SINCE man first looked westward over the rolling waters he had thought of the Atlantic only as a boundary beyond which lay an abyss or an inferno. Greek scientists of Alexandria had proved that the world was round, but in fifteenth century Europe the world was conceived to be flat, surrounded by Ocean; Ocean was surrounded by an awful gulf.
The Portuguese found the Azores in Prince Henry's time;
they claim, too, that a Portuguese, Sanchez, sailed farther into the sunset and discovered an island, Antilia (" the land opposite "). Perhaps Sanchez's voyage was known to the Genoese weaver, Cristofero Colombo (Christopher Columbus), who first contemplated crossing the Atlantic. Columbus was a bad sailor, a bad commander, and a bad geographer. The Portuguese rejected his plan and so did Henry VII. of England, but he persuaded the Queen of Spain to give him ships. We do not know what he promised to find.
In 1492 he and a much abler seaman, Pinzon, found some small islands, including Hispaniola (Little Spain). Columbus announced that he had discovered the Indies and the shortest route to the cities and empires of Cathay and the ancient East. His " Indies " yielded neither spices nor gold, only naked Caribs who were exterminated by the Christians. Amerigo Vespucci may or may not have sailed with a fleet that reached Brazil in 1500; at any rate he wrote an account of it and his publisher called it Terra Amend-hence America. Columbus was imprisoned and died.