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Mathematical Treasure: Mathematics of Isadore of Seville

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

Isadore of Seville (ca 560–636) was a bishop in the Catholic Church. Referred to as “the last scholar of the ancient world,” Isadore compiled Etymologiae, an encyclopedia describing the areas of knowledge of his time. Book III and IV of the Etymologiae discuss mathematics, music, and astronomy. Images here are from a ca 1265–1299 manuscript copy, probably from Catalonia. The first illumination depicts Isadore teaching two monks (yes, there really are two of them in the inset miniature).

The first leaf of Mathematica (see column 2):

The images above were obtained through the kind cooperation of the University of Pennsylvania Libraries, The Lawrence J. Schoenberg Collection of Late and Early Renaissance Manuscripts, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Lawrence Schoenberg, a successful businessman and collector of early scientific manuscripts, donated his collection to the University. The item shown here is fully digitized and may be consulted and copied in its entirety with due credit provided, including its reference number, LJS 184.

Index to Mathematical Treasures


Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: Mathematics of Isadore of Seville," Convergence (February 2019)