Seafaring Lore and Legend

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  1. Seafaring Lore and Legend by Peter D. Jeans - FictionDB
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  3. Seafaring Lore And Legend (Paperback)
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Seafaring Lore and Legend by Peter D. Jeans - FictionDB

The story was famous even in ancient times, no doubt for the morality of its message—young ladies admitted to the service of Aphrodite should focus only on their task—and has been treated by writers throughout the ages. In Lord Byron and Lieutenant Ekenhead swam the Hellespont to emulate Leander, covering the distance in 1 hour and 10 minutes.

The Greek word hero is itself feminine, derived from Hera, sister-wife to Zeus. Our English word hero, commonly used to denote a male rather than a female, is a back formation from the Latin heros, a demigod or distinguished man, the Latin plural and of course the English being heroes. See also Pillars of Hercules, chapter 2.

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On the other side of the strait is Charybdis, the whirlpool of legendary fame. Things were not much better across the water. One day Hercules passed through the area, driving before him the cattle that he had stolen from Geryon, a three-headed giant, whereupon Charybdis purloined a number of the beasts and ate them. For her pains Zeus struck her with one of his trademark thunderbolts and hurled her into the sea, where she became a monster living in a cave.

Understandably, then, the Strait of Messina was looked upon by sailors with more than usual trepidation, not to say terror, with Scylla on one hand begirt by her ravening dogs and, on the other, Charybdis threatening the twin mayhems of shipwreck and death by drowning. In Wales he was known as Manawyddan fab Llyr. Manannan was the patron of Irish sailors and merchants and protector of the Isle of Aran and the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea the latter island takes it name from this deity. To help him carry out his tasks he owned four things of great value to him: a sword that never failed to kill his opponent; a ship called Wave Sweeper that propelled itself in whatever direction Manannan wished; a horse, Splendid Mane, that could gallop more swiftly than the wind; and a suit of magic armor that no weapon could pierce.

Some accounts credit him with a helmet that conferred invisibility on him; otherwise, whenever he made an appearance it was as a noble and handsome warrior. Like Poseidon, Manannan could drive his chariot across the ocean as if the watery domain were but a level plain. There is an island of this name in the Caribbean; to date, however, it would seem that no one has yet stumbled across, or fallen into, the long-lost fountain.

Beyond what is today known as Gibraltar and lying far out in the Western Ocean i. Fabled Lands 31 Islands have always promised, of course, escape, a passport to freedom, the simple life. I understand that when we land I must on no account miss seeing the Rock.

The Rock of Gibraltar, anciently known as Calpe, a British possession since , is on the southern tip of present-day Spain, and Mount Hacho, anciently known as Abyla, lies directly opposite, about 8 miles away, on the northern coast of Africa in present-day Morocco, where now stands the fortress of Ceuta. Legend tells us that these two rocks or mounts were originally bound together and that Hercules tore them asunder to get to the Western Seas, setting up these rocks or pillars in memory of his journey through Europe and Libya the name given by the ancients to present-day Africa.

This he did while performing his tenth labor, in which he was charged with bringing back to Mycenae the cattle that belonged to Geryon, a monster with powerful wings and three bodies who lived on the island of Erythia, on the farthest borders of the Ocean stream. After many splendid adventures, during which he slew Geryon, Hercules accomplished this task and delivered the oxen to Mycenae.

The twelve labors for which Hercules is famous were imposed on him by the Delphic oracle as a means by which he could expiate the terrible sin of having slaughtered his own family.


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Hera, sister-wife to Zeus, had made Hercules lose his wits, a vengeance she visited on the poor fellow for his having been sired on a mortal by her own brother-husband, Zeus. In his deranged state of mind Hercules confused his wife and children with the family of his enemy, King Eurystheus, and did away with them.

The port of Rhodes anciently, Rhodos was commercially and politically important in the third century B. The statue, said to have been about feet high, was built by Chares of Lindus or Lindos in about B. It was said to hold aloft a light to act as a beacon to shipping, and was reckoned to be one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It was destroyed by an earthquake in B.

The Roman philosopher Seneca about 4 B.

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Fabled Lands 33 Geoffrey Ashe makes the point that Britain itself was so far away, so remote and improbably strange, that when the emperor Claudius 10 B. Pliny A. Pytheas is not regarded as a very reliable source. Ashe makes the intriguing point that when the Greek writer Plutarch about A.

Go farther, and you will see on the horizon a great continental land mass, where there is a large bay and more islands. As with many other stories recorded in this collection, Thule reminds us of Atlantis see Fabled Atlantis, chapter 16 , that romantic saga beloved by many, a kind of quasi-American continent lurking behind the backdrop of history. The apples were to be found on a tree that grew beyond the seas in a remote part of the western end of the world known as the Garden of the Hesperides; here they were secure against the depredations of thieves.

According to Hesiod, the eighth-century B. Greek poet, the sisters dwelt on the river Oceanus; he gives them as four in number—Aegle, Arethusa, Erytheia, and Hesperia. Stealing these golden apples was the eleventh labor of Hercules. Nereus is the father of the Nereids and is also a sea god, his special dominion being the Aegean Sea; he also knows where the apples can be found.

Not only is Nereus omniscient, he is also a master of shape-changing, this being one of the special abilities of gods of the sea; Poseidon possessed the same skills. When Hercules approaches Nereus, the old man turns himself into all sorts of slippery sea creatures in an effort to escape the attentions of his visitor, but Hercules overcomes him and compels him to reveal the whereabouts of the golden apples. It will not be easy, warns Nereus, and he tells Hercules that the trees that bear this desirable fruit are under the care of the Hesperides, who live near their father, Atlas, where Helios also Helius daily drives his chariot into Oceanus.

Following an extraordinary series of journeys and adventures Hercules traverses Libya, Egypt, and Ethiopia, crosses into Asia, passes into the Caucasus, slays giants and other unsavory creatures, makes his way through the land of the Hyperboreans—the happy folk who dwell beyond Boreas, the North Wind—and frees Prometheus from his chains , Hercules then confronts Atlas, who bears the vault of heaven on his shoulders.

He offers to shoulder the burden himself if Atlas will get the apples for him.

Hercules realizes that his massive strength is, for once, no use at all in getting out of this predicament, so, using his considerable wits, he asks Atlas to take the Fabled Lands 35 burden for a moment while he, Hercules, slips a cushion onto his own shoulders to ease the pressure of the heavy load. Sadly for him, Atlas foolishly agrees, whereupon Hercules takes up the apples and hurries back to Eurystheus, leaving Atlas to curse his own stupidity.

Seafaring Lore And Legend (Paperback)

One is inclined to commiserate with Hercules. Tarshish seems to be the Tartessus referred to in an account by the Greek historian Herodotus about — B. Finally it makes harbor in the Atlantic seaport of Tartessus, usually shown on old maps as Gades vel Tartessus Gades is an old name for present-day Cadiz. This journey supposedly took place in about B. Clearly, Prester John, a ruler of great renown, is a latterday equivalent of Methuselah: not only is he mentioned in twelfth-century documents, in the thirteenth century he is lord over the Tartars, and a hundred years later he reappears as the emperor of Abyssinia.

The anthills, Mandeville reports, were to be found on the island of Taprobane the name used by the ancient Greeks and Romans for Ceylon, modern Sri Lanka, shown on some old maps as Taprobana and Taprobane. There are other marvels as well, but the one best calculated to attract the interest of ordinary people is the one concerning the ants. Unhappily, not only were the ants very large indeed, they were also possessed of a vicious and curmudgeonly nature, such that men were loath to go anywhere near them.

One day, however, they discovered that the ants commonly retreated below during the worst of the heat of the day, and it was then but a matter of a few moments to drive all the available beasts of burden up the mountainside and load them with as many sacks of gold as each could carry.

Fabled Lands 37 Doubtless many a naive adventurer, on hearing of this story, set sail from Europe with hope in his heart and a good many empty sacks in his baggage. And Hiram sent in the navy his servants, shipmen that had knowledge of the sea, with the servants of Solomon.


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  6. And they came to Ophir, and fetched from thence gold, four hundred and twenty talents, and brought it to King Solomon. Zanzibar on the east coast of Africa has also been mentioned, but that too is a very doubtful proposition. Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus. Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores, With a cargo of diamonds, Emeralds, amethysts, Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.

    Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack Butting through the Channel in the mad March days, With a cargo of Tyne coal, Road-rail, pig-lead, Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays. As the magnetic hardest iron draws. He said certain islands contained such a powerful concentration of lodestone that ships that had been fastened with iron nails were inexorably drawn toward them.

    Sir John Mandeville, the supposed compiler of the book of travels originally written in French, places the Magnetic Islands in Asia. It is supposed even to be visible from the cliffs on particular and rare occasions. The word Brasil or Brazil is from the Portuguese braza, brassa, meaning heat, coals the source of brazier, a pan for charcoal ; this in turn refers to the red dye obtained from brazilwood earlier Medieval Latin, brasilium , the wood brought from the East for making red dye.

    Hy Brasil was the brainchild of Pliny the Elder A. It was said to be a paradise, and explorers searched assiduously for it; so convinced were early geographers of its existence that the island was included in maps and charts for nearly two thousand years. In a Scottish sea captain named Nisbet claimed that he had landed on Hy Brasil; it was, he said, inhabited by gigantic black rabbits and a magician in a castle; unfortunately for both science and maritime history, he was unable to produce any evidence of what he had seen.

    The vessel sinks and all except Odysseus are drowned. After drifting for nine days toward the terrible monster Scylla and the equally fearful whirlpool Charybdis, both situated in the Straits of Messina, Odysseus is deposited on the beach of Ogygia and is welcomed by the nymph Calypso, a daughter of Atlas and ruler of the island see Scylla and Charybdis, chapter 1. Finally Athene, goddess of wisdom and the protector of Odysseus, persuades Zeus to take pity on him: Calypso is ordered to release him and provide him with a raft for his further journey.

    The island was sacred to Apollo, being his legendary birthplace.

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    As a result of one or the other of the relationships enjoyed by Zeus and Leto i. At last she found refuge on the desolate island of Ortygia the ancient name for Delos , which until then had been wandering around the Aegean in an apparently quite carefree manner. Safe and sound at last, Leto gave birth to Apollo and his twin sister Artemis Diana. Whichever ancient constructional method was employed, the island from that day on stayed put.