Synesius from Alexandria to Cyrene: sea, storms, and ships in the eyes of a man of late antiquity
In the first years of the fifth century AD a Greek gentleman in his early 30s embarked from the harbour of the great city of Alexandria on a sailing ship bound for his native Cyrene. It is a voyage of about 780 km, approximately the distance from Venice to the mouth of the Adriatic, or a little longer than from Hamburg to London. We are not sure about the season or the year; we only know that the voyage took place towards the end of a month; that is, a Greek lunar month, an ill-omened time for sailing, according to the belief of the Ancients. The traveller was Synesius, who belonged to a distinguished Cyrenian family, and was returning from a diplomatic mission in Constantinople, at the court of an Empire that would survive and bear the name for more than 1000 years. However, the empire of the Rome would find its real end in little more than 70 years.
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