Lesbos, Samos, Icaria and Chios
By METELLUS, Johannes , 1601

Metileme / Samo / Scio Insula / Nicaria

Europe Greece
  • 作者: METELLUS, Johannes
  • 出版地: Coloniæ Agrippinaæ
  • 出版商: excudebat Ioann. Christophori
  • 发布日期: 1601
  • 物理描述: Engraved map
  • 库存参考: 3388


Four maps of Greek islands (clockwise): Lesbos, Samos, Icaria and Chios. A tower is visible on Icaria, marked ‘Toracco de la verdia’. This is a reference to the legend of Icarus. Icarus and his father Daedalus were imprisoned in a tower on the island so they did not reveal the secrets of King Minos’ labyrinth. Daedalus made wings out of feathers held with wax so he and his son could escape from the tower. Icarus forgot his father’s warnings not to fly to close to the sun and fell to his death after the wax melted.

These maps appear in the ‘Insularum orbis aliquot insularum’ by Johannes Metellus. It stands out as a northern European contribution to the tradition of ‘isolari’, or ‘island books’, that has its origins in the manuscript Mediterranean chart books of the fifteenth century, and in the printed works of Sonetti, Bordone, and Porcacchi.

Johannes Metellus (Jean Matal) (1520–1597) was a Burgundian scholar in law and geography. He originally worked in Bologna, where he assisted with the publication of Lelio Torelli’s encyclopaedia, before travelling over Europe, meeting the cartographer Abraham Ortelius in the process, and settling in Cologne by 1563. Through his connection with Ortelius and the publisher Christophe Plantijn, Metellus contributed to some of the most important cartographic works of the period. He provided material for a new edition of Ortelius’ best-selling atlas ‘Theatrum Orbis Terrarum;, passed Gerard Mercator information in 1577 about an expedition to Mexico, and is thanked in the introduction to Michael Eitzinger’s famous ‘Leo Belgicus’. He also wrote the description of Lyon in the first volume of Braun and Hogenburg’s ‘Civitatis Orbis Terrarum’, and a preface to volume two of the same work.

By the time his isolario was published in 1601, the genre had developed into a complex mixture of atlas, travel narrative and tourist guide. Despite the publication of more comprehensive cartographical works like Ortelius’ atlas, they remained resolutely popular, although the extension of the range of Metellus’ work beyond the traditional Mediterranean limits suggests an attempt to follow contemporary interest. His own work borrowed heavily from the Italian cartographic tradition of the so-called ‘Laferi School’. This is particularly evident in the present work – his final atlas, where at least half of the maps are not very well disguised copies of those of Giuseppe Rosaccio.


  1. Zacharakis 2171–2184.
  2. Meurer, Peter, 'Atlantes Coloniensis: Die Kölner Schule der Atlaskartographie 1570–1620', Cologne, 1988, pp. 162–167 and 190–192, Met 10. c.f. Cervoni 21