Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Ramchal's rebbe, Rabbi Sabbato Marini of Padua.

This is Rabbi Dr. Shabbetai Aharon Chaim Marini (1685-1762), a rebbe (teacher) of Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, the Ramchal. He was a physician and מורה צדק of Padua.


The title on the book he is holding reads "שירי החליפות," which was the title of his translation of several parts of Ovid's Metamorphoses. In case, by the way, anyone thinks that he is marginal and his relationship with Ramchal can be dismissed, this particular translation was actually begun by his more famous friend, Rabbi Isaiah Bassan, who is associated much more strongly and firmly as Ramchal's teacher.

He is briefly mentioned in the Chida's Ma'agal Tov (pg. 82), as follows:



In terms of his physicianship, Meir Benayahu wrote1 that at the time Padua was a unique Jewish community in that "its poets were also its rabbis and its physicians."

Although it forever remains unfortunate that there is no portrait of Ramchal, it is still worthwhile to see one of the גאוני וחסדי פאדובה from the time and environment in which he was raised.

1רבי אברהם הכהן מזאנטי ולהקת הרופאים-המשוררים בפדובה in Hasifrut 26 (1978).

27 comments:

  1. How might I find a copy of שירי החליפות? Was it ever printed? I tried typing it into the JTS and JNUL catalogs, but found nothing.

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  2. According to Benjacob (#599) it was printed the one time in Padua in 1708.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=neREAAAAYAAJ

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  3. The Googlebooks Benjacob thing doesn't show up on my computer.

    If it was printed in Padua, it's interesting that JNUL doesn't (seem to) have it. Oh, maybe they have on meekrofeelm.

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  4. I still can't find it. Help!

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  5. For Benjacob, type inauthor:benjacob into Google.

    Benjacob also lists two manuscripts, so you'd think JNUL would have a microfilm at least. It is indeed interesting that they don't seem to have it. I bet it was digitized by, like, the University of Padua or something and its buried in some European digital collection.

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  6. Digitized, really? Not just microfilmed?

    If we locate it, we should certainly inform the JNUL.

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  7. I wouldn't be surprised. Loads of unis have modest digitization projects since everyone is gung-ho about getting things online, and naturally they're weighted to reflect the particular orientation and heritage of the institution. Thus, more Italian stuff digitized by Italians, more Spanish by the Spanish, etc.

    I would say there's a fair chance this book is already online somewhere. The question of course is, can we find it? - especially challenging because we also don't know if it is.

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  8. Here's an 1851 article by Jacob Goldenthal called "Rieti und Marini; oder, Dante und Ovid in hebräischer umkleidung." On pg. 26 he discusses the Ovid translation, and also notes that the Austrian National Library had recently obtained a manuscript.

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  9. Again -- the Googlebooks links are useless, leading just to a general search page.

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  10. Well, just plug that into Google Books.

    I think it's because I'm using Chrome. It's doing something to the URLs.

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  11. But OK, I found your reference to the manuscript in the k. k. Hofbibliothek. But isn't that referring to three following poems, not the Metamorphoses translation by Marini?

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  12. You're right, I didn't read it carefully.

    But I finally found a sample of Ovid (in an obvious place to look):

    http://goo.gl/ox1r

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  13. Why did Marini and Bassan translate Ovid?

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  14. Nice! So Schirman had access to the book.

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  15. I can't give a definitive reason (and certainly nothing about why Ovid specifically) but I can try to sketch a little bit about the context, which may shed some light. Italian Jews believed in having a secular education. They were also very interested in the Hebrew language, and poetry. At the time familiarity with classics like Ovid were still considered essential elements of secular education, so that explains their familiarity (although it should be noted that they translated Ovid from an Italian translation, not Latin, although Marini at least certainly knew Latin - you couldn't be educated, let alone a physician, without knowing Latin then). As for the poetry, it was so popular that a regular part of celebrations of all kinds was the reading of poetry composed especially for the occasion. In the Benayahu article I mentioned in the post, he explains that Padua in particular was a major center of Hebrew poetry, and that its poets (who were also its rabbis) regularly exchanged poems, and had little meetings and such to learn from one another. As for translation, it is a good exercise for enriching one's knowledge of a language - or at least that's what the Italian Jews thought, and they translated many many secular works, or more usually bits and pieces, into Hebrew - for knowledge and for pleasure.

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  16. it should be noted that they translated Ovid from an Italian translation, not Latin

    How do you know?

    (I didn't bother to check the original Latin, and match up the Hebrew lines with it -- though I certainly have a copy of the original Latin on my shelf, and loved reading it when I was a teenager. Ovid's Latin is so well, sweet and flowing, like warm honey.

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  17. I'm guessing it says so in the manuscript/ title page, but I am following those who have seen it (eg, Delitzsch, and others - search for "Vita Marini").

    When I was a teenager I liked reading Archie Comics, not Latin. Okay, maybe not Archie Comics, but not Ovid in Latin.

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  18. Thanks, S.

    Coming from a familiarity with Ramchal's works on Aristotelian logic, dialectic, rhetoric, and poetics, I wouldn't have been surprised to read that his teachers had translated, say, Greek Neoplatonist authors like Plotinus or Proclus. Against that background Ovid appears anomalous, sort of like one of Leonardo's subjects sporting a cell phone.

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  19. Thanks - I think it was probably aesthetic.

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  20. I'm with Mar Gavriel here, but I shouldn't be surprised if there were Latin Ovid comics published somewhere as a compromise. I know classic comedies were made into comics. (And of course, modern ones have been translated into Latin.)

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  21. Doesn't look particularly appealing, but there are indeed some. Here's one.

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  22. Lipman, the liŋk doesn't work.

    BTW, Mivami gave me some interesting information about the location of copies of שירי חליפות. You can email me privately to find out more.

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  23. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  25. I have to correct some mistakes made here.
    Shabbetay Aharon Hayyim Marini is not the author of "Shire Ha-Halifot". The author is Shabbetay Hayyim Marini born in 1662 according to some sources or between 1660 and 1665 according to others. He died on 19 Iyyar 1748 which is May 17th 1748 according to the qinah composed by Yeshayah Romanin.
    He translated into hebrew the first three books of Ovid's Metamorphoses from the italian translation of
    Giovanni Andrea dell'Anguillara. This translation has been published many times between 1500 and 1700 until the last edition in 1832. It is composed of eight verses stanzas and this is the reason, among other things, why Marini chose it.
    He tried to publish his work but he died before could complete the task. We have three pages printed in Mantua in 1748 which are now attached to one of the manuscripts (we have 5 manuscripts with the complete translation, 4 are copies but 1 is the autograph).
    He adapted also the Pirqe Avot in verses and composed occasional poems for weddings, etc.
    I made a critical edition of this work as my Ph.D. dissertation.
    See also my article "The legend of Daphne and Apollo in Ovid’s Metamorphoses translated into Hebrew by Shabbetay Hayyim Marini" (In Italian). Henoch (Turin University), 13 (1991): 319-335.

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  26. Shabbetay ben Aharon Marini is the one born on 1685 and passed away in 1762. He was a member of the fraternity Sovvegno in Padua alongside Shabbetay Hayyim Marini who was the appointed physician from 1713 until 1748 (when he passed away)

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