Provençal philosopher and translator; born at Arles 1286; died after 1328. He was a descendant of a prominent Provençal family, several members of which held high positions among the Jews. The father of Kalonymus and Kalonymus himself each bore the title "Nasi" (prince). The latter studied philosophy and rabbinical literature at Salonica, under the direction of Senior Astruc de Noves and Moses ben Solomon of Beaucaire. He also studied medicine, although he seems never to have practised it.

First Page from the First Edition of Kalonymus' "Eben Boḥan," Naples, 1489.(From the Sulzberger collection in the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, New York.)At Rome.

About 1314 Kalonymus settled at Avignon, where he later became associated with Robert of Anjou, who sent him, provided with letters of recommendation, on a scientific mission to Rome. Kalonymus' learning and character gained for him the consideration of the Roman Jewish notables; and when his family, finding that his sojourn at Rome was longer than had been anticipated, recalled him, the poet Immanuel ben Solomon of Rome wrote a letter to Nasi Samuel of Arles, protesting in the name of the Jewish community of Rome against Kalonymus' return ("Maḥberot," p. 23). According to Steinschneider and Gross, Kalonymus was the poet referred to by Immanuel (ib. p. 28) as having pleaded the cause of the Roman Jews before the pope at Avignon in 1321. But this assertion needs confirmation, inasmuch as the exact dates of Kalonymus' stay in Rome can not be ascertained. Graetz and, after him, Neubauer believe that Kalonymus went to Rome after his sojourn in Catalonia, which was in 1322; and the fact that he does not mention Rome in his "Eben Boḥan" confirms their supposition. In 1328 Kalonymus was in Arles, where he probably remained until his death, the exact date of which is unknown.

Kalonymus acquired a high reputation both as an original writer and as a translator. He began his literary career when only twenty years old. His translations, which, with the exception of one that was printed, are all still in manuscript, include the following (arranged in chronological order, the Hebrew titles being those of the translations):

  • Ha-'Ammud be-Shoroshe ha-Refuah, translation of the Arabic work "Kitab al-'Imad fl Uṣul al-Ṭibb" of 'Ali ibn Riḍwan. This translation, completed at Arles Oct. 10, 1307, was the second made by Kalonymus, the first having been lost in 1306 during the banishment of the Jews from France.
  • Sefer Galyanus be-Ḥaḳna ube-Kulga, Galen's work on clysters and colic, from the Arabic version of Ḥunain ibn Isḥaḳ.
  • Sefer Galyanus be-Haḳḳazah, Galen's work on bleeding, probably made from the Arabic version of Ḥunain ibn Isḥaḳ.
  • Treatise on the five geometrical bodies by Euclid, in relation to the theory of Apollonius, and the commentary of Simplicius.
  • Ha-Dibbur ha-Meshullash, treatise on the triangle, by Abu Sa'adan.
  • Sefer Meshalim be-Tishboret, on mathematical propositions.
  • Sefer ha-Temunah ha-Ḥittukit, a work on geometry, entitled "Fi al-Shakl al-Ḳuṭṭa," by Thabet ibn Kurrah.
  • Ma'amar be-Iẓṭawwonot ube-Ḥiddudim, treatise on cylinders and cones.
  • Bi'ur Sefer Ṭobiḳi, Averroes' commentary on the topics.
  • Bi'ur Sufisṭiḳi, Averroes' commentary on sophisms.
  • Bi'ur Sefer ha-Mofet, Averroes' large commentary on the second analyties.
  • Sefer ha-Ẓemaḥim, treatise on the plants, attributed to Aristotle, with the commentary thereon by Averroes.
  • Ma'amar be-Sekel weha-Muskal, treatise on the intellect and the intelligible, by Al-Farabi.
  • Ma'amar be-Mispar ha-Ḥokmot, on the division of the sciences, by Al-Farabi.
  • Sefer ha-Peri ha-Niḳra Meah Dibburim, commentary on the Kαρπόç of Ptolemy, translated from the Arabic version of Abu Ja'far Aḥmad ben Yusuf ben Ibrahim.
  • Iggeret be-Ḳiẓẓur ha-Ma'amar be-Moladot, short treatise on nativities, by Al-Kindi.
  • Iggeret be-'Illot, treatise on the influence of the heavenly bodies on rain, by Al-Kindi.
  • The middle commentary of Averroes on physics.
  • Sefer ha-Hawayh weha-Hippased, Averroes' middle commentary on generation and corruption.
  • Sefer Otot ha-Shamayim, Averroes' middle commentary on meteors.
  • Iggeret Ba'ale Ḥayyim, "treatise on animals," translated from the twenty-first treatise of the encyclopedia of the Brethren of Sincerity, published in 1557 at Mantua, and in 1704 at Frankfort-on-the-Main. This translation was rendered into Judæo-German by Enoch ben Ẓebi (Hanover, 1718) and into German, under the title "Abhandlung über die Thiere," by Julius Landsberger (Darmstadt, 1882).
  • Sefer Mah-she-aḥar ha-Ṭeba', Averroes' middle commentary on metaphysics.
  • Treatise on arithmetic by Nicomachus of Gerasa, accompanied by a commentary of Abu Sulaiman Rabiya ibn Yaḥya.
  • Be-'Inyane ha-Kokabim ha-Nebukim, translation of Ptolemy's treatise on the planets.
  • Sefer Arshmidah, Archimedes' treatise on the sphere and the cylinder, translated from the Arabic version of Costa ibn Luḳah.
  • Iggeret be-Laḥiyt ube-Maṭar, Al-Kindi's treatise on humidity and rain.
  • Averroes' dissertations on the first book of the First Analytics.
  • Iggeret be-Siddur Ḳeri'at ha-Ḥokmot, Al-Farabi's treatise on the method of studying philosophy.
  • Destructio Destructionis, a Latin translation from the Arabic "Tahafut al-Tahafut," written by Averroes against Al-Ghazali.

Kalonymus' original works are as follows:

Original Works.
  • (1) An answer in Hebrew addressed to En Bonafoux ibn Caspi, in opposition to the latter's "Ḳundreṣim" ("Quinterniones"). The answer refers chiefly to Ibn Caspi's work on the Bible, entitled "Ṭirat Kesef," or "Sefer ha-Sod." After having-paid homage to the talent and learning of Caspi, Kalonymus criticizes the book, in which he claims to have detected many errors. He states that in any case, even if the work were perfect, it ought not to have been published, on account of its disrespectful treatment of Biblical personages. The answer was published by Perles under the title "Kalonymos ben Kalonymos Sendschreiben an Joseph Caspi" (Munich, 1879).
  • (2) "Sefer Melakim," a treatise on arithmetic, geometry, and astrology, of which only a fragment has been discovered by Steinschneider (Munich MS. No. 290). This treatise was composed at the request of a "great king," whom Steinschneider believes to have been Robert of Anjou.
The "Eben Boḥan."
  • (3) "Eben Boḥan," an ethical treatise composed in the year 1322. The treatise is written in cadenced prose, imitating, though with less elegance, the style of Jedaiah Bedersi in his "Beḥinat 'Olam." The author intended in the "Eben Boḥan" to show the perversities of his contemporaries, as well as his own. He passes in review all the social positions of which men are proud, and proves their vanity. At the end he enumerates the sufferings of Israel and expresses the hope that God will have pity on His people who, in three years—1319-22, during which time the "Eben Boḥan" was written—had suffered persecution at the hands of the shepherds and of the leprous, besides an auto da fé of the Talmud at Toulouse. The "Eben Boḥan" was first published at Naples in 1489, and passed through many editions. It was twice translated into German, first by Moses Eisenstadt, or, according to Zedner, by Katzenellenbogen (Sulzbach, 1705), and then in cadenced prose by W. Meisel (Budapest, 1878).
  • (4) "Masseket Purim," a parody for the Feast of Purim, written at Rome. Caricaturing the rabbinical style of argument, the author humorously criticizes every one, not excluding himself. Later this kind of parody found many imitators. The "Masseket Purim" was first published at Pesaro (1507-20).

A great number of works have been wrongly attributed to Kalonymus ben Kalonymus.

  • Zunz, G. S. iii. 150-155;
  • Kayserling, Leben Kalonymus ben Kalonymus, prefixed to Meisel's German transl. of the Eben Boḥan;
  • Gross, in Monatsschrift, 1879, pp. 470 et seq.;
  • idem, Gallia Judaica, p. 84;
  • Steinschneider, in Ersch and Gruber, Encyc. section ii., part 28, pp. 169-175;
  • Grätz, Gesch. vii. 288;
  • Renan-Neubauer, Les Ecrivains Juifs Français, pp. 71 et seq.
G. I. Br.