Pytheas, Thule, a voyage to unknown worlds
Thales and Friends
Herakleidon 16, Athens, 11851

Pytheas, Thule, a voyage to unknown worlds


Speaker Maria Terdimou

Pytheas of Massalia (4th century BC), a Greek geographer and astronomer from Marseille, one of the most important Greek colonies of the past, is known to us due to his voyage, a bold adventure of his time, from Marseilles probably to the Arctic Circle. This voyage described by himself in his work named “On the Ocean”, and of which only fragments were preserved in references to other writers' work such as Strabo, Polybius, Eratosthenes, Pliny the Elder, and many others.

Our intention is to travel with Pytheas, who started from Marseilles and reached the Atlantic either crossing the inland of France or passing the Strait of Gibraltar. He crossed Great Britain, accurately calculating its perimeter, and finally reached the mysterious island of Thule. Through the island descriptions he gives us, particularly through the report that the sea area of the island was “not hard ice, no water, no air”, many speculations have been made about its identity by currents researchers. Others talk of Iceland, others the coast of Norway, and others the area of the Arctic circle. However, it is certain that they will never receive a definitive answer to our question.

Today, his hometown honors him with a dedicated statue outside of the city’s stock market, reminding visitors that without bold action, sometimes translated into capers, the unknown never becomes known.

14 February, 2020

THALES + FRIENDS is a not-for-profit organization, based in Greece, that works to bridge the chasm between mathematics and other forms of cultural activity.

To achieve its aims, THALES + FRIENDS works to create opportunities for interdisciplinary research and communication, through lectures, discussions, publications, and reading groups.

Organization / Production: 
Thales and Friends
Museum Herakleidon
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