Ibn Gabirol, the Sephardic’s cursed poet

Ibn Gabirol, the Sephardic’s cursed poet

Continuing with our review of the most important Andalusian culture’s characters, the figure of Ibn Gabirol is one of the most prominent. He was a Sephardic philosopher and poet who was born in Málaga in the year 1021 and died in Valencia in 1058.

He is well-known as the most important Arab and Hebrew medieval philosopher with his interpretation of Plato’s works.

When the Caliphate of Cordoba collapsed, his family moved on to Malaga and, after that, to Zaragoza. As a kid, he showed early intellectual skills early and it was in the current Aragonese’s capital where he was initiated in philosophy and literature by hands of his master, and visir of the Zaragozan king Mundir II, the jew Yekutiel ben Isaac.

In 1039, a revolt ends Mundir II’s reign and his dynasty, the tuyibians. Master Yekutiel was killed and Gabirol’s family had to run away to Grenada. Young Ibn Gabirol was protected by the Granada’s king Ibn Habus’ visir, Samuel Ibn Nagrella and he worked as his son Yosef’s preceptor.

As a poet, Gabirol cultivated the panegyric and elegiac as well as the satire and homoerotic poetry; very popular in the Muslim poetry but not in the Jewish one. But as a scientist, he wrote about astronomy, philosophy, ethics and moral. His most important work is “The source of life “, an example of the Neoplatonic medieval philosophy trend that served as a reference for Christian Orders like Franciscans.

His wide talent, his irascible personality, and his political connections made him get numerous enemies. It is considered by the historiography that Ibn Gabirol died in 1058 in unknown circumstances, likely assassinated by some of his many rivals.