The Christian Topography of
combines extraordinary descriptions of the world with an unusual
cosmology. Cosmas was a merchant who travelled to places like Ethiopia
(525) and Ceylon (530). Although he neglected to record the name of the
person who dedicated the
Monumentum Aduliscum in Axum, he preserved the
text of the stele and preserved a bit of history that would otherwise have
been lost. He takes his cosmology from Origen. The world has the shape of
the Tabernacle of Moses. In the upper part dwell the blessed. In the
middle section dwell the living, and in the lower dwell the dead. The
Topography relates the spread of Christianity and argues against
Ptolemaic view of the world.
The twelve volumes were published in Greek around 547. Two Medieval
manuscripts exist. The book was translated into Latin in 1706 and into
English in 1897.
Cosmas eventually became a monk, and fragments of his Biblical exegesis
also exist. He seems to follow Theodore of Mopsuestia and Diodore of
Tarsus; for this reason, some scholars believe that Cosmas may have been a
Karen Rae Keck
Scroll down page to find table of contents.
McCrindle translation, 1897.
Return to St Pachomius Library.