Isidore of Seville
  • prose
  • Non-Celtic texts
Learned encyclopedic work by Isidore, archbishop of Seville (d. 636), towards the end of his life.
Isidore of Seville
Isidore of Seville
Archbishop of Sevilla (Visigothic Spain), theologian, scholar and highly influential author, who is known especially for works such as his Etymologiae, Synonyma, De natura rerum, De ortu et obitu patrum, De officiis ecclesiasticis and a Chronica maiora.

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A database of manuscripts of the Etymologiae from before the year 1000 is being compiled by Evina Steinova (November 2021).

before 636
prose (primary)
Textual relationships
Related: Altus ProsatorAltus ProsatorLatin hymnCosmographia of Aethicus IsterCosmographia of Aethicus Ister

An early medieval Latin work of cosmography, geography and ethnography, datable to the first half of the eighth century, which purports to be an epitome of a work by a Scythian philosopher named Aethicus (Ister) and which spuriously attributes its redaction and running commentary to St Jerome. Aethicus is described as a pagan (gentilis) who lived before the birth of Christ and travelled the four corners of the earth, although the chronology of peoples and events is regularly disturbed.

De proprietate philosophiae et de VII liberalibus artibusDe proprietate philosophiae et de VII liberalibus artibusIrish tract on the origins of alphabetsIrish tract on the origins of alphabetsA Middle Irish tract on the invention or discovery of the Hebrew, Greek and Latin alphabets.
Prebiarum de multorium exemplaribusPrebiarum de multorium exemplaribus


Non-Celtic textsNon-Celtic texts


Book I: De grammatica

Book II: De rhetorica et dialectica

Book III: De mathematica

Book IV: De medicina

Book V: De legibus et temporibus

Book VI: De libris et officiis ecclesiasticis

Book VII: De deo, angelis et sanctis

Book VIII: De ecclesia et sectis

Book IX: De linguis, gentibus, regnis, militia, civibus, affinitatibus

Book X: De vocabulis

Book XI: De homine et portentis

Book XII: De animalibus

Book XIII: De mundo et partibus

Book XIV: De terra et partibus

Book XV: De aedificiis et agris

Book XVI: De lapidibus et metallis

Book XVII: De rebus rusticis

Book XVIII: De bello et ludis

Book XIX: De navibus aedificiis et vestibus

Book XX

» Comments: In the early manuscripts, this book bears no title.


Primary sources Text editions and/or modern translations – in whole or in part – along with publications containing additions and corrections, if known. Diplomatic editions, facsimiles and digital image reproductions of the manuscripts are not always listed here but may be found in entries for the relevant manuscripts. For historical purposes, early editions, transcriptions and translations are not excluded, even if their reliability does not meet modern standards.

[ed.] Lindsay, W. M., Isidori Hispalensis episcopi etymologiarum sive originum libri XX, Scriptorum Classicorum Bibliotheca Oxoniensis, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1911.
Lacus Curtius: <link> Internet Archive – volume 1: <link>
[tr.] Barney, Stephen A., W. J. Lewis, J. A. Beach, and Oliver Berghof, The etymologies of Isidore of Seville, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.  
This work is the first 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 hundreds of topics ranging from the names of God, the terminology of the law, the technologies of fabrics, ships, and agriculture, to the names of cities and rivers, the theatrical arts, and cooking utensils. Isidore provides etymologies for most of the terms he explains, finding in the causes of words the underlying key to their meaning. This book offers a highly readable translation of the twenty books of the Etymologies, one of the most widely known texts for a thousand years from Isidore’s time.
(source: publisher)

Secondary sources (select)

Bischoff, Bernhard, “Die europäische Verbreitung der Werke Isidors von Sevilla”, in: Manuel C. Díaz y Díaz (ed.), Isidoriana: Colección de estudios sobre Isidoro de Sevilla, León: Centro de Estudios San Isidoro, 1961. 317–344.
Internet Archive: <link>
Dennis Groenewegen
Page created
April 2013, last updated: January 2024