Aethicus Ister is the unknown author of the Cosmographia, a fictional world travelogue that probably belongs to the 7th to 8th centuries. This work, written in an abstruse Latin, makes use of a whole range of antique (the Bible, the Isidore’s Etymologies, the Pseudo-Augustine’s De mirabilibus sacrae scripturae, etc.) and medieval texts (the Apocalypse of Pseudo-Methodius, the Liber historiae Francorum, some Latin translations of the Alexander Romance, etc.). It is one of the most difficult and puzzling early medieval texts, and it has been the object of intense study since its earliest editions. According to a recent theory espoused by Herren, it could have been written c. 675–725 by a Frank with connexions to Ireland and, possibly, England.
Stephen J. Harrison
Albunea, sulphurous spring and stream near *Tibur with a famous waterfall, and its homonymous nymph (cf. Hor. Carm. 1. 7. 12), classed as a *Sibyl by *Varro (Lactant. Div. Inst. 1. 6. 12) and fancifully identified by etymology with the sea-goddess *Ino-Leucothea (Servius on Verg. Aen.
Ravenna Cosmographer is an anonymous author of a Latin compilation commonly dated to the late 600s to early 700s. The Cosmographer describes the inhabited world, beginning with some theoretical questions and a general overview of the twelve southern and twelve northern regions (Book 1). His extensive lists of locations (Books 2–5) include over 5,000 place names, many otherwise unattested. Following earlier Christian authors such as Orosius, the Cosmographer incorporates Greco-Roman knowledge about the Earth into the framework of Christian scholarship. He cites the Bible and Christian theologians, and he mentions many secular authorities whose names only occur in this text. Although the Cosmographer never acknowledges his use of maps or itineraries, the forms of place names and the arrangement of toponyms by routes in Books 2–5 indicate that he was familiar with these sources. The similarities and differences to the Peutinger Map displayed by the text suggest that these works belong to different branches of the tradition, which ultimately goes back to a common exemplar. The Cosmography preserves the rich legacy of Roman and early medieval geographical knowledge, and its challenging material calls for a fresh examination.