Statue of Solomon ibn Gabirol
Solomon ibn Gabirol was an Andalusian poet and Jewish philosopher (Málaga ca. 1021-Valencia, ca. 1058). He is one of the most renowned medieval Spanish-Jewish scholars. In the nineteenth century, it was discovered that medieval translators had Latinised Gabirol’s name to Avicebrón, and his work had been regarded as a work of Christian scholarship. Born into a prominent family fleeing the revolts that overthrew the Caliphate of Córdoba, he moved to Zaragoza, then an important centre of Jewish culture. However, he gave testimony of his Málaga origins in his work.
The admiration of later chroniclers was not matched by Ibn Gabirol’s contemporaries. His anti-social temperament and sharp wit earned him powerful enemies. When his benefactor, a powerful man, was assassinated as a result of a political conspiracy, a herem (anathema) was pronounced against him, and he went into exile (1045).
He wrote a philosophical work in Arabic under the title Fons Vitae (The Source of Life). In the Neo-Platonic style, it is a dialogue between master and disciple on the nature of Creation. Fons Vitae was a highly influential work in Christian philosophy.