Tuesday, June 22, 2004


A Prophecy Fulfilled

Seneca, Medea 375-379:
Ages will come, in later years,
When Ocean will loosen earth's chains
And a vast land will appear.
Tethys will uncover new worlds,
And Thule will not be earth's limit.
venient annis saecula seris,
quibus Oceanus vincula rerum
laxet et ingens pateat tellus
Tethysque novos detegat orbes
nec sit terris ultima Thule.
Ferdinand Columbus wrote in the margin of his copy of Seneca's Tragedies next to this passage:
This prophecy was fulfilled by my father Admiral Christopher Columbus in the year 1492. (Haec prophetia expleta est per patrem meum Christoforum Colon almirantem anno 1492.)
In Greek mythology Tethys is the wife of Ocean. Thule is first mentioned by the ancient Greek explorer Pytheas. Strabo (1.4.2) quotes him as saying that Thule "is a six days' sail north of Britain, and is near the frozen sea."

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