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View all copies of this ISBN edition:. Synopsis Rare book "synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title. Buy Used View Book. Customers who bought this item also bought. Stock Image. National geographic society. Published by Ediciones Folio Sa Seller Rating:. Seller Image. At the same time that they acquired knowledge of new countries in this part of the globe, they gradually carried their researches towards the south.
They made considerable progress, by land, into the interior provinces of Africa, traded with some of them, and subjected others to their empire. They sailed along the western coast of that great continent, almost to the tropic of Cancer, and planted several colonies, in order to civilize the natives, and accustom them to commerce. They discovered the Fortunate islands, now known by the name of the Canaries, the utmost boundary of ancient navigation in the western ocean.
Nor was the progress of the Phenicians and Carthaginians in their knowledge of the globe, owing Edition: current; Page: [ 9 ] entirely to the desire of extending their trade from one country to another. Commerce was followed by its usual effects among both these people. It awakened curiosity, enlarged the ideas and desires of men, and incited them to bold enterprises. Voyages were undertaken, the sole object of which was to discover new countries, and to explore unknown seas.
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Such, during the prosperous age of the Carthaginian republic, were the famous navigations of Hanno and Himilco. Both their fleets were equipped by authority of the senate, and at public expence. Hanno was directed to steer towards the south, along the coast of Africa, and he seems to have advanced much nearer the equinoctial line than any former navigator.
These voyages, if performed in the manner which I have related, may justly be reckoned the greatest effort of navigation in the ancient world; and if we attend to the imperfect state of the art at that time, it is difficult to determine, whether we should most Edition: current; Page: [ 10 ] admire the courage and sagacity with which the design was formed, or the conduct and good fortune with which it was executed. But unfortunately all the original and authentic accounts of the Phenician and Carthaginian voyages, whether undertaken by public authority, or in prosecution of their private trade, have perished.
Every thing relative to the course of their navigation was not only a mystery of trade, but a secret of state. Extraordinary facts are related concerning their solicitude to prevent other nations from penetrating into what they wished should remain undivulged. The navigation round Africa, in particular, is recorded by the Greek and Roman writers, rather as a strange amusing tale, which they did not comprehend, or did not believe, than as a real transaction, which enlarged their knowledge and influenced their opinions.
Leaving, then, the obscure and pompous accounts of the Phenician and Carthaginian voyages to the curiosity and conjectures of antiquaries, of the Greeks; history must rest satisfied with relating the progress of navigation and discovery among the Greeks and Romans, which, though less splendid, is better ascertained.
It is evident that the Phenicians, who instructed the Greeks in many other useful sciences and arts, did not communicate to them that extensive knowledge of navigation which they themselves possessed; nor did the Romans imbibe that commercial spirit and ardour for discovery which distinguished their rivals the Carthaginians. Though Greece be almost encompassed by the sea, which formed many spacious bays and commodious harbours; though it be surrounded by a great number of fertile islands, yet, notwithstanding such a favourable situation, which seemed to invite that ingenious people to apply themselves to navigation, it was long before this art attained any degree of perfection among them.
Their early voyages, the object of which was piracy rather than commerce, were so inconsiderable, that the expedition of the Argonauts from the coast of Thessaly to the Euxine Sea, appeared such an amazing effort of skill and courage, as entitled the conductors of it to be ranked among the demigods, and exalted the vessel in which they sailed to a place among the heavenly constellations.
Even at a later period, when the Greeks engaged in their famous enterprise against Troy, their knowledge in naval affairs seems not to have been much improved. According to the account of Homer, the only poet to whom history ventures to appeal, and who, by his scrupulous accuracy in describing the manners and arts of early ages, merits this distinction, the science of navigation, at that time, had hardly advanced beyond its rudest state.
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The Greeks in the heroic age seem to have been unacquainted Edition: current; Page: [ 12 ] with the use of iron, the most serviceable of all the metals, without which no considerable progress was ever made in the mechanical arts. Their vessels were of inconsiderable burthen, and mostly without decks. They had only one mast, which was erected or taken down at pleasure. They were strangers to the use of anchors. All their operations in sailing were clumsy and unskilful. They turned their observation towards stars, which were improper for regulating their course, and their mode of observing them was inaccurate and fallacious.
When they had finished a voyage, they drew their paltry barks ashore, as savages do their canoes, and these remained on dry land until the season of returning to sea approached.
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It is not then in the early or heroic ages of Greece, that we can expect to observe the science of navigation, and the spirit of discovery, making any considerable progress. During that period of disorder and ignorance, a thousand causes concurred in restraining curiosity and enterprise within very narrow bounds. But the Greeks advanced with rapidity to a state of greater civilization and refinement.
Government, in its most liberal and perfect form, began to be established in their different communities; equal laws and regular police were gradually introduced; the sciences and arts which are useful or ornamental in life were carried to a high pitch of improvement; and several of the Grecian commonwealths applied to commerce with such ardour and success, that they were considered, in the ancient world, as maritime powers of the first rank.
Even then, however, the naval victories of the Greeks must be ascribed rather to the native spirit of the people, and to that courage which the enjoyment of liberty inspires, than to any extraordinary progress in the science of navigation. In the Persian war, those exploits which the genius Edition: current; Page: [ 13 ] of the Greek historians has rendered so famous, were performed by fleets, composed chiefly of small vessels without decks n ; the crews of which rushed forward with impetuous valour, but little art, to board those of the enemy.
In the war of Peloponnesus, their ships seem still to have been of inconsiderable burthen and force. The extent of their trade, how highly soever it may have been estimated in ancient times, was in proportion to this low condition of their marine. The maritime states of Greece hardly carried on any commerce beyond the limits of the Mediterranean sea.
Their chief intercourse was with the colonies of their countrymen, planted in the Lesser Asia, in Italy and Sicily. They sometimes visited the ports of Egypt, of the southern provinces of Gaul, and of Thrace, or, passing through the Hellespont, they traded with the countries situated around the Euxine sea. Amazing instances occur of their ignorance, even of those countries which lay within the narrow precincts to which their navigation was confined.
When the Greeks had assembled their combined fleet against Xerxes at Egina, they thought it unadvisable to sail to Samos, because they believed the distance between that island and Egina to be as great as the distance between Egina and the pillars of Hercules. After all that the Greeks learned from them, they appear to have been ignorant of the most important facts, on which an accurate and scientific knowledge of the globe is founded.
The expedition of Alexander the Great into the East, considerably enlarged the sphere of navigation and of geographical knowledge among the Greeks. That extraordinary man, notwithstanding the violent passions which incited him, at some times, to the wildest actions, and the most extravagant enterprises, possessed talents which fitted him not only to conquer, but to govern the world. He was capable of framing those bold and original schemes of policy, which gave a new form to human affairs. The revolution in commerce, brought about by the force of his genius, is hardly inferior to that revolution in empire, occasioned by the success of his arms.
It is probable, that the opposition and efforts of the republic of Tyre, which checked him so long in the career of his victories, gave Alexander an opportunity of observing the vast resources of a maritime power, and conveyed to him some idea of the immense wealth which the Tyrians derived from their commerce, especially that with the East Indies. As soon as he had accomplished the destruction of Tyre, and reduced Egypt to subjection, he formed the plan of rendering the empire which he proposed to establish the centre of commerce as well as the seat of dominion.
With this view he founded a great city, which he honoured with his own name, near one of the mouths of the river Nile, that by the Mediterranean sea, and the neighbourhood of the Arabian Gulf, it might command the trade both of the East and West. Not only during the subsistence of the Grecian empire in Egypt and in the East, but amidst all the successive revolutions in those countries from the time of the Ptolemies to the discovery of the navigation by the Cape of Good Edition: current; Page: [ 15 ] Hope, commerce, particularly that of the East Indies, continued to flow in the channel which the sagacity and foresight of Alexander had marked out for it.
His ambition was not satisfied with having opened to the Greeks a communication with India by sea; he aspired to the sovereignty of those regions which furnished the rest of mankind with so many precious commodities, and conducted his army thither by land. Enterprising, however, as he was, he may be said rather to have viewed than to have conquered that country. He did not, in his progress towards the East, advance beyond the banks of the rivers that fall into the Indus, which is now the western boundary of the vast continent of India.
Amidst the wild exploits which distinguish this part of his history, he pursued measures that mark the superiority of his genius as well as the extent of his views. He had penetrated as far into India as to confirm his opinion of its commercial importance, and to perceive that immense wealth might be derived from intercourse with a country, where the arts of elegance having been more early cultivated, were arrived at greater perfection than in any other part of the earth.
In order to effect this, he proposed to remove the cataracts, with which the jealousy of the Persians, and their aversion to correspondence with foreigners, had obstructed the entrance into the Euphrates r ; to carry the commodities of the East up that river, and the Tigris, which unites with it, into the interior parts of his Asiatic dominions; while, by the way of the Arabian Gulf, and the river Nile, they might be Edition: current; Page: [ 16 ] conveyed to Alexandria, and distributed to the rest of the world.
Nearchus, an officer of eminent abilities, was intrusted with the command of the fleet fitted out for this expedition. He performed this voyage, which was deemed an enterprise so arduous and important, that Alexander reckoned it one of the most extraordinary events which distinguished his reign.
Inconsiderable as it may now appear, it was, at that time, an undertaking of no little merit and difficulty. In the prosecution of it, striking instances occur of the small progress which the Greeks had made in naval knowledge. Accordingly, they spent no less than ten months u in performing this voyage, which, from the mouth of the Indus to that of the Persian Gulf, does not exceed twenty degrees. It is probable, that, amidst the violent convulsions, and frequent revolutions in the East, occasioned by the contests among the successors of Alexander, the navigation to India, by the course which Nearchus had opened, was discontinued.
The Indian trade carried on at Alexandria, not only subsisted, but was so much extended under the Grecian monarchs of Egypt, that it proved a great source of the wealth which distinguished their kingdom.