Etymologiae (Latin for The Etymologies), also known as the Origines (Origins) and usually abbreviated Orig., is an etymological encyclopedia compiled by Isidore of Seville (c. 560–636), an influential Christian bishop, towards the end of his life. Isidore was encouraged to write the book by his friend Braulio, Bishop of Saragossa. The Etymologies summarized and organized a wealth of knowledge from hundreds of classical sources; three of its books are derived largely from Pliny the Elder's Natural History. Isidore acknowledges Pliny, but not his other principal sources, namely Cassiodorus, Servius, and Gaius Julius Solinus.
|Author||Isidore of Seville|
|Country||Visigothic Kingdom (Spain)|
Etymologiae covers an encyclopedic range of topics. Etymology, the origins of words, is prominent, but the work also covers, among other things, grammar, rhetoric, mathematics, geometry, music, astronomy, medicine, law, the Roman Catholic Church and heretical sects, pagan philosophers, languages, cities, humans, animals, the physical world, geography, public buildings, roads, metals, rocks, agriculture, war, ships, clothes, food, and tools.
Etymologiae was widely used textbook throughout the Middle Ages. It was so popular that it was read in place of many of the original classical texts that it summarized; as a result, some of these ceased to be copied and were lost. It was cited by Dante Alighieri (who placed Isidore in his Paradiso), quoted by Geoffrey Chaucer, and mentioned by the poets Boccaccio, Petrarch, and John Gower. Among the thousand-odd surviving manuscript copies is the 13th-century Codex Gigas; the earliest surviving manuscript, the Codex Sangallensis, preserves books XI to XX from the 9th century. Etymologiae was printed in at least ten editions between 1472 and 1530, after which its importance faded during the Renaissance. The first scholarly edition was printed in Madrid in 1599; the first modern critical edition was edited by Wallace Lindsay in 1911.
Etymologiae is less well known in modern times, though modern scholars recognize its importance both in preserving classical texts and for insight into the medieval mindset.