Tuna Wars pp 25-37 | Cite as

The Purple Folk’s Tuna

  • Steven Adolf


The ships hastened westwards through the thin Mediterranean morning mist, sailing with a following wind, the water foaming, waves breaking over their prows. The 50 oarsmen in the slender penteconter kept up the momentum: bearded men, dressed in simple cotton tunics, stirred up by the thud of the ship’s drum. In the hold it smelt of sweat and bitumen, the coal tar pitch with which they made their wooden ships watertight. With the Levante wind in the mainsail of this war and cargo ship, specially designed for long distances, they easily achieved a speed of nine knots (17 km per hour). Dolphins crossed their prow, playing with the big, fast ship they encountered en route. The sailors pressed on at night, navigating by the Pole Star which they discovered worked as a handy beacon in the Mediterranean sky. That meant gaining time on the way westwards, and time was money, especially if you wanted to be the first to land in Tartessus, the mysterious kingdom with its silver mines on the edge of the known world. There in the west, the Occident, was where the sun set between the Pillars of Hercules, and darkness started [52]. This was the land of Ereb, the Phoenician Princess Europa, mother of King Minos of Crete, abducted by Zeus in the guise of a white bull. In Europe’s waters lived the Leviathan or Thanin, the seamonster from the deep. And actually this giant tuna was one of the reasons that they were heading for the West (Fig. 3.1).


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven Adolf
    • 1
  1. 1.AmsterdamThe Netherlands

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