Peter Artedi

Peter Artedi: Panoptic Table

Peter Artedi (1705 to 1735) was a Swedish medical man and scientist who collaborated and competed with Carl Linnaeus on the ordering of Mankind's knowledge of nature. Ichthyology - the lore of fishes - and Trichozoology - the lore of the hairy animals - became Artedi's specialities, while botany and ornithology was Linnaeus's special fields. Artedi's premature death by drowning in an Amsterdam canal in the small hours of 28th September meant thas his scientific manuscripts were left unpublished. Linnaeus compensated for this by publishing Artedi's Ichthyologia sive opera omnia de piscibus, "Ichthyology, or all the works on Fishes", in Leiden, 1738. I have spent some years translating this work of 500 pages, first into Swedish. This translation is underway to be printed and published by the Royal Academy of Forestry and Agriculture of Stockholm. That work is progressing more slowly than I should wish, so, working with Prof. Theodore W. Pietsch of Seattle, I have ventured into translating the whole body of Artedi's works into English after editing the Latin texts. Last year we published the Catalogus piscium maris Baltici, "Catalogue of the Fishes of the Baltic sea" in Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, Vol. 189, Issue 3, July 2020, pagg. 975 to 997. As soon as I am sure it is legally all right to create a link to my copy of the online journal, I shall do so.

I am currently working along two separate tracks. Translating the whole of Ichthyologia is a rather stiff task, so I have decided on translating the three volumes of Ichthyologia's five that contain text that really needs translating: Vol. II Philosophia ichthyologiae "The Philosophy of Ichthyology" lays the theoretical foundations, introducing the reader to Artedi's innovative terminology and method of research. This is my current job, and I have come about half way. Vol. III Genera piscium, which Artedi himself called Opus ipsum, "The Work itself", is a synthesis of all his research and theory, Vol. V Descriptiones piscium is a record of all dissections Artedi performed of fishes he caught in Swedish lakes and the Baltic Sea as well as those he found during his stay in England (Nov. 1734 to June 1735).This translation was just finished. The work contains a lot of inconsistencies owing to Artedi's untimely death that stopped him from harmonising his work, and I have created a panoptic table containing all he wrote on the Orders, Genera, and Species of fishes in his three ichthyological works: Ichthyologia, Catalogus piscium maris Baltici, Manuscriptum ichthyologicum (Artedi's contribution to Albertus Seba's Thesaurus, Vol. III). If printed in a readable format, this table would require the A2 format, but the text of the pdf file can be enlarged locally on screen.

Finally, I am preparing an edition and translation of Manuscriptum ichthyologicum and Idea constitutionum trichozoologia ("Outline of the Principles of the Science of Hairy Animals"), the latter Artedi's only essay into the science of Mammals. There will be an introduction by myself and a commentary by T.W. Pietsch.