An Egyptian Traveller: Josephus Barbatus or Abudacnus the Copt

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The true history of the Jacobites of Egypt, Lybia, Nubia by Barbatus, Josephus Abudacnus, was first published in 1675 (go to Books, select the author). It is thought to have been written between 1610 and 1613. Its original title was Historia Jacobitarum, seu Coptorum, in Aegypto, Libya, Nubia, Aethiopia tota, et parte Cypri Insulae habitantium. This is not a history in the traditional sense, but a description of Coptic beliefs, customs and liturgical rites.

Here is an account of Barbatus’s fascinating life, as a scholar and translator – he lived in Rome, Paris, London, Vienna and, eventually, Istanbul : An Egyptian Traveller in the Republic of Letters: Josephus Barbatus or Abudacnus the Copt by Hamilton, Alastair. ( Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, vol. 57, 1994, pp. 123–150. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/751466. Accessed 2 June 2021.)

Barbatus attributed the origin of the Copts to Jacob, the Hebrew patriarch; hence, his choice of the title. For Edwin Sadleir, who translated his work from Latin into English, it was impossible to disregard the connotations to the “Jacobites of Great Britain” and, as scholars point out, discussing history was at least in part a way to comment on Sadleir’s present.

Sadleir’s life might have been as fascinating as that of Barbatus though in another sense (Hamilton remarked that the task of translating Barbatus’s work fell into the hands of an “eccentric”) . After falling in love, Sadleir presented his “beloved consort” with a translation and re-telling of Servantes’s Don Quichotte; though scholars suspect that he had abridged another translator’s work. This was not his only literary gift to her. Sadleir’s other work, Intrigues of Love, based on Historie des amours, an account of love stories at the French Court at the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries, may well have been inspired by his “beloved consort” who might have given him a copy of the original Historie as a gift earlier. Don Quichotte, a history of the Copts, stories of love at a noble court – an interesting selection of literature. Find a more detailed story of Sadleir’s life here: Avoiding Garrulity: An Introduction to Sir Edwin Sadleir and His Improvement of Cervantes’s Don Quixote Randall, Dale B. J. (Studies in Philology, vol. 106, no. 4, 2009, pp. 468–482. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/25656029. Accessed 2 June 2021. )

We have also added Hume‘s A Treatise of Human Nature, Essays 1-13, Political Discourses and Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, and Aristotle‘s Categories. Find the works through the Books tab.