The Etymologies of Isidore of Seville
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The Etymologies of Isidore of Seville

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  6 ratings  ·  3 reviews
This work is a complete English translation of the Latin Etymologies of Isidore, Bishop of Seville (c.560 636). Isidore compiled the work between c.615 and the early 630s and it takes the form of an encyclopedia, arranged by subject matter. It contains much lore of the late classical world beginning with the Seven Liberal Arts, including Rhetoric, and touches on thousands...more
Paperback, 476 pages
Published April 15th 2010 by Cambridge University Press (first published 2010)
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John Cairns
The introduction interested me because I wasn't au fait with the historical background, actually thinking Isidore would be an Arab. I did know of the Byzantine reconquest of a bit of Spain that Isidore is okay about seeing retaken by the Visigothic kings he's subject to while regarding himself as a Latin speaking Roman, living under Roman law, probably.

I took one look at the first page of the Etymologies and thought it'd be tedious but it was the reverse, because I'm interested in words and the...more
This isn't really a book one reads for enjoyment, it's basically a 6th century Wikipedia combining aspects of Greek and Roman writing, along with the Bible, to try and craft an encyclopedia of the world. There are many very interesting entries, and then others are simply 1 word entries, it largely depended on what Isidore had to work with as the book was being assembled. If anything, the book is mainly interesting as a way to better understand how the well education at the time saw their world.
Nicola Griffith
A wonderful book. I can't praise it highly enough. This was the Wikipedia of Bede's time (and Hild's, though I'm not sure Hild would have seen it). Want to know why architects used green Carystean marble to panel libraries, or whether amber is born of the sap of poplar or pine? Look no further.

It's basically full of mnemonic devices to aid students (of any age, and age). And witty--in places.
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The Penn Commentary on Piers Plowman, Volume 5: C Passus 20-22; B Passus 18-20

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