Acosta, Cecilio (1818–1881)

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Acosta, Cecilio (1818–1881)

A writer, journalist, historian, and politician, Cecilio Acosta (January 2, 1818–August 7, 1881) was one of the most influential public intellectuals in nineteenth-century Venezuela. Born to a poor family, he moved to Caracas as one of the students to whom opportunities were opened as a consequence of Venezuelan independence. After receiving a classical education at the Seminario Tridentino de Santa Rosa as a planned prelude to joining the priesthood, he abandoned his religious studies and enrolled at Universidad Central de Venezuela. There he received his law degree in 1848 and was later employed as a lecturer. Acosta's writings on politics and society appeared in the most important Caracas newspapers, including La Época and El Federal, which earned him a reputation as one of the key figures in the social and political debates between the Conservative and Liberal parties. In 1856 he published his best-known essay on education, titled Cosas sabidas y cosas para saberse. In his later years he maintained correspondence with the most important intellectuals in Latin America and Spain, even earning praise and homage from the Cuban writer José Martí. Acosta died in complete poverty in 1881, but he has been honored in the twentieth century: his body was moved to the National Pantheon in 1937, and in 1982 the Fundación La Casa de Bello published his Obras completas.

See alsoJournalism; Martí y Pérez, José Julián.


Acosta, Cecilio. Obras Completas, 2 vols. Caracas: Fundación Casa de Bello, 1982.

Herrera, José Rafael. La filosofía de Cecilio Acosta. Caracas: Universidad Central de Venezuela, Ediciones de la Biblioteca, 2000.

Milani, Domingo, et al. Vigencia de Cecilio Acosta. Maracaibo, Venezuela: Universidad Católica Cecilio Acosta, 2002.

                                        Matthew Childs