Our poet [Homer] being very explicit, and possessing great experience, gives one cause to believe that he was not unfamiliar with these localities. Of this any one may be convinced who will examine carefully what has been written on these points, both the incorrect [comments], and likewise those which are better and more truthful. One amongst these incorrect ideas is, that he considered [Tartessis] to be the farthest country towards the west, where, as he himself expresses it,
Now, since it is evident that night is ominous, and near to Hades, and Hades to Tartarus, it seems probable that [Homer], having heard of Tartessus, took thence the name of Tartarus to distinguish the farthest of the places beneath the earth, also embellishing it with fable in virtue of the poetic licence. In the same way, knowing that the Cimmerians dwelt in northern and dismal territories near to the Bosphorus, he located them in the vicinity of Hades; perhaps also on account of the common hatred of the Ionians against this people. For they say that in the time of Homer, or a little before, the Cimmerians made an incursion as far as Æolia and Ionia. Always drawing his fables from certain real facts, his Planetæ2 are modelled on the Cyaneæ. He describes them as dangerous rocks, as they tell us the Cyaneæan rocks are, [and] on which account [in fact] they are called Symplegades.3 He adds to this [the account of] Jason's navigating through the midst of them. The Straits of the Pillars4 and Sicily,5 likewise, suggested to him the fable of the Planetæ. Thus, even according to the worst comments, from the fiction of Tartarus any one might gather that Homer was acquainted with the regions about Tartessus.
“ The radiant sun in ocean sank,”
Drawing night after him o'er all the earth.1Iliad viii. 485.