On the Shores of the Great Sea - M. B. Synge

Hanno's Adventures

"Tides duly ebbed and flowed,

Stars rose and set,

And new horizons glowed."


Now Carthage can boast of having produced the first real explorer who has written an account of his doings. His name was Hanno. This Hanno was given command of a fleet of ships, to go and found a chain of colonies on the Atlantic sea-board of Africa. He took sixty ships and some thirty thousand men and women, who were to settle along the coast. When he came back to Carthage he wrote an account of the voyage, which was inscribed on a marble tablet and placed in the temple of the city; and this is what he said:—

"It was decreed, by the Carthaginians, that Hanno should sail beyond the Pillars of Hercules and found cities. Accordingly he sailed, with sixty ships of fifty oars each, and a multitude of men and women to the number of thirty thousand, and provisions and other equipment.

"When we had set sail and passed the pillars, after two days' voyage, we founded the first city. Below this city lay a great plain. Sailing thence westward we came to Cape Cantin, a promontory of Africa thickly covered with trees. Here we built a temple, and proceeded thence half a day's journey eastward, till we reached a lake, lying not far from the sea, and filled with abundance of great reeds. Here elephants were feeding and a great number of other wild animals.

"After we had gone a day's sail beyond the lakes, we founded cities near to the sea. Sailing thence, we came to a great river which flows from Africa. On its banks wandering tribes were feeding their flocks. With these we made friendship, and remained among them certain days. Beyond these dwell the 'inhospitable ∆thiopians,' inhabiting a country that abounds in wild beasts, and is divided by high mountains. After this, sailing up a great river (the Senegal), we came to a lake. Proceeding thence a day's sail, we came to the farthest shore of the lake. Here it is overhung by great mountains, in which dwell savage men, clothed with the skins of beasts. These drove us away, pelting us with stones, so that we could not land.

"Sailing thence, we came to another river great and broad, and full of crocodiles and river-horses. Thence returning, we came back again to Herne, and from Herne, we sailed again towards the south for twelve days, coasting along the land. The whole of this land is inhabited by ∆thiopians.

"On the last day, we came near to certain large mountains, covered with trees, and the wood of these trees was sweet-scented and of divers colours. Sailing by these mountains, for the space of two days, we came to a great opening of the sea, and on either side of this sea, was a great plain, from which, at night, we saw fire arising in all directions. Here we watered, and afterwards sailed for five days until we came to a great bay, which the interpreters told us, was called the Western Horn.

"In this bay was a large island. Here we landed, and in the daytime we could find nothing, but saw wood-ashes; but in the night we saw many fires burning, and heard the sound of flutes, and cymbals, and drums, and the noise of confused shouts. Great fear then came upon us. We sailed, therefore, quickly thence, being much terrified, and passing on for four days, found at night a country full of fire. In the middle was a lofty fire, greater than all the rest, so that it seemed to touch the stars. When day came, we found that this was a great mountain which they call the Chariot of the gods. On the third of our departure thence, having sailed by streams of fire, we came to a bay which is called the Southern Horn (close to Sierra Leone).

"At the end of this bay lay an island with a lake, and full of savage people, of whom the greater part were women. Their bodies were covered with hair, and our interpreters called them Gorillas. We pursued them; but the men we were not able to catch, for being able to climb the precipices, and defending themselves with stones, these all escaped. But we caught three women. But when these, biting and tearing those that led them, would not follow us, we slew them, and flaying off their skins, carried these to Carthage.

"Farther we did not sail, for our food failed us."