Isidore of Seville, on the Nature of Things (Translated Texts for Historians 66)
By: Calvin B. Kendall (contributor), Faith Wallis (contributor)Paperback
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For scholars in the European Middle Ages, Isidore, bishop of Seville (560? - 636) was one of the most influential authorities for understanding he natural world. Isidore's On the Nature of Things is the first work on natural science by a Christian author that is not a commentary on the creation story in Genesis. Instead, Isidore adopted a classical model to describe the structure of the physical cosmos, and discuss the principles of astronomy, physics, geography, meteorology and time-reckoning. Into this framework he incorporated an eclectic array of ancient and patristic erudition. The fact that On the Nature of Things presents an essentially Greco-Roman picture of the universe, but amplified with Christian reflections and allegories, played a crucial role in the assimilation of ancient science into the emerging culture of the Middle Ages. It exerted a deep and long-lasting influence on scholars like Bede, one of whose earliest works was an adaptation of On the Nature of Things. On the Nature of Things provides a new window into vital intellectual currents, as yet largely unexplored, flowing from Visigothic Spain into Celtic Ireland, Anglo-Saxon England, and Merovingian France.
This is the first translation of this work into English. The introduction places the work in the context of Isidore's milieu and concerns, and traces the remarkable diffusion of his book. A chapter-by-chapter commentary explains how Isidore selected and transformed his source material, and added his own distinctive features, notably the diagrams that gave this work its medieval name The Book of Wheels (Liber rotarum).
Calvin B. Kendall is Emeritus Professor of English, University of Minnesota. Faith Wallis is Associate Professor in the Department of History at McGill University, Montreal.
Illustrations and Table Acknowledgements Abbreviations Introduction Isidore's Life, Times, and Writings Education Grammar as a principle of knowledge Church discipline and biblical exegesis Isidore's On the Nature of Things in Context Structure Occasion Purposes and preoccupations Appeal to reason Wider ends: a Christianized erudition? Composite Construction Text and image Fontaine's theory of three Recensions Single or multiple authorship? The short recension: two types The medium recension Three Spanish interpolations? The long recension The mystical addition Out of Spain and Into the Future Ireland and Anglo-Saxon England Traffic between Spain and Italy Gaul Germany and Switzerland: the Zofingenmeta morphosis On the Nature of Things in manuscript and print Inventory of Manuscripts and Editions Principles Governing this Translation Isidore of Seville: On the Nature of Things Preface: Isidore, to his Lord and Son, Sisebut List of Chapters 1. Days 2. Night 3. The Week 4. The Months Diagram 1: the months 5. The Concordance of the Months 6. The Years 7. The Seasons Diagram 2: the seasons 8. The Solstice and the Equinox 9. The World 10. The Five Circles of the World Diagram 3: the circles of the world 11. The Parts of the World Diagram 4: the elements Diagram 5: the macrocosm and microcosm 12. Heaven and Its Name 13. The Planets of Heaven 14. The Heavenly Waters 15. The Nature of the Sun 16. The Size of the Sun and the Moon 17. The Course of the Sun 18. The Light of the Moon Diagram 5A: the phases of the moon 19. The Course of the Moon 20. The Eclipse of the Sun 21. The Eclipse of the Moon 22. The Course of the Stars 23. The Position of the Seven Wandering Stars Diagram 6: the planets 24. The Light of the Stars 25. The Fall of the Stars 26. The Names of the Stars 27. Whether the Stars have a Soul 28. Night 29. Thunder 30. Lightning 31. The Rainbow 32. Clouds 33. Rains 34. Snow 35. Hail 36. The Nature of the Winds 37. The Names of the Winds Diagram 7: the winds 38. Signs of Storms or Fair Weather 39. Pestilence 40. The Ocean's Tide 41. Why the Sea does Not Grow in Size 42. Why the Sea has Bitter Waters 43. The River Nile 44. The Names of the Sea and the Rivers 45. The Position of the Earth 46. Earthquake 47. Mount Etna 48. The Parts of the Earth Diagram of the world: T-O map Commentary Appendices 1. The Verse Epistle of King Sisebut 2. Introductory Formulas for the Diagram of the Winds (Diagram 7) in Chapter 37 3. Extracts from Chapter 37 Arranged within the Diagram of the Winds 4. The Poem of the Winds 5. Textual Insertions in Chapter 48 and T-O Map 6. The Zofingen and English Types of the Long Recension Bibliography Index of Sources General Index
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