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Kai Brodersen

Gaius Iulius Solinus is the author of a work entitled Collectanea Rerum Mirabilium (around 300ce), a comprehensive yet compact collection of knowledge about geography and wonders in the world, which survives in two versions. The first is presented, in a dedicatory letter addressed to a certain Adventus, as a liber ad conpendium praeparatus (“book prepared as a brief survey”) dealing with “geographical features in their proper order, and adding some information on exotic trees, the looks and rites of distant peoples, and other memorable things.” The second version, with another dedicatory letter, claims to be a revision by Solinus himself, which justifies the new title Polyhistor (“know-it-all”). In both versions Solinus fulfils his programme as set out in the dedicatory letter of the first version; among the “memorable things” he focuses on precious stones. There is no other evidence for the author than the work itself. The first reliable termini ante quem for Solinus’s work are references in the works of Ammianus Marcellinus and his contemporary Maurus (or Marius) Servius Honoratus.


Georgia L. Irby

The Mediterranean Basin is prone to earthquakes, and ancient thinkers sought to explain their causes either through myth (Poseidon’s wrath) or natural philosophy (dry and wet exhalations, trapped subterranean winds). Notable theorists include Thales, Anaxagoras, Aristotle, Epicurus, Posidonius, Lucretius, and Seneca the Younger. Historians and geographers (including Thucydides, Strabo, Pliny the Elder, and Pausanias) described severe earthquakes and their effects on geology (diverting bodies of water or causing bodies of water and/or land masses to appear or disappear, such as Atlantis), populations, and infrastructure (e.g., the complete annihilation of Helice and Boura). Among particularly noteworthy seismic events are those that occurred in Laconia in 464 bce, along the Malian Gulf in 426 bce, at Rhodes in 227/6 bce (toppling the famous Colossus of Helios), one extending from the Levant to Euboea (of unknown date), the quake affecting Campania (especially Pompeii and Herculaneum) in 63/63 ce, and at Smyrna in 178 ce.