Starting point and aims

In the ninth century the rich Arab tradition of the adab finds its way into Spain, in al-Andalus, which played a prominent role in the exchange of knowledge from the East to the West especially via monasteries of the North of the Iberian Peninsula in the 11th and 12th centuries. In al-Andalus the adab literature meets the Jewish sapiential tradition of the Midrashic literature. New collections are composed, which include original works in the 10th and 11th centuries, and from the 12th century on, collections of exempla and philosophers’ sayings are translated into Hebrew, Latin and the Romance Languages. New compilations are written for preaching purposes, which included popular proverbs, maxims, sentences taken from the Greek, Latin and Patristic authors, from philosophers, and from the lessons within the exempla. The works from the sapiential tradition are translated into Hebrew in Provence starting in the 12th century and in Latin in Christian Spain. In the Peninsula, Arabic proverb collections mix classical proverbs with Andalusian dialectal ones. Much of this complex heritage survives in the extensive Spanish paremiological literature, which is at its highest in the 16th and 17th centuries, as well as in contemporary Spanish, Judeo-Spanish and Maghrebian collections of proverbs. We still lack a comprehensive study that traces the circulation of these brief sapiential statements through the different languages (learned and vernacular) of the Iberian Peninsula, reconstructs the paths followed by the texts and the translations, the transformation of the resulting sapiential units, and elucidates their sources and posterity.