||Philosophy attributed to R. Solomon ibn Gabirol (c. 1020–c. 1057), Jewish poet and philosopher. The main source of information on Gabirol's life is his poems, although frequently they offer no more than hints. He was apparently born in Malaga - or at any rate he lived there and regarded it as his native city, signing a number of his poems "Malki," i.e., from Malaga - but as a child he was taken to Saragossa, where he acquired an extensive education.
Orphaned at an early age, he wrote a number of elegies on the death of his father; on his mother's death in 1045, he mourned both his parents in "Nihar be-Kore'i". Gabirol complained of his weak physique, small stature, and ugliness, and it is apparent that he was frequently ill in his childhood, suffering particularly from a serious skin disease that he seems to describe in his strange and terrifying poem "Ha-Lo Ezdak." Beginning to write poetry at an early age, at the latest 16 when he wrote Azharot (Venice, 1572), Gabirol likened himself to a 16-year-old with the heart of an 80-year-old ("Ani ha-Sar," 8). His self-esteem, at times verging on arrogance, brought him into frequent conflict with influential men of his day, whom he attacked virulently. Since he wanted to devote his life to philosophy and poetry, he was dependent on the support of wealthy patrons, a subservience against which he rebelled from time to time. One of his more important supporters was Jekuthiel b. Isaac ibn Hasan, whom he praised in a number of poems for his knowledge of the Talmud and the sciences, his interest in poetry, and his generosity ("Ve-At Yonah"). In 1038 Gabirol wrote a number of elegies on the death of R. Hai b. Sherira Gaon. At the age of 19, he completed his great didactic poem, "Anak." In the next year, when Jekuthiel was killed as a result of court intrigues, Gabirol wrote two elegies, one of which ("Bi-Ymei Yekuti'el Asher Nigmaru") is regarded as one of the greatest of Jewish medieval secular poems. With the loss of his patron, Gabirol's financial status and social standing were drastically lowered and his incessant squabbling with the town nobles caused him considerable suffering. It is thought that he wrote Tikkun Middot ha-Nefesh ("The Improvement of the Moral Qualities") in 1045, and soon afterward he seems to have left Saragossa; from then on few details are available on his life and work. Some scholars believe that he lived for some time in Granada, where his patron was R. Samuel ha-Nagid, with whom he later quarreled as a result of his criticisms of Samuel's poems. Gabirol appears to have spent the year 1048–49 under the patronage of Nissim b. Jacob ibn Shahin, but it is doubtful if he ever was actually Nissim's student. He was on friendly terms with Isaac ibn Khalfun and Isaac Kapron.
According to Ibn Ezra, Gabirol died in Valencia at the age of 30, while R. Abraham b. David states that he died in 1070, when he was approximately 50. However, the most exact date seems to be that given by Ibn Said: 450 A. H. or 1057–58, when he was between 35 and 38. The many legends surrounding his life attest to the awe in which the man and his works were held after his death. One legend (found in the commentary to Sefer Yezirah (publ. Mantua, 1562), attributed to R. Saadiah Gaon) relates how Gabirol made a female golem out of wood; another (in Shalshelet ha-Kabbalah by Gedaliah ibn Yahya, Venice, 1587) tells how he was murdered by an Arab.