1. Early Greek Contact with Africa
1.1 Minoan Seafaring
1.2 Mycenaean Contact with Egypt
1.3 Written Sources
1.4 Myths of Africa: Ethiopians
1.4.1 Homer Iliad 1.423–424 (8th c. BCE; Greek)
with the blameless Ethiopians, and all the gods followed.
1.4.2 Homer Iliad 23.205–207 (8th c. BCE; Greek)
of the Ethiopians, where they offer a hecatomb  to the gods,
I go once again, so as to receive my share of the feast.
1.4.3 Homer Odyssey 1.22–26 (8th c. BCE; Greek)
the Ethiopians who are divided in half, the remotest of men,
some of whom live where the Sun god sets and some where he rises. 
25 There, Poseidon receiving a hecatomb of bulls and rams,
delighted in sitting at the feast…
1.4.4 Hesiod Theogony 984–985 (c. 700 BCE; Greek)
985 king of the Ethiopians, and the lord Emathion. 
1.4.5 Proclus Chrestomathia 2, excerpts (5th c. CE; Greek)
1.4.6 Pliny Natural History 6.187 (77–79 CE; Latin)
1.5 Other Parts of Africa in Myth
1.5.1 Ovid Metamorphoses 1.728–750, excerpts (c. 8 CE; Latin)
As soon as Io reached you, she fell to her knees 
730 on your bank and, bending her neck back,
raised her head to the stars and, with all the groaning,
weeping, and mournful mooing she could manage,
begged Jove to end her troubles. Jupiter,
putting his arms around his wife’s neck, asked that
735 she end the punishment at last, saying, “Put off
your fear; she will never cause you grief.”
He called upon the Styx to witness his words.
The goddess was mollified and Io took on her
prior countenance and became what she was before.
740 The hair fell from her body; her horns shrank; her eyes
narrowed; her mouth grew smaller; her shoulders and hands
returned; and each hoof dissolved into five fingernails.
Nothing resembled the heifer except her pure white skin
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
747 Now, the people who wear linen worship her as a goddess. 
Now, finally, Epaphus,  born from divine stock,
is believed to be Jove’s son and, together with his mother,
750 has temples throughout the land.
1.5.2 Isidore of Seville Etymologies 14.5.1–3 (560–636 CE; Latin)
1.5.3 Pseudo-Apollodorus Library 2.1.4–5, excerpts (1st–2nd c. CE; Greek)
1.5.4 Homer Iliad 3.2–6 (8th c. BCE; Greek)
just as the cry of cranes comes from the sky
as they flee storms and heavy rains. Calling out they fly
5 to the streams of Ocean, where they bring
slaughter and death to the Pygmy men; 
1.5.5 Euripides Helen 31–55 (412 BCE; Greek)
made my marriage to Paris a mere figment and
gave the king’s son not me, but a breathing
image fashioned out of sky that she made
35 to resemble me. And it seemed to him that
he had me, although he did not, since it was
an empty apparition. Again, the designs of Zeus joined
other evils to these. For he brought war to the land
of the Greeks and to the unfortunate Trojans, so that
40 he might relieve mother Earth of the multitude and throng
of mortals and make the strongest man of the Greeks
well-known. I, or more correctly my name,
was handed over to the Trojans as a spear prize
for the Greeks. Hermestook me in the folds
45 of the ether and hid me in a cloud—for Zeus had not
forgotten about me—and settled me in the house of Proteus. 
(He chose the most chaste of all mortals so that
I might keep my marriage bed pure for Menelaus.)
Thus, I am here, but my long-suffering husband has
50 amassed a army and traveled to the towers
of Troy in pursuit of his plundered wife.
Many souls have perished on the banks of the Scamander 
on my account and I, who have suffered all these things,
am cursed and I seem to have betrayed my husband
55 and engaged the Greeks in a great war.
1.5.6 Homer Odyssey 4.219–232 (8th c. BCE; Greek)
220 just then, she cast a drug into the wine they were drinking,
a drug to banish sorrow and pain, making one forgetful of all evils.
Whoever consumed it, once it was mixed into the wine bowl,
would not that day let fall upon his cheek a tear, not even if
his mother and father should die, not even if in front of him
225 someone should kill his brother or dear son
with a sword and he should see it with his own eyes.
The daughter of Zeus had such good and clever
drugs, given to her by Polydama, wife of Thon and
a woman from Egypt, where the fertile and life-giving
230 earth produces the most drugs, which when mixed, many are
good and many harmful; where each man is a physician,
wise among men. For they come from the stock of Paieon. 
1.5.7 Homer Odyssey 4.351–397; 435–480 (8th c. BCE; Greek)
since I did not perform perfect sacrifices for them
and the gods always want their demands to be remembered.
There is a certain island in the rough waters of the sea
355 off the coast of Egypt—they call it Pharos—
as far out as a hollow ship sails in a full day
with a stiff breeze at its back. It has a safe harbor
from which well-balanced ships are launched
out to sea, once they have take on a supply of fresh water.
360 There the gods kept me for twenty days without
the seaward-blowing winds that escort ships on
the broad back of the deep. All of my supplies would have
been exhausted, as would the strength of my men,
if some god had not pitied and saved me: Eidothea,
365 daughter of mighty Proteus, the old man of the sea,
for I had especially moved her heart. She encountered me
wandering alone, apart from my companions, for they
were always wandering the island and fishing with
curved hooks, distressed as they were from hunger.
370 Standing near me, she spoke as follows: “Are you naïve,
stranger, or so excessively thoughtless or willfully
neglectful? Do you enjoy suffering grief? You have been
detained for a long time on this island, unable to find a remedy,
and your companions’ hearts grow weak.” So she spoke, and I,
375 answering her, said, “I will tell you, whoever
of the goddesses you are, that I am by no means
willingly detained, but doubtless I have offended
the immortal ones who rule the wide heavens.
But tell me—for gods know all—
380 who of the immortals shackles me and keeps me
from my voyage? And tell me of my return: how will I traverse
the sea laden with fish?” So I spoke, and the heavenly goddess
again answered, “And so I will tell you, stranger, very precisely.
The infallible old man of the sea frequents this place,
385 the immortal Egyptian Proteus, Poseidon’s servant,
who knows the depth of every Ocean. They say
that he it is he who fathered me. If somehow,
by lying in wait, you could catch him, he would tell you
the route and length of your journey; he will describe your homecoming
390 and how you should traverse the sea laden with fish.
He will tell you also, Zeus-born, if you wish,
the things—good and bad—that have come to pass
in your halls, while you were on this long and painful journey.”
So she spoke, but I, in answer, addressed her,
395 “You show me how to lie in wait for the divine old man,
lest he somehow escape me because he saw or anticipated me.
For it is difficult for a mortal man to tame a god.”
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Eidothea explains to Menelaus how to subdue Proteus. The next morning, he and several of his men go to meet her.
of the sea, brought from the deep four sealskins,
all of which were freshly stripped off, a trick she devised
for her father.  She had made hollows in the sand at the water’s edge
and sat waiting as we came very close to her. She had us
440 lie down in a row and placed a skin over each of us.
Then our ambush became most horrible, for the putrid
stench of the sea-born seals oppressed us terribly:
who would sleep next to a monster of the sea?
But she saved us and contrived a great advantage for us:
445 bringing sweet-smelling ambrosia, she placed it
under everyone’s nose, killing the beast’s odor.
We waited all morning with enduring hearts and
the seals came all together from the sea. Then,
they lay down to sleep in rows at the water’s edge;
450 at midday, the old man came from the sea and found
the well fed seals. He approached and counted them
all. He counted us first among his herd and did not
perceive in his heart that there was a trick. Next, he lay down
himself. With a battle cry, we charged him and threw
455 our arms around him. The old man was not forgetful
of his treacherous skill, but first became a lion with flowing mane,
followed by a snake, a leopard, and a great wild pig;
he became fluid water and a tree with high foliage.
For our part, we held on relentlessly, with courage in our hearts.
460 But when the old man versed in deadly arts was in distress,
he addressed me and inquired, “Son of Atreus,
who contrived these plans so that you might
ambush me and take me against my will? What do you need?”
So he spoke and I, in turn, addressed him:
465 “You know, old man. Why do you ask me these things
and cause me to stray from my purpose? I have been detained
for a long time on this island, unable to see an endpoint,
and the heart within me grows weak. Tell me—for the gods
know all—who of the immortals shackles me and hinders my journey and
470 my homecoming and how may I traverse the fish-laden sea?”
So I spoke and he again addressed me in answer,
“But surely you made the necessary auspicious sacrifices to Zeus
and the other gods when you embarked, so that you might return
most quickly to your homeland as you sail the wine-dark sea.
475 For you are not fated to see your loved ones and reach your
well built house and your homeland before you have gone again
to the water of Egypt’s river swollen with rain and
performed sacred hecatombs to the immortal gods,
who possess the broad heavens. Only then will
480 the gods grant you the path you so eagerly desire.”