The Forgot Ritual Poiesis: The “Piyuṭim”on Eros and Thanatos from Puglia

Contribute by: dr. Benedetto Ligorio, Ph.D., Post-Doc., Early Modern History, Department of Philosophy in Villa Mirafiori, Sapienza University of Rome.

Full Member of Società di Storia Patria per la Puglia – Palazzo Ateneo.

The ancient piyutim composed from the ancient genealogies of the Jewish thinkers and poets who lived in the multiethnic Apulian Cities between the 10th and the 15th century constitutes a forgot knowledge and a disappeared heritage of the different cultures who constitutes the not uniformed Italian Jewish cultures (Sephardic, Ashkenazi, Romans). The piyyut for his complexity and his hermetic content structured on level on knowledge was progressively forgot and survived only in few Ashkenazi traditions.

The Piyut usually contain hidden messages, mottos and the encryped name of the author thanks to the use of the acrostics. The payetanim (the author of the piyutim) were often linked to the Palestinian Jewish tradition, also knotted as Jerusalem Jewish Tradition, in competition with the Babylonian Jewish tradition, and were mostly confident with the Jerusalem Talmud rather than Bavli Talmud (the first one has fallen in disuse because its complexity).

The epithalams and ritual elegies, composed by the ancient Apulian Jewish poets are a trace of an ancient tradition difficult to decipher. Precisely for those reasons The ritual poems constitute an invaluable intangible heritage of multiculturalism who characterizes the history of the Italian cultural texture.

Published on B. Ligorio, Amore e morte nei Piyyuṭim della Otranto ebraica medievale tra X e XIII secolo, «Parola e Storia» 13 a.7/1 (2013), pp. 177-188.