Voyages from I to Thou.

Location: Skellig Michel, Ireland

Monday, January 10, 2005

The coagulated sea

In his didactic poem Ora Maritima (4th or 5th century AD), Rufius Festus Avienus tells the story of the Phoenician Himilco who found himself on a coagulated sea during his voyage in the northern ocean around 525 BC. It is possible that parts of this report form the basis of the subsequent literary tradition about the Liver Sea. Himilco reports, according to Avienus, that four months hardly sufficed to cross it. There was not a breath of wind to get the ship moving and in the terrifyingly stagnant water of this turbid sea the ship was gripped by bunches of seaweed. The water was very shallow. Sea monsters and giant fish swam around the ship as they drifted forward. To make matters even more frightening, a mist shrouded both the sky and the surface of the sea, while the clouds stood motionless in the air.

- Clara Strijsbosch, The Seafaring Saint, 66


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