Abraham ibn Ezra
Abraham ben Meir Ibn Ezra was one of the most distinguished Jewish biblical commentators and philosophers of the Middle Ages. He was born in Tudela, Navarre, in northern Spain, one of the oldest and most important Jewish communities in Navarre, but the location of his death is uncertain: and for long it had been assumed that he died at Calahorra. Abraham Ibn Ezra was born in Tudela, in the present-day Spanish province of Navarre, when the town was under the Muslim rule of the emirs of Zaragoza, he lived in Córdoba. In Granada, it is said, he met his future friend Yehuda Halevi, he left Spain before 1140 to escape persecution of the Jews by the new fanatical regime of the Almohads. He led a life of restless wandering, which took him to North Africa, Palestine, Southern France, Northern France and back again to Narbonne in 1161, until his death on January 23 or 28, 1164, the exact location unknown: maybe at Calahorra at the border of Navarre and Aragon, or maybe in Rome or in Palestine. There is a legend that he died in England from a fever and a sickness that came upon him after an encounter with a pack of wild black dogs.
This legend is attached to the belief. At several of the above-named places, Ibn Ezra remained for some time and developed a rich literary activity. In his native land, he had gained the reputation of a distinguished poet and thinker but apart from his poems, his works, which were all in the Hebrew language, were written in the second period of his life. With these works, covering the first instance the field of Hebrew philology and Biblical exegesis, he fulfilled the great mission of making accessible to the Jews of Christian Europe the treasures of knowledge enshrined in the works written in Arabic that he had brought with him from Spain, his grammatical writings, among which Moznayim and Zahot are the most valuable, were the first expositions of Hebrew grammar in the Hebrew language, in which the system of Judah Hayyuj and his school prevailed. He translated into Hebrew the two writings of Hayyuj in which the foundations of the system were laid down. Of greater original value than the grammatical works of Ibn Ezra are his commentaries on most of the books of the Bible, of which, the Books of Chronicles have been lost.
His reputation as an intelligent and acute expounder of the Bible was founded on his commentary on the Torah, of which the great popularity is evidenced by the numerous commentaries that were written upon it. In the editions of this commentary, the commentary on the Book of Exodus is replaced by a second, more complete commentary of Ibn Ezra, while the first and shorter commentary on Exodus was not printed until 1840; the great editions of the Hebrew Bible with rabbinical commentaries contained commentaries of Ibn Ezra's on the following books of the Bible: Isaiah, Minor Prophets, Job, Daniel. Ibn Ezra wrote a second commentary on Genesis as he had done on Exodus. There are second commentaries by him on the Song of Songs and Daniel. Ibn Ezra wrote a commentary on the book of Ecclesiastes. Uncharacteristically of either Ibn Ezra's other commentaries on biblical works, or of Jewish exegesis of the time, the commentary on Ecclesiastes begins with an autobiographical poem relating his life experience to the material in Ecclesiastes.
Although the poem states that he fled "from home in Spain/Going down to Rome with heavy spirit", this does not resolve the question of what intermediate journeys Ibn Ezra may have made before settling in Rome in the company of R' Yehudah HaLevi. The importance of the exegesis of Ibn Ezra consists in the fact that it aims at arriving at the simple sense of the text, the Peshat, on grammatical principles, it is in this that, although he takes a great part of his exegetical material from his predecessors, the originality of his mind is everywhere apparent, an originality that displays itself in the witty and lively language of his commentaries. Ibn Ezra occupies a unique role among medieval commentators in that, on the one hand, his commentary has been cited by mainstream Orthodoxy, but on the other hand, his reluctance to reconcile problematic Biblical passages through midrashic exegesis at the expense of traditional dogma, put him in opposition to his contemporaries such as Rashi and provided early support for the type of textual criticism, now accepted by Reform and Conservative Judaism.
For example, in his commentary, Ibn Ezra adheres to the literal sense of the texts, avoiding Rabbinic allegories and Cabbalistic interpretations, though he remains faithful to the Jewish traditions. This does not prevent him from exercising an independent criticism that, according to some writers, exhibits a marked tendency toward rationalism, to the extent that he judged other biblical commentary "against his twin standards of accuracy, grammatical precision and reliability", in that regard "Ibn Ezra determined that, aim notwithstanding, Rashi had grasped and imparted the contextual sense'but one time in a thousand'."Indeed, Ibn Ezra is claimed by the proponents of the higher biblical criticism of the Torah as one of its earliest pioneers. Baruch Spinoza, in concluding that Moses did not author the Torah, that the T
The philosopher's stone, or stone of the philosophers is a legendary alchemical substance capable of turning base metals such as mercury into gold or silver. It is called the elixir of life, useful for rejuvenation and for achieving immortality; the philosopher's stone was the central symbol of the mystical terminology of alchemy, symbolizing perfection at its finest and heavenly bliss. Efforts to discover the philosopher's stone were known as the Magnum Opus. Mention of the philosopher's stone in writing can be found as far back as Cheirokmeta by Zosimos of Panopolis. Alchemical writers assign a longer history. Elias Ashmole and the anonymous author of Gloria Mundi claim that its history goes back to Adam who acquired the knowledge of the stone directly from God; this knowledge was said to be passed down through biblical patriarchs. The legend of the stone was compared to the biblical history of the Temple of Solomon and the rejected cornerstone described in Psalm 118; the theoretical roots outlining the stone’s creation can be traced to Greek philosophy.
Alchemists used the classical elements, the concept of anima mundi, Creation stories presented in texts like Plato's Timaeus as analogies for their process. According to Plato, the four elements are derived from a common source or prima materia, associated with chaos. Prima materia is the name alchemists assign to the starting ingredient for the creation of the philosopher's stone; the importance of this philosophical first matter persisted throughout the history of alchemy. In the seventeenth century, Thomas Vaughan writes, "the first matter of the stone is the same with the first matter of all things". Early medieval alchemists built upon the work of Zosimos in the Byzantine Empire and the Arab empires. Byzantine and Arab alchemists were fascinated by the concept of metal transmutation and attempted to carry out the process; the 8th-century Muslim alchemist Jabir ibn Hayyan analyzed each classical element in terms of the four basic qualities. Fire was both hot and dry, earth cold and dry, water cold and moist, air hot and moist.
He theorized that every metal was a combination of these four principles, two of them interior and two exterior. From this premise, it was reasoned that the transmutation of one metal into another could be affected by the rearrangement of its basic qualities; this change would be mediated by a substance, which came to be called xerion in Greek and al-iksir in Arabic. It was considered to exist as a dry red powder made from a legendary stone—the philosopher's stone; the elixir powder came to be regarded as a crucial component of transmutation by Arab alchemists. In the 11th century, there was a debate among Muslim world chemists on whether the transmutation of substances was possible. A leading opponent was the Persian polymath Avicenna, who discredited the theory of transmutation of substances, stating, "Those of the chemical craft know well that no change can be effected in the different species of substances, though they can produce the appearance of such change."According to legend, the 13th-century scientist and philosopher Albertus Magnus is said to have discovered the philosopher's stone.
Magnus does not confirm he discovered the stone in his writings, but he did record that he witnessed the creation of gold by "transmutation". The 16th-century Swiss alchemist Paracelsus believed in the existence of alkahest, which he thought to be an undiscovered element from which all other elements were derivative forms. Paracelsus believed; the English philosopher Sir Thomas Browne in his spiritual testament Religio Medici identified the religious aspect of the quest for the philosopher's Stone when declaring: The smattering I have of the Philosophers stone, hath taught me a great deale of Divinity. A mystical text published in the 17th century called the Mutus Liber appears to be a symbolic instruction manual for concocting a philosopher's stone. Called the "wordless book", it was a collection of 15 illustrations; the equivalent of the philosopher's stone in Buddhism and Hinduism is the Cintamani. It is referred to as Paras/Parasmani or Paris. In Mahayana Buddhism, Chintamani is held by the bodhisattvas and Ksitigarbha.
It is seen carried upon the back of the Lung ta, depicted on Tibetan prayer flags. By reciting the Dharani of Chintamani, Buddhist tradition maintains that one attains the Wisdom of Buddhas, is able to understand the truth of the Buddhas, turns afflictions into Bodhi, it is said to allow one to see the Holy Retinue of his assembly upon one's deathbed. In Tibetan Buddhist tradition the Chintamani is sometimes depicted as a luminous pearl and is in the possession of several of different forms of the Buddha. Within Hinduism it is connected with the gods Ganesha. In Hindu tradition it is depicted as a fabulous jewel in the possession of the Nāga king or as on the forehead of the Makara; the Yoga Vasistha written in the 10th century AD, contains a story about the philosopher's stone. A great Hindu sage wrote about the spiritual accomplishment of Gnosis using the metaphor of the philosopher's stone. Saint Jnaneshwar wrote a commentar
Cambridge University Press
Cambridge University Press is the publishing business of the University of Cambridge. Granted letters patent by King Henry VIII in 1534, it is the world's oldest publishing house and the second-largest university press in the world, it holds letters patent as the Queen's Printer. The press mission is "to further the University's mission by disseminating knowledge in the pursuit of education and research at the highest international levels of excellence". Cambridge University Press is a department of the University of Cambridge and is both an academic and educational publisher. With a global sales presence, publishing hubs, offices in more than 40 countries, it publishes over 50,000 titles by authors from over 100 countries, its publishing includes academic journals, reference works and English language teaching and learning publications. Cambridge University Press is a charitable enterprise that transfers part of its annual surplus back to the university. Cambridge University Press is both the oldest publishing house in the world and the oldest university press.
It originated from letters patent granted to the University of Cambridge by Henry VIII in 1534, has been producing books continuously since the first University Press book was printed. Cambridge is one of the two privileged presses. Authors published by Cambridge have included John Milton, William Harvey, Isaac Newton, Bertrand Russell, Stephen Hawking. University printing began in Cambridge when the first practising University Printer, Thomas Thomas, set up a printing house on the site of what became the Senate House lawn – a few yards from where the press's bookshop now stands. In those days, the Stationers' Company in London jealously guarded its monopoly of printing, which explains the delay between the date of the university's letters patent and the printing of the first book. In 1591, Thomas's successor, John Legate, printed the first Cambridge Bible, an octavo edition of the popular Geneva Bible; the London Stationers objected strenuously. The university's response was to point out the provision in its charter to print "all manner of books".
Thus began the press's tradition of publishing the Bible, a tradition that has endured for over four centuries, beginning with the Geneva Bible, continuing with the Authorized Version, the Revised Version, the New English Bible and the Revised English Bible. The restrictions and compromises forced upon Cambridge by the dispute with the London Stationers did not come to an end until the scholar Richard Bentley was given the power to set up a'new-style press' in 1696. In July 1697 the Duke of Somerset made a loan of £200 to the university "towards the printing house and presse" and James Halman, Registrary of the University, lent £100 for the same purpose, it was in Bentley's time, in 1698, that a body of senior scholars was appointed to be responsible to the university for the press's affairs. The Press Syndicate's publishing committee still meets and its role still includes the review and approval of the press's planned output. John Baskerville became University Printer in the mid-eighteenth century.
Baskerville's concern was the production of the finest possible books using his own type-design and printing techniques. Baskerville wrote, "The importance of the work demands all my attention. Caxton would have found nothing to surprise him if he had walked into the press's printing house in the eighteenth century: all the type was still being set by hand. A technological breakthrough was badly needed, it came when Lord Stanhope perfected the making of stereotype plates; this involved making a mould of the whole surface of a page of type and casting plates from that mould. The press was the first to use this technique, in 1805 produced the technically successful and much-reprinted Cambridge Stereotype Bible. By the 1850s the press was using steam-powered machine presses, employing two to three hundred people, occupying several buildings in the Silver Street and Mill Lane area, including the one that the press still occupies, the Pitt Building, built for the press and in honour of William Pitt the Younger.
Under the stewardship of C. J. Clay, University Printer from 1854 to 1882, the press increased the size and scale of its academic and educational publishing operation. An important factor in this increase was the inauguration of its list of schoolbooks. During Clay's administration, the press undertook a sizeable co-publishing venture with Oxford: the Revised Version of the Bible, begun in 1870 and completed in 1885, it was in this period as well that the Syndics of the press turned down what became the Oxford English Dictionary—a proposal for, brought to Cambridge by James Murray before he turned to Oxford. The appointment of R. T. Wright as Secretary of the Press Syndicate in 1892 marked the beginning of the press's development as a modern publishing business with a defined editorial policy and administrative structure, it was Wright who devised the plan for one of the most distinctive Cambridge contributions to publishing—the Cambridge Histories. The Cambridge Modern History was published
An effigy is a representation of a specific person in the form of sculpture or some other three-dimensional medium. The use of the term is restricted to certain contexts in a somewhat arbitrary way: recumbent effigies on tombs are so called, but standing statues of individuals, or busts, are not. Likenesses of religious figures in sculpture are not called effigies. Effigies are common elements of funerary art as a recumbent effigy in stone or metal placed on a tomb, or a less permanent "funeral effigy", placed on the coffin in a grand funeral, wearing real clothing. Figures caricatural in style, that are damaged, destroyed or paraded in order to harm the person represented by magical means, or to mock or insult them or their memory, are called effigies, it is common to burn an effigy of a person as an act of protest. The word is first documented in English in 1539 and comes via French, from the Latin effigies, meaning "representation"; this spelling was used in English for singular senses: a single image was "the effigies of...".
In effigie was understood as a Latin phrase until the 18th century. The word occurs in Shakespeare's As You Like It of 1600, where scansion suggests that the second syllable is to be emphasized, as in the Latin pronunciation; the best known British example of a caricature effigy is the figure of the 1605 Gunpowder Plotter Guy Fawkes, found in charge of gunpowder to blow up the King in the House of Lords. On November 5, Guy Fawkes Night or Bonfire Night, his effigy made of straw and old clothing, is still traditionally burned on a bonfire in many villages accompanied by fireworks. In many parts of the world, there are traditions of large caricature effigies of political or other figures carried on floats in parades at festivals. Political effigies serve a broadly similar purpose in political demonstrations and annual community rituals such as that held in Lewes, on the south coast of England. In Lewes, models of important or unpopular figures in current affairs are burned on Guy Fawkes Night alongside an effigy of the Pope.
Caricature effigies, in Greek skiachtro, are still in use to prevent birds from eating mature fruit grapes. In Oriental Orthodox and Latin American Christianity, populace used to burn an effigy of Judas, just before Easter. Now it is considered an obsolete custom and there are no attempts at revival. In South and Latin American Christianity, populace still burn or explode an effigy of Judas, just before Easter or on New Year's Eve; the display of temporary or permanent effigies in wood or wax sculpture and other media of the deceased was a common part of the funeral ceremonies of important people over a long stretch of European history. They were shown lying on the coffin at the funeral, often displayed beside or over the tomb; the figures were dressed in the clothes of the deceased. The museum of Westminster Abbey has a collection of English royal wax effigies reaching to Edward III of England, as well as those of figures such as the prime minister Pitt the Elder, the naval hero Horatio Nelson, Frances Stewart, Duchess of Richmond, at her own request and expense, who had her parrot stuffed and displayed.
From the time of the funeral of Charles II in 1680, effigies were no longer placed on the coffin but were still made for display. The effigy of Charles II was displayed over his tomb until the early 19th century, when all effigies were removed from the abbey. Nelson's effigy was a tourist attraction, commissioned the year after his death and his burial in St Paul's Cathedral in 1805; the government had decided that major public figures with State funerals should in future be buried at St Paul's. Concerned for their revenue from visitors, the Abbey decided it needed a rival attraction for admirers of Nelson. In the field of numismatics, effigy has been used to describe the central image or portrait on the obverse of a coin. A practice evident in reference literature of the 19th century, the obverse of a coin was said to depict “the ruler’s effigy”; the appearance and style of effigy used varies according to the preference of the monarch or ruler being depicted - for example, such as George VI of the United Kingdom have preferred to be shown uncrowned, while others have favoured highly-formal representations.
It can be the case that the monarch's reign becomes long enough to merit issuing a succession of effigies so that their appearance continues to be current. Such has been the case for Queen Victoria and Elizabeth II, depicted by five different effigies on British coins and three different effigies on British postage stamps since she ascended to the throne in 1953. In the past, criminals sentenced to death in absentia might be executed "in effigy" as a symbolic act. In southern India, effigies of the demon-king Ravana from the epic poem the Ramayana are traditionally burnt during the festival of Navrati; the term gisant is associated with the full-length effigies of a deceased person depicted in stone or wood on church monuments. These lie with hands together in prayer. An Effigie of a deceased person, kneeling in prayer is called a priant. Effigies may be demi-figures and the term is used to refer to busts; the Marzanna ritual represents the end of the dark days of winter, the victory over death, the welcoming of the spring rebirth.
National Library of the Czech Republic
The National Library of the Czech Republic is the central library of the Czech Republic. It is directed by the Ministry of Culture; the library's main building is located in the historical Clementinum building in Prague, where half of its books are kept. The other half of the collection is stored in the district of Hostivař; the National Library is the biggest library in the Czech Republic, in its funds there are around 6 million documents. The library has around 60,000 registered readers; as well as Czech texts, the library stores older material from Turkey and India. The library houses books for Charles University in Prague; the library won international recognition in 2005 as it received the inaugural Jikji Prize from UNESCO via the Memory of the World Programme for its efforts in digitising old texts. The project, which commenced in 1992, involved the digitisation of 1,700 documents in its first 13 years; the most precious medieval manuscripts preserved in the National Library are the Codex Vyssegradensis and the Passional of Abbes Kunigunde.
In 2006 the Czech parliament approved funding for the construction of a new library building on Letna plain, between Hradčanská metro station and Sparta Prague's football ground, Letná stadium. In March 2007, following a request for tender, Czech architect Jan Kaplický was selected by a jury to undertake the project, with a projected completion date of 2011. In 2007 the project was delayed following objections regarding its proposed location from government officials including Prague Mayor Pavel Bém and President Václav Klaus. Plans for the building had still not been decided in February 2008, with the matter being referred to the Office for the Protection of Competition in order to determine if the tender had been won fairly. In 2008, Minister of Culture Václav Jehlička announced the end of the project, following a ruling from the European Commission that the tender process had not been carried out legally; the library was affected by the 2002 European floods, with some documents moved to upper levels to avoid the excess water.
Over 4,000 books were removed from the library in July 2011 following flooding in parts of the main building. There was a fire at the library in December 2012. List of national and state libraries Official website
Italy the Italian Republic, is a country in Southern Europe. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Italy shares open land borders with France, Austria and the enclaved microstates San Marino and Vatican City. Italy covers an area of 301,340 km2 and has a temperate seasonal and Mediterranean climate. With around 61 million inhabitants, it is the fourth-most populous EU member state and the most populous country in Southern Europe. Due to its central geographic location in Southern Europe and the Mediterranean, Italy has been home to a myriad of peoples and cultures. In addition to the various ancient peoples dispersed throughout modern-day Italy, the most famous of which being the Indo-European Italics who gave the peninsula its name, beginning from the classical era and Carthaginians founded colonies in insular Italy and Genoa, Greeks established settlements in the so-called Magna Graecia, while Etruscans and Celts inhabited central and northern Italy respectively; the Italic tribe known as the Latins formed the Roman Kingdom in the 8th century BC, which became a republic with a government of the Senate and the People.
The Roman Republic conquered and assimilated its neighbours on the peninsula, in some cases through the establishment of federations, the Republic expanded and conquered parts of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. By the first century BC, the Roman Empire emerged as the dominant power in the Mediterranean Basin and became the leading cultural and religious centre of Western civilisation, inaugurating the Pax Romana, a period of more than 200 years during which Italy's technology, economy and literature flourished. Italy remained the metropole of the Roman Empire; the legacy of the Roman Empire endured its fall and can be observed in the global distribution of culture, governments and the Latin script. During the Early Middle Ages, Italy endured sociopolitical collapse and barbarian invasions, but by the 11th century, numerous rival city-states and maritime republics in the northern and central regions of Italy, rose to great prosperity through shipping and banking, laying the groundwork for modern capitalism.
These independent statelets served as Europe's main trading hubs with Asia and the Near East enjoying a greater degree of democracy than the larger feudal monarchies that were consolidating throughout Europe. The Renaissance began in Italy and spread to the rest of Europe, bringing a renewed interest in humanism, science and art. Italian culture flourished, producing famous scholars and polymaths such as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Machiavelli. During the Middle Ages, Italian explorers such as Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci, John Cabot and Giovanni da Verrazzano discovered new routes to the Far East and the New World, helping to usher in the European Age of Discovery. Italy's commercial and political power waned with the opening of trade routes that bypassed the Mediterranean. Centuries of infighting between the Italian city-states, such as the Italian Wars of the 15th and 16th centuries, left the region fragmented, it was subsequently conquered and further divided by European powers such as France and Austria.
By the mid-19th century, rising Italian nationalism and calls for independence from foreign control led to a period of revolutionary political upheaval. After centuries of foreign domination and political division, Italy was entirely unified in 1871, establishing the Kingdom of Italy as a great power. From the late 19th century to the early 20th century, Italy industrialised, namely in the north, acquired a colonial empire, while the south remained impoverished and excluded from industrialisation, fuelling a large and influential diaspora. Despite being one of the main victors in World War I, Italy entered a period of economic crisis and social turmoil, leading to the rise of a fascist dictatorship in 1922. Participation in World War II on the Axis side ended in military defeat, economic destruction and the Italian Civil War. Following the liberation of Italy and the rise of the resistance, the country abolished the monarchy, reinstated democracy, enjoyed a prolonged economic boom and, despite periods of sociopolitical turmoil became a developed country.
Today, Italy is considered to be one of the world's most culturally and economically advanced countries, with the sixth-largest worldwide national wealth. Its advanced economy ranks eighth-largest in the world and third in the Eurozone by nominal GDP. Italy owns the third-largest central bank gold reserve, it has a high level of human development, it stands among the top countries for life expectancy. The country plays a prominent role in regional and global economic, military and diplomatic affairs. Italy is a founding and leading member of the European Union and a member of numerous international institutions, including the UN, NATO, the OECD, the OSCE, the WTO, the G7, the G20, the Union for the Mediterranean, the Council of Europe, Uniting for Consensus, the Schengen Area and many more; as a reflection