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THE PERIPLUS OF HANNO

A VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY DOWN THE WEST AFRICAN COAST,

BY A CARTHAGINIAN ADMIRAL OF THE FIFTH CENTURY B. C.

TRANSLATED FROM THE GREEK

BY

WILFRED H. SCHOFF, a. m.

Secretary of the Commercial Museum, Philadelphia

M^ith explanatory passages quoted from numerous authors

PUBLISHED BY THE COMMERCIAL MUSEUM 1912

Copyright 1912 by the Commercial Museum Philadelphia

THE VOYAGE OF HANNO, KING OF THE

CARTHAGINIANS

To the Libyan regions of the earth beyond the Pillars of Hercules,

which he dedicated also in the Temple of Baal, affixing this

1. It pleased the Carthaginians that Hanno should voy-

age outside the Pillars of Hercules, and found cities of the

Libyphoenicians. And he set forth with sixty ships of fifty

oars, and a multitude of men and women, to the number of

thirty thousand, and with wheat and other provisions.

2. After passing through the Pillars we went on and

sailed for two days' journey beyond, where we founded the

first city, which we called Thymiaterium ; it lay in the midst

of a great plain.

3. Sailing thence toward the west we came to Solois, a

promontory of Libya, bristling with trees.

4. Having set up an altar here to Neptune, we proceeded

again, going toward the east for half the day, until we reached

a marsh lying no great way from the sea, thickly grown with

tall reeds. Here also were elephants and other wild beasts

feeding, in great numbers.

5. Going beyond the marsh a day's journey, we setded

cities by the sea, which we called Caricus Murus, Gytta, Acra,

Melitta and Arambys.

6. Sailing thence we came to the Lixus, a great river

flowing from Libya. By it a wandering people, the Lixitas,

were pasturing their flocks; with whom we remained some

time, becoming friends.

7. Above these folk lived unfriendly ^Ethiopians, dwelling

in a land full of wild beasts, and shut off by great mountains,

from which they say the Lixus flows, and on the mountains

live men of various shapes, cave-dwellers, who, so the Lixitse

say, are fleeter of foot than horses.

8. Taking interpreters from them, we sailed twelve '

' days toward the south along a desert, turning thence toward '

the east one day's sail. There, within the recess of a bay we

found a small island, having a circuit of fifteen stadia; which

we settled, and called it Cerne. From our journey we judged

it to be situated opposite Carthage ; for the voyage from Car-

thage to the Pillars and thence to Cerne was the same.

9. Thence, sailing by a great river whose name was

Chretes, we came to a lake, which had three islands, larger

than Cerne. Running a day's sail beyond these, we came to

the end of the lake, above which rose great mountains, peo-

pled by savage men wearing skins of wild beasts, who threw

stones at us and prevented us from landing from our ships.

10. Sailing thence, we came to another river, very great

and broad, which was full of crocodiles and hippopotami.

And then we turned about and went back to Cerne.

11. Thence we sailed toward the south twelve days, fol-

lowing the shore, which was peopled by ^Ethiopians who fled

from us and would not wait. And their speech the Lixitse

who were with us could not understand.

1 2. But on the last day we came to great wooded mountains.

The wood of the trees was fragrant, and of various kinds.

13. Sailing around these mountains for two days, we came

to an immense opening of the sea, from either side of which

there was level ground inland; from which at night we saw

iire leaping up on every side at intervals, now greater, now less.

14. Having taken in water there, we sailed along the

shore for five days, until we came to a great bay, which our

interpreters said was called Horn of the West. In it there

was a large island, and within the island a lake of the sea, in

which there was another island. Landing there during the

day, we saw nothing but forests, but by night many burning

fires, and we heard the sound of pipes and cymbals, and the

noise of drums and a great uproar. Then fear possessed us,

and the soothsayers commanded us to leave the island.

15. And then quickly sailing forth, we passed by a burn-

ing country full of fragrance, from which great torrents of fire

flowed down to the sea. But the land could not be come at

for the heat.

16. And we sailed along with all speed, being stricken by

fear. After a journey of four days, we saw the land at night

covered with flames. And in the midst there was one lofty

fire, greater than the rest, which seemed to touch the stars.

By day this was seen to be a very high mountain, called

Chariot of the Gods.

17. Thence, sailing along by the fiery torrents for three

days, we came to a bay, called Horn of the South.

18. In the recess of this bay there was an island, like the

former one, having a lake, in which there was another island,

full of savage men. There were women, too, in even greater

number. They had hairy bodies, and the interpreters called

them Gorillie. When we pursued them we were unable to

take any of the men ; for they all escaped, by climbing the

steep places and defending themselves with stones; but we

took three of the women, who bit and scratched their leaders,

and would not follow us. So we killed them and flayed them,

and brought their skins to Carthage. For we did not voyage

further, provisions failing us.

 

THE GEOGRAPHY OF THE VOYAGE OF HANNO

The Carthaginian colonies mentioned in this text can be iden-

tified only in the most general way with any existing settlement.

They were destroyed and abandoned so many centuries ago that no

traces are likely to remain, although the unsettled condition of the

country, which has remained to the present time, has prevented any

exploration of the interior or even of the coast itself.

§ 1. The Pillars of Hercules are, of course, the Straits of

Gibraltar.

§ 2. The first city, called in the text Thymiaterium, is identi-

fied by Miiller as Mehedia at the mouth of the Sbou River at about

34° 20' N. The name of this city as we have it is a Greek corrup-

tion and to the eyes of various commentators suggests Dumathir—^i

ground, or city of the plain.

§ 3. The Promontory of Solois is probably the same as Cape

Cantin at 32° 30' N.

§ 4. The section of marshy ground is probably reached on

both sides of Cape Safi, 32° 20' N.

§ 5. The location of the five colonies mentioned in this para-

graph is uncertain. Miiller places the first at the ruins of Agouz, 32 5

at the mouth of the Tensift River. The second perhaps at Mogador,

31° 30'. The third at Agadir, 30° 25'. The fourth at the mouth

of the Messa River, 30° S'. The fifth, perhaps, at the mouth of the

Gueder River, 29° 10', or at Araouas, 29°.

§ 6. The Lixus River is quite certainly the modern Wadi

Draa, emptying into the ocean at 28 30 .

§ 8. The island of Cerne, lying in the recess of a bay, is iden-

tified with the modern Heme Island within the mouth of the Rio de

Oro at about 23° 45' N. The relative distances as mentioned in this

paragraph from the Straits of Gibraltar to Carthage and to Heme

Island respectively, are very nearly correct.

§ 9. The Chretes River Miiller identifies with the modern

St. Jean at 19° 25', at the mouth of which the three islands exist

as the text describes.

§ 10, The great river full of crocodiles and hippopotami is

identified with the Senegal at about 16° 30' N.

§§ 12 and 13. These great wooded mountains around which the

expedition sailed, can be nothing but Cape Verde, and the immense

opening of the sea is the mouth of the Gambia River at 13° 30' N.

§ 14. The bay called Horn of the West reaches from 12° to

to 11° N. and the islands are the modern Bissagos.

§ 16. The high mountain called Chariot of the Gods, Miiller

identifies with Mt. Kakulima at 9° 30' N.

§§ 17 and 18. The island enclosed within the bay called Horn

of the South, it is now agreed by all commentators, is the modern

Sherboro Sound in the British colony of Sierra Leone, about 7° 30' N.

This identification of the places named in the text extends

Hanno' s voyage about 29 degrees of latitude along the West African

coast, or a total length outside of Gibraltar, following the direction of

the shore line, of about 2600 miles.

EDITIONS OF THE PERIPLUS OF HANNO
 
(From Bunbury, History of Ancient Geography, I, 332-3) 
 
The narrative of Hanno was certainly extant in Greek at an early 
period. It is cited in the work ascribed to Aristotle on Marvellous 
Narratives (§ 37) which belongs to the 3d century B. C. ; as well as 
by Mela, Pliny, and many later writers; and Pliny expressly speaks 
of it as the source whence many Greek and Roman writers had 
derived their information, including, as he considered, many fables. 
C Pliny, H. N., V. 8.) 
 
The authenticity of the work may be considered as unquestion- 
able. The internal evidence is conclusive upon that point. There 
is considerable doubt as to the date of the voyage. On this point the 
narrative itself gives no information, and the name Hanno was very 
common at Carthage. (See Smith's Diet, of Bios., Art. Hanno). 
But it has been generally agreed that this Hanno was either the father 
or the son of the Hamilcar who led the great Carthaginian expedition 
to Sicily in B. C. 480. In the former case the Periplus may be prob- 
ably assigned to a date about B. C. 520; in the latter it must be 
brought down to about B. C. 470. This last view is that adopted by 
C. Miiller in his edition of the Periplus iGeographi Graci Minores, I, 
xxi-xxiv), where the whole subject is fully discussed; but as between 
him and his grandfather, the choice is hardly more than conjectural. 
M. Vivien de St. Martin, however, prefers the date of B. C. 570, 
which had been previously adopted by Bougainville {Memoires 
de I Acad'emie des Inscriptions, xxviii, 287). 
 
"The Periplus of Hanno was first published at Basle in 1533 (as 
an appendix to the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea j , from a manuscript in 
the Heidelberg library i^Cod. Pal. Grcec, 398), the only one in vv^hich 
it is found. There have been numerous subsequent editions; of these 
the one by Falconer, 8vo, 1797, and Kluge, 8vo, Leipzig, 1829, are 
the most valuable.