Stories of the far north go back in time to a mythical past (or maybe not so "mythical"). The Greeks tell of a people called the Hyperboreans who live "beyond the north wind". Boreas was god of the north wind, and the Hyperboreans lived beyond his rule. Pindar writes of them: "With shining laurel wreaths about their locks (of hair), they hold feasts out of sheer joy. Illnesses cannot touch them, nor is death foreordained for this exalted race."

As Strabo says "Pytheas talks about a land, Thule, where bees were kept and honey was produced. He described nights that were only two or three hours long in the summer. Where neither earth, water, nor air exist separately, but a sort of concretion of all these, resembling a sea-lung in which the earth, the sea, and all things were suspended, thus forming, as it were, a link to unity the whole together."

map thule

This land was claimed to lie to the north of Kassiterides Islands (British Isles) and at a distance of time that it took to complete a six-day voyage. We do not know where this land was located, but he does say that the sun was above the horizon 24 hours a day during a short period of time in the summer. Thule must have been close to the Arctic Circle. Ultima Thule (Hyperborea) has thus become an expression for the far north but also for ...utopia... the perfect cosmos ... the passage through to perfect cosmos.

On maps, Thule usually appears north or northwest of England and Ireland or in the northernmost parts of Asia. It has been associated with early reports of Greenland, Iceland, Norway, or the Shetland Islands.

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