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And it is here, I suggest, that the old adage "there is no substitute for experience" becomes applicable.For example, after reading Pytheas' description of a phenomenon called "sea-lung" discussed by in the context of legendary Thule: There remains one further matter concerning Thule that was related by Pytheas: the curious phenomenon he called the 'sea lung'.(David Mountfield, A HISTORY OF POLAR EXPLORATION, Dial Press, New York 1974)Not a word of his original narrative of this epic voyage, On the Ocean, survives .But it seems to have contained a wealth of information about the relatively unknown lands of the north, which was quoted by later writers, albeit skeptically.
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A recent historian of the Arctic supports Nansen's view, seeing in Pytheas' sea lung a word picture, perhaps, of the gentle and rhythmical undulation of the ice rising and falling with the movement of the sea, linked possibly with some suggestion of the exhalations of the sea-mist which so often hangs, cold and dank, above the ice edge in the Arctic'.
After that it is a relief to turn back to the critical Polybius, whose reaction to Pytheas' word picture can be imagined. Still, we cannot tell whether Polybius quoted Pytheas with perfect accuracy in the first place, and while future attempts to account for the sea lung' will be enthusiastically welcomed by students of the curious it probably must remain, like other details of Pytheas' voyage, an insoluble puzzle.
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