What I Saw

01 Sep 2023

Benedetto Bordone

Benedetto Bordone was a native of Padua, an astronomer and geographer, and of great skill as an illuminator of MSS. His Isolario, an extremely rare book, first printed in Venice in 1528, contains an account of all the islands of the world, including Cyprus.

"Towards Syria, there lies no island but Cyprus, which has a circuit of 427 miles, and its length towards N.E. and E. 200 miles. The headland which looks towards the rising sun is called by Ptolemeus Glides extremae, but now Cape Bon Andrea: that which lies to the W. was called Drepano by the ancients, but by the people Trepano. Cape Bon Andrea is 260 miles from Tripoli on the S.E., and from Syria on the S. 80 miles, and from the Gulf of Giaccia, called by the ancients the Cilician Gates, on the N.E. and E. 130 miles. On the N. lies Cilicia, from which also it is 80 miles, and the western cape lies S. of Antiocheta, called by the ancients Antiochia, 100 miles. "

"Such is the situation of this most noble island, which yields to no other in merit. It abounds greatly in wine, oil, wheat, barley, sugar and cotton: it produces veins of various metals and vitriol of the greatest use in medicine. Eratosthenes says that the fields of Cyprus were so full of trees thickly set that they could not be cultivated, nor could any human device keep the trees down, wherefore the land lay unproductive, albeit, both in the construction of many vessels, and the continuous smelting of metals, an incredible amount of wood was here consumed: and although the island was very powerful on the seas, still in no way and by no human device could the wood be exhausted. Wherefore it was determined in their Council that every man who should cut down these trees so that the land could be brought into cultivation, as much as each should bring under good culture so much should be his own, and thus all that vast quantity of trees which hindered cultivation was rooted out of the soil, which made excellent fields. "

The 'What I Saw...' series is made possible with the support of OPAP (Cyprus) and the Active Citizens Fund.

Discover More