Greek Mythology >> Bestiary >> Legendary Tribes >> Gorgades


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Gorgad from the Nuremburg Chronicle (1493)
Gorgad from the Nuremburg Chronicle (1493)

THE GORGADES were a tribe inhabiting certain islands off the Atlantic coast of Africa whose womanfolk were entirely covered in hair.

The tribe perhaps derives from ancient traveller's accounts of some species of monkey or ape. They are perhaps the same as the Satyroi of the Satyrides Isles.


Pliny the Elder, Natural History 6. 200 (trans. Rackham) (Roman encyclopedia C1st A.D.) :
"Opposite this cape [the Atlantic coast of Africa] also there are reported to be some islands, the Gorgades [perhaps the Canary Islands], which were formerly the habitation of the Gorgones, and which according to the account of Xenophon of Lampsacus are at a distance of two days' sail from the mainland. These islands were reached by the Carthaginian general Hanno, who reported that the women had hair all over their bodies, but that the men were so swift of foot that they got away; and he deposited the skins of two of the female natives in the Temple of Juno [i.e. a Carthaginian goddess identified with Juno] as proof of the truth of his story and as curiosities, where they were on show until Carthage was taken by Rome
Outside the Gorgades there are also said to be two Islands of the Hesperides; and the whole of the geography in this neighbourhood is so uncertain that Statius Sevosus has given the voyage along the coast from the Gorgones' Islands past Mount Atlas to the Isles of the Hesperides as forty days' sail and from those islands to the Horn of the West as one day's sail."




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