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date: 20 October 2019

Isidore of Sevillelocked

  • Don M. Randel
  •  and Nils Nadeau


(b ?Cartagena, c559; d Seville, April 4, 636). Spanish archbishop, encyclopedist, theologian saint and doctor of the church. The youngest of Severianus’s four children, Isidore was probably born in Cartagena, Spain, shortly before his family fled to Seville. His early education was overseen by his elder brother Leander, whom he succeeded to the episcopal see at Seville in about 599. As archbishop, Isidore presided over the fourth Council of Toledo, which sought to achieve doctrinal and liturgical uniformity throughout Spain and parts of southern France.

The largest of Isidore’s works is his encyclopedic Etymologiarum sive Originum libri xx, an investigation of the principal terms employed in all branches of knowledge. Chapters 15 to 23 of book 3 deal exclusively with music, which is defined there as ‘the skill [peritia] of modulation consisting of tone and song’. In his discussion of the Quadrivium (bk iii, chap.24), however, Isidore closely followed ...

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