- Nebrija, Elio Antonio de
- (1441-1522)Spanish humanist, born at Lebrija (or Nebrija) near Seville, son of a Hidalgo family. He adopted the forename Elio (Aelius) as a symbol of his claim to Ro-man ancestry. In 1455 he entered the University of Salamanca, where he received a B.A. degree, and in 1460 he obtained a position in the Spanish College at Bologna. Nebrija spent the next decade in Italy, studying theology but also reading current humanistic literature. Upon his return to Spain in 1470, he won the patronage of the arch-bishop of Seville and in 1475 became lecturer at the University of Salamanca, where he received the chair of grammar and poetry. He married while there, thus foreclosing a career in the church. Through-out his teaching career Nebrija struggled to improve the teaching of Latin and Greek. The patronage of a second archbishop of Seville gave him the luxury of spending most of his time on lingistic research while occasionally teaching at the University of Seville. He accepted a professorship at Salamanca about 1505.Nebrija's philological approach to the study of Scripture and his reliance on the Greek text raised the suspicions of the conservative inquisitor-general, Diego de Deza, who seized his papers and launched an investigation into his orthodoxy. Nebrija wrote an Apologia/Defense addressed to the primate of Spain, Cardinal Ximénes de Cisneros, who intervened in his behalf and secured the return of his papers. In 1509 Nebrija was appointed royal chronicler. Cardinal Ximénes wanted to apply his scholarly talent to the great Complutensian Polyglot Bible he was planning to produce at his new University of Alcalá, and in 1513 Nebrija moved from Sala-manca to Alcalá in order to become one of the editorial team for that project. Before long, however, he challenged the decision that in ed-iting the Latin Bible, textual revisions would be based on authorita-tive Latin manuscripts but no changes would be introduced on the ba-sis of the Greek and Hebrew texts. This conservative textual decision was contrary to Nebrija's discovery of discrepancies between the Latin and Greek texts of the New Testament, but the cardinal refused to change his policy, though he permitted Nebrija to publish three sets of critical notes on the text of the Bible (1514-1516).Although Nebrija is remembered today mainly because of his bib-lical scholarship, in his own time he was most famous as a grammar-ian and classical scholar; and his work in those fields was more last-ing. His publications include Institutiones grammaticae and Institutiones latinae (both 1481), the latter being an introductory text-book that was frequently reprinted; a Latin-Spanish dictionary (1492); the scriptural notes mentioned above and one other work on Greek and Hebrew with reference to Scripture (published posthumously, 1563); a vernacular work on Spanish antiquities (1499); a lexicon of Latin legal terms (1506); a textbook of rhetoric (ca. 1515); a Latin history of the reign of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella (pub-lished posthumously, 1545); and critical editions of Pomponius Mela and Persius Flaccus. But his most original and most influential pub-lication was Gramática ... sobre la lengua castellana (1492), one of the first scholarly and systematic grammars of any modern European vernacular. Nebrija, who knew the works of the humanist Lorenzo Valla well, shared Valla's conviction that language is closely related to political power. Nebrija died at Alcalá and was buried there.
Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. Charles G. Nauert. 2004.