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The Etymologies of Isidore of Seville
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Book description

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 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.


'This extraordinary mix of encyclopaedia and dictionary must be the most historically important work never to have been translated into English until this fine collaborative work.'

Source: Spectator

'… with this publication, the whole extraordinary compendium is available to Third Millennium man for the first time ever in equally simple English … [and] glorious contents.'

Source: Sunday Telegraph

'… an accurate, literal translation, which contributes significantly to the field of Isidorian studies.'

Source: BMCR

'The translation is accurate, the book well produced, and misprints or factual errors are very few indeed.'

Rolando Ferri Source: Bryn Mawr Classical Review

'… we should be delighted that this collaboration has been published by such a distinguished press. The book as a whole is an irreproachable work of translation … all interested in the study of the Middle Ages may certainly rejoice at this important contribution.'

Ana-Isabel Magallon Source: The Medieval Review

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Modern editions and translations of the Etymologies
André. J. (ed.) (1981) Isidore de Séville: Etymologies. Livre ⅩⅦ, De l'agriculture, with tr. and comm. Paris.
André. J. (1986) Isidore de Séville: Etymologies. Livre ⅩⅡ, Des animaux, with tr. and comm. Paris.
Goode, H. D. and Drake, G. C. (tr.) (1980) Cassiodorus, Institutiones Book Ⅱ, Chapter Ⅴ; Isidore of Seville, Etymologies Book Ⅲ, Chapters 15–23. Colorado Springs.
Lindsay, W. M. (ed.) (1911) Isidori Hispalensis Episcopi Etymologiarum sive Originum Libri ⅩⅩ. Oxford.
Marshall, P. K. (ed.) (1983) Etymologies. Book Ⅱ, Rhetoric, with tr. and comm. Paris.
Oroz Reta, J. and Marcos Casquero, M.-A. (eds.) (1993) Etimologías: edición bilingüe, with tr. and comm., and introd. by Manuel C. Díaz y Díaz, 2nd edn. Madrid.
Reydellet, M. (ed.) (1984) Etymologies. Livre Ⅸ, Les langues et les groupes sociaux, with tr. and comm. Paris.
Rodríguez-Pantoja, M. (ed.) (1995) Etimologías. Libro ⅩⅠⅩ, De naves, edificios y vestidos, with tr. and comm. Paris.
Modern editions and translations of other works by Isidore
Campos Ruiz, J. (ed.) (1971) Reglas monásticas de la España visigoda. Los tres libros de las “Sentencias” (includes Isidore's Regula Monachorum and Sententiae). Madrid.
Carracedo Fraga, J. (ed.) (1996) Liber de ortu et obitu patriarcharum. Turnhout.
Cazier, P. (ed.) (1998) Isidorus Hispalensis sententiae. Turnhout.
Codoer Merino, C. (ed.) (1964) El “De Viris Illustribus” de Isidoro de Sevilla. Salamanca.
Codoner Merino, C. (ed.) (1992) Isidoro de Sevilla: Diferencias, with tr. and comm. Paris.
Fontaine, J. (ed.) (1960) Isidore de Séville: Traité de la nature. Bordeaux.
Ford, G. B. Jr. (ed.) (1970) The Letters of St. Isidore of Seville, with tr., 2nd edn. Amsterdam.
Lawson, C. M. (ed.) (1989) Sancti Isidori Episcopi Hispalensis De ecclesiasticis officⅱs. Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 113. Turnhout
Lynch, C. H. (ed.) (1938) Saint Braulio, Bishop of Saragossa (631–651): His Life and Writings (includes a translation of the correspondence between Braulio and Isidore). Washington, DC. A Spanish translation: Madrid, 1950.
Martin, J. C. (ed.) (2003) Isidori Hispalensis Chronica. CCSL 112. Turnhout.
Sánchez Martín, J. M. (ed.) (2000) Isidori Hispalensis Versus. Turnhout.
Strunk, O. (ed.) (1998) Source Readings in Music History (includes a translation of Book iii, chapters 15–23). New York.
Trisoglio, F. (ed. and tr.) (2001) La natura delle cose. Rome.
Viayo González, A. (ed. and tr.) (2001) Sinónimos. León.
Note also the Library of Latin Texts: CLCLT-5 (Turnhout, 2002), a searchable database that includes the Latin text of the Regula Monachorum from Campos Ruiz, J. (ed.) (1971), the Latin texts in Fontaine, J. (ed.) (1960), Lawson, C. M. (ed.) (1989), and Lindsay, W. M. (ed.) (1911), as well as the Allegoriae, the De Differentⅱs Rerum, the De Differentⅱs Verborum, the De Fide Catholica Contra Iudaeos, the Quaestiones in Vetus Testamentum, and the Sententiae from the Patrologia Latina, vol. 83.
Further reading
Beer, R. (ed.)(1909) Isidori Etymologiae: Codex toletanus (nunc matritensis) 15, 8 phototypice editus. Leiden.
Beeson, C. H. (1913) Isidor-Studien (includes the text of the Versus Isidori). Munich.
Bischoff, B. (1966, 1967) Mittelatlterliche Studien, vols. i and ii. Stuttgart.
Brehaut, E. (1912) An Encyclopedist of the Dark Ages: Isidore of Seville (includes English translations of selected passages from each book). New York.
Cazier, P. (1994) Isidore de Séville et la naissance de l‘Espagne catholique. Paris.
Collins, R. (1980) “ Mérida and Toledo: 550–585,” in James, E. (ed.) (1980).
Collins, R. (1995) Early Medieval Spain: Unity in Diversity, 400–1000, 2nd edn. New York.
Collison, R. (1964, 1966 2) Encyclopedias: Their History Throughout the Ages. New York and London.
Díaz, P. C. (1999) “Visigothic political institutions,” in Heather, P. (ed.) (1999).
Díaz y Díaz, M. C. (ed.) (1961) Isidoriana. León.
Diazy Diaz, M. C. (1975) “La Trasmission de los textos antiguos en la peninsula iberica en los siglos vii–xi,” pp. 133–75 in La Cultura antica nell'occidente latino dal Ⅶ all' Ⅺ secolo. Settimane di Studio del Centro Italiano di Studi sull'Alto Medioevo 22:1. Spoleto.
Fontaine, J. (1959, 1983 2) Isidore de Séville et la culture classique dans l'Espagne wisigothique. Paris.
Fontaine, J. (1966) “Isidore de Séville et la mutation de l'encyclopédisme antique,” in Cahiers d'histoire mondiale Ⅸ, Neuchâtel: 519–538, reprinted in Fontaine (1988).
Fontaine, J. (1978) “Cohérence et originalité de l'étymologie isidorienne,” pp. 113–44 in Homenaje a Eleuterio Elorduy S.J., ed. Félix Rodriguez and Juan Iturriaga. Deusto.
Fontaine, J. (1981) “Aux sources de la lexicographie médiévale: Isidore de Séville médiateur de l'étymologie antique,” pp. 97–103 in La Lexicographie du latin médiéval et ses rapports avec les recherches actuelles sur la civilisation du moyen-âge, Editions du CNRS. Paris.
Fontaine, J. (1988) Tradition et actualité chez Isidore de Séville. London.
Fontaine, J. (2000) Isidore de Séville: genèse et orginalité de la culture hispanique au temps des Wisigoths. Turnhout.
Heather, P. (1991) Goths and Romans, 332–489. Oxford.
Heather, P. (1996) The Goths. Oxford.
Heather, P. (ed.) (1999) The Visigoths from the Migration Period to the Seventh Century: an Ethnographic Perspective. San Marino.
Heather, P. and Matthews, J. (1991) The Goths in the Fourth Century. Liverpool.
Herren, M. (1980) “On the earliest Irish acquaintance with Isidore of Seville,” in James, E. (ed.) (1980).
Hillgarth, J. N. (1962) Visigothic Spain and Early Christian Ireland. Dublin.
James, E. (ed.) (1980) Visigothic Spain: New Approaches. Oxford.
King, P. D. (1980) “King Chindasvind and the first territorial law-code of the Visigothic Kingdom,” in James, E. (ed.) (1980).
McKitterick, R. (ed.) (2001) The Early Middle Ages: Europe 400–1000. The Short Oxford History of Europe. Oxford.
Reydellet, M. (1966) “La diffusion des Origines d'Isidore de Séville au haut moyen âge,”Mélanges d'Archéologie et d'Histoire de l'Ecole Française de Rome 78 (1966): 383–437.
Reynolds, L. D. (ed.) (1983) Texts and Transmission: A Survey of the Latin Classics. Oxford.
Ribémont, B. (2002) Littérature et encyclopédies du Moyen Age. Orleans.
Riché, P. (1976) Education and Culture in the Barbarian West: Sixth through Eighth Centuries. Columbia, SC. Trans. by J. J. Contreni from Education et culture dans l'Occident barbare, 6e–8e siécle (Paris, 1962, 19723).
Sharpe, W. D. Isidore of Seville: The medical writings, in Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, n. s. vol. 54, pt. 2 (1964): 1–70 (includes an English translation of Books 4 and 11).
Stocking, R. L. (2000) Bishops, Councils, and Consensus in the Visigothic Kingdom, 589–633. Ann Arbor.
Thompson, E. A. (1969) The Goths in Spain. Oxford.
Velázquez, I. (1999) “Jural relations as an indicator of syncretism from the law of inheritance to the Dum Inlicita of Chindaswinth,” in Heather, P. (ed.) (1999).
Wolf, K. B. (1999) Conquerors and Chroniclers of Early Medieval Spain, 2nd edn. Liverpool (contains a translation of Isidore's History of the Kings of the Goths).
Wood, I. (1999) “Social relations in the Visigothic Kingdom from the fifth to the seventh century: the example of Mérida,” in Heather, P. (ed.) (1999).
Additional sources
Buckland, W. W. (1963) A Text-Book of Roman Law from Augustus to Justinian, 3rd edn. Cambridge.
Casson, L. (1994) Ships and Seafaring in Ancient Times. Austin.
Daly, L. W. (1967) Contributions to a History of Alphabetization in Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Brussels.
Forbes, R. J. (1964) Studies in Ancient Technology, 2nd edn. Leiden.
Frend, W. H. C. (1985) Saints and Sinners in the Early Church. London.
Jolowicz, H. F. (1952) Historical Introduction to the Study of Roman Law, 2nd edn. Cambridge.
MacKay, A. (ed.) (1997) Atlas of Medieval Europe. London
Maltby, R. (1991) A Lexicon of Ancient Latin Etymologies. Leeds.
Richard, E. G. (1998) Mapping Time: The Calendar and its History. Oxford.
Singer, C. et al. (eds.) (1956) A History of Technology. New York.
White, K. D. (1967) Agricultural Implements of the Ancient World. Cambridge.
White, K. D. (1970) Roman Farming. Ithaca, NY.
Wild, J. P. (1970) Textile Manufacture in the Northern Roman Provinces. Cambridge.
Wiles, M. (1996) Archetypal Heresy: Arianism through the Centuries. Oxford.
Wilson, K. (1979) A History of Textiles. Boulder.
Two definitive bibliographies of works on Isidore
Hillgarth, J. N. (1983) “The position of Isidorian studies: a critical review of the literature 1936–1975,” in Studi Medievali, ser. 3, 24: 817–905, reprinted in Hillgarth, J. N. (1985) Visigothic Spain, Byzantium, and the Irish, London.
Hillgarth, J. N. (1990) “Isidorian studies, 1976–1985,”Studi Medievali, ser. 3, 31: 925–73.
See also the recent and full bibliography in Martin's edition of Chronica (2003).


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