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LUIS PONCE DE LEON (1527-1591)

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Originally appearing in Volume V16, Page 443 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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LUIS PONCE DE LEON (1527-1591), Spanish poet and mystic, was born at Belmonte de Cuenca, entered the university of Salamanca at the age of fourteen, and in 1544 joined the Augustinian order. In 1561 he obtained a theological chair at Salamanca, to which in 1571 was added that of sacred literature. He was denounced to the Inquisition for translating the book of Canticles, and for criticizing the text of the Vulgate. He was consequently imprisoned at Valladolid from March 1572 till December 1576 ; the charges against him were then abandoned, and he was released with an admonition. He returned to Salamanca as professor of Biblical exegesis, and was again reported to the Inquisition in 1582, but without result. In 1583—1585 he published the three books of a celebrated mystic treatise, Los Nombres de Cristo, which he had written in prison. In 1583 also appeared the most popular of his prose works, a treatise entitled La Perfecta Casada, for the use of a lady newly married. Ten days before his death, which occurred at Madrigal on the 23rd of August 1591, he was elected vicar general of the Augustinian order. Luis de Leon is not only the greatest of Spanish mystics; he is among the greatest of Spanish lyrical poets. His translations of Euripides, Pindar, Virgil and Horace are singularly happy; his original pieces, whether devout like the ode De la vida del cielo, or secular like the ode A Salinas, are instinct with a serene sublimity unsurpassed in any literature, and their form is impeccable. Absorbed by less worldly interests, Fray Luis de Leon refrained from printing his poems, which were not issued till 1631, when Quevedo published them as a counterblast to cislteranismo. The best edition of Luis de Leon's works is that of Merino (6 vols., Madrid, 1816) ; the reprint (Madrid, 1885) by C. Munoz Saenz is incorrect. The text of La Perfecta Casada has been well edited by Miss Elizabeth Wallace (Chicago, 1903). See Coleccion de documentos ineditos Para la historia de Espana, vols. x.-xi.; F. H. Reusch, Luis de Leon and die spanische Inquisition (Bonn, 1873) ; M. Gutierrez, Fray Luis de Leon y la filosofia espannola (Madrid, 1885) ; M. Menendez y Pelayo, Estudios de critica literaria (Madrid, 1893), Primera serie, pp. 1-72.
End of Article: LUIS PONCE DE LEON (1527-1591)
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