Isidore of Seville
Guy Lochhead, 05/09/10
Archbishop of Seville for more than three decades, and an important figure in many other ways. He compiled the ‘Etymologiae’, an attempt to compile universal knowledge, and the first encyclopaedia in medieval civilisation. In this mammoth book, he also taught that the Earth was round, and that it was possible that legendary people lived at the antipodes, though he stressed there was no evidence of their existence. He also wrote the Chronica Majora (a “universal history”), ‘Questions on the Old Testament’, and a history of the Goths, Vandals and Suebi Kings. He was the last of the ancient Christian philosophers. His tomb is at the Basilica of San Isidoro, León. I struggle with this because Isidore was evidently an incredible man, but he was also a devout Roman Catholic. I definitely have no sympathies with any religion, let alone one so pompous, and wouldn’t ever want to appear that way. Isidore did, however, counter previous theologians’ anti-Semitism, and write ‘Questions on the Old Testament’. However, until further notice he will not be included, because his inclusion would entail the potential inclusion of all the more decent figures in all major world religions in the name of fairness, which could be a real can of worms.

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