3MAR2018 – Quote of the Day


(Let’s continue the Herodotus theme.  In my history class in fifth grade we learnt that Vasco da Gama was the first man to circumnavigate Africa.  But apparently the Phoenicians were contracted by the Egyptians to prove that there was a sea route around Africa (or as the Greeks called it Libya).  And this was over 2,500 years ago.  It’s also interesting to see what mistaken views Herodotus had about the comparative sizes of Asia, Africa and Europe.)


Herodotus, The Histories. 4.42

I wonder, then, at those who have mapped out and divided the world into Libya, Asia, and Europe; for the difference between them is great, seeing that in length Europe stretches along both the others together, and it appears to me to be wider beyond all comparison. [2] For Libya shows clearly that it is bounded by the sea, except where it borders on Asia. Necos king of Egypt first discovered this and made it known. When he had finished digging the canal which leads from the Nile to the Arabian Gulf, he sent Phoenicians in ships, instructing them to sail on their return voyage past the Pillars of Heracles until they came into the northern sea and so to Egypt. [3] So the Phoenicians set out from the Red Sea and sailed the southern sea; whenever autumn came they would put in and plant the land in whatever part of Libya they had reached, and there await the harvest; [4] then, having gathered the crop, they sailed on, so that after two years had passed, it was in the third that they rounded the pillars of Heracles and came to Egypt. There they said (what some may believe, though I do not) that in sailing around Libya they had the sun on their right hand.22 43.


2MAR2018 – Quote of the Day

Could the multi-milennial “War Between East and West” be based on a girl?  Here’s what Herodotus learned.  And if you don’t believe it, well what can I say.  You must hate history.

The Persian learned men say that the Phoenicians were the cause of the dispute. These (they say) came to our seas from the sea which is called Red,1 and having settled in the country which they still occupy, at once began to make long voyages. Among other places to which they carried Egyptian and Assyrian merchandise, they came to Argos, [2] which was at that time preeminent in every way among the people of what is now called Hellas. The Phoenicians came to Argos, and set out their cargo. [3] On the fifth or sixth day after their arrival, when their wares were almost all sold, many women came to the shore and among them especially the daughter of the king, whose name was Io (according to Persians and Greeks alike), the daughter of Inachus. [4] As these stood about the stern of the ship bargaining for the wares they liked, the Phoenicians incited one another to set upon them. Most of the women escaped: Io and others were seized and thrown into the ship, which then sailed away for Egypt. 2.

In this way, the Persians say (and not as the Greeks), was how Io came to Egypt, and this, according to them, was the first wrong that was done. Next, according to their story, some Greeks (they cannot say who) landed at Tyre in Phoenicia and carried off the king’s daughter Europa. These Greeks must, I suppose, have been Cretans. So far, then, the account between them was balanced. But after this (they say), it was the Greeks who were guilty of the second wrong. [2] They sailed in a long ship to Aea, a city of the Colchians, and to the river Phasis:2 and when they had done the business for which they came, they carried off the king’s daughter Medea. [3] When the Colchian king sent a herald to demand reparation for the robbery and restitution of his daughter, the Greeks replied that, as they had been refused reparation for the abduction of the Argive Io, they would not make any to the Colchians. 3.

Then (they say), in the second generation after this, Alexandrus, son of Priam, who had heard this tale, decided to get himself a wife from Hellas by capture; for he was confident that he would not suffer punishment. [2] So he carried off Helen. The Greeks first resolved to send messengers demanding that Helen be restored and atonement made for the seizure; but when this proposal was made, the Trojans pleaded the seizure of Medea, and reminded the Greeks that they asked reparation from others, yet made none themselves, nor gave up the booty when asked. 4.

So far it was a matter of mere seizure on both sides. But after this (the Persians say), the Greeks were very much to blame; for they invaded Asia before the Persians attacked Europe. [2] “We think,” they say, “that it is unjust to carry women off. But to be anxious to avenge rape is foolish: wise men take no notice of such things. For plainly the women would never have been carried away, had they not wanted it themselves. [3] We of Asia did not deign to notice the seizure of our women; but the Greeks, for the sake of a Lacedaemonian woman, recruited a great armada, came to Asia, and destroyed the power of Priam. [4] Ever since then we have regarded Greeks as our enemies.” For the Persians claim Asia for their own, and the foreign peoples that inhabit it; Europe and the Greek people they consider to be separate from them. 5.

Such is the Persian account; in their opinion, it was the taking of Troy which began their hatred of the Greeks. [2] But the Phoenicians do not tell the same story about Io as the Persians. They say that they did not carry her off to Egypt by force. She had intercourse in Argos with the captain of the ship. Then, finding herself pregnant, she was ashamed to have her parents know it, and so, lest they discover her condition, she sailed away with the Phoenicians of her own accord. [3]