Thule or Tile is a legendary island in the North Europe, which was first written about by Ancient Greek Explorer Pytheas of Massalia during his travels between 330-20 BC. Later, a Roman citizen named Strabo wrote about Thule in his treatise named Geographica c. 30 AD.
Thule – is the great unknown. The land of fire and ice where the sun never sets. About six days north of Britain.
Children of wild Thule, we
From the deep caves of the sea,
As lark springs from the lea
Hither come, to share your glee.
‘Song for the Mermaids and Mermen’ Sir Walter Scott (1771 – 1832)
In the Middle Ages, philosophers and thinkers often conflated the mythical isle of Thule with other remote, cold and misty isles close to the Arctic Circle, such as the Shetland Islands, Orkney Faroe Islands, Iceland, Jutland, Scandinavia or Greenland.
The ancient and ‘lost’ isle of Thule shouldn’t be confused with the immediate ancestors of modern Greenlanders, who are known as the Thule Inuit culture of the 17th to 19th Century.
Dreamland by Edgar Alan Poe
By a route obscure and lonely,
Haunted by ill angels only,
Where an Eidolon, named Night,
On a black throne reigns upright.
I have reached these lands but newly
From an ultimate dim Thule –
From a wild weird clime, that lieth, sublime,
Out of Space – out of Time.
Ultima Thule (Thyle ultima) is an island of the Ocean in the northwestern region, beyond Britannia, taking its name from the sun, because there the sun makes its summer solstice, and there is no daylight beyond (ultra) this. Hence its sea is sluggish and frozen.Isidore of Seville, Etymologies c. 7th Century AD
Thule, the period of cosmography,
Doth vaunt of Hecla, whose sulphureous fire
Doth melt the frozen clime and thaw the sky;
Trinacrian Etna‘s flames ascend not higher
~ A madrigal by Thomas Weelkes, entitled Thule (1600)
The Voyage of St Brendan
St. Brendan of Ardfert circa 484-578, was an Irish monk who set sail with sixty men through the northern Atlantic’s sluggish and icy oceans towards the elusive and mysterious islands of Hy Brasil and Thule. According to the story, they sailed for five years and saw many wonders, even conducting a mass on the back of a whale (see above) and eventually reaching a beautiful island where they met a holy man. Brendan believed this to be his “Promised Land of the Saints.”
6 thoughts on “Ancient Word of the Day: Thule”
Love the idea of Thule Catnip. It always brings to mind Led Zeppelin’s ‘Immigrant Song’
We come from the land of the ice and snow
From the midnight sun, where the hot springs flow
The hammer of the gods
W’ell drive our ships to new lands
To fight the horde, and sing and cry
Valhalla, I am coming!
On we sweep with threshing oar
Our only goal will be the western shore
Oh yeah you are so right. I love that song too Kev, epic…the strings and these lyrics it is an amazing song! Thanks for reading. Yes if the mythical land of Thule had a soundtrack, this would be it!
Love learning these ancient words and history!
I am so glad you enjoy them! It is such a joy to put these posts together. I will keep making them. Hope you have a relaxing weekend 😊🌄
love learning these words as well…shared this with my friend today as well because i love this story. he brought up the Thule society of nazi germany, it sucks that they ruined this idea
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Thank you for reading 📚 Yes it’s a fascinating story of this word how it was reappropriated and misused by the Nazis is such a shame, yes I agree it sort of tarnishes a great idea.