Agathodaemon (cartographer)

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Agathodaemon (Gr. Ἀγαθοδαίμων) was a native of Alexandria, Egypt. All that is known of him is that he was the designer of some maps to accompany Ptolemy's Geographia.[1] Copies of these maps are found appended to several manuscripts of Ptolemy. One of these is at Vienna, another at Venice. At the end of each of these manuscripts is the following notice:

Ἐκ τῶν Κλαυδίου Πτολεμαίου Γεογϝαφικῶν βιβλίων ὄκτο τὴν οἰκουμένην πᾶσαν Ἀγαθοδαίμων Ἀλεξανδϝεὺς ὑπετϝπωσε
Agathodaemon of Alexandria delineated the whole inhabited world according to the eight books on Geography of Claudius Ptolemeaus

The Vienna manuscript of Ptolemy is one of the most beautiful extant. The maps attached to it, 27 in number, comprising 1 general map, 10 maps of Europe, 4 of Africa, and 12 of Asia, are colored, the water being green, the mountains red or dark yellow, and the land white. The climates, parallels, and the hours of the longest day, are marked on the East margin of the maps, and the meridians on the North and South.

We have no evidence as to when Agathodaemon lived, as the only notice preserved respecting him is that quoted above. He may be the same person as the 3rd century alchemist Agathodaimon. There was also a grammarian of the same name, to whom some extant letters of Isidore of Pelusium are addressed in the 5th century. Some have thought him to be the Agathodaemon in question. Other writers, however, consider the delineator of the maps to have been a 2nd century contemporary of Ptolemy, who men­tions certain maps or tables (πίνακες),[2] which agree in number and arrangement with those of Aga­thodaemon in the manuscripts.

Various errors having in the course of time crept into the copies of the maps of Agathodaemon, Nicolaus Donis, a Benedictine monk, who flou­rished about 1470 AD, restored and corrected them, substituting Latin for Greek names. His maps are appended to the Ebnerian manuscript of Ptolemy. They are the same in number and nearly the same in order with those of Agatho­daemon.[3][4]


  1. Mason, Charles Peter (1867), "Agathodaemon (2)", in Smith, William, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, 1, Boston, pp. 65 
  2. Ptolemy, viii. 1, 2
  3. Heeren, Commentatio de Fontibus Geograph. Ptolemaei Tabularumque iis annexarum
  4. Raidel, Commentatio critico-literaria de Cl. Ptolemaei Geographia ejusque codicibus, p. 7

This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology by William Smith (1870).