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Ibn Gabirol. Statues of Málaga

A Málaga-born poet and philosopher of Jewish origin who left his beautiful legacy in the Andalusian era

Ibn Gabirol, whose full name is Salomon Ben Yehudah Ibn Gabirol, has a statue located in the gardens of Alcazabilla Street, next to the El Pimpi winery restaurant, created by Reed Armstrong in 1970. There's a plaque at the foot of the statue that reads:

SALOMÓN BEN GABIROL (Málaga 1021 – Valencia 1058) Poet and Philosopher.

The statue portrays an elderly thinker. Perhaps the sculptor, overwhelmed by his prolific literary, poetic, and philosophical works, thought that only a venerable old man seasoned by life's experiences could leave such a vast legacy. Ibn Gabirol was the son of a family from Cordoba that fled to Málaga in 1013, due to the revolts that ended the Cordoban caliphate — hence Ibn 'Ezra and Ibn Zakkuto call him al-qurtubi, that is, "the Cordoban", although he himself proclaims in several of his acrostic poems ha-malaquí, "the Malagueño".

Ibn Gabirol's Life and Works

Born in 1021, according to sources. His stay in the Malacitan Jewish quarter was limited to his childhood, and he soon moved, likely due to new revolts after Almanzor's death, with his father to Zaragoza, where he received his education. There, his early poetic genius earned him the protection of the patron Yekutiel ben Isaac, Jewish vizier of King Mundir II of the Taifa of Zaragoza. Ibn Gabirol referred to Yekutiel ben Isaac as a "prince", "born of princes and sovereigns", and "lord of lords", and dedicated many of his most outstanding poems to him.

In 1039, after the tumults during the coup of Abd Allah ibn Hakam against Mundir II, which overthrew the Tuyibí dynasty, Yekutiel was murdered. After dedicating the most beautiful of his elegies to him, Ibn Gabirol left Zaragoza and headed to Granada, seeking another protector in one of the most notable and powerful characters of his time, Šemuel Ibn Nagrela, vizier of Badis ibn Habus, the Zirid king of Granada.

The End of Ibn Gabirol's Life and Works

He was a tutor to his son Yosef and, despite the common origin of their families - both were from Cordoba and migrated to Málaga -, their relationships were conflictive, even leading to personal confrontation, due both to poetic rivalry and to the peculiar character of our protagonist, of whom Ibn `Ezra said: "His untamed genius led him to insult the great and fill them with offenses, without excusing their defects". After residing in Granada for a few years, he chose to return to Zaragoza, where he was expelled from the Zaragoza Hebrew community (1045) and then went into exile again.

His desires to go to Sion were not likely fulfilled, and we lack reliable testimonies about the last period of his life. Ibn Zakkuto transmits a romantic legend of his death in Valencia, at the hands of a Muslim poet jealous of his poems, and of how, after being buried under a fig tree, it bore its sweetest fruits.

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