composed his collection of proverbs Mivchar Pninim (lit. "Choice of Pearls"), although scholars are divided on his authorship. At around age 28, or not,:xxv he composed his philosophical work Fons Vitæ.:xxv
As mentioned above, the conflicting accounts of Gabirol's death have
him dying either before age 30 or by age 48. The opinion of
earliest death, that he died before age 30, is believed to be based
upon a misreading of medieval sources. The remaining two opinions
are that he died either in 1069 or 1070,:xxvii or around 1058 in
Valencia. As to the circumstances of his death, one legend
claims that he was trampled to death by an Arab horseman. A second
legend relates that he was murdered by a Muslim poet who was
jealous of Gabirol's poetic gifts, and who secretly buried him beneath
the roots of a fig tree. The tree bore fruit in abundant quantity and
of extraordinary sweetness. Its uniqueness excited attention and
provoked an investigation. The resulting inspection of the tree
uncovered Gabirol's remains, and led to the identification and
execution of the murderer.
Though Gabirol's legacy was esteemed throughout the Middle Ages and
Renaissance periods, it was historically minimized by two errors of
scholarship that mis-attributed his works.
False ascription as King Solomon
Gabirol seems to have often been called "the Málagan", after his
place of birth, and would occasionally so refer to himself when
encrypting his signature in his poems (e.g. in "שטר עלי
בעדים" he embeds his signature as an acrostic, in the form
"אני שלמה הקטן ברבי יהודה גבירול מאלקי
חזק"). While in
Student: What is the purpose of man? Teacher: The inclination of his soul to the higher world in order that everyone might return to his like. (Fons Vitæ 1.2, p. 4, lines 23–25)
In the closing sentences of the Fons Vitæ (5.43, p. 338, line 21), ibn Gabirol further describes this state of “return” as a liberation from death and a cleaving to the source of life. The work was originally composed in Arabic, of which no copies are extant. It was preserved for the ages by a translation into Latin in the year 1150 by Abraham ibn Daud and Dominicus Gundissalinus, who was the first official director of the Toledo School of Translators, a scholastic philosopher, and the archdeacon of Segovia, Spain.:xxx In the 13th century, Shem Tov ibn Falaquera wrote a summary of Fons Vitæ in Hebrew, and only in 1926 was the full Latin text was translated into Hebrew. Fons Vitæ consists of five sections:
matter and form in general and their relation in physical substances (Latin: substantiæ corporeæ sive compositæ); the substance which underlies the corporeality of the world (Latin: de substantia quæ sustinet corporeitatem mundi); proofs of the existence of intermediaries between God and the physical world (Latin: substantiæ simplices, lit. "intelligibiles"); proofs that these "intelligibiles" are likewise constituted of matter and form; universal matter and universal form.
Fons Vitæ posits that the basis of existence and the source of life in every created thing is a combination of "matter" (Latin: materia universalis) and "form". The doctrine of matter and form informed the work's subtitle: "De Materia et Forma." Its chief doctrines are:
everything that exists may be reduced to three categories:
God; matter and form (i.e. Creation); will (an intermediary).
All created beings are constituted of form and matter. This holds true for both the physical world (Latin: substantiis corporeis sive compositis) and the spiritual world (Latin: substantiis spiritualibus sive simplicibus), which latter are the connecting link between the first substance (i.e. the Godhead, Latin: essentia prima) and the physical world (Latin: substantia, quæ sustinet novem prædicamenta, lit. "substance divided into nine categories"). Matter and form are always and everywhere in the relation of "sustinens" and "sustentatum", "propriatum" and "proprietas": substratum and property or attribute.
Influence within Judaism
Though Gabirol as a philosopher was ignored by the Jewish community,
Gabirol as a poet was not, and through his poetry, he introduced his
philosophical ideas. His best-known poem, Keter Malkut ("Royal
Crown"), is a philosophical treatise in poetical form, the "double" of
the Fons Vitæ. For example, the eighty-third line of the poem points
to one of the teachings of the Fons Vitæ; namely, that all the
attributes predicated of God exist apart in thought alone and not in
Moses ibn Ezra is the first to mention Gabirol as a philosopher,
praising his intellectual achievements, and quoting several passages
from the Fons Vitæ in his own work, Aruggat ha-Bosem. Abraham ibn
Ezra, who cites Gabirol's philosophico-allegorical Bible
interpretation, borrows from the Fons Vitæ both in his prose and in
his poetry without giving due credit.
The 12th-century philosopher
Joseph ibn Tzaddik borrows extensively
from the "Fons Vitæ" in his work Microcosmos.
Another 12th-century philosopher,
Abraham ibn Daud of Toledo, was the
first to take exception to Gabirol's teachings. In Sefer ha-Kabbalah
he praises Gabirol as a poet. But to counteract the influence of ibn
Gabirol the philosopher, he wrote an
Dominicus Gundissalinus, who translated the Fons Vitæ into Latin and
incorporated its ideas into his own teaching.
William of Auvergne, who refers to the work of Gabirol under the title
Fons Sapientiæ. He speaks of Gabirol as a Christian and praises him
as "unicus omnium philosophantium nobilissimus."
Alexander of Hales
The main points at issue between Gabirol and Aquinas were as follows:
the universality of matter, Aquinas holding that spiritual substances are immaterial; the plurality of forms in a physical entity, which Aquinas denied; the power of activity of physical beings, which Gabirol affirmed. Aquinas held that Gabirol made the mistake of transferring to real existence the theoretical combination of genus and species, and that he thus came to the erroneous conclusion that in reality all things are constituted of matter and form as genus and species respectively.
Ethics The Improvement of the Moral Qualities
Pride Meekness Pudency Impudence
Love Hate Mercy Hard-heartedness (cruelty)
Wrath Good-will (suavity) Jealousy Wide-awakeness
Joy (cheerfulness) Grief (apprehensiveness) Tranquillity Penitence (remorse)
Liberality Miserliness Valor Cowardice
The Improvement of the Moral Qualities (Hebrew: "תקון מדות
הנפש", pronounced [ti.'kun mi.ˈdot ha.ˈne.feʃ]) is an
ethical treatise that has been called by Munk "a popular manual of
morals."[this quote needs a citation] It was composed by Gabirol at
Mivhar ha-Peninim, traditionally thought to have been written by
Mivchar HaPeninim (Hebrew: מבחר הפנינים. lit. "The
Choice of Pearls"), an ethics work of sixty-four chapters, has been
attributed to Gabirol since the 19th century, but this is
doubtful. It was originally published, along with a short
commentary, in Soncino, Italy, in 1484, and has since been re-worked
and re-published in many forms and abridged editions (e.g. Joseph
Ḳimcḥi versified the work under the title "Shekel ha-Kodesh").
The work is a collection of maxims, proverbs, and moral reflections,
many of them of
Azharot Shir Hakavod (lit. Song of Glory) Shir Hayichud (lit. Song of Unity) Keter Malchuth (lit. Royal Crown), for recitation on Yom Kippur various dirges (kinnot) mourning the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the plight of Israel
Gabirol's most famous poem is Keter Malchut (lit. Royal Crown), which, in 900 lines, describes the cosmos as testifying to its own creation by God, based upon the then current (11th-century) scientific understanding of the cosmos. Gabirol's poetry has been set to music by the modern composer Aaron Jay Kernis, in a piece titled "Symphony of Meditations."  See also
Miguel Asín Palacios Ibn Gabirol Street
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa Davidson,
Israel (1924). Selected Religious Poems of
Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Ibn Gabirol". Encyclopædia
Britannica. 14 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
Singer, Isidore; et al., eds. (1901–1906). "Ibn Gabirol,
H. Adler, Ibn Gabirol and His Influence upon Scholastic Philosophy, London, 1865; Ascher, A Choice of Pearls, London, 1859; Bacher, Bibelexegese der Jüdischen, Religionsphilosophen des Mittelalters, pp. 45–55, Budapest, 1892; Bäumker, Avencebrolis Fons Vitæ, Muuünster, 1895; Beer, Philosaphie und Philosophische Schriftsteller der Juden, Leipsic, 1852; Bloch, Die Jüdische Religionsphilosophic, in Winter and Wünsche, Die Jüdische Litteratur, ii. 699-793, 723-729; Dukes, Ehrensäulen, und Denksteine, pp. 9–25, Vienna, 1837; idem. Salomo ben Gabirol aus Malaga und die Ethischen Werke Desselben, Hanover, 1860; Eisler, Vorlesungen über die Jüdischen Philosophen des Mittelalters, i. 57-81, Vienna, 1876; Geiger, Salomo Gabirol und Seine Dichtungen, Leipsic, 1867; Graetz, History of the Jews. iii. 9; Guttmann, Die Philosophie des Salomon ibn Gabirol, Göttingen, 1889; Guttmann, Das Verhältniss des Thomas von Aquino zum Judenthum und zur Jödischen Litteratur, especially ii. 16-30, Götingen, 1891; Horovitz, Die Psychologie Ibn Gabirols, Breslau, 1900; Joël, Ibn Gebirol's Bedeutung für die Gesch. der Philosophie, Beiträge zur Gesch. der philosophie, i., Breslau, 1876; Kümpf, Nichtandalusische Poesie Andalusischer Dichter, pp. 167–191, Prague, 1858; Karpeles, Gesch. der Jüdischen Litteratur, i. 465-483, Berlin, 1886; Kaufmann, Studien über Salomon ibn Gabirol, Budapest, 1899; Kaufmann, Gesch. der Attributtenlehre in der Jüd. Religionsphilosophie des Mittelaliers, pp. 95–115, Gotha, 1877; Löwenthal, Pseudo-Aristoteles über die Seele, Berlin, 1891; Müller, De Godsleer der Middeleeuwsche Joden, pp. 90–107, Groningen, 1898; Munk, Mélanges de Philosophie Juive et, Arabe, Paris, 1859; Myer, Qabbalah, The Philosophical Writings of . . . Avicebron, Philadelphia, 1888; Rosin, in J. Q. R. iii. 159-181; Sachs, Die Religiöse; Poesie der Juden in Spanien, pp. 213–248, Berlin, 1845; Seyerlen, Die Gegenseitigen Beziehungen Zwischen Abendländischer und Morgenländischer Wissenschaft mit Besonderer Rücksicht auf Solomon ibn Gebirol und Seine Philosophische Bedeutung, Jena, 1899; Stouössel, Salomo ben Gabirol als Philosoph und Förderer der Kabbala, Leipsic, 1881; Steinschneider, Hebr. Uebers. pp. 379–388, Berlin, 1893; Wise, The Improvement of the Moral Qualities, New York, 1901; Wittmann, Die Stellung des Heiligen Thomas von Aquin zu Avencebrol, Münster, 1900. For Poetry: Geiger, Salomo Gabirol und Seine Dichtungen, Leipsic, 1867; Senior Sachs, Cantiqucs de Salomon ibn Gabirole, Paris, 1868; idem, in Ha-Teḥiyyah, p. 185, Berlin, 1850; Dukes, Schire Shelomo, Hanover, 1858; idem, Ehrensaülen, Vienna, 1837; Edelmann and Dukes, Treasures of Oxford, London, 1851; M. Sachs, Die Religiöse Poesie der Juden in Spanien, Berlin, 1845; Zunz, Literaturgesch. pp. 187–194, 411, 588; Kämpf, Nichtandalusische Poesie Andalusischer Dichter, pp. 167 et seq.; Brody, Kuntras ha-Pijutim nach dem Machsor Vitry, Berlin, 1894, Index.
Turner, William (1907). "Avicebron". In Herbermann, Charles. Catholic Encyclopedia. 2. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
Wikiquote has quotations related to:
Pessin, Sarah. "
WorldCat Identities VIAF: 100186412 LCCN: n80001062 ISNI: 0000 0001 1886 9423 GND: 118688987 SELIBR: 191230 SUDOC: 028314905 BNF: cb12017625b (data) BIBSYS: 97051564 MusicBrainz: f78f9146-6f1b-4c85-a788-5545ab6a34df NKC: jx20060407002 ICCU: ITICCUCFIV99321 BNE: XX883