Directions as Points of the Compass

The points of the compass, so familiar to us today, were unknown to the ancient Greeks. Of course, they had a sense of direction, but it was dictated by the natural phenomenon of their world. Using the sun and stars and natural landmarks they found their way around their world – to go North was to go towards the constellation of Ursa Major, the Bear; if you went South, you were going towards the sun at noon. East was of course Sunrise or Dawn, and West was Sunset or Evening.

In writing “ITCOF”, I have chosen to do the simpler thing and simply translate the directions into our North, South, East and West, but if you wish, you can translate them back in to the directions, Alexander would have known and used.

Arctos – ἄρκτος, “bear”, the Ursa Major, for North

Anatole – ἀνατολή, “sunrise” or eos “dawn” for East

Mesembria – μεσημβρία, “noon” for South

Dysis – δύσις, “sunset” or Hesperus, “evening”, for West

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