26 April, 2009

Nicostrata and "The City of Ladies"

I've become quite interested in Nicostrata the lady who invented the first 16 "Latin letter" for which we have the ABC's now.
There isn't much information about her but I have been able to gather snips from one small book. City of Ladies written by Christine de Pizan. Christine lived from 1364-1430, so AGES ago but her book is interesting if not a little repetitive.

In the book Lady Reason speak with Christine, which is how Christine clears and builds the foundation of the city, this is a little of what Reason says about how the people of Italy thanked Nicostrata.
"they heralded it as such a marvellous invention that they venerated her more highly than any man, worshipping Nicostrata like a goddess in her own lifetime."
"In honour of the science of Latin that she had invented, the people of the country called themselves Latins. Furthermore, because ita in Latin is the most important affirmative term in that language... they did not stop at calling their own realm the land of the Latins, but went so far as to use the name Italy to refer to the whole country beyond their immediate borders".

The picture shown is from Science & Society their side note to the image is as follows;

‘Typus Gramatica’ showing Nicostrata (also known as Carmenta), holding a hornbook and key, introducing a child into a tower of learning with six storeys. The lowest - Donatus, second - Priscianus, third - portraits of Aristotle (logic), Cicero (Rhetoric and Poetry), Boethius (Arithmetic). Fourth, Pythagorus (Music), Euclid (Geometry), Ptolemy (Astonomy), fifth - Aristotle (Physics), Seneca (Ethics). At the summit stands a Master of Sentences representing Theology. Mother to Evando, King of Arcadia, Nicostrata is known as a scholar of Greek letters and is often associated with birth, children and Apollo. From Grammar, part of ‘Margarita Philosophica’ by Gregor Reisch (1467?- 1525). First printed in 1503. Hand-coloured wood-cut.


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