Ireland’s books: De situ orbis

‘Le Catioroc’, the first movement of Ireland’s Sarnia, carries lines from the De Situ Orbis of Pomponius Mela (d. c. AD45), the earliest Roman geographer:

‘All day long, heavy silence broods, and a certain hidden terror lurks there. But at nightfall gleams the light of fires; the chorus of Ægipans resounds on every side: the shrilling of flutes and the clash of cymbals re-echo the waste shores of the sea.’…

Also known by the title De Chorographia, in this work Mela divides the earth into five zones, describes them and includes a number of maps. A key point in his mapping of the world is his defining and naming of the Orkney Islands. His description is in the form of a voyage around Africa, Asia, and Europe. Mela integrates geographical description with historical, cultural, and mythological information. An English translation from the Latin was made as early as 1585, a version given to Ireland by Arthur Machen.

Eric Parkin’s performance of ‘Le Catioroc’ can be heard HERE.

 

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