Please welcome our Author of the Month for June, Michael MacRae. Using excerpts from his book Sun Boat, Michael questions whether Homer’s The Odyssey might in fact be a veiled account of the first circumnavigation of the globe in 1160 – 1130 B.C.
The Iliad and The Odyssey are the oldest complete books in Western literature and have remained popular for near on 3,000 years. The Iliad concerns Helen’s abduction to Troy and the subsequent ten-year long Trojan War to free her. The Odyssey recounts the adventures that befell the Greek prince Odysseus during the twenty or so years during which he was attempting to return to his home in Ithaca following the sacking of Troy. It seems incredulous that an experienced sea captain could be disoriented for such an extended period of time when supposedly within the bounds of well established, eastern Mediterranean trade routes.
By following clues he had found in The Iliad, the German archaeologist Schliemann located the ruins of Troy, Mycenae and Knossos. Much like Schliemann, I am convinced that Homer’s writings are based on actual historical events and geographical locations.
It is not just possible but quite probable that Odysseus first travelled to Egypt after the Trojan War. By sailing down the then existent Sesostris Canal into the Red Sea, Odysseus came to the Indian Ocean and ventured eastwards to India and thence the Orient. From there he crossed the equatorial Pacific Ocean to Mexico and Peru. I am proposing that Odysseus might well be the mysterious, bearded ‘Caucasian teacher’ who is omnipresent in both early Mesoamerican and South American legends. After rounding the Horn of South America he navigated his way along the coast of Brazil and became shipwrecked in the West Indies. A final, climactic voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to Spain in a makeshift boat would have awarded Odysseus the first circumnavigation of the globe c.1160 – 1130 B.C.
In the late Mycenaean period it was quite a common practice for Greek mariners to enlist into the services of Egyptian pharaohs. Once in their employ, the Greeks may have elected to have their ships towed through a series of narrow canals that then connected the Mediterranean to the Red Sea. Many Odyssey theorists are unaware that these canals existed or that Egypt at this juncture of its history, received ships from as far away as the Indus Valley (Pakistan), Insia (India), Arabia, Phoenicia, Crete, Greece, the Adriatic and even the Black Sea littoral. The Egyptian black market in the 1160 B.C. era provided a ready exchange for all manner of pirated goods. Taking advantage of this lucrative trade, the wily Egyptian traders may have employed experienced sea-raiders, such as the Achaean Greeks, to plunder the small coastal ports of Arabia, the Persian Gulf and India. When the laden ships returned, the stolen booty would be divided up and shared with the Egyptians.
LAND OF THE CICONES
Book 9: Line 39 –
When I had set sail thence the wind took me first to Ismarus, which is the city of the Cicones. There I sacked the town and put the people to the sword.
The wealth and vulnerability of Ismarus might identify it with the Indus Valley port of Lothal. Located on India’s Gulf of Cambay, Lothal’s brick-lined dock would have been abundant with trade goods at the time of Odysseus. Having sacked the Cicone seaport, Odysseus escaped to the safety of the open sea, where a terrifying ‘hurricane’ lashed down. For nine days the storm drives Odysseus’ vessel to unknown regions.
LAND OF THE LOTUS-EATERS
(Maldives, Sri Lanka)
Book 9: line 83 –
On the tenth day we reached the Land of the Lotus-eaters, who live on food that comes from a kind of flower.
The aromatic spice cinnamon (from the Greek kinnámōmon) is native to Sri Lanka and evidence of its presence in Middle Kingdom Egypt (c.2000 – 1500 B.C.) reveals that Egyptian merchants had established trade links with the island’s inhabitants.
According to ancient ‘leaf-writings’ (hela atuva). Sri Lanka was once called Heladiva (Island of the Hela). The Helas were master builders, capable of carving irrigation channels into solid bedrock and constructing water reservoirs that enabled them to harvest grain three times a year. Could the origin of this remarkable legend have been based on the advent of Odysseus and his crew of ‘fair-skinned’ Greeks? The ancient Greeks of Odysseus’ time referred to their homeland as Hellas and thus they were called Hellenes.
LAND OF THE CYCLOPES
Book 9: line 96 –
We sailed hence, always in much distress, till we came to the land of the lawless and inhuman Cyclopes.
If a vessel sails directly eastwards from Sri Lanka and maintains a course at six degrees north of the Equator, it will with the aid of the West Monsoon, directly arrive in the Malaysian state of Kedah. This rocky tropical region presents itself as an ideal, hypothetical habitat for the Cyclopes people who are said to ‘neither plant nor plough, but trust in providence’. In other words, the Cyclopes were hunters and collectors whose diet consisted of game and fruits.
Among the many legends that are attached to Mount Kedah is one that claims the mountain was once the domain of Raja Bersiong, ‘the king with fangs’. Recent archaeological findings on the mountain have revealed the existence of the so-called ‘Temple of the Ninth Pool’. Present-day local indigenous people retain the belief that this site was Raja Bersiong’s personal bathing pool.
KINGDOM OF AEOLUS
(Shang Dynasty, China)
Book 10: Line 1 –
Thence we went on to the Aeolian island where lives Aeolus, son of Hippotas, dear to the mortal gods.
Odysseus describes the Aeolian land as appearing to:
…float above the sea with steep cliffs rising sheer from the lapping waters and all about it a great wall of bronze.
This is an apt introduction to China’s Shang Dynasty as its artisans are now considered the finest exponents of bronze-making in the ancient world.
Greek mythology relates that Aeolus’ consort was Eos (the Goddess of Dawn) and that she dwelt in the Far East. It seems Odysseus has indeed sailed into Oriental waters.
Odysseus tells us that King Aeolus was ‘the keeper and ruler of the four winds’ and furthermore, he was the father of twelve children (six boys and six girls) whom he caused to wed each other. The title ‘keeper and ruler of the four winds’ identifies King Aeolus as a ruler of Shang China. The Shang realm was divided into four main territories, each appointed to a lesser lord but protected by the Emperor. It is said that certain ritual temples of the Shang period had twelve outer walls that represented the twelve new moons in a year (the twelve children of Aeolus?).
Emperor Zu Jia (also known as Di Jia Divine Jia)
Assuming Odysseus had in fact arrived in Shang China c.1159 B.C., he may have conversed with Emperor Zu Jia who was then in the latter stages of his thirty-three year long reign. Zu Jia equates to Aeolus in that both were regarded as being ‘arbiters of human destiny’.
To facilitate Odysseus’ journey homeward Aeolus had generously provided him with what appears to be an early form of the compass. As a protective measure for the magnetic needle, the primitive compass may well have been bound in ‘a purse of ox-hide’ so that:
… not even a breath of side wind could blow from any quarter.
In hope of returning home by circumnavigating the “known world” of that time, Odysseus would have sailed northwards. Assailed by a sudden tempest occasioned by his crew opening the oxhide purse, his ships were driven back to the Kingdom of Aeolus. The Emperor was not impressed and ordered Odysseus to immediately depart his shores. Opting for a resumption of his original equatorial course he would have instructed his fleet of ships to sail in a southeasterly direction. This route would have taken him past the northern Philippines and thence onwards to the Solomon, Fijian and Samoan islands. It was also the way of an ancient sea trade passage.
ISLE OF THE LAESTRYGONIANS
After six days of ceaseless rowing, Odysseus observes clouds of smoke billowing up from the horizon. Directing his fleet towards the rising clouds he discovers the Isle of the Laetrygonians. Upon their arrival, Odysseus dispatches a scouting party. They encounter a group of local natives who immediately prepare a feast with the intention of devouring them. Horrified, the scouts flee for their lives with a host of spear-toting Laestrygonian natives in hot pursuit. Odysseus barely had enough time to loosen the moorings of his ship before the Laestrygonians began to:
… throw vast rocks at us from the cliffs as though they had been mere stones and I heard the horrid sound of the ships crunching up against one another and the death cries of my men.
Odysseus manages to steer his ship ‘into the open water and out of reach of the rocks they hurled’ but the men from the other ships are left floundering in the water as the huge Laestrygonians ‘speared them like fish’. The massive rocks that the Laetrygonians hurled at Odysseus’ fleet are most likely an allegorical description of a volcanic eruption. Fiji’s Taveuni volcano erupted on two occasions around the time of Odysseus.
Homer’s description of the Laestrygonian inhabitants being ‘as huge as mountains’ characterizes many of the peoples who live in this region. The present-day royal rulers of the Fijian and Tongan islands are revered for their enormous, rotund bodies. It is a well-known fact that the peoples of Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia had also, in the not so distant past, participated in cannibalistic rituals.
Recent studies of genetic blood groups indicate that mariners from the Eastern Mediterranean migrated across the Pacific and into Central and South America c.1200 B.C. In his paper entitled Human Lymphocyte Antigens Pre-Columbiana, 2001, James L Guthrie informs us that one particular antigen called B*18, is indicative of a genetic link between Ancient Greeks and the natives of Mexico and Ecuador.
CIRCE’S REALM OF AEAEA
We are not told how long it took Odysseus to voyage to Circe’s Realm of Aeaea but we can safely assume that it was located in an equatorial region for Circe and her wizard brother, Aeetes, are referred to as ‘Children of the Sun’, or to be more specific, children of the sun god Helios.
In order to arrive at Circe’s abode, Odysseus had to traverse a mountain. Her palace was ‘constructed of polished stones’ and located ‘on a site that could be seen from afar’. It is described as being surrounded with a ‘forest’ and inhabited by ‘wild mountain wolves and lions’. As the Hindu word ‘jungle’ did not come into common usage until around A.D. 1600, we might presume that the word ‘forest’ was meant to imply a jungle. Mountain lions and wolves are both native to Central America.
The Soconusco Coastal Culture
Had Odysseus come ashore near the present border region of Mexico and Guatemala, he doubtlessly would have come in contact with coastal communities such as Canton Corralito.
Dated to 400 B.C. this incense burner from Iximche, Guatemala, displays Phoenician-Caucasian features
Archaeologist Richard Diehi is of the belief that Olmec merchants from the Gulf of Mexico first appeared on Guatemala’s Pacific Coast around 1150 B.C. According to Diehi, these visits led to a certain ‘Olmecization’ of society and gave rise to Canton Corralito becoming a regional centre. Diehi’s opinion is intriguing because 1150 B.C. is the exact time of Odysseus’ proposed presence in Canton Corralito.
Olmec monument #13 from La Venta displays the image of a bearded male figure with a distinctively Caucasian appearance.
When Eurylochus’ initial scouting party failed to return to the ship, Odysseus took ‘both sword and bow’ and charged off by himself in search of his missing men. The sight of a plume-helmeted Odysseus storming alone across the landscape may have caused the local natives to identify him as an incarnation of Quetzalcoatl, the feathered-serpent god.
Juan de Torquemada’s Monarquia Indiana (1723) tells that:
This Quetzalcoatl, according to true histories, was the Great Priest of the City of Tula (bountiful). They say of him that he was a ‘White Man’, large of body, wide forehead, large eyes, long black hair and large round beard.
In his book Primitive Mythology, Professor Joseph Campbell recounts an ancient description of Quetzalcoatl’s apartments. Homer’s references to Circe’s four servants, the lavishness of her palace and the ceremony of ‘Royal Bathing’ are all recognized in the following extract:
Quetzalcoatl’s temple-palace was composed of four most radiant apartments and it was set wonderfully above a mighty river that passed through the midst of the city of Tula; so that every night, precisely at midnight, the king descended into the river to bathe.
The Dionysus/Tlaloc Drug Culture
Robert Graves continues:
The pre-Colombian ‘toadstool-god’ Tlaloc, represented as a toad with a serpent headdress, has for thousands of years presided over the communal eating of the hallucinogenic toadstool, Psilocybe – a feast that gives visions of transcendental beauty. Tlaloc’s European counterpart, Dionysus, shares too many of his mythical attributes for coincidence; they must be versions of the same deity.
According to Sri Lankan mythology, Dionysus had arrived upon their shores ‘aboard a stone raft of snakes’. In Mexican folklore, the god Quetzalcoatl departs his realm aboard a remarkably similar ‘raft of snakes’. Both Sri Lankan and Mexican mythologies recount the deeds of the mysterious ‘Nagas’, a mischievous ‘snake-like’ people, gifted with arcane knowledge.
The Greek Language in Central America
When the Spanish conquistadors first came into contact with the Indians of
Mexico c.1530 A.D., they addressed them in Latin. However, because many of the Mayan syllables sounded so very much like those used in the ancient Greek language, the Spanish decided to try to communicate with the natives in that tongue.
Among the more culturally advanced nations of ancient Mexico and South America, there existed persistent legends of visits by godlike, pale-skinned, bearded teachers coming from and returning to ‘a land where the sun rises’.
LAND OF THE CIMMERIANS
Southward bound and aided by a stiff northerly wind that ‘blew dead aft’, Odysseus’ vessel skimmed across the ‘deep waters of the ocean’ (the Peruvian Trench) to arrive in ‘the land and city of the Cimmerians who live enshrouded in mist’. We can safely presume that the voyage to Peru took place during the winter as an almost permanent layer of fog (garua), mantles the coast at this time of year.
Circe’s instructions to Odysseus had been clear and direct. In order to find his way home he must firstly dig a deep trench and offer sacrifice and prayers to Dis, the god of Hades, whereupon the ‘glorious fellowship of the dead’ would rise up and parade before him.
Ayahuasca (Vine of the Dead)
Odysseus’ encounter with the spirit world was certainly induced with the aid of some form of hallucinogenic potion, perhaps the brew the Incas called ayahuasca – a word which translates as ‘Vine of the Dead’ or ‘Vine of the Soul’. Describing such a ritual in his book Narcotic Plants, William Emboden relates that the participant is often physically restrained or placed in a small trench to protect himself and others.
Odysseus’ initial contact with the natives of Peru possibly occurred in the Casma Valley. Located at the confluence of the Sechin and Casma Rivers, the ancient site of Cerro Sechin was discovered in 1937 by Peruvian archaeologists Julio C. Tello and Toribio Mejia. Tello believed it was the capital of an entire culture that he termed Sechin. In his book The Representation of America in Roman Maps at the time of Christ, South American archaeologist and author Dick Edgar Ibarra Grasso identified what he considered to be the image of two Phoenician ships etched onto the centre slabs of a Cerro Sechin temple. Tello had also noted that other monoliths in the area depicted what appeared to be a large ocean-going craft and a sextant.
Mycenaean Penteconter c. 1100 B.C.
A stone slab found near the entrance of the Cerro Sechin temple in Peru displays an ocean-going ship with a detached mast lying alongside
Con Tiki Viracocha
In A.D. 1608, a Catholic priest named Francisco de Avila collected the following Indian legend from one of the natives in his diocese:
They say that in most ancient times the Coniraya Viracocha appeared in the form and dress of a very poor Indian clothed in rags. But by his word of command, he caused the terraces and fields to be formed on the steep sides of ravines and the sustaining walls to rise up and support them. He also made the irrigating channels to flow, by merely hurling a hollow cane, such as we call a cane in Spain; and he went in various directions, arranging many things.
In the wake of Odysseus’ surmised visit to Peru (c.1150 B.C.), improved methods of irrigation became commonplace.
Greek and Peruvian Parallels
Commenting on the origins of Peruvian culture, James L Guthrie writes:
It could be argued that Aegean sailors explored South America sporadically over a period of more than a thousand years, explaining the apparent Proto-Anatolian elements in Quechua, Aymara, and Uru-Chipaya as pointed out by Key (1994) and others such as Sauvageot (1930), Ferrario (1933) and Dumezil (1955).
The image of a Spartan warrior (left) bears an uncanny resemblance to the Peruvian deity, Veracocha
The Lanzon statue at Chavín de Huántar (left) is comparable to the Greek Gorgon Medusa (right).
Lanzon Image, Chiwara at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], from Wikimedia Commons
Odysseus had hastened back to his ship and abruptly departed the realm of Hades because he was ‘in dread fear of being presented with the head of Medusa’ (the snake-haired gorgon of Hades). The custom of shrinking heads and presenting them as gifts was once a common practice among Ecuador’s Jivaro Indians.
The Moche custom of offering human heads is depicted on both tapestry (left) and stone artifact (right)
Approaching the Horn of South America
Having withdrawn from Circe’s domain under a favourable wind that blew aft, Odysseus and his intrepid crew eventually came to the ‘limits of the wide sea… where lies the dwelling place of early Dawn’. Portside was a mountain whose sharp peak was ‘lost in dense cloud that never streams away, not even in summer’ and on the starboard side were the horizon and the rocks that ‘the gods called The Wanderers’.
Homer describes these wandering rocks in great detail:
No mortal man may scale these rocks even if he had twenty hands, for they run sheer upwards as though they had been polished smooth. Not even a bird passes by here as these polished rocks are forever carried off from the sheer cliffs and Father Jove sends in others to make up their number.
The above passage is an unmistakable description of floating icebergs! Odysseus had sailed into Antarctic waters and was about to round the Horn of South America. As Odysseus began to steer his vessel into ‘the strait that guards her entrance’ the crew had ‘paled with fear’. It was immediately apparent that this seaward passage was none other than the abode of the vicious creatures Circe had warned him about. On the portside loomed the evil Scylla and on the starboard lurked her sister, the terrible Charybdis ‘who sucked up and down the salt water from within her troubled deeps’. (Interestingly, 2,600 years later both Ferdinand Magellan in A.D. 1520 and Sir Francis Drake in 1578 related their harrowing experiences in these same waters with remarkably similar descriptions.)
Despite the loss of several crewmen Odysseus finally succeeded in rounding the perilous Horn. Turning the prow of his ship now northwards, he then set a course for the sun-drenched shores of the sun god, Hyperion.
THRINACIA: THE LAND OF HELIOS
(Coasts of Argentina and Brazil)
Book 12: Line 260 –
When we had passed the Wandering Rocks, with Scylla and Charybdis, we reached the noble island of the Sun God.
The Greek word for Brazil is Brazilia and it is derived from two verbs, brazei and leiaino. The word brazei translates as ‘to boil’ while leiaino means ‘to polish, shine, flatten or level’. Together they characterize a flat land where the sun is so hot it might be described as ‘boiling’.
Author and the president of the Manaus Geographical Institute, Bernardo Silva Ramos spent over twenty years in the Amazon region uncovering and photographing some 2,800 stone inscriptions. Published in 1930, Ramos’ book Inscricoes e tyradecoes da America pre-historica, especialmente da Brasi, identifies the majority of the inscriptions as Phoenician and Greek.
Brazilian Legends of a ‘White-skinned’ Teacher
When the early Portuguese settlers first came into contact with the natives of Brazil and Paraguay they were astonished to hear the legends of an ancestral teacher named Zume. The ‘fair-skined’ Zume is said to have instructed the method of agriculture and the magical arts.
Odysseus Departs Thrinacia
Odysseus’ famished crew had disobeyed the warning to avoid eating the ‘cattle of the sun’. Soon after departing Thrinacia a great darkness descends, followed by ‘a shrilling zephyr’ and ‘a squalling blast of wind that snapped the forestays of the mast’. All crewmembers were hurled into the maelstrom. Homer’s description of a sudden tempest manifesting out of a calm, clear day is typical of a tropical cyclone. The tropical waters of the Atlantic, particularly those at longitude 10 – 15 degrees north of the Equator, are infamous for their ability to generate hurricanes.
Despite the turbulence and carnage Odysseus ‘stuck to the ship till the sea knocked her sides from the keel’. With a length of strong ox-thong that he had somehow managed to salvage, Odysseus bound part of the broken mast to the dislodged keel and ‘getting astride of them was carried wherever the winds chose’.
CALYPSO’S ISLE OF OGYGIA
… during the night of the tenth, the gods washed me up on the Isle of Ogygia, the home of the fair Calypso, that formidable goddess with a woman’s voice.
Almost any of the Caribbean’s habitable islands could be considered a possible location for Calypso’s beautiful abode. Protected by coral reefs and fringed in long strands of golden beaches these islands not only tally with the geographical landscape as recounted by Odysseus but also lie in the track of tropical cyclones.
The portrayal of Calypso being a goddess who ‘sings beautifully’, wears her hair in ‘braided tresses’ and is ‘busy at her loom’ is a fitting description for the natives of the Caribbean. On the West Indian island of Trinidad, the expression calypso is used to denote improvised love songs.
Taino Indians (Men of Good)
The Taino spiritual precepts are centered on the fertility mother-goddess, Ca-guana and her sacred Caciba (cave). It is perhaps both interesting and humorous to observe that four Taino words have survived into modern usage. These words are hurricane, hammock, barbecue and tobacco, all of which might apply to Odysseus’ activities, or lack of, during his long sojourn upon the island of Ogygia.
The Four Streams
The Caribbean Islands do not support a large variety of fauna however there is an abundance of bird species and this concurs with Homer’s description of Ogygia as being a ‘roosting place of long-feathered birds’ that ‘swooped down daily to the sea’. Like the Biblical Eden, Calypso’s realm is portrayed as being blessed with four streams of water that irrigated beds of flowers and luscious herbage. The sacred number four was and remains integral to all the native cultures of Mesoamerica.
Sacred Caves of the Caribbean
In the Journal of Caribbean Archaeology 3, 2002, Conrad F. Beeker reports:
The Taino believed that the spirits of the dead (the opias) remained hidden during the day but came out at night to eat the fruits of the guava tree. To do this the spirits transformed themselves into bats – one of the most frequently depicted animals in Taino art.
During his shipwreck ordeal, Odysseus described himself as clinging ‘like a bat’ to a symbolic fig tree (axis mundi?). Could this particular analogy have arisen from his experiences among the Taino?
The Final Ocean
Commanded by Zeus to release her long-term and now pining guest, Calypso aides Odysseus in the building of an ocean-going sailing craft. Homer states that it took Odysseus a mere four days to complete the construction of his vessel. This relatively short time period may indicate that he converted an existent, twin-hulled Taino canoe into a more seaworthy vessel.
For seventeen days Odysseus steadily maintains his ocean course and upon the eighteenth day, the shadowy hills of the Land of the Phaeacians appear, ‘rising like a shield on the horizon’. (The ancient Greeks perceived their known and habitable earth as being shield-shaped and surrounded by water.)
As Odysseus is finally approaching the safety of ‘civilized’ shores, the vengeful sea-god Poseidon generates a volley of mountainous waves, one of which thunders down and snaps the mast of Odysseus’ vessel. Once again, Odysseus is shipwrecked. After floundering for a great length of time in the churning waters he is ultimately cast upon the shores of the Phaeacian kingdom.
SCHERIA: THE LAND OF THE PHAEACIANS
(Coast of Southern Spain)
Odysseus spends his first night on dry land in the open, so we might assume that Scheria was blessed with a mild climate. The regions of Southern Spain and Morocco experience mild climates and this is due to the warm Gulf Stream Current and the prevailing westerly winds that sweep across the Atlantic Ocean. A consideration of these geographical clues together with other evidences, indicates that Odysseus came ashore somewhere in the vicinity of the Pillars of Hercules.
Coastal Region of Southern Spain
Commenting on the people and landscape of southern Spain, the Greek geographer Strabo (c.30 B.C.) expressed his belief that Homer was quite familiar with Spain. Strabo continued on to say in Geography III: 12-13 that he thought certain events of The Odyssey had been enacted in Spain:
Even in Iberia is a city named Ulyssea (Lisbon), also a temple of Athena and a myriad other traces both of the wandering of Ulysses (Odysseus) and also of other survivors of the Trojan War.
Odysseus Relates His Tale
Honourably seated at the court of the Phaeacians, Odysseus recites the long saga of his astounding odyssey. The worldly-wise, seafaring Phaeacians were quite capable of assimilating the various references and navigational aspects of Odysseus’ voyages. His testimony of having set sail in the direction of the rising sun and returning home from the west after decades of traversing vast oceans could only be interpreted as a circumnavigation of the globe! The enormity of accomplishing such a feat would explain why King Alcinous was more than happy to bestow upon Odysseus not only the highest honours, but also:
‘more magnificent presents of bronze, gold, and raiment then he would have brought back from Troy’
Although it is conjecture that Homer’s Phaeacians were associated with the legendary city of Tartessus, it remains a fact that the Phoenicians established the port of Gades less than 20 kilometres from the submerged ruins of Tartessos. In their newly created port, the Phoenicians erected and dedicated a temple to Hercules in honour of his circumnavigation of the world.
The French Benedictine scholar Antoine Calmet (1672 – 1757) tells us:
There is not therefore room for doubting that Hercules of Gades or someone of his descendants, or at least someone of the Phoenicians who had the same name, made an excursion beyond the Strait of Gibraltar, for they say of Hercules that by him the whole circuit of the globe was traversed by sea passage. To him Diodorus even attributed the foundation of the city Alecta in Septimaniæ. Certain however, it is, that Diodorus speaks of a Hercules who sailed round the world and who founded the city of Lecta in Septimania: but no writer has pointed out its situation.
The 19th century Mexican scholar, Paul Felix Cabrera, further relates that the so-called Hercules of Gades had lived at the same time as Odysseus:
The other voyage in the Atlantic spoken of by Calmet is attributed to Hercules, who is the supposed author of the Gaditanian columns (Pillars of Hercules) and whom Galleo ranks as contemporary with Moses and chief of the Canaanites who left Palestine on the invasion of Joshua. (1160 B.C.?) This hero had the surname Magusanus, derived from the Chaldean word Gouz, signifying to scratch, and by metaphor to pass, from which root, ships and fords of rivers are called Megizze in the Chaldaic idiom. Of his sea voyages there existed a vestige in the town of West Kappell in the island of Walcherene (Netherlands). It was the painting of a ship and her captain who was represented at an advanced age, the forepart of his head bald and his face tanned by the sun. He was worshipped as a deity at a temple in the same town and sacrifices according to the Phoenician rites were offered to him. There were many other heroes of this name but no writer has decided whether to Magusanus or one of his descendants, or whether to a Phoenician distinguished by the same appellation, are we to attribute the navigation of the Atlantic. Certain, however it is, that Diodorus speaks of a Hercules who sailed round the world and founded the city of Lecta in Septimania. Paul Felix Cabrera, Teatro Ritico Americano
A Spherical Earth
Although the learned men who attended the Phaeacian court of King Alcinous (c.1130) may well have grasped the concept of a spherical Earth, it was not until the 7th century B.C. that Thales of Miletus (c. 625 – 546 B.C.) recorded a knowledge of the spherical Earth. (See Aristotle (Cael. 297 b25-298 a8), Cicero (Rep. I.XIII.22) and Aëtius II.9-10; III.10; and III.10)
Copyright © Michael MacRae 2015
Born in 1949, Michael MacRae is an Australian artist, writer and documentary maker who specialises in comparative mythology. His interest in mythology began when he was was a student at the National Art School in Sydney, Australia. Hours spent drawing statues of Apollo, Venus and Athena, as well as the realisation that a great many classic works of art were based on Greek mythology, sparked a curiosity that led Michael to not only study Greek mythology but also other comparative mythologies from around the world. His documentary Awakening Arthur is available at the Megalithic Portal web site.