The World According to Cosmas Indicopleustes – Concepts and Illustrations of an Alexandrian Merchant and Monk
In a first step, this article examines the facts and speculations about Cosmas Indicopleustes as a person. His most striking features are the great wealth of information he gathered on his far-reaching voyages as a merchant in early Byzantine times and the strong Nestorian tendencies of his Christian faith. These two constants are the intellectual framework of his Christian Topography, whose aim, structure and manuscript tradition are explained in the second section. The third part deals with the nature and background of Cosmas’ peculiar cosmological model, which he based on theoretical and biblical considerations. The forth part concentrates on Cosmas’ description of far eastern trade connections, as well as on his interest in the flora and fauna of India and Africa. Here, Cosmas largely drew on personal experience.
The article presents both original passages from the Christian Topography and examples of the unique illustrations displayed in the old manuscripts.