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BENEDETTI, SALVATORE DE:

Italian scholar; born April 18, 1818, at Novara, a town in Piedmont; died Aug. 4, 1891, at Pisa. In his time the public schools of Italy were closed to Jews, and therefore Benedetti attended the only school of importance in Piedmont open to Hebrews—a college founded in Vercelli by a certain Foa and intended more especially for the preparation of rabbis. After finishing his studies there and feeling no inclination for the ministry, Benedetti earned a livelihood by teaching, and by editorial work for some Piedmont and Milan papers. At this time also he translated, in abridged form, Adolph Franck's book on the Cabala. In 1844 Benedetti was named superintendent of the Pie Scuole Israelitiche at Leghorn. In 1848 he became one of the most militant participants of the Mazzini faction, and took an active part in the publication of the "Corriere Livornese."

When the Austrians invaded Leghorn, Benedetti left the city in order to return to his native province, Piedmont. He remained some time in Turin actively engaged as a journalist, and when Cesare Correnti founded the "Progresso," Benedetti became a member of the editorial staff of that paper. After its cessation Benedetti went back to Novara, and after having delivered public lectures on history he founded and edited the paper "La Vedetta," which served as intermediary between free Piedmont and Lombardy, then still under the Austrian yoke.

In view of the changed political situation provoked by the policy of Victor Emmanuel and of his minister Cavour, Benedetti decided thenceforward to devote his life to science and literature. In 1862 he became professor of Hebrew at the University of Pisa, and retained the position till his death. He also contributed from time to time to local papers of his new dwelling-place. He devoted the greater part of his energy to scientific publications; distinguishing himself by his exact knowledge of the bibliography of each subject he treated, by the severe method of research that he applied to every topic he discussed, and, above all, by the choice language he employed.

One of the most interesting of Benedetti's works was his "Vita e Morte di Mose," 1879, wherein he gathered and translated the legends concerning the great Hebrew legislator. His "Canzoniere Sacro di Giuda Levita," 1871, a translation of the poems of Judah ha-Levi, helped largely to acquaint the Italian public with the Hebrew poetry of the Middle Ages. Besides the above-mentioned works Benedetti published: "Il Terzo Centenario di Galileo," a historical tale, Pisa, 1864; "Del Metodo di Galileo nella Filologia," Turin, 1864; "Della Educazione Rustica," Florence, 1865; "Elisa Finocchietti Toscanelli," Pisa, 1870; "I Teologi Naturali" (translated from the Hebrew), Pisa, 1871; "La Leggenda Ebraica dei Dieci Martiri e la Perdonanza sullo Stesso Argomento," in "Annuario della Società Italiana per gli Studj Orientale," ii.; "Giuseppe Levi," a biography of the famous Italian poet, Florence, 1876; "Marianna Foa Uzielli," biography, Leghorn, 1880; "Dei Presenti Studj sul Talmud e Specialmente sull' Aggada," in "Proceedings of the Fourth Congress of Orientalists," held in Florence, 1878, Florence,1880; "L'Antico Testamento e la Letteratura Italiana," Pisa, 1885.

Bibliography:
  • Alessandro d'Ancona, Salvatore de Benedetti, in Annuario dell' Università de Pisa per l'Anno Academico, 1891-92.
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