Typvs Vniversalis

Sebastian Münster 1489-1552

Claudius Ptolemaeus (Ptolemy), greatest of all geographers and cartographers of classical antiquity, lived in Alexandria, Egypt during the second half of the second century AD. Successive editions of Ptolemy’s Atlas, Geographia, continued to be produced in many editions in the fifteenth, sixteenth, and early seventeenth centuries as the basis of development in western cartography.
This world map, from a 1540/42 edition of Ptolemy’s Geographia, shows the full twelve winds designated by Aristotle. The twelve-wind system remained throughout the Middle Ages as the one most commonly used. In keeping with the mythologic origin of winds for direction finding, they are of necessity placed beyond the confines of the known world–beyond the earth itself, in an outer, celestial sphere.

King Aeolus, lord of wind and cloud, ruler of contending winds and moaning gales, controlled their fury lest they flay the sea into a great uproar. So great was his power, that Agamemnon, leader of the Greek expedition to destroy Troy, sacrificed his daughter Iphigeneia to secure a favorable wind for his voyage across the sea.
Winds, and the place from which they blew, were the earliest means of dividing the horizon into named parts in order to express direction. The ancients used various forms of wind systems: Homer described four winds, consisting of the four cardinal points we now call north, south, east, and west; Pliny and Posidonius recognized eight winds, whereas Aristotle enumerated twelve.



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