Page 124 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 43

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vealed in his poetry, especially in his Muwashshahs, twenty-one in
all, establish for him an important place in the classical Hebrew
poetic heritage of Spain.
Two works, which are the product of Southern Italy, have been
the subject of extended discussion and evaluation. The first was
composed in rhymed prose, while the second is by the first He­
brew poet in Italy, who lived in the 9th century.
Megillat Ahimaaz
(The chronicle of Ahimaaz, Jerusalem ,
Tarshish, 1974; first edition, 1944), with a collection of poems
from Byzantine Southern Italy, edited and annotated by Benja­
min Klar. The Chronicle of Ahimaaz occupies an important place
in our literature and was discovered in manuscript form in the
library of Toledo Cathedral by A. Neubauer in 1895. The work is
valued by scholars as an important cultural source that provides
the background for understand ing the difference between
Babylon and Palestine during Geonic times. It contains the text
of the Chronicle, a collection of short pieces and stories, an an­
thology of piyyutim by three of the first Italian paytanim, as well
as many explanatory notes.
Shirei Amittai
(The poems of Amittai, Jerusalem, Akhshav,
1975), a critical edition with introduction and commentary by Y.
The poet Amittai, son of Shephatiah, lived and was active in
Oria, southern Italy, at the end of the 9th century. In 886 his fa­
ther designated him head of the Yeshiva in Oria where he re­
ceived wide recognition for his deep learning and his resolve to
maintain the continuity of the Jewish heritage in southern Italy.
Amittai’s poetic writings consist of forty-six poems and frag­
ments (1427 lines) on liturgical themes and contemporary events.
They reflect the cruel rule of Basil I (867-886), who dealt harshly
with the Jewish communities of southern Italy. There are echoes
of theological disputes and the severe decrees in various poems.
A number of works have appeared which present much
authoratative information and which synthesize the researchers
and findings of scholars on Medieval Hebrew poetry and prose.