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Baltasar Gracián (Gratian)
Gracián, (Gratian), Baltasar, Spanish writer, b. at Belmonte, a suburb of Calatayud, Aragon, January 8, 1601; d. at Tarragona, December 6, 1658. He came of a noble family and was reared in the home of his uncle Antonio Gracidn, licentiate at Toledo. His mother's name was Morales, and it is supposed that she and his father died when Graciin was a child. His three brothers, Felipe, Pedro, and Raimundo, entered religious orders, and Baltasar entered the Society of Jesus in 1619, being among the first to receive an education according to the principles of the Ratio Studiorum. He taught in various colleges of the order, and at the time of his death was rector of the College of Tarragona. He was on terms of intimacy with King Philip III. His correspondence with a gentleman of Huesca, Vincencio Juan de Lastanosa, is no longer extant. He is the author of a number of works which exercised a wide influence on the literature of his country by the extreme artificiality of their style. The subject matter of most of his works is the ideal Spanish gentleman. The critical exposition of the stilo culto Gracian adopted in his "Agudeza y arte de ingenio". He is best known through his "Oriculo manual 6 arte de prudencia" (1647). This was his most finished work, the earliest known edition of which is in the British Museum. It has been translated into Italian, French, English, Latin, Hungarian, Polish, German and Dutch. His other works are "El Heroe" (Madrid, 1630); "El politico Fernando el Catolico" (1641); "El Discreto", dedicated to Don Baltasar Carlos of Austria (Huesca, 1645); "El Criticon" (Ist part, Madrid, 1650; 2nd and 3rd parts, Huesca, 1653); "El Comulgador", devotions for Communion (Madrid, 1655). The last named work, as also his eulogy of Ferdinand the Catholic, are exceptions to his usual choice of subject. Whatever may be thought of the evils of his style, it is a brilliant medium for his wisdom and frequently exalted sentiments.
Gertrude Dana Steele.