Historical Reprints History Story of Extinct Civilizations of the West

Story of Extinct Civilizations of the West

Story of Extinct Civilizations of the West
Catalog # SKU3271
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Robert E. Anderson
ISBN 10: 1610336291
ISBN 13: 9781610336291


The Story of
Extinct Civilizations
of the West

Large Print

Robert E. Anderson

Throughout all the periods of European history, ancient or modern, no age has been more remarkable for events of first-rate importance than the latter half of the fifteenth century. The rise of the New Learning, the "discovery of the world and of man," the displacement of many outworn beliefs, these with other factors produced an awakening that startled kings and nations.

--New Edition, large 15 point font



It was at this historical juncture that the "middle ages" came to an end, and modern Europe had its beginning.

Why was Europe so long in discovering the vast Continent which all the time lay beyond the Western Ocean? Simply because every skipper and every "Board of Admiralty" believed that this world on which we live and move is flat and level. They did not at all realize the fact that it is ball-shaped; and that when a ball is very large (say, as large as a balloon), then any small portion of the surface must appear flat and level to a fly or "mite" traveling in that vicinity. Homer believed that our world is a flat and level plain, with a great river, Oceanus, flowing round it; and for many ages that seemed a very natural and sufficient theory.

The Pythagoreans, it is true, argued that our earth must be spherical, but why? Oh, said they, because in geometry the sphere is the "most perfect" of all solid figures. Aristotle, being scientific, gave better reasons for believing that the earth is spherical or ball-shaped. He said the shadow of the earth is always round like the shadow of a ball; and the shadow of the earth can be seen during any eclipse of the moon; therefore, all who see that shadow on the moon's disk know, or ought to know, that the earth is ball-shaped. Another reason given by Aristotle is that the altitude of any star above the horizon changes when the observer travels north or south. For example, if at London a star appears to be 40º above the northern horizon, and at York the same star at the same instant appears 42½º , it is evident that 2½º is the difference (increase) of altitude at York compared with London. Such an observation shows that the road from London to York is not over a flat, level plane, but over the curved surface of a sphere, the arc of a circle, in fact.

Herodotus, the father of history, was a good geographer and an experienced traveler, yet his only conception of the world was as a flat, wide-extending surface. In Egypt he was told how Pharaoh Necho had sent a crew of Phenicians to explore the coast of Africa by setting out from the Red Sea, and how they sailed south till they had the sun on their right hand. "Absurd!" says Herodotus, in his naïve manner, "this story I can not believe." In Egypt, as in Greece or Europe generally, the sun rises on the left hand, and at noon casts a shadow pointing north; whereas in South Africa the sun at noon casts a shadow pointing south, and sunrise is therefore on the right hand. The honest sailors had told the truth; they had merely "crossed the line," without knowing it. If Herodotus had known that the world was spherical or ball-shaped, he could easily have understood that by traveling due south the sun must at last appear at noon to the north instead of the south. A counterpart to the story of the Phenician sailors occurs in Pliny: he tells how some ambassadors came to the Roman Emperor Claudius from an island in the south of Asia, and when in Italy were much astonished to see the sun at noon to the south, casting shadows to the north. They also wondered, he says, to see the Great Bear and other groups of stars which had never been visible in their native land (Nat. Hist., vi, 22).

That there were islands or even a continent in the Western Ocean was a tradition not infrequent in classical and medieval times, as we shall presently see, but to place a continent in the Southern Ocean was a greater stretch of imagination. The great outstanding problem of the sources of the Nile probably suggested this Southern Continent to some. Ptolemy, the great Egyptian geographer, even formed the conjecture that the Southern Continent was joined to Africa by a broad isthmus, as indicated in certain maps. Such a connection of the two continents would at once dispose of the story that the Phenician sailors had "doubled the Cape." In several maps after the time of Columbus, Australia is extended westward in order to pass muster for the Southern Continent.

236 pages - 7 x 8½ softcover
ISBN-10: 1610336291
ISBN-13: 9781610336291

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