Archivolti, Samuel

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ARCHIVOLTI, SAMUEL (ben Elhanan Jacob ; 1515–1611), Italian author, grammarian, and poet. Archivolti was born in Cesena and in his youth studied with R. Meir *Katzenellenbogen. In 1563 Archivolti is known to have lived in Bologna; he visited Venice occasionally between 1565 and 1602, where he worked as a proof corrector. From 1568 he lived in Padua, where he served as secretary of the community, principal of a yeshivah, and av bet din. Leone *Modena was his pupil and so was Cardinal Marco Marini, who studied Hebrew with him. Modena and Archivolti contributed laudatory poems to Marini's Arca Noae (1593).

Archivolti's most important works are He'arot le-Sefer he-Arukh, supplying textual references on midrashic and talmudic passages cited in the Arukh of Nathan b. Jehiel of Rome (first printed in Venice, 1553; Basle, 1599); Degel Ahavah, an ethical work (Venice, 1551); Ma'yan Gannim (Venice, 1553), divided into "passages" containing 25 letters in metrical form designed to serve as models for students of this classic literary genre; and his major work, a Hebrew grammar, Arugat ha-Bosem (Venice, 1602; Amsterdam, 1730). This last work is divided into 32 chapters, beginning with the rudimentary usage of letters, nouns, and verbs (including a table of tenses and conjugations), and ending with an explanation of Hebrew accentuation, meter, and poetical form. Chapter 30 deals with Hebrew cryptography. Archivolti used his own poems as models to demonstrate 22 varying metrical forms. The Christian scholar Johannes *Buxtorf ii translated the last section into Latin (1660), appending it to his Latin translation of the Kuzari of *Judah Halevi.

Archivolti also composed numerous poems and piyyutim, 76 of which have been printed. In 1988 D. Bregmann published 13 sonnets written by him. Like *Immanuel of Rome and Moses *Rieti, he circulated his works throughout the Italian communities. His achievements are noted by Modena, who complains that the study of Hebrew grammar was being neglected in his own day, in contrast to its cultivation at the time of Archivolti. Some of Archivolti's piyyutim appeared in prayer books of the Italian rite; especially well known are his piyyut, Keḥi Kinnor, and his poem, "Arzei Levanon Yifraḥu," on circumcision. Archivolti's poems reflect the state of contemporary Italian culture and the attitude of the Jews to their Christian neighbors. His responsa and letters, extant in manuscript, deal with halakhic questions such as the preparation of the mikveh and the prohibition of pictorial representations on synagogue walls. Modena composed an elegy on the death of his teacher, praising him as a light in Judaism, an erudite poet, and an expert in grammar and poetical craft.


Kohut, Arukh, 1 (1926), lv, no. 4; Davidson, Oẓar, 4 (1933), 477; S. Bernstein, in: Tarbiz, 8 (1936/37), 55–68, 237; Schirmann, Italya, 251–5; Zinberg, Sifrut, 2 (1956), 305, 386; C. Roth, Jews in the Renaissance (1959), index; idem, Italy, 234–5; Zunz, Poesie, 417; Kaufmann, in: jqr, 9 (1896/97), 263–9; Kaufmann, Schriften, 1 (1908), 93–96; Hirschfeld, in: jqr, 14 (1901/02), 391, no. 182; Waxman, Literature, 2 (1960), 21–22, 82; S. Bernstein (ed.), Divan of Leo de Modena (1932), 93, 209. add. bibliography: Bregmann, in: Italia, 7:1-2 (1988), 29-65; Busi, Il Succo dei Favi. Study sull'umanesimo ebraico (1992).

[Yehoshua Horowitz]