Biography of Benito Arias Montano (1527-1598)

Humanist Spanish, an expert in biblical exegesis and Oriental languages, born in 1527 in Fregenal de la Sierra (Badajoz) and died in Seville in 1598, which played a role of great importance in the communication of Spanish scientific activity with the Netherlands during the last quarter of the 16th century, a period that was precisely characterized by isolation.

He was born of noble family impoverished; his father was a notary of the Holy Office. It has been suggested the converso origin of the family, but there is no conclusive evidence of this. At age 19 he/she studied in Seville, and four years later, at the University of Alcalá, where forms in biblical Philology. He/She is dedicated to exegesis and Semitic languages, but it also has time to write poetry. In 1560 he/she entered the order of Santiago. In 1562, Bishop Pérez de Ayala chooses you to accompany you to Trento. After returning to Spain he/she writes the comment twelve prophets.

In 1568 Felipe II asks for Council on the proposal of the Publisher Christopher Plantin (Plantino), Antwerp, edit a new polyglot, and after their enthusiastic response entrusts him the Regia Bible supervision and ordered him to immediately go to Antwerp, where scholars Flemish and French group put together by Plantino has been working years. Arias Montano must review the evidence of each page and write some prologues and treated of biblical culture that will be included in the eighth volume of the Bible. Collaboration with Plantino is excellent: this deals with all matters relating to the careful printing, at the time that admires the philological knowledge of Arias Montano, who adheres to the guidelines of the mission that has been entrusted him and performs them with full competition: it is not limited to be a passive spectator, but it effectively takes the reins of the Edition. The eight volumes of the polyglot printing is completed early in 1572. In April 1572 Arias Montano goes to Rome to obtain the approval of the Pope, and after obtaining it returned to Antwerp, where he/she stayed until 1575.

While in Antwerp he/she made intimate relations with the Plantino printer and the circle of intellectuals and scientists who met regularly at home. In this way it maintained close connection with geographers Abraham Ortelius and Gerhard Kremer Mercator, the cosmographer and mathematician Rainerus Gemma Frisius and naturalists and physicians Charles de l´ecluse(Clusius), Mathias Lobellinus , Rembert Dodoens (Dodonaeus).

The friendship Arias and Clusius is reflected in the works of both, in letters that crossed and in his correspondence with third parties. For example, in April 1569, Arias wrote to the Dutch botanist in response to a letter in which it had sent him seeds. Reported it that it had reach Felipe II a copy of his Latin translation of the works of García da Orta on medicinal products of Eastern India and encouraged him to continue publishing with a friendly botanical comparison with the fruit of the fig tree. In August of the same year he/she returned to write to him, informing him the death of Bernardino de Burgos and the work De plantis Hispanic who had left unpublished, as well as other issues, among them, that he/she hoped to soon receive the Treaty of Nicolás Monardes about American medicinal products, Clusius also later translated into latin.

Similar was the relationship of Arias with Ortelius, among whose correspondence include letters from the first since February 1575, shortly after his departure from Antwerp, until April 1591. Arias dedicated to the death of Platinum Quartet or "tetrasticum" appeared in the edition of the Thesaurus Geographicus of Ortelius 1590, the same year in which sent him a copy of "Peruvian castanea" (Caryocar amygdaliferum CAV.) that this happened to Clusius.

Plantino is, like other contributors to the polyglot, active member, successively of two sects or religious groups aside from official orthodoxy, the 'family of love' and «Lovers of truth». In the case of Arias Montano, his approach to these spiritual movements not calls into question his Catholic faith. But when it has already returned to Spain, and deals in El Escorial in the Royal Library holds a great admiration for the leader of the second of these groups, gall: in the 1980's Arias Montano requests to Plantino to send him works of gall to El Escorial, and in his commentary on the Apocalypse (1588), makes great praise him, and even includes his notes in this work, as well as in their Elucidationes in Evangelia IV (1588). Arias Montano transmits this admiration to the Group of their relatives in El Escorial, and especially to Fray José de Sigüenza.

Arias related to the aforementioned European Environment Group who worked in the library of El Escorial, which was the real Organizer, developed the project of Juan Páez de Castro. To him was due the division of languages Fund and its management in seventy-four subjects, twenty-one of which were scientific, from the "Mathematica in genere" to "Agriculture". It was also the main promoter of an exceptional relationship in the Spain of the last years of the 16th century: the Group of Seville scientists led by Simón de Tovar and Francisco Sánchez de Oropesa with authors of the Netherlands, both Catholic and Protestant. In this way, Clusius remained with Tovar an active exchange of news, texts and seeds, whereas Ortelius and Gemma Frisius did the same in the field of geography, the cosmography and mathematics.

During their stay in Flanders, Arias Montano acquired a number of volumes, maps, and mathematical and astronomical instruments sent to his friends in Spain - which was a figure of central importance such as Juan de Ovando - and which considerably enriched the library of Felipe II in El Escorial, books like the Index plantarum of Clusius or the OrteliusTheatrum Orbis.

In 1574, a notorious Professor of Salamanca, León de Castro, had again attacked the polyglot, already printed, denouncing the Inquisition to Plantino and Arias Montano. The trial to later issued the Roman Congregation of the Council is rather negative for the polyglot. In 1576, the Spanish Inquisition considered accusations, and the verdict of 1580 includes quite a few objections to the polyglot, but does not prohibit its dissemination (it should be noted that, in 1594, already old, complains of new attacks and persecution still but fortunately, it was always with the support of the King).

On his return to Spain, after a stay in Rome, continued contact with the above mentioned authors, becoming a genuine link with the intellectual and scientific world of the Netherlands. Due in large part to its influence, Plantin opened in 1586 a branch in Salamanca which provided books printed in Antwerp and novelties of the Frankfurt fair, often outside of the strict control of the inquisitorial. His initiative was also printing in Antwerp and the subsequent European diffusion of Spanish scientific works of the importance of the Treaty on surgery and Francisco Arceo book on drugs made of Simón de Tovar.

Arias related cited European Environment Group who worked in the library of El Escorial, which was the real Organizer, developing the project of Juan Páez de Castro. To him was due the division of languages Fund and its management in seventy-four subjects, twenty-one of which were scientific, from the "Mathematica in genere" to "Agriculture". It was also the main promoter of an exceptional relationship in the Spain of the last years of the 16th century: the Group of scientists from Seville headed by Simon de Tovar and Francisco Sánchez de Oropesa with authors of the Netherlands, both Catholic and Protestant. In this way, Clusius remained with Tovar an active exchange of news, texts and seeds, whereas Ortelius and Gemma Frisius did the same in the field of geography, the cosmography and mathematics.

The last ten years of his life, Arias Montano withdrew to Seville, property of the Peña of Aracena, led an idyllic life, without economic problems, surrounded by a group of arrive. Consult him from Granada on the authenticity of the handwritings books of Sacromonte.

At the end of his life, Arias Montano projected to write a comprehensive study of the Bible in relation to the Sciences of nature. It only arrived at end of the first part, which was published in plantiniana printing three years after his death, with the title of Naturae history (1601). It it mainly deals with cosmography and natural philosophy, although he/she also devoted a chapter to Botany. In it he/she cited, "as maximum figures of our time, Rembert Dodoens, our guest, now deceased, to Carolus Clusius, endearing friend who we met in Flanders, and Mathias of Obel, younger than them... Simon Tovar and Francisco Sánchez de Oropesa".

Works

Interested by the ancient Hebrew, especially which wrote many studies, but tried also various scholarly subjects, as their Rhetoricorum libri IV (1569), his Monumenta humanae salutis (1571) or the speech of the value and correspondence of the coins. Is also the author of several works of philosophical and theological, as well as precious poetry in latin in their Hymni et saecula (1593); in his poems in Spanish imitated his friend Fray Luis de León(in fact, the poem to the exterior beauty of our Lady, often attributed to fray Luis de León, also it has awarded Arias Montano), and like him, wrote his version of the song of songs, which was subsequently published by Nicolás BOL de Faber in La Floresta de rimas old Castilian (1825).At the end of his life, Arias Montano planned to write a comprehensive study of the Bible in relation to the Sciences of nature, but only came to finish the first part, which was published three years after his death with the title of Naturae history (1601), in which focuses on cosmography and natural philosophy. Eight years after his death the index condemns all his works, which may not move again until the end of the 17TH century.

Bibliography

Sources

Naturae history, raw material in magni operis corpore pars, (Antwerp: Plantin C., 1601).Two Arias Montano to Clusius letters were published by Ignacio Jordán de Asso, Clarorum Hispaniensium atque exterorum Epistolae. (Zaragoza, IMP. Real, 1793).On his correspondence, see the book of Rekers cited below.

Studies

COLMEIRO, M. Botany and the botanical of the Hispanic Peninsula-lusitania. Bibliographic and biographical studies. (Madrid: M. Rivadeneyra, 1858), (pp. 155-156).PICAPOSTE Rodríguez, f. Notes for a 16th-century Spanish scientific library. (Madrid: Tello, 1891), (pp. 19-20).REKERS, B. Arias Montano. (transl. Spanish and epilogue by A. Alcalá), (Madrid: Taurus, 1973).LÓPEZ PIÑERO, José M. Ciencia y Técnica in Spanish society of the 16th and 17TH centuries. (Barcelona: Labor, 1979).LÓPEZ PIÑERO, José M., LOPEZ TERRADA, M. L. The Spanish influence in the introduction in Europe of the American plants (1493-1623), (Valencia, Institute of documentary studies and historical about science), 1997.PÉREZ CASTRO, f., VOET, l., the Antwerp Polyglot Bible. (Madrid: Fundación Universitaria Española, 1973).REVOLT, M., MORON Brook, C. (edd.). The erasmismo in Spain. (Santander: Menéndez Pelayo society, 1986).

José María López Piñero.