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The Moorish schools in Spain
Home > Mezzofanti > Eminent linguists > Ancient period > The Moorish schools in Spain

The Moorish schools in Spain began to be visited by Christian students. In this manner Arabic found its way into the West; and the intermixture of learned Jews in the European kingdoms afforded similar opportunities for the cultivation of Hebrew, which were turned to account by many, especially among biblical scholars. On the other hand, notwithstanding the contempt for profane learning which breathes through the Koran, the Saracen scholars began to direct their attention to the learning of other creeds, and the languages of other races. Ibn Wasil, who came into Italy in 1250 as ambassador to Manfred, the son of Frederic II., was reported to be familiar with the Western tongues. The Spanish Moors, too, began sedulously to cultivate Greek. The works of Aristotle, of Galen, of Dioscorides, and many other Greek writers, chiefly philosophical, were translated into Ara-bic by Averroes, Ibn Djoldjol and Avicenna. And the Jew-lish scholars of that age were equally assiduous in the cultivation of Greek. The learned Rabbi Maimonides, born in Cor-dova in the early part of the 12th century, was not only master of many Eastern tongues, but was also thoroughly familiar with the Greek language, It would be a mistake, however, to imagine that it was among the Moors or the Hebrews that the revival of the study of languages first commenced, Alcuin, in addition to the modern languages with which his sojourn in various kingdoms must have made him acquainted, was also familiar with Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. Hermann, the Dalmatian, the first translator of the Koran, was well acquainted with Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and Arabic, The celebrated Raymond Lully, who was a native of Majorca, was able to lecture in Latin, Greek, Arabic, and perhaps Hebrew;—an accomplishment especially wonderful in one who was among the most laborious and prolific writers of his age, and who left after him, according to some authorities, (though this, no doubt, is a great exaggeration), not less than a thousand works on the most diversified subjects.

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