Sunday, December 13, 2009

December 13: To the South Seas with the Gallant Drake (Vol. 33, pp. 199-208)

Sir Francis Drake departed for the South Seas on this day in 1577, so we get more heroic narrative from the so-called Golden Age of Exploration. Of course, the heroic part depends on who's telling the story. Since Sir Francis is telling the tale, he comes off much better.

While Drake was the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe and was acclaimed as the greatest seafarer of his age, any of these accounts viewed through modern eyes have to fully account for the realization that one man's "discovery" is another man's genocide in the making.

Of course, when the Harvard Classics were assembled, no one cared about the fate of the indigenous peoples who were "discovered." Historians have since corrected that oversight.

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