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António Galvão (2)

por desvela, em 10.12.10
 (continuation from here)

We proceed with the account of Galvano's text:  Tratado dos descobrimentos antigos e modernos (1563)

Chinese sailing. In the beginning of his text Galvão brings the dispute on the first sailing achievements. In 1560 he has no problem in giving some credit to Indians or Chinese (and Taibencos - a name now lost, it may be associated to Thailand and other Southeast Asian cultures). In fact he states that the weather is so warm and the seas are so calm, that even in a canoe discoveries could be made.

Jason and Alceus. Galvão places the legend of Jason (and Alceus) with the Argonauts, around the same time. The voyage was from Crete (or Greece) to the Pontus through St. George to the Euxinus. Then Alceus continued traveling by land until North Germany, and proceed by the coast of Saxonia, Frisia, Nederlands, France, Spain reaching again the Peloponnesus and Tracia - this he calls the “discovery of most part of Europe”.
Jason's voyage to Colchis with the Argonauts - "ancient" names of Caucasian provinces.
... one should ask - an epopee reporting a short voyage - almost a fishing trip! 

Menelaus. Like Duarte Pacheco Pereira, Galvão quotes Strabo (that cites Aristonico) to credit the voyage of Menelaus around Africa (counterclockwise) , and almost offers no doubt about it. He emphasizes that the Mediterranean Sea was called Adriatic, Aegean, or Herculeo... according to different times. Like Pacheco Pereira, it is now Galvão that diminishes this 15th century Portuguese achievement of Gama, crediting it to Menelao, after Troy.
We now have two accounts of ancient sailing… Menelao embarked on a journey around Africa, Ulysses was lost sailing on unknown seas (… probably the Atlantic) at the time of Troy. 
Previously, when Galvão mentions Troy, he says that it was founded (around 800 years after the Deluge) by the Dardanes “who brought from the Indies to Europe spices, drugs, and so many other things that are scarce now”. He also says that their main port was called Arsinoe (complaining that it was renamed Suez), and the trade continued in caravans of camels to the Eastern Sea, to a town called Cazom, all this before Pharaoh Senusret.

Solomon. Galvão gives credit to King Solomon travels, in the years 1300 after the Deluge. Solomon made an army that embarked on a three year sailing journey to lands called Tarcis and Ophir. As they brought many gold, silver, cypress and pine, he then assumes that the only possibility is that they had sailed to Luzon (Philippines: Luções), Okinawa (Japan: Lequios) or China. Galvão deliberately misses to justify the gold… it may seem he is avoiding to identify Tarsis with Spain or to locate Ophir in America, where these materials were common.  

Spanish Carthaginians. Around 600 BC, Galvão also accounts a voyage of Carthaginians merchants that departing from Spain, going west, discovered islands (attributed to be the Antilles), and found land that Gonzalo de Oviedo considered to be Nova España.
This just means that even Gonzalo de Oviedo (1478-1557), the Spanish historian, was diminishing the pioneer voyage of Columbus, crediting a similar accomplishment by Carthaginians 2000 years before… Why?
At the time of Gonzalo Oviedo it was clear that Columbus voyage only served political purposes. Portuguese, had been there before, and it was somehow important to show that Spanish were there even much earlier, even if at the time they were Carthaginians.

Hanno. This is perhaps the most common name associated to Carthaginian sailing. It is reported that him and his brother Himelion were rulers of Andalucía and each one went on separate sailing trips in 440 BC. 
  • Himelion went upwards until France, Germany, probably Sweden and even Iceland. Galvão associates it to the Iceland island Thule (66º N), so cold that he calls it “St. Patrick’s Purgatory”, and describes the volcanoes, one of which was called Ecla (~Katla?). He goes even further, saying that the fish were so big that a church was made from the bones (this might sound not so surprising today, as we are acquainted with whales dimensions… but it could sound bizarre at the time. Reports sound strange and fabulous if you are not familiar with them, and when you are instructed to reject them).
     
  • Hanno went along the Coast of Africa, finding the Fortunate Islands that Galvão associates to the Canaries, and other archipelagos: Dorcadas, Hesperias and Gorgonas. Concerning these islands he just says that others associate them to the Cape Verde archipelago. Like Duarte Pacheco Pereira, both based on Strabo’s account, state that Hanno made the whole tour of Africa until Guardafuy Cape, previously called Aromatic Cape. Of course he says that others pretend that he never went further than Sierra Leona, and that he was followed by Publio only until the Line (?~Equator Line). However Galvão argues that it took 5 years to Hanno to return to Spain, and this would have been too much time for such a travel... probably meaning (in an implicit fashion) that Hanno’s visit to the Hesperides and other islands was in the American continent.

Persians. Galvão also states that previously to Hanno, in the year 485 BC, the Persian emperor Xerxes sent his nephew Sataspis to make the same contour of Africa.

The most impressive conclusion that one gets while seeing all the list made by Galvão is that Atlantic navigations were quite common in all times, and were reported by different civilizations. 
Nowadays, since the celebrated Kon Tiki and other solitary navigations in small boats, it was made clear to the general audience that the major difficulty in ancient sailing was orientation, which was not a problem for sailors with some knowledge of the stars and sun movements... it could be a problem only to produce exact charts. 
  • Despite the evidences, people are led to believe that a short voyage from Greece to the Black Sea could justify the writing of Jason's epopee... knowing that it is more difficult to sail between greek islands.
  • Or even more ridiculous... we are led to believe that the Greeks would gather in a voyage to Troy that it was in the nearby shore, Troy would be closer to Mycenae/Athens than to other greek cities like Miletus...
  • Le coup de grâce, we are led to believe that Ulysses adventure, 10 years lost in the sea, was held in the Mediterranean... as if it was possible to a Greek sailor to be that lost in the Mediterranean.
As a consequence, if we are led to believe in all this, since we were young, it is easy to control our mind and the way we think.

(to be continued)

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