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Travel from Europe and the Middle East - Ancient And Medieval Travel: Epic Heroes, Pilgrims, And Merchants, Renaissance Travel: Exploration And Empire

structure images activity motif

Travel, as a human activity, predates language. It should be no surprise, then, that some of the first ancient literary expressions from the European and African continents should use travel as a motif. Certainly the ancient Hebrew biblical narratives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses structure the lives of their subjects through travel. Greek and Roman epics—The Odyssey and The Aeneid—as well as the history of Thucydides, use travel as an important thematic element, connecting it with various aspects of conflict. Similarly, Herodotus (c. 484–c. 424 B.C.E.), in his historical, ethnographic, and geographic compendium, uses travel in part as his method of research. The Islamic tradition begins with epic travel—flight and return—continuing with pilgrimage, educational, and diplomatic travel. In the millennium and a half since, the motif of travel has attracted a number of images that structure our view of this basic human activity, images that appear in both fiction and nonfiction.

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