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isolated passage about the volcano of Stromboli from his book on the Circuit of the World."
His discoveries were in the highest degree interesting and important. His reputation at first rose high, and was afterwards unjustly depreciated; but his merits have been fully recognized in modern times. “ Venit mihi Pytheas commendandus,” said the scholar Gassendi; and he described the old traveller as an honest man and a learned, who said what he thought and distinguished what he had seen from matters of guess-work or hearsay." “ Habile astronome (added Bougainville), ingénieux physicien, géographe exact, hardi navigateur, il rendit ses talents utiles à sa patrie : ses voyages, en frayant de nouvelles routes au
1 The passage will be found in the first Appendix. It embodies the wellknown legend about the forges where men left iron-ore and a proper sum of money, and next day would find the sword or weapon for which they had bargained with the unseen workmen. The description is terse and picturesque, like everything else that he wrote. “ This seems to be the home of Hephæstus, for one hears the roar of fire and a terrible bellowing, and here the sea boils.”
2 Gassendi Opera, iv. 530. 8 Bougainville, in Mémoires de l'Académie des Inscriptions, xix. 146.
The best sources of information about Pytheas, besides the authors quoted in the text, are the Fragments published by Arvedson at Upsala, in 1824; the Essay on Pytheas by Lelewel, published in Polish (1821), in German at Berlin (1831), and in French at Paris (1836); Mannert's Géographie, vols. i. and ii.; Fuhr's Pytheas (Darmstadt, 1842); and Bessell's Pytheas von Massiliem (Göttingen, 1858). We may conclude the subject with a passage selected by Arvedson. " Pytheas war ein Humboldt seines Zeitalters, nur als solcher kann er im Zukunft betrachtet werden. Ein Mann, der schon drei Jahrhunderte vor unserer Zeitrechnung als Mathematiker, Astronom und als Muster der Nachahmung glänzte, verdiente schon durch den Besitz dieser Wissenschaften das grösste Zutrauen, noch mehr, wenn er, entflammt durch Liebe zu diesen, weder Aufwand noch Gefahr scheute, und zur Bereicherung seiner Kentniss und der Erdkunde, die damals einen wichtigen Zweig der Astrocommerce, ont enrichi l'histoire naturelle, et contribué à perfectionner la connaissance du globe terrestre.”
nomie ausmachte, sich auf ferne Reisen wagte, die Niemand vor ihm und Niemand nach ihm unter den gebildeten Völkern des Alterthums unternahm. Pytheas war ein Mann, der weit über seinen Zeitgenossen stand, und dem die Himmelskunde nicht weniger zu verdanken scheint als die Erdkunde" (Brehmer, Entdeckungen im Altherthum, ii. p. 345).
EARLY GREEK ROMANCES ABOUT BRITAIN.
Imaginary travels based on discoveries of Pytheas. Their confusion with records of real
travel.—Beginning of scepticism on the subject.-Criticism by Dicæarchus.—The acceptance of Pytheas by Eratosthenes.-Euhemerus the rationalist : his account of Panchaia-Argument based on his fictions.—Reply of Eratosthenes.-Criticisms by Polybius and Strabo. Geographical romances.—Plato's use of the Carthaginian traditions.-Atlantis.—Origin of the stories of monstrous men.—“The wonders beyond Thule.”—The epitome of Photius.—Plot of the romance. -Stories of Thule -Of the Germans and the Hercynian Forest.–Stories about Britain.—The legend of Saturn and Briareus—Demetrius the grammarian.–Story preserved by Procopius.—Island of Brittia. —The conductors of the dead. — The communism of Thule.-The King of the Hebrides-His legend.—Modern variations.—Evan the Third and his law.-Mediæval use of the legend.— The romance of “ The Hyperboreans.”—Description by Lelewel.–Stories of the Arctic Ocean.—Britain described as “ Elixoia.”—The Circular Temple. — The Boread kings.-Solar legends -A description of the Hyperborean customs. — The suicides of the old men.—Historical weight of the legend. — Family-cliffs and family-clubs.—Barbarous practices of northern nations.-Mention of other romances.—“The Attacosi.”—The description of the Fortunate Islands by Jamblulus—His accounts of strange kinds of men. -Fictions rejected by Tacitus.
T is proposed to deal in this chapter with certain
romances and volumes of imaginary travel which were based on the discoveries of Pytheas soon after his return from the North. It was a time of excitement and scientific activity. The story of the new world was received with a general enthusiasm ; and the popularity of the subject soon led to the publication of such books as “Wonders beyond Thule," and the Hyperboreans," stories tricked out and coloured with the fashionable learning. They were not, of course, intended to be treated seriously; but in time they had the effect of obscuring and of almost effacing the Greek knowledge of Britain. The process will be illustrated in this chapter by extracts from these curious works; and it will be shown that they were the real source of many of the legends and strange traditions which have perplexed historical inquirers.
It need not be supposed that their publication had at first
any effect in the way of confusing the popular belief. For a century or more after the termination of the northern voyage, its real incidents were kept apart from the fictions of its imitators. A few criticisms by Dicæarchus did not diminish the general faith in the traveller's accuracy. The great scholars of Alexandria endorsed the popular opinion, aud the earliest maps laid down “the parallel of Thule" at that distance from the equator which Pytheas had roughly calculated.
But even in the lifetime of Eratosthenes (B.C. 275 to B.C. 195) we can trace the beginnings of the scepticism which destroyed the credit of the philosopher of Marseilles. The keeper of the great library of Alexandria had cited Pytheas for many statements in his “Geographica," of which not many sentences have survived the destruction of the library by fire. But he was already pressed with the new argument, that these old travels could hardly be distinguished from others which were clearly fictitious.
Euhemerus of Messene, inventor of the system which “rationalised” the current mythology, had lately published an account of the Land of Panchaia, which may still be examined in the undiscriminating collections of Diodorus. This Arabian land was described as the home of the heroes whom the populace worshipped as Zeus and Apollo, and of all the other beings who were counted among the gods of Greece. The fable was a useful vehicle for the spread of dangerous opinions. The author had merely
anticipated the stratagem of Rabelais ; but some were so foolish as to take the fiction for genuine history.
Others used the occasion to attack the new geographical science. “How," they said, “can these travellers' tales about the North be distinguished from works of fiction ? Here are things which one could not believe, if Hermes himself came down from heaven as a witness; and why should they be of more account than what the Messenian has told us of his Holy Land ?" But Eratosthenes would only reply, “I trust Pytheas, even where Dicæarchus doubted; but I think that Euhemerus lies like the man of Berga."
The answer failed to satisfy the later critics. “ It would have been better,” said Polybius, “if he had believed the Messenian; for he only told falsehoods about one country, but this Pytheas pretended to have been to the world's end, and to have peeped into every corner of the north.” And Strabo added, that “Eratosthenes must have been joking,” and used the matter as a warning for other men of science. We find him saying of some story related by Posidonius, “ This is mere nonsense from Berga, almost as bad as the falsehoods of Pytheas, and Euhemerus, and Antiphanes; we can excuse it in people whose business it is to tell wonderful stories, but not in a grave philosopher, one of the champions in the arena of science.”
The Greeks had a peculiar skill in the construction of geographical fiction. Every novelist was ready with a
1 Eratosthenica (Bernhardy, 1822), 20, 22. Compare Strabo, ii. 104, and iii. 148. The Man of Berga was Antiphanes, a native of that place, only known for having published some fictitious travels. The proverbial phrases, Bεργαίος ανήρ, Βεργαίζειν, and Bεργαίον διήγημα, preserve his reputation for mendacity.