The Moral Proverbs of Santob de Carrion

The Moral Proverbs of Santob de Carrion: Jewish Wisdom in Christian Spain

Copyright Date: 1987
Pages: 212
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  • Book Info
    The Moral Proverbs of Santob de Carrion
    Book Description:

    This is the first English translation of Santob do Carrion's Proverbios morales (Moral Proverbs) and also the first book-length study of that monumental work.

    Originally published in 1987.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5914-6
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-10)

    The Fourteenth century was a crucial one for the once flourishing Jewish community of Spain. Boasting a continuous presence on Spanish soil from at least the third century and fortified by a native cultural heritage that included such giants as Maimonides, Ibn Gabirol, and Judah Halevi, Jews had managed to survive both the transfer of power from Moslems to Christians during thereconquistaas well as the anti-Jewish sentiment that swept much of western Europe during the Crusades and into the thirteenth century. Transplanted in the Christian north, they had settled into commerce and various trades and, because of their...

  5. I The Text of the Proverbios morales
    (pp. 11-62)
  6. PART II The Meaning of the Proverbios morales
    • 1. The Rose and the Jew: A Jewish-Christian Polemic
      (pp. 65-73)

      One of the best-known passages of medieval Spanish literature and certainly the most widely quoted of thePMis the cleverly personalized variant of the old saw “You can’t tell a book by its cover”:

      Por nasçer en el espino, For being born on the thornbush, the

      Non val la rosa çierto rose is certainly not worth less, nor is

      Menos, nin el buen vyno good wine, if taken from the lesser

      Por nasçer en el sarmiento. branches of the vine.

      Non val el açor menos Nor is the hawk worth less, if born in a

      Por nasçer de mal...

    • 2. Metaphors of Oppression and Triumph
      (pp. 74-85)

      The Study of the sources of a work such as thePMis likely to be a thankless task. Thankless because, beyond its humble methodologies, source hunting is apt to meet with little success in such vast and remote areas as medieval proverbial literature. Occasionally, however, it does become possible to identify specific sources, and the usefulness of such materials may be judged by the following.¹

      The main passage to be studied here occurs in its entirety only in theMmanuscript, of Judaizing tendencies, and in an altered and truncated form in the E manuscript, a Christianized text copied...

    • 3. Triadic Formulations of the Deadly Sins
      (pp. 86-97)

      Le bonheur ne se raconte pas. The inference from this well-known saying is that misfortune does find its narrative form, indeed that the expression and exploration of unhappiness seems to have generated much of our literature. This is certainly the case with many post-Renaissance genres—the Romantic lyric, for instance—which focus on the qualities of experience as such. But it is equally true of much of the theologically inspired literature of western Europe as well, with one important difference. Medieval texts were usually more interested in the causes than in the mere fact—or, indeed, celebration—of human unhappiness,...

    • 4. The Physical World, Its Things and Its Mutability
      (pp. 98-114)

      One of the great medieval works of wisdom literature, thePMis an authentic link in an ancient and continuous tradition of moral instruction. Faithful to both its Judaic orientation and the requirements of the genre,¹ its approach is resolutely empirical and practical, addressing man in his daily dealings and mundane preoccupations. It is hardly surprising, then, that the poem opens—after a dedication to the King and two prologues—with the following announcement of theme:

      Quiero dezyr, del mundo I wish to speak, concerning the world

      E de las sus maneras and its ways and my doubts about it,...

    • 5. The Ways of the Human World, I: Opinion and the Use of Things
      (pp. 115-130)

      Wise or, as we would say today, scientific discourse is an advance beyond popular opinion, whether prescientific (Bachelard) or “primitive” or simply introverted and selfish. The starting point in all cases is to uncover the errors of opinion, based on viewing things as we wish them to be rather than as they are. The first level of critical inquiry, then, would be the description and analysis of the common percepions and judgments that shape our daily awareness. Santob’s unuually intense dedication to this form of discourse is the subject of this chapter.

      Of the diverse forms of human behavior, the...

    • 6. The Ways of the Human World, II: Ethics and Behavior
      (pp. 131-148)

      In his analysis of sin, Santob’s focus on cupidity, envy, and anger is based on man’s three fundamental relations with reality.¹ Cupidity describes the sin of economic man in his relation withcosas; envy is an improper social attitude; angry discontentment is a sin against God.² The first area has been discussed in the previous chapter, and the theological issue will again be studied in the two final chapters. In this chapter I will consider Santob’s treatment of man as a social being.

      An issue that necessarily enters into this discussion, which in fact forms the core of Santob’s ethics,...

    • 7. Santob’s Reading of Ecclesiastes: The World as Vanity and as Living Space
      (pp. 149-155)

      One of the most difficult critical questions relating to thePMis its genre, for while it invites comparison with other wisdom collections of the period, its approach is quite different. Indeed, Santob’s highly original anthology of proverbial sayings seems out of place in the literary life of fourteenth-century Castile. For example, in contrast to those anonymous collections of wisdom materials then in vogue, such as theBocados de oro or the Libro de los buenos proverbios, supposedly sayings of the sages of antiquity, the author of thePMdoes not assume the posture of an all-knowing sage. Nor does...

    • 8. God and Repentance
      (pp. 156-162)

      One of The most difficult questions concerning thePMis its spiritual level, deciding to what degree it is fundamentally a religious work and what place God has in Santob’s thought. Few critics have considered Santob a religious writer, and the evidence seems to be with them, for did not Santob define his theme in purely secular terms: “the world and its ways”? According to this view, thePMis essentially a practical handbook of social and physical survival.¹ And God has little place in the work, except an occasional mention, and that at the intersections or periphery of the...

    • Conclusion
      (pp. 163-166)

      “These are notable verses that everyone should learn by heart.” The advice of Santob’s medieval commentator seems to have been heeded, since theProverbios moraleswas especially dear to Sephardic Jews and continues to be read even today in the Hispanic world. Santob’s rich and subtle personality indeed speaks in many voices and to a variety of audiences. His dominant concern is the ethical one, addressed to all men at all times, but particularly to his contemporaries, caught up in a rising tide of consumerism. His literary model here was the long tradition of wisdom sayings of the Book of...

  7. Appendix. The Ideology of the Proverbios morales: The Anonymous Commentator’s Prologue in MS M
    (pp. 167-182)
  8. Bibliography
    (pp. 183-192)
  9. Index of Passages of the Proverbios morales
    (pp. 193-194)
  10. General Index
    (pp. 195-198)