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Motifs And Themes

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Chapter Summary

A group of praise poems in Elʿazar’s dīwān opens with an exordium or nasīb, a short and elegant amatory or erotic prelude apparently unrelated to the subject proper, unless they be understood as metaphors for suffering mankind, or as a warning for the treachery of beauty and love. A significant virtue of the Gaon was his power to bring prosperity and relief to others through hospitality and charity. A recurrent element in Elʿazar’s compositions is the praise of wisdom and scholarship as a means of elevating the addressee above his peers and evoking respect for his noble station. The description of intellectual virtues or talents is explicitly employed, for instance for the sake of the defence of morality, and authority both political and rabbinic. A major motif continually encountered in Elʿazar’s poetry is personified time.

Keywords: dīwān; Elʿazar ben Yaʿaqov ha-Bavli; Gaon; motif; Motifs; Themes



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