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The Voyage of Hanno

By , May 12, 2009 11:50 am

These are 2 Different Translations of the Account of the Trip of Hanno around Africa. There is also a map of my compilation that tracks down the different possible locations of this trip, based solely on visual recon, instead of following the suggested locations through old research.

Translation #1:

It was decreed by the Carthaginians, that Hanno should undertake a voyage beyond the Pillars of Hercules, and found Liby-Phoenician cities. He sailed accordingly with sixty ships of fifty oars each, and a body of men and women to the number of thirty thousand, and provisions and other necessaries

When we had passed the Pillars[2] on our voyage, and had sailed beyond them for two days, we founded the first city which we named Thymiaterium[3]. Below it lay an extensive plain. Proceeding thence towards the west, we came to Soloeis[4], a promontory of Libya, a place thickly covered with trees, where we erected a temple to Neptune; and again proceeded for the space of half a day towards the east, until we arrived at a lake lying not far from the sea. and filled with abundance of large reeds. Here elephants, and a great number of other wild beasts, were feeding.

Having passed the lake about a day’s sail, we founded cities near the sea, called Cariconticos, and Gytte, and Acra, and Melitta, and Arambys.[5] Thence we came to the great river Lixus[6], which flows from Libya. On its banks the Lixitae, a shepherd tribe, were feeding flocks, amongst whom we continued some time on friendly terms. Beyond the Lixitae dwelt the inhospitable Ethiopians, who pasture a wild country intersected by large mountains, from which they say the river Lixus flows. In the neighbourhood of the mountains lived the Troglodytae, men of various appearances, whom the Lixitae described as swifter in running than horses.

Having procured interpreters from them, we coasted along a desert country towards the south two days. Thence we proceeded towards the east the course of a day. Here we found in a recess of a certain bay a small island, containing a circle of five stadia, where we settled a colony, and called it Cerne.[7] We judged from our voyage that this place lay in a direct line with Carthage; for the length of our voyage from Carthage to the Pillars, was equal to that from the Pillars to Cerne.

We then came to a lake, which we reacted by sailing up a large river called Chretes[8] This lake had three islands, larger than Cerne from which proceeding a day’s sail, we came to the extremity of the lake, that was overhung by large mountains, inhabited by savage men clothed in skins of wild beasts, who drove us away by throwing stones, and hindered us from landing. Sailing thence we came to another river, that was large and broad, and full of crocodiles, and river horses[9]; whence returning back we came again to Cerne

Thence we sailed towards the south twelve days, coasting the shore, the whole of which is inhabited by Ethiopians, who would not wait our approach, but fled from us. Their language was not intelligible even to the Lixitae who were with us. Towards the last day we approached some large mountains covered with trees, the wood of which was sweet-scented and variegated. Having sailed by these mountains for two days, we came to an immense opening of the sea; on each side of which, towards the continent, was a plain; from which we saw by night fire arising at intervals in all directions, either more or less.

Having taken in water there, we sailed forwards five days near the land, until we came to a large bay, which our interpreters informed us was called the Western Horn.[10] In this was a large island, and in the island a saltwater lake, and in this another island, where, when we had landed, we could discover nothing in the daytime except trees; but in the night we saw many fires burning, and heard the sound of pipes, cymbals, drums, and confused shouts. We were then afraid, and our diviners ordered us to abandon the island.

Sailing quickly away thence we passed a country burning with fires and perfumes; and streams of fire supplied from it fell into the sea. The country was impassable on account of the heat. We sailed quickly thence, being much terrified; and passing on for four days, we discovered at night a country full of fire. In the middle was a lofty fire, larger than the rest, which seemed to touch the stars. When day came we discovered it to be a large hill, called the Chariot of the Gods. On the third day after our departure thence, having sailed by those streams of fire, we arrived at a bay called the Southern Horn[11]; at the bottom of which lay an island like the former, having a lake, and in this lake another island, full of savage people, the greater part of whom were women, whose bodies were hairy, and whom our interpreters called Gorillae. Though we pursued the men we could not seize any of them; but all fled from us, escaping over the precipices, and defending themselves with stones. Three women were however taken; but they attacked their conductors with their teeth and hands, and could not be prevailed upon to accompany us. Having killed them, we flayed them, and brought their skins with us to Carthage. We did not sail farther on, our provisions failing us.

Proposed Locations and Stops along the way:

1. “The Voyage of Hanno, commander of the Carthaginians, round the parts of Lilxya beyond the Pillars of Hercules, which he deposited in the temple of Saturn” in A.H. L. Heeren, Historical researches into the Politics, Intercourse and Trade of the Cathaginians, Ethiopians, and Egyptians, anonymus translator (Oxford: D. A. Talboys, 1832), pp. 492-501.

2. the straits of Gibraltar.

3. according to Heeres, between El Haratch and Marmora in Morocco.

4. according to Heeres, Cape Blanco, near Azimur in Morocco.

5. according to Heeres, in the districts of Safy or Asafy.

6. according to Heeres, perhaps this is the river Tersif or Maroc.

7. according to Heeres, either near Mogador or Santa Cruz.

8. according to Heeres, the Senegal River.

9. Hippopotamae.

10. according to Heeres, the mouth of the Senegal River.

11. according to Heeres, the mouth of the Gambia River.

(Note: In my opinion, I disagree with Heeres on these descriptions. Calculating the times and landmarks observed myself, it does not add up that Hanno only reached as far as the Gambia River.) See my map for descriptive and satellite images, and judge for yourself.)

Translation #2:

This is the story of the long voyage of Hanno king of the Carhaginians into Libyan (African) lands beyond the Pillars of Heracles (Straits of Gibraltar), which he dedicated on a tablet in the temple of Kronos:

I. The Carthaginians decided that Hanno should sail beyond the Pillars of Heracles and found cities of Libyphoenicians. He set sail with 60 penteconters and about 30,000 men and women, and provisions and other necessaries.

II.After sailing beyond the Pillars for two days we founded the first city which we called Thymiaterion. Below it was a large plain.

III. Sailing thence westward we came to Soloeis, a Libyan promontory covered with trees. There we founded a temple to Poseidon.

IV. Journeying eastward for half a day we reached a lake not far from the sea, covered with a great growth of tall reeds, where elephants and many other wild animals fed.

V. A day’s sea journey beyond this lake we founded cities on the coast called Karikon Teichos, Bytte, Akra, Melitta and Arambys.

VI. Passing on from there we came to the large river Lixos, flowing from Libya, beside which nomads called Lixitae pastured their flocks. We stayed some time with them and became friends.

VII. Inland from there dwelt inhospitable Ethiopians in a land ridden with wild beasts and hemmed in by great mountains. They say that the Lixos flows down from there and that amongst these mountains Troglodytes of strange appearance dwell, who according to the Lixitae can run more swiftly than horses.

VIII. Taking interpreters from the Lixitae we sailed south along the desert shore for two days and then for one day eastward and found a small island 5 stades (about 1 km) in circumference at the further end of a gulf. We made a settlement there and called it Cerne. We judged from our journey that it was directly opposite Carthage, for the voyage from Carthage to the Pillars and from there to Cerne seemed alike.

IX. From here sailing up a big river called Chretes we reached a lake, in which were three islands bigger than Cerne. Completing a day’s sail from here we came to the end of the lake, overhung by some very high mountains crowded with savages clad in skins of wild beasts, who stoned us and beat us off and prevented us from disembarking.

X.Sailing from there we came to another big wide river, teeming with crocodiles and hippopotamuses. We turned again from there and came back to Cerne.

XI. We sailed south for twelve days from there, clinging to the coast, which was all along occupied by Ethiopians who did not stay their ground, but fled from us. Their speech was unintelligible, even to our Lixitae.

XII. On the last day we came to anchor by some high mountains clad with trees whose wood was sweet smelling and mottled.

XIII. Sailing round these for two days we reached an immense gulf, on either shore of which was a plain where by night we saw big and little fires flaming up at intervals everywhere.

XIV. Taking on water here, we sailed on for five days along the coast until we came to a great bay which our interpreters called the Horn of the West. In it was a large island and in the island a salt-water lake, within which was another island where we disembarked. By day we could see nothing but a forest, but by night we saw many fires burning and we heard the sound of flutes and of beating of cymbals and drums and a great din of voices. Fear came upon us and the soothsayers bade us leave the island.

XV. We sailed thence in haste and skirted a fiery coast replete with burning incense. Great streams of fire and lava poured down into the sea and the land was unapproachable because of the heat.

XVI. We left there hurriedly in fear and sailing for four days we saw the land by night full of flames. In the middle was a high flame taller than the rest, reaching, as it seemed, the stars. By day it was seen to be a very high mountain called the Chariot of the Gods.

XVII. Thence sailing for three days past fiery lava flows we reached a gulf called the Horn of the South.

XVIII. At the farther end of this bay was an island, like the first, with a lake, within which was another island full of savages. By far the greater number were women with shaggy bodies, whom our interpreters called Gorillas. Chasing them we were unable to catch any of the men, all of whom, being used to climbing precipices, got away, defending themselves by throwing stones. But we caught three women, who bit and mangled those who carried them off, being unwilling to follow them. We killed them, however, and flayed them and brought their skins back to Carthage. For we did not sail further as our supplies gave out.’

From ‘The Phoenicians’ by Donald Harden, published in 1962 by Thames and Hudson.

Possible Map of Route: (Compiled by Maroun Kassab)

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