Non Plus Ultra

When Greek explorers journeyed across the Mediterranean, far into the West, they came upon the strait of Gibraltar, and explorer outward they recorded that what was left was an endless expanse of sea. According to legend, Hercules erected two pillars, and in the legends of Latin interpretation they supposedly bore the words “Non Plus Ultra”. Nothing further remains.

The ancient Greeks, however, hypothesized otherwise, and they marked that there was a little more of something, that Atlantis lay beyond the breach. They even named the mountains to the South after this legend, calling them the Atlas mountains, as beyond the sea and the mountains and the lost city of Atlantis, there supposed lay Atlas holding up the world.

And so explorers did not heed this warning, and far before the Kings of Spain and Portugal set their fleets into the great beyond, the Romans and the Arabs and the Phoenicians did and the Berbers did, and bit by bit they proved the warnings wrong. The Canaries were found by the Romans and settled by the Berbers. Madeira too was discovered by Romans taking no heed of their legendary warnings, and before the Portuguese explored the great empty ocean, the Andalusians had voyaged far enough out to discover the Azores. Even Cape Verde, which is closer to Lagos, Nigeria, than the ancient Greek colony of Empuries which is today Barcelona, was said to have been discovered by the ancient navigators.

I think now to those who look at the stars and the skies, the empty nights, and who speak of fatalism and how we will never reach our limits. We will never take ourselves to the skies. I think of them and what they must say. They look too and place their own pillars, which to them must resemble the bars of a prison, and in whatever tongue they speak utter “non plus ultra”.

It is up to you to erect your own pillars, either by the dozen in front of you, or the earth beneath you. It is up to you to erect the warning “non plus ultra”. It is up to you to decide your fate.

Plus Ultra.


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