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.


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