Neoplatonism Through the Renaissance

Medieval Philosophy

What was in St. Isidore’s encyclopedia?

St. Isidore of Seville’s (c. 560–636) encyclopedia—the Etymologiae—was an ambitious attempt to compile all the knowledge of its day in one source. It contained everything that was known and believed at the time, with little critical editing. For example, under “A” was an entry on the atomic theory, but there was also an entry on the mythical Antipodes, who were said to populate rocky plains in the south of Africa. Isidore related that their big toes were not on the inside of their feet, but on the outside, which afforded them greater agility in navigating their rocky terrain.


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