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Olympiodorus's eruption of Mount Etna: A possible date of A.D. 417


  • Gregory Uchrin


The list of historic volcanic eruptions in the Mediterranean dating from roughly 1500 B.C. to A.D. 626 of Stothers and Rampino [1983a] is of great usefulness, not only to scientists, but to historians researching the antique and late antique periods. One of the more recent eruptions in the survey is only approximately dated, that of Mount Etna placed sometime within the period 417–425 (this and all remaining dates in this article are A.D.).

The reason for the approximate nature of this dating was that the only known reference to the eruption at the time of the survey was a fragment of Olympiodorus's History quoted by Photius. The fragment alludes to an eruption of Mount Etna following the destruction of a pagan guardian statue by the Christian steward of the Sicilian estates of Placidia and Constantius [Gordon, 1961, p. 35].

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