Cosmas Indicopleustes

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Cosmas Indicopleustes


sixth-century Byzantine author of Christian Topography (c. 547), which marked the departure of European cosmology from the achievements of the classical system of Ptolemy and the adoption of scholastic theories. This work, which rejected the idea that the earth is round, played a major role in medieval astronomy and geography.

Indicopleustes’ work was heavily influenced by the Nestorians. He represented the inhabited world as an elongated rectangle, surrounded by ocean and walls, with the firmament above it in the form of a double arch. He placed the “kingdom of heaven” above this. The change of day and night he explained as the movement of the sun around a conical elevation in the northern part of the earth’s surface. Indicopleustes’ work is significant as the sole European source for this period on the ports and trade of the nations on the Arabian Sea (Ceylon, India, Iran, Arabia, Eastern Africa), which he had visited himself as a merchant or described on the basis of conversations.


Topographic chrétienne, vol. 1. Paris, 1968.


Pigulevskaia, N. V. Vizantiia na putiakh v Indiiu. Moscow-Leningrad, 1951.
Wolska, W. La Topographic chrétienne de Cosmos Indicopleustés: Théologie et science au VI-e siècle. Paris, 1962.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
(60) Also derived from the Sanskrit is the Greek form [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] in the sixth-century Greek of Cosmas Indicopleustes. (61) However, this text really shows that the coconut was best known in Iran by its Indian name, since it is introduced with it and then the Persian equivalent is noted.
There is no doubt of the pre-Islamic presence of cloves in the Near East and Mediterranean world; although essentially unknown in classical Roman times, by late antiquity they were reasonably well known, as their mention in Cosmas Indicopleustes and other sources attests.
Instead, it serves as an essential introduction to the subsequent articles, since it summarizes the phases of development of world views in the West from classical times through the late Middle Ages, with emphasis on the schemes of Cosmas Indicopleustes, Macrobius, Augustine and Isidore of Seville, as well as descriptions of the pervasive trifaria orbis divisio, or T-O map, in which the known lands are represented in the shape of a T surrounded by the orb of the oceans, and the innovative portolano charts that eschewed portrayals of fabulous beings and marvels in favor of practical information for navigators and traders.
1909 The Christian Topography of Cosmas Indicopleustes, edited with geographical notes by E.O.
Alexandria had, however, a long scholarly tradition, unlike Constantinople, and so this part has a section on the `Christology of the Scholars' which discusses Cyrus and Nonnus of Panopolis, Pamprepius, and (a chapter added since the German edition) Dioscorus of Aphrodito, two exegetes--Ammonius and Olympiodorus, John Philoponus, and Cosmas Indicopleustes. Much of this, including the brilliant discussion of Philoponus, is by Theresia Hainthaler, to whom, I suspect, we owe it that the continuation of Grillmeier's work is making any progress at all.
Cosmas Indicopleustes as author of much of the Christian topography the work evinces.
Much of the work was to counter the naive Christian Topography by his Nestorian contemporary, Cosmas Indicopleustes, a merchant and passionate admirer of Theodore of Mopsuestia.
This means that Homer rubs shoulders with Macrobius and the Hermetica, Cosmas Indicopleustes with the Didache, and Gnostic and magical texts with Church fathers.