Kalonymos ben David Kalonymus

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Kalonymos ben David Kalonymus (Kalonymos)

Hebrew: רבי קלונימוס, (נודע בשם "מאיסטרו קאלו")
Also Known As: "Calo"
Birthplace: Naples, Metropolitan City of Naples, Campania, Italy
Death: 1540
Immediate Family:

Son of Rabbi David Kalonymos
Father of Fioretta Chalfan and David Kalonymos
Brother of Chajim ben David Kalonymos and Jakob ben David Kalonymus

Occupation: Physician, Translator, Astronomer
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Kalonymos ben David Kalonymus

Kalonymos ben David of the Kalonymos family, known also as Calo Calonymus, was also the court astrologer of the Duke of Bari in the early 16th century.16 But beside that, he is known for translating scientific and philosophical works, as well as for dealing with linguistics and philosophy.17 The Kalonymos family played a leading role in the Jewish intellectual life of Renaissance Italy.18 It originated from Southern Italy and had long been involved in medical practice. The father of our author, David Kalonymos of Bari, was granted citizenship of Naples as a court physician. The Neapolitan records often mention both David, the father, and Kalonymos ben David, "doctor of the arts and of medicine". As a result of the change in the conditions of south Italian Jewry, he moved to Venice not later than 1517. He is probably identical with Dr. Calonymus who was given a grant in 1553 by the senate to keep his son at his studies.19

Kalonymos ben David, besides being an astrologer, also dealt with linguistics and philosophy. As a linguist, he completed the final chapter on biblical accent marks of Abraham ben Meir de Balmes's work entitled Mikneh Avram, or Peculium Abramae.20 The book appeared in Venice at the end of 1523, some months after the death of Balmes. It was encouraged by Daniel Bömberg and used by Christian Hebraists of the ensuing period. As a philosopher, he translated the philosophical work Tahäfut al-Tahäfut of Ihn Rushd (Averroes) from Hebrew21 to Latin under the title Destructio Destructionis published in Venice in 1526/7.22 He even appended to it an original philosophical treatise on the creation of the world (Volumen de Mundi Creatione, Physicis Probata Rationibus). Furthermore, he contributed to the renaissance of the European culture with his Latin translation of al-Bitruji's ("Alpetragius") Theorica Planetarum, using Ibn Tibbon's Hebrew version, as well as with his taking part in the great Venetian editions of Aristotle and Averroes.21

Concerning the astrological works of the Kalonymos family, we know about a collection of short treatises on astrological subjects in MS Parma 336, containing works of Kalonymos, his father, David and his brother, Chayyim. 24

The end of the manuscript contains a prediction for the 1490s, similar to a horoscope of Bonet de Lattes. Speaking about their attitude towards astrology, on page 77a of the manuscript we find that Kalonymos counts astrology "among the other speculative and talmudic wisdom" , that is, as part of a single "wisdom" in which astrology is included in an organic way. Fols. 44-47 of the same manuscript give "the reasons for the commandments " from the tables of Alfonso, attributed by Kalonymos himself to "R. Abba Mari, the father of my son-in-law, R. Elijah Chalfan".25

According to the records, he predicted the war between Venice and the League of Cambrai: was he a good astrologer or a good political analyst? Similarly, in March 1513, he reassured the doge that the solar eclipse would not cause anything negative to Venice: was it a serious astrological prediction, a "politically correct" statement or a sign of a hidden skepticism of the truth of astrology?21' Personally I doubt the latter.

The introduction of our treatise also informs us about the family of Kalonymos. He wrote this work already after the death of his father, and dedicated it to his son-inlaw, Elijah Chalfan27 and to his son, David. The latter had just started to deal with this science, and probably this fact gave the motivation to collect all the astrological knowledge required for an astrologer. The work is entitled Tokhen Levenim, an expression taken from Ex. 5:18, where the Israelite slaves in Egypt did not get enough material for preparing bricks. But the expression tekhunah also refers to the name of astronomy used in medieval Hebrew.

In 1553 the council granted Kalonymus, a Jewish physician, the means necessary to keep his son at his studies, "so that he may become a man useful in the service of this illustrious city" (Romanin, "Storia Documentata di Venezia," v. 337, note 3).


חיבר ספרים בדקדוק לשון הקודש(מתוך אלף מרגליות,סעיף:879)

ממשפחת קלונימוס מחכמי ונציה( כיצד מזמנין - א {בלייער, מרדכי יהודה}עמוד:558)


Qui si era pure rifugiato un altro illustre personaggio, il medico di
re Federico, Calo Calonymos, di famiglia barese, censita nel focatico della locale giudecca
nel 1498, poi, per un trentennio, attivo sulla scena veneziana. Era suo parente
Jacob, il maggiorente della giudecca cui tocc  l’ingrato compito di retrocedere, ai tempi
dell’espulsione del 1511, i due cimiteri locali al precedente proprietario, che s’impegnava
a salvaguardare le tombe, rispettando il paesaggio di alberi e colture non invasive
(Colafemmina, Documenti, 196, doc. 210, Napoli, 3 marzo 1498; Colafemmina,  Gli
ebrei in Puglia , 31-2, 17 maggio 1511).

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