Beyond the Edge of the Sea [Secure]
Click on image to enlarge.
by Mauricio Obregon
Category: General Nonfiction/General Nonfiction
Description: The story of Jason and the Argonauts and Homer's tales of Ulysses' wanderings are among the greatest of the ancient epics, but they are not merely fiction. Following the clues in the classical texts, Mauricio Obregón here maps the likely routes of these adventurers and reveals the remaining traces of the things and places they describe, re-creating the geographical discovery of the ancient world. Obregón takes us with him on his reenactments of the hazardous adventures of Jason, sailing east along the coast of the Black Sea, and of Ulysses, sailing clockwise around the Mediterranean. These voyages map the two major seas of the ancient era and help us understand how the Greeks viewed their world--including the many startling deductions they were able to make about it (such as the circumference of the earth) from what today seems like limited knowledge. Obregón has also traced the voyages depicted in the Norse legends, followed adventurous Muslims on southern journeys, and emulated the Polynesians who managed to traverse the seemingly limitless Pacific. He scrutinizes every detail of sailing in ancient times, such as the mechanics of navigation: The stars, for example, which the mariners took as their guides, were not in the positions that we see them in today, a crucial fact in re-creating past voyages. This wonderful book contains more than forty drawings and photographs, including depictions of the explorers' ships based on the descriptions in the literature that has come down to us, the facts hidden in the fiction, from ancient times.
eBook Publisher: Random House, Inc., 2001
Filament eBookStore Release Date: June 2002
5 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats [Secure - What's this?]: OEBFF Format (IMP) [566 KB]
Reading time: 428-600 min.
All formats: Printing DISABLED, Read-aloud DISABLED
GEOGRAPHIC RESTRICTIONS: The publisher of this eBook only allows sale to customers in the USA or CANADA.
"A charming and fascinating little book . . . Obregón takes us to the realm of the earliest sailors, prov[ing] himself as engaging a swabby as the best of them."--The Philadelphia Inquirer
"An utterly elegant book, written with a poetic lilt."--The Philadelphia Inquirer
"The book, which exudes an almost bewitching charm, lends itself to a wide readership interested in seafaring and its lore."--Publishers Weekly
In order to see beyond the horizon, one must stand on someone else's shoulders, said Sir Isaac Newton.
The discovery of America was an extraordinary piece of luck, but luck brushes many a cheek with her wings, and only a few have the wit to grab her. Columbus did, but even he could not have crossed the ocean without "standing on the shoulders" of the ancient Greeks, who crossed the Black Sea and the Mediterranean; or of the Polynesians, who island-hopped across the apparently limitless South Seas; or of the Muslims, who rode and sailed the length of Asia to the Pacific; or of the Vikings, who crossed the North Atlantic to Newfoundland.
All seamen dream of home, but they pray for a fair wind, because they need to know what lies beyond the horizon. At sea there are no atheists, though atheists may often find themselves "at sea." On the high seas each prays to his own gods, for God has many faces.
Consequently, in order to understand the early navigators, one must not only know how they lived and where they sailed; one must also try to understand the winds that drove them, the stars that guided them, the women of whom they dreamed, and the gods they sometimes trusted, sometimes feared. We shall see how physically following the voyages sometimes confirms traditions and sometimes modifies them. And along the way, we will try to answer some age-old questions: How did the Argonauts get home? Where did Homer write his Odyssey? Are the "Indians" of South America descendants of the Polynesians?
Finally, my thanks go to all who, knowing that strangers are sent by Zeus, helped me on my way. They also know that I will never forget them.
Copyright © 2001 by Cristina Martinez de Irujo de Obregón