Tales of Ethiopia as a mythical land at the farthest edges of the earth are recorded in some of the earliest Greek literature of the eighth century B.C., including the epic poems of Homer. Greek gods and heroes, like Menelaos, were believed to have visited this place on the fringes of the known world. However, long before Homer, the seafaring civilization of Bronze Age Crete, known today as Minoan, established trade connections with Egypt. The Minoans may have first come into contact with Africans at Thebes, during the periodic bearing of tribute to the pharaoh. In fact, paintings in the tomb of Rekhmire, dated to the fourteenth century B.C., depict African and Aegean peoples, most likely Nubians and Minoans. However, with the collapse of the Minoan and Mycenaean palaces at the end of the Late Bronze Age, trade connections with Egypt and the Near East were severed as Greece entered a period of impoverishment and limited contact.
Ethiopia is mentioned several times in The Iliad, The Odyssey and the Histories; The primary city of Ethiopia was Meroe which was, according to the historian, Herodotus, forty days on foot and twelve days by boat south of the city of Elephantine on the Nile River; in another part of his narrative, Herodotus says that the Ethiopians lived in Libya towards the southern sea.
The exact location of Ethiopia was, at best, nebulous to the Greeks of Herodotus’ time; there seems to have been two conceptions of Ethiopia: one was the historical land coveted by the Persian Empire and the other was a mythical Ethiopia that Poseidon (lord of the Sea) favored with personal visits.
Homer says that the Ethiopians were the most distant of men and lived in two separate lands that were identified as where the Titan, Hyperion, rose and sat; when the Greek hero, Menelaos(Menelaus), was making his meandering way back to Sparta after the sack of the city of Troy, he said that he traveled to Egypt, Ethiopia and Libya which only implies that Ethiopia was somewhere in Africa.
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