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The World As Known In Greek Classical Times

Rare mid 19th Century world map illustrating the geographic understanding of the ancient Greeks, specifically highlighting the world according to Hesiod, Homer, and Orpheus.

The main map is a circular hemispherical projection centered on the Mediterranean, encapsulating regions known and mythologized by the ancient Greeks. It is color-coded, with the area believed to be Europe marked in a pink hue, Asia in a lighter shade, and Libya (Africa) in a pale blue, reflecting the three-partite division of the world in classical geography.

In addition to real geographic locations, the map includes mythical places such as the "Garden of the Hesperides," "Cimmerians," and the "Hyperboreans." It also marks the supposed routes of the Argonauts in their quest for the Golden Fleece and the extensive wanderings of Odysseus as narrated in Homer's Odyssey.

In the lower corners of the map are two inset maps. The one on the left illustrates the "System of Democritus," showing a pre-Socratic conception of the world, with a landmass that merges Europe and Asia and a large southern continent labeled 'Libya.' On the right is the "System of Scylla and Charybdis," detailing the narrow straits between Sicily and mainland Italy, which were notorious hazards for ancient mariners and were mythologized in the Odyssey.

Overall, the map serves as an educational tool, merging the geographical knowledge of ancient civilizations with the mythical narratives that have shaped much of Western literature and culture. It is both a cartographic creation and a window into the mindset and worldview of the ancients as interpreted by the scholars of the late 19th century.

Conrad Malte-Brun Biography

Conrad Malte-Brun (born Malthe Conrad Bruun) was a notable Dano-French geographer and journalist, best known for coining the terms "Oceania" and "Indo-China." His contributions to geography and his political activism left a lasting impact on both fields. 

Born in Thisted, Denmark, to an administrator of Danish crown lands, Malte-Brun was initially destined for a career as a pastor. However, he chose to attend the University of Copenhagen, where he became a fervent supporter of the French Revolution and an advocate for freedom of the press. His activism and outspoken criticism of the Danish government, particularly through his pamphlet "Catechism of the Aristocrats" (1795), led to his indictment under the harsh censorship laws instituted by Crown Prince Frederick in September 1799. Facing inevitable exile, Malte-Brun fled Denmark, eventually settling in France in 1799. 

In France, Malte-Brun embarked on a prolific career in geography. Collaborating with Edme Mentelle, a professor at the École Normale, he co-authored Géographie mathématique, physique et politique de toutes les parties du monde (6 vols., 1803-1812). His contributions to geography were vast, including his promotion of the term "Manchuria" in an 1804 map of China.

Despite his initial opposition to the consular government, Malte-Brun later became a zealous imperialist under Napoleon and an ardent monarchist after Napoleon's fall. He published Traité de la légitimité considérée comme base du droit public de l'Europe chrétienne (1824), reflecting his political evolution. 

Malte-Brun devoted much of his career to geographical studies. He founded Les Annales des Voyages (1807) and Les Annales des Voyages, de la Géographie et de l'Histoire (1819), journals that promoted empirical research in geography. He gained prominence with his treatise Tableau de la Pologne (1807) and served as the first general secretary of the Société de Géographie from 1822 to 1824.

His suggestion to import camels into Australia marked a unique contribution to the continent's agricultural practices. Malte-Brun also made significant contributions to Albanology, mentioning an original Albanian alphabet in his Universal Geography (1826), which spurred further research by scholars like Johann Georg von Hahn and Leopold Geitler. 

Conrad Malte-Brun died in Paris in 1826 while drafting the final version of his magnum opus, Précis de Géographie Universelle ou Description de toutes les parties du monde. The work was completed posthumously, with the last two volumes authored by Huot. Malte-Brun's legacy endures, with streets named after him in both Paris and his birthplace, Thisted. His second son, Victor Adolphe Malte-Brun, continued his father's work in geography, ensuring that the Malte-Brun name remained influential in the field.