World

Mediterranean. Mare Nostrum

From Spain to Lebanon, a sea of history and legend

‘We are all Mediterraneans,’ wrote a Turkish poet who was among the protagonists of the Gezi Park protests. Yes, we all belong to the same culture born on the shores of the Mediterranean. From the Phoenicians from Lebanon who founded colonies all along the coasts of North Africa, Sicily and Spain all the way to the Pillars of Hercules, to the Homeric legend par excellence – Ulysses, whose odyssey took in the entire Mediterranean, most probably drawing inspiration from the new trade routes opened up by the Greeks with its many fantastical exaggerated descriptions of exotic locations so typical of sailors and traders.

The Phoenicians are believed to have melted silicon sand and natron to create glass, which was to become so important for the Venetians, who made it into beads that were used as a currency for trade all over the world, sending their galleons out from the Adriatic towards the Orient. Europa, the beautiful daughter of the Titan Tethys, kidnapped by Zeus in the form of a white bull and transported to the island of Crete, is also the daughter of this sea and those people who came from the East.

Mare Nostrum’ is what it was called by the Romans, whose empire embraced the Mediterranean in its entirety. For a period of time the same name was used for an Italian navy mission to save those modern-day followers of Ulysses, before government hypocrisy abandoned them once more to the waves of this sea so rich in history and legend. An incomparable treasure chest of fears, but also exoticism and hope.