Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Sunday, 20 November 2022

Did the Ancient Greeks discover Iceland?

The website of Greek Reporter has a piece about a theory which seeks to explain the origin of the name Thule, given by the ancient Greeks to the northern limits of the earth, and identifies it as being Iceland.

The argument seems plausible - after all Iceland is more or less in the right place to be Thule - and the suggestion that the appearance of the southern coast inspired the name also appears reasonable. That said the theory turns upon the original name having been miscopied to emerge as Thule. Thus our old friend scribal error becomes a major player in the story. That and the debatable nature of evidence derived from etymology, must be borne in mind. Even so, as I wrote, the theory looks perfectly reasonable given the geography of the northern Atlantic.

If that is accepted or considered worthy o serious consideration then it can be seen to reinforce the case for early navigation in those northern seas. Such voyages may have left no record or scant record but their feasibility or their memory in legend should not be discounted.

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