A discussion of interesting books from my current stock A site


June 2014

The Seven Wonders of the World!

De Septem Orbis Spectaculis
De Septem Orbis Spectaculis

Philo byzantius. De Septem orbis spectaculis, Leonis Allatii opera nunc primum graece et latine prodit, cum notis.

We are all familiar with the phrase “The Seven Wonders of the World” , it is even easy to bring up images of them in our minds,but can you name the seven popularly accepted ones, do they still exist,where are they?

In 1640,Leo Allatius(1586-1669), a Librarian  at the Vatican Library published and translated a Manuscript of De Septem Orbis

 The Seven Wonders of the World by Michael Ashley (Glasgow: Fontana Paperbacks, 1980)
The Seven Wonders of the World by Michael Ashley (Glasgow: Fontana Paperbacks, 1980)


At this time Allatius attributes the text to Philon of Bizantium. Philon of Byzantium (Φίλων ὁ Βυζάντιος)  i known as “the Paradoxographer”{ not to be confused with Philo Mechanicus}, Our Phylon is now dated probably the 4th-5th century A.D, which thickens our stew, once the two Phylons were considered one and were dated at  ca. 280 BC – ca. 220 BC. which is much more convenient, as I will explain.    

After I bought this Wonderful book, I looked in my usual places for Biographies and assessments of the text, Sandys,EB,CE,OIE… the usual suspects, none of these were gratifying, So I searched on  Amazon and found Michael Ashley’s book.  In his book on the subject, there are some really good insights and a nice chronological explanation of how the text of Phylon fits in the history and dissemination of the “Seven Wonders” . What I found most useful are the charts and I will use them here.   But first Allatius.

Leo Allatius, portrait in the Collegio Greco of Rome, Italy.
Leo Allatius, portrait in the Collegio Greco of Rome, Italy.


The main source of our knowledge of Allatius is the incomplete life by Stephanus Gradi, Leonis Allatii vita, published by Cardinal Mai, in Nova Bibliotheca Patrum. A complete enumeration of his works is contained in E. Legrand, Bibliographie hellenique du X VII eme siecle (Paris, 1895, iii. 435-471).  Leonis Allatii Hellas (Athens, 1872), are inaccurate and untrustworthy. For a special account of his share in the foundation of the Vatican Library, see Curzio Mazzi, Leone Allacci e la Palatina di Heidelberg (Bologna, 1893).

Allatius, was born on the island of Chios (then part of the Ottoman Empire and known as Sakız) in 1586.  He was taken by his maternal uncle Michael Nauridis to Italy to be educated at the age of nine, first in Calabria and then in Rome where he was admitted into the Greek college. A graduate of the Pontifical Greek College of St. Athanasius in Rome, he spent his career in Rome as teacher of Greek at the Greek college, devoting himself to the study of classics and theology. He found a patron in Pope Gregory XV. In 1622, after the capture of Heidelberg by Tilly, when the Protestant Elector of Bavaria Frederick V was supplanted by a Catholic one, the victorious elector Maximilian of Bavaria presented the  war booty (The Palatinate library composed of 196 cases containing about 3500 manuscripts) to Pope Gregory.  Allatius supervised its transport by a caravan of 200 mules across the Alps to Rome, where it was incorporated in the Vatican library.This took Allatius almost a year to process. The death of Gregory XV. just before his return deprived him of a fitting reward (Vatican Librarian); and he was even suspected of having appropriated or given away part of this charge. He was supported by the liberality of some of the cardinals, especially Francesco Barberini, who made him his private librarian (1638). Alexander VII. appointed him keeper of the Vatican library in 1661, and he lived the retired life of a scholar until his death. All but 39 of the Heidelberg manuscripts, which had been sent to Paris in 1797 and were returned to Heidelberg at the Peace of Paris in 1815, and a gift from Pope Pius VII of 852 others in 1816, remain in the Vatican Library to this day.

Allatius is perhaps best known today for his De Praeputio Domini Nostri Jesu Christi Diatriba (A Discussion of the Foreskin of Our Lord Jesus Christ), a minor essay mentioned in Fabricius’s Bibliotheca Graeca (xiv. 17) as an unpublished work. According to an unconfirmed nineteenth-century source,its thesis – is that the rings of Saturn (then-recently observed by telescope) are the prepuce of Jesus. Makes one wonder about the conversations about Astronomy around the Vatican?

BUT! there is more (and we haven’t even come to the Wonders yet?) Allatius was trained as a physician. In 1645 he included the first methodical discussion of vampires, in De Graecorum hodie quorundam opinationibus (“On certain modern opinions among the Greeks)

By the seventeenth century most texts (that we know of today) by Byzatine authors were already printed yet because of Allatius’ access to the Vatican, and perhaps because it was after the ‘age of  wonder’




moreEarl of ROCHESTER!
Portrait of the Day: John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester

A member of the most dissolute and licentious court circles, Rochester with his ready wit alternately fascinated and enraged Charles II, who dismissed him from court at least once a year, but always had him immediately recalled. As a poet his name is chiefly associated with a number of obscene and pornographic works, but he was also a satirist and lyricist of genius. Talk led by Emma Burgess.

The Scar of Henry V

This is pretty neat

Matt's History Blog

On 21st July 1403, a rebel army led by Sir Henry Percy, known as Harry Hotspur, son of the 1st Earl of Northumberland, gave battle to the forces of King Henry IV. The somewhat beleaguered monarch was supported by his oldest son and heir, Henry of Monmouth, Prince of Wales, who was only 16 years of age. This young man was later to become the legendary king of Agincourt fame, “Hammer of the Gauls” as his tomb inscription lauds him. That sunny day was darkened by clouds of arrows and rang with the screams of many dead. It may also have defined the future Henry V as we remember him.

The background to the Percy rebellion was a mounting list of grievances that they felt was going unaddressed. They had been loyal to the new regime initially, but went unpaid for their ongoing defence of the troublesome and perilous Scottish…

View original post 2,018 more words

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: