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The Platonic Qualities of the Elements in the So-Called Figura Solida to Isidore’s On the Nature of Things XI, 1

(Original title: Platónské vlastnosti prvků v tzv. figura solida k Isidorovu De natura rerum XI, 1)
Filozofia, 77 (2022), 6, 408 - 426.
Type of work: Original Articles
Publication language: Czech

Isidore of Seville in On the Nature of Things XI, 1 presents the threefold nature of the four elements: fire is acute, subtle and mobile; air is subtle, mobile and obtuse; water is mobile, obtuse and corpulent; earth is obtuse, corpulent and immobile. This (Neo-)Platonic teaching on elements is based on Plato’s dialogue Timaeus. Isidore’s On the Nature of Things was relatively often copied in the Middle Ages. In many manuscripts we can find an illustration to the part XI, 1 of the treatises, usually called the figura solida (according to geometrical ratio), demonstrating the aforementioned qualities of all four elements. The depiction of the figura solida is very different among the surviving manuscripts. The paper focuses on various drawings of the figura solida in the manuscripts. The main aim of this paper is to show how this various version of the figure can be interpreted (especially within the context of Calcidius’ commentary to Timaeus) as an illustration of Platonic teaching on the nature of the elements.


Elements, Figura solida, Isidore of Seville, Plato, Calcidius

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