(Aethicus of Istria) was the protagonist of the 7th/8th-century Cosmographia
written by Pseudo-Jerome
. It describes the travels of Aethicus around the world, and includes descriptions of foreign peoples in usually less than favourable terms. There are also numerous passages which deal directly with the legends of Alexander the Great
(See Anderson, 1932). The text is edited most recently in the Monumenta Germaniae Historica
by Otto Prinz (1993).
In terms of sources, the Bible and Isidore of Seville
(d. 636) form the lion's share of Pseudo-Jerome's allusions. It was once argued that pseudo-Jerome's work had provided source material for Isidore, but this was disproven by Dalche (1984). These sources, and the others, are presented in a very paraphrased form and are rarely made reference to directly. The work is also filled with many fictional sources, which makes Pseudo-Jerome similar to Virgilius Maro Grammaticus
, an Irish pseudo-grammarian of the 7th century. Whether there is any relationship between the two has been considered by Herren (1994) but the evidence he cites is hardly conclusive in proving a certain, direct connexion between the authors.
of the work is sometimes vulgar and facile, other times cryptic and opaque, owing in part to pseudo-Jerome's extremely difficult vocabulary of Graecisms and Latin/Greek compounds. (See Herren, 2001). Anagram
games, and etymological 'jokes' (e.g. using the verb 'monstrare' followed by the noun 'monstrum', then the verb 'demonstrare') and other ludic elements are found throughout. The Latin spelling of the work seems to suggest also that the author was a Merovingian Frank
(Prinz, 1993), but the idea of "Merovingian" spellings has recently been attacked as an unreliable measure of origin. Furthermore, only one manuscript of the work appears to have been written in Tours, while the majority can been traced to centres in what is now Germany (Prinz, 1993).
Pseudo-Jerome may have been associated with the Frankish translator of Pseudo-Methodius (? Petrus Monachus). There are several passages which seem to be borrowed one way or another, suggesting perhaps a parallel relationship rather than one of dependence. Nevertheless, Pseudo-Jerome's knowledge of Greek (a rare feat in Western Europe at the time) seems to indicate an association with the Canterbury school of Archbishop Theodore in the late 7th century. See recent articles by Michael Herren (in Nova de Veteribus) and Richard Pollard (Notes and Queries, March 2006) on a possible Anglo-Saxon connection for pseudo-Jerome. What seems clear is that pseudo-Jerome was not limited to a single locale throughout his working lifetime.
- (Forthcoming - 2009?) Edition by M.W. Herren for Oxford Medieval Texts.
- Die Kosmographie des Aethicus, ed. O. Prinz, MGH (Munich: 1993).
- Aethici Istrici Cosmographia ab Hieronymo ex Graeco Latinum breviarium redacta, ed. H. Wuttke (Leipzig: 1854).
- Éthicus et les ouvrages cosmographiques intitulés de ce nom, ed. A. d'Averzac (Paris: 1852).
- (Partial) Aethici Istri Cosmographi Origo Francorum, ed. B. Krusch, in MGH SS rer. Merv. VII (Hanover: 1919)