Isidore of Seville

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A person is never happy till their vague strivings has itself marked out its proper limitations.
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
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St. Isidore of Seville or Isidorus Hispalensis (c. 560April 4, 636), Archbishop of Seville, was the author of the encyclopaedic Etymologiae (or Origines), a work prized during the Middle Ages as a compendium of all human knowledge. He is now accepted by many as the patron saint of computing and the Internet.



Translations and page-numbers are taken from Ernest Brehaut An Encyclopedist of the Dark Ages: Isidore of Seville (New York: B. Franklin, [1912] 1964).

  • Litterae autem sunt indices rerum, signa verborum, quibus tanta vis est, ut nobis dicta absentium sine voce loquantur. Verba enim per oculos non per aures introducunt.
    • Letters are signs of things, symbols of words, whose power is so great that without a voice they speak to us the words of the absent; for they introduce words by the eye, not by the ear.
    • Bk. 1, ch. 3, sect. 1; p. 96.
  • Itaque sine Musica nulla disciplina potest esse perfecta, nihil enim sine illa. Nam et ipse mundus quadam harmonia sonorum fertur esse conpositus, et coelum ipsud sub harmoniae modulatione revolvi.
    • And without music there can be no perfect knowledge, for there is nothing without it. For even the universe itself is said to have been put together with a certain harmony of sounds, and the very heavens revolve under the guidance of harmony.
    • Bk. 3, ch. 17, sect. 1; p. 137.
  • Siquidem et per naturam pleraque mutationem recipiunt, et corrupta in diversas species transformantur; sicut de vitulorum carnibus putridis apes, sicut de equis scarabei, de mulis locustae, de cancris scorpiones.
    • Many creatures go through a natural change and by decay pass into different forms, as bees [are formed] by the decaying flesh of calves, as beetles from horses, locusts from mules, scorpions from crabs.
    • Bk. 11, ch. 4, sect. 3; p. 221.

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