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Title: Mount Etna (Gibel)
Original Title: Gibel, le
Volume and Page: Vol. 7 (1757), p. 657
Author: Louis, chevalier de Jaucourt (biography)
Translator: Ruggero Sciuto [University of Oxford, HertfordCollege, ruggero.sciuto@hertford.ox.ac.uk ]
Subject terms:
Geography
Original Version (ARTFL): Link
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. To use this work in a way not covered by the license, please see http://quod.lib.umich.edu/d/did/terms.html .

URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.did2222.0003.111
Citation (MLA): Jaucourt, Louis, chevalier de. "Mount Etna (Gibel)." The Encyclopedia of Diderot & d'Alembert Collaborative Translation Project. Translated by Ruggero Sciuto. Ann Arbor: Michigan Publishing, University of Michigan Library, 2015. Web. [fill in today's date in the form 18 Apr. 2009 and remove square brackets]. <http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.did2222.0003.111>. Trans. of "Gibel, le," Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, vol. 7. Paris, 1757.
Citation (Chicago): Jaucourt, Louis, chevalier de. "Mount Etna (Gibel)." The Encyclopedia of Diderot & d'Alembert Collaborative Translation Project. Translated by Ruggero Sciuto. Ann Arbor: Michigan Publishing, University of Michigan Library, 2015. http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.did2222.0003.111 (accessed [fill in today's date in the form April 18, 2009 and remove square brackets]). Originally published as "Gibel, le," Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, 7:657 (Paris, 1757).

Etna, The highest mountain in Sicily, and one of the most famous in Europe. Ancient geographers and historians used to name it Mont Æthna . It is beneath this mountain that, according to poets, Jupiter trapped the giant Typhon, and Vulcan had his forge. The inhabitants of Sicily dismissed the Latin toponym and renamed the mountain Gibel . In all likelihood, they inherited this name from the Arabs, in whose language it translates to mountain . In Sicily, it came to indicate the mountain par excellence . It stands close to the eastern coast of the Val Demone, between Capo Faro and Capo Passero, 4 leagues West of the ruins of Catania. It is supposed to be about 6,000 paces high, with a circumference of nearly 60,000 paces. Its flanks are intensively exploited: they are covered with vineyards in the South and with forests in the North.

Albeit often covered in snow, its summit does not refrain from often expelling fire, smoke and flames. At times, it also ejects scorched rocks, pumices, extremely hot ashes and lavas, all from a crater which, during the lifetime of Bembo [1] and according to his measurement, was 24 stadia large, that is 3 Italian miles, since a stadium is equivalent to 125 paces.

If one shivers thinking of such an enormous chasm, the flames expelled by Etna are even more frightening. Modern Sicilian chronicles inform us about the devastating effects caused by the volcano in 1537, 1554, 1556, 1579, 1669, and 1692. According to Fazelli, when the volcano erupted in 1537, the ashes were carried by the wind more than 100 leagues away. [2] Four streams of sulphureous material flowed from Etna in 1669, destroying 15 villages near Catania. Following the 1692 eruption, on the 9, 10 and 11 January 1693, a devastating earthquake affected the whole of Sicily, razing to the ground both Catania and Augusta, damaging many villages and towns alongside the city of Siracusa, and killing some 40,000 people. On that occasion, a new vent opened up with a circumference of two miles.

For any further information, I shall refer the reader to the Pyrologie by Bottone Leontini. [3] This intrepid natural philosopher, willing to see with his own eyes the structure of the volcano, dared to climb it three times, notably in 1533, 1540 and 1545. We therefore owe to his courage the most precise topography of this volcano, and of its vents as well. His book, now extremely rare, was published in Sicily and entitled Æthnae topographia, incendiorumque æthnaeorum historia .

Notes

1. Pietro Bembo (1470-1547) was an Italian poet and cardinal. In 1495 he actually published an essay on the subject entitled De Aetna liber ad Angelum Chabrielem . For further reference see: http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Aetna.

2. Tommaso Fazello (1498-1570).

3. http://books.google.it/books?id=sWtwNyk4euQC&printsec=frontcover&hl=it&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false