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SOLINUS, Caius Julius.

(003rd Century A.D. – )

Roman geographer.

Little is known about the life of the third-century Roman geographer and linguist Caius Julius Solinus.

Biographical references: ABF: I 952, 141-147. Barr, Index to Biographical Fragments, 1973: p. 237. Biographie Universelle: 39, ??. Dezobry, Dictionnaire de Biographie, 1889. DSB: 12, 303-6. Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th edition. Fischer, Gesteins- und Lagerstättenbildung, 1961: p. ??. Kobell, Geschichte der Mineralogie, 1864: p. ??. Lambrecht & Quenstedt, Catalogus, 1938: p. 395. Nouvelle Biographie Générale (Hoefer): 43, ??. Poggendorff: 2, cols. 902-3, 1441 & 3, 1236. WBI.

Polyhistor, 1473

1. Latin, 1473 [First edition].
Polyhistor sive De mirabilibus mundi. Venice, Nicolaus Jenson, 1473.

4°: [1-78 812] (unsigned); 68l. 33 lines.

Extremely rare. The Roman Solinus compiled a geography about the third century. He initially called his first manuscript De Mirabilibus Mundi (The Wonders of the World). Later he changed the name to Collectanea Rerum Memorabilium (Collection of Curiosities) that contains a broad description of the ancient world, with many remarks on the natural history, religion, and social issues of his time. Solinus does not name his sources, but the greater part of the text, which is arranged on a geographical plan, is mainly derived from Pliny's Natural History and the \t{Choreographia} (Geography) of Pomponius Mela.

Solinus begins his work with a very valuable section that gives a description of the mythical prehistory of the establishment of the Roman Republic by Romulus after the Etruscan rulers were conquered. He continues the history to the time of Augustus. A general treatise on humanity follows that treats the peoples of Italy, Greece, Germania, Gallica, Britannia, and Hispania, the last also has details of northern Africa. Asia, Arabia, Egypt, Syria, the Near East, and India are also described. The author wanted to maintain the readers attention and therefore paid special attention to the peculiarities of the people and places discussed. Solinus peppers his commentary with anecdotal information about the land, animals, plants, and minerals of the various regions. Descriptions of several dozen precious stones, which come from Pliny, are interspersed throughout the work with placement under the countries where the stones are supposed to be found. Later, in the sixth century, these stones would be collected together again by Isidore of Seville for inclusion in Book XVI of his \t{Etymologiae}.

A revised version of the original text appeared in the sixth century. This version includes at the start a letter purportedly from Solinus that acts as an introduction. In it, the work is awkwardly renamed \t{Polyhistor seu de Mirabilibus Mundi} (Multi-History of the Wonders of the World). Throughout the Middle Ages both versions of the text circulated widely and in some cases `Polyhistor' was taken for the author's name. The broad sweep of its coverage made it a popular manual of its subject, and as a result the book had tremendous influence during the Middle Ages, being, for example, a principle source for Isidore of Seville. An important commentary on this work by Claude de Saumaise appeared in his \t{Plinianae Exercitationes} (1689). The best edition edited by Th. Mommsen was published in 1895; it contains a valuable introduction to the extant manuscripts, the authorities used by Solinus, and the subsequent compilers.

Bibliographical references: BMC XV: V 173. Goff: S-615. Hain, Repertorium Bibliographicum, 1826-38: no. 14877. Thienen, Incunabula in Dutch Libraries, 1983: no. 4147. IGI: no. 3103. Polain, Catalogue, 1932: no. 3562. Walter, H., "Die Collectanea Rerum Memorabilium des C. Iulius Solinus. Ihre Entstehung und die Echtheit ihrer Zweifassung," Hermes. Zeitschrift für klassische Philologie, Einzelschriften, 22 (1969), xii, 92 p.

2. Latin, 1491 [23 August].
Polyhistor, sive Collectaneae de memorabilibus aut mirabilibus mundi Mirabilia urbis Romae. Venecia. 23 agosto, 1491.

8°: Very rare.

Bibliographical references: NUC.

3. Latin, 1498.
Collectanea rerum memorabilium. Venice, [Joannes Rubeus Vercellensis], anno Domini 1498 die .x. Marci.

4°: a-e8 f6; 46l. Leaves printed on both sides. 40 lines per page. Very scarce.

Bibliographical references: BMC XV: 5, 420. Goff: S-622. Hain, Repertorium Bibliographicum, 1826-38: no. 14885. IGI: no. 9091.

4. Latin, 1520.
C. Iulii Solini Polyhistor, seu rerum orbis memorabilium collectanea. Adiectus praeterea in libri calce est Index, summam totius pene operis carptim insunuans, ut studioso lectori facile inventu sit quod quaerit atque depromptu, mendis quibus antehac scatebat pro virili expurgatis emaculatis. Cologne, Eucharius Cervicornum and Heronem Fuchs, 1520.

4°: a-d8, e-h4, i8, k-m4, n8, o-q4, r8, s4, a-b6.; [I]-XCII, [12]l. Engraved titlepate and initial.

Very scarce. This edition by Giovanni Camers who revised the text without the assistance of any early manuscripts, but nevertheless his comments are filled with scholarship. He divides his text into 70 chapters and includes a comprehensive index.

Bibliographical references: Graesse, Trésor de Livres Rares, 1859-69: 6/1, 431. Proctor, Index, 1898-1906: no. 10492. Schweiger: 2, 959. VD16: 16: S6964.

5. Latin, 1520.
Iulii Solinii Polyhistor. Cum Indice summatim omnia complectente. Colophon: Vienna, J. Singriener for Lucas Alantse, 1520.

Very rare. Edited by Johannes Camers.

Bibliographical references: Adams, Cambridge Books, 1967: S-1391. Adams, Cambridge Books, 1967: M-1055. BM/STC German: p. 608.

6. Latin, 1543.
Polyhistor, Rerum Toto Orbe Memorabilium Thesaurus Locupletissimus. Basel, Michael Isingrin, 1543.

2°: [20], 230, [2] p., two folding maps and eighteen in-text maps. Woodcut vignette on titlepage and final leaf.

Rare. Second edition, after the first of 1538. A landmark in the mapping of North America, this collection of geographic accounts, edited by Sebastian Münster, contains "the earliest representation of the north-west coast of America on a printed map" (Burden). It takes the form of a land mass in the upper right corner of the folding "Asia Major" map, extending northwest, labeled "Terra Incognita," and shown with a small bay, trees, and hills. The cartographer of the map is unidentified, though some asserts that it was drawn by Münster.

Bibliographical references: BL.

Polyhistor, 1577

7. Latin, 1577.
C.I. Solini Polyhistor. [Geneva] Excudebat Henricus Stephanus, 1577.

4°: [8], 158, [16] p.; [8], 48 p.; 152 p.. Estienne device to title. Greek and Latin. Rare.

English Editions

8. English, 1587.
The excellent and pleasant worke of Iulius Solinus Polyhistor Contayning the noble actions of humaine creatures, the secretes & prouidence of nature, the description of countries, the maners of the people: with many meruailous things and strange antiquities, seruing for the benefitt and recreation of all sorts of persons. Translated out of Latin into English, by Arthur Golding. Gent. At London : Printed by I. Charlewoode for Thomas Hacket, 1587.

4°: A-Y4 2A-2F4 2G2; [228] p. Rare.

Facsimile reprint, 1955: The excellent and pleasant worke, Collectanea rerum memorabi lium of Caius Julius Solinus, translated from the Latin (1587) by Arthur Golding. A facsimile reproduction with an introd. by George Kish. Gainesville, Fla., Scholars' Facsimiles & Reprints, 1955. [8] p., facsim.: [227] p.

Bibliographical references: STC: no. 22896.