Sinbad the Sailor  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Petrus Alphonsi (also spelled Alfonsi, Peter; born Moses Sepharadi) (1062-1110) was a Jewish Spanish writer and astronomer, and polemicist, who converted to Christianity. He is best remembered for Disciplina Clericalis.

Disciplina Clericalis

Alfonsi's fame rests chiefly on a collection of thirty-three tales, composed in Latin. This work is a collection of oriental tales of moralizing character, translated from Arabic, Persian and Sanskrit. Some of the tales he drew on were from the Panchatantra and Arabian Nights, including the "Sinbad the Sailor" story cycle and "The Tale of Attaf". It established some didactic models that would be followed by other medieval authors.

The collection enjoyed remarkable popularity, and is an interesting study in comparative literature. It is entitled Disciplina Clericalis (A Training-school for the Clergy), and was often used by clergymen in their discourses, notwithstanding the questionable moral tone of some of the stories. The work is important as throwing light on the migration of fables, and is almost indispensable to the student of medieval folk-lore. Translations of it into French, Spanish, German, and English are extant. Joseph Jacobs discovered some of the stories at the end of Caxton's translation of the fables of Æsop, where thirteen apologues of "Alfonce" are taken in fact from the Disciplina Clericalis.

An outline of the tales, by Douce, is prefixed to Ellis' "Early English Metrical Romances." Nearly all the stories are adopted in the Gesta Romanorum. Chapters ii and iii were done into Hebrew and issued under the title, Book of Enoch. An early French translation of this Hebrew language extract was made prior to 1698 by Piques, and August Pichard published another version in Paris, 1838.

Friedrich Wilhelm Valentin Schmidt produced a scholarly edition in 1827.

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