The Ancient Greeks who SUPPORTED the…FLAT EARTH – You’ll be shocked…

The Ancient Greeks who SUPPORTED the…FLAT EARTH – You’ll be shocked…

This is research paper for a classics course written on the  flat earth amongst the ancient Greeks (and Norse)….

Dedicated to all those who just cursorily go over the flat earth “theory” thinking that “all” the Ancient Greek philosophers, historian, etc. who pro “spherical” earth. NOTHING COULD BE FATHER THAT THE TRUTH. It wasn’t just one or two but MANY figures from ancient Greece that said that the earth is…FLAT

As for Mr. Pythagorus, his MYTH concerning a “ball” earth is shattered here in the following video…

Ancient Greeks

Detailing the belief of flat earth among the ancient Greeks.

Intro (Hesiod and Homer)

The two earliest Greek poets , Hesiod and Homer, both were flat earth believers, and their cosmology models both were based on a flat disc, surrounded by a world encompassing ocean called ‘‘Oceanus’’. This is expressed no more clearly then by Hesiod himself, in a passage of his lesser known ascribed work The Shield of Heracles, 314-316:

”And round the rim Ocean was flowing, with a full stream as it seemed, and enclosed all the cunning work of the shield. Over it swans were soaring and calling loudly, and many others were swimming upon the surface of the water; and near them were shoals of fish.”

Hesiod thus believed the earth was like a flat shield, with an ocean fully surrounding the shield’s rim. In his Theogony (700BC), a detailed flat earth cosmography is also present; starting with the creation account from verses 116-138:

”Verily at the first Chaos came to be, but next wide-bosomed Earth, the ever-sure foundations of all the deathless ones who hold the peaks of snowy Olympus, and dim Tartarus in the depth of the wide-pathed Earth, and Eros (Love), fairest among the deathless gods, who unnerves the limbs and overcomes the mind and wise counsels of all gods and all men within them. From Chaos came forth Erebus and black Night; but of Night were born Aether and Day, whom she conceived and bare from union in love with Erebus. And Earth first bare starry Heaven, equal to herself, to cover her on every side, and to be an ever-sure abiding-place for the blessed gods. And she brought forth long Hills, graceful haunts of the goddess-Nymphs who dwell amongst the glens of the hills. She bare also the fruitless deep with his raging swell, Pontus, without sweet union of love. But afterwards she lay with Heaven and bare deep-swirling Oceanus…”

Hesiod in this passage from the Theogony described the earth (Gaia) as eurusternos meaning ‘‘wide-bosomed’’ or ‘‘broad-breasted’’, and the etymology of this word derives from sternon meaning simply chest or breastbone. A chest or breastbone is of course considerably flat, Hesiod in this passages also noted that Heaven was the ‘‘equal’’ to earth, and this only makes sense on a flat earth model, since if the earth was flat it would be diametric to the above Heaven, therefore it’s ‘‘equal’’.  Like Hesiod, Homer in his works the Odyssey and Iliad (800BC) also wrote that the earth was the shape of a flat shield or disc. In one verse of the Iliad, Achilles’ flat shield is described as having the river Oceanus around its rim, XVIII. 606 :

‘’Therein he set also the great might of the river Oceanus, around the uttermost rim of the strong-wrought shield.’’

It is therefore simply evident that both Hesiod and Homer, the two earliest poets of Greece believed in a flat earth cosmography, specifically that of a disc or circular shield shape, with a world encircling Ocean called ‘‘Oceanus’’. We also find references to this in Strabo (Geo, 1. 1. 3: 7), Aeschylus (Prometheus Bound, 157) and Plato (Phaedo, 112e).

Quintus Smyrnaeus’ infamous Posthomerica also contains flat earth based Oceanus quotes, and also verifies that Homer was indeed a flat earth believer. Since the Posthomerica was an attempted continuation of Homeric literature, Quintus Smyrnaeus borrowed scenes from the Iliad, and in Posthomerica (V. 14) it is repeated that Achilles had a flat earth cosmography printed on his shield :

‘‘Here [on the shield of Achilles] Tethys’ all-embracing arms were wrought, and Okeanos fathomless flow. The outrushing flood of Rivers crying to the echoing hills all round, to right, to left, rolled o’er the land.’’


The earliest Greek philosopher, Thales (624-546BC) was a flat earth believer (Aristotle, De Caelo, II. 13. 3; 294a 28). Thales founded the Milesian school of thought in the early 6th century BC, and Anaximander who as noted created the first world map was his student. The Milesians were material monists who believed all of the world’s objects were composed of the same substance. Thales believed this primal substance was water, and that the earth was a flat landmass that floated on it. Anaximines, another Milesian believed the primal substance was air, and that the earth was therefore flat, so it could float. He is reported by a later classical source to have said that the earth was the shape of flat leaf, resting on a cylinder.( Pseudo-Plutarch, Epitome, II. 14. 3 quoting Aetius). Hippolytus in the early 3rd century AD wrote that Anaximines believed the following (Refutation, I. 7. 4):

”The earth is flat, being borne upon air, and similarly the sun, moon and the other heavenly bodies, which are all fiery, ride upon the air through their flatness.”

Another early pre-Socratic group of philosophers were the Atomists. Like the Milesians, the Atomists were also materialists and all were flat earth believers, including most notably the founder Leucippus and his student Democritus. According to the ancient Greek biographer Diogenes Laertius, Leucippus believed the earth was shaped like a drum, flat in the centre and only elevated at the surrounding rim (Lives of the Eminent Philosophers, IX. 2) and Aristotle noted that Democritus was a flat earth believer (De Caelo, II. 13. 3 ff).

Other pre-Socratic philosophers, who believed a flat earth model, included: Xenophanes (Doxographists, Epiph. adv. Haer. iii. 9) notes that Xenophanes believed the earth did not move or rotate and was a stationary flat, though infinite object),Heraclitus and Anaxagoras (De Caelo, II. 13. 3 ff).

Many philosophers after Socrates (469-399BC) maintained belief in flat earth. Socrates himself may also have been a flat earth believer, though scholars still dispute his belief on the shape of the earth from Plato’s dialogue Phaedo (97e; 108e; 11d). Plato (427-347BC) may also have believed the earth was flat, though this is also disputed by scholars (Critias 113b; 121c; Republic, 427c, Timaeus 33b; Axiochus, 371b are also all disputed passages). Most modern scholars now actually believe Plato was a spherical earth believer.

Parmenides, Pythagoras and Empedocles all believed the earth was spherical and non-flat.

Aristotle (writing around 330BC) continued this anti-flat earthism and was a firm believer in a spherical earth (De Caelo, II. 14 ff).

Sun and Stars

Homer wrote that the Sun moved around the earth and ‘‘bathed’’ or ‘‘sank’’ in Oceanus (Iliad, VIII. 485; XVIII. 239) after having risen and reached mid-Heaven (Odyssey, IV. 400). This is a clear reference what is known today as sunset, the disappearance of the sun below the horizon. However this scientific observance has nothing to do with refuting a non-flat earth model, as will be explained later. The ancient Greeks simply believed that the sun was small sized, which could fit inside, or ‘‘sink’’ into Oceanus; and this fits perfectly with Homer’s flat disc cosmography. Stars were also believed to move around the earth, though they were generally believed to have done so at a higher level than the Sun. According to Homer, most Stars moved around the earth and ‘‘bathed in Oceanus’’ (Odyssey, V. 275; Iliad, XVIII. 485), though not Arctus (the North Star) because of its stationary position.

The Stars were therefore also believed to be small in size which sat in Heaven, as explained by Homer’s flat earth model (Iliad, VI. 108; XV. 371).


According to Homer and Hesiod, the Moon (Selene) like the Sun moved around the flat earth, and like the Sun was also considered small in size. Homer also wrote that the Moon ‘‘bathed’’ in Oceanus (Homeric Hymn XXXII to Selene). It was related in close proximity to the far north by Diodorus, ‘‘the moon appears but a little distance’’ (II. 47. 4-6).

A fragment from Sappho, also relates Selene, or the Moon to the flat earth (Frg. 34)

Vault of Heaven

Homer wrote that the Heavens, or sky (Ouranus) was the shape of a ‘‘vault’’ or ‘‘dome’’. Its appearance was metallic, and called chalceus or chalcus, meaning copperish, bronze or ‘‘brazen’’ (Iliad, V. 504; XVII. 424). The ancient Greek poet Theognis of Megara in the 6th century BC wrote (frg. I. 869 ff):

‘‘May the great wide bronze sky fall upon me from above.’’

Similar statements are also found in other ancient texts, which refer to the sky vault. (Statius, Thebaid, X. 827; Hyginus, Fabulae, 150).

The structure of a vault or dome is only compatible with a flat earth model.


The earliest ancient Greek geographers were most certainly flat earth believers. Homer was considered to be the earliest source of geography and believed the earth was flat. The second earliest geographer Scylax of Caryanda (6th century BC) who sailed to India was also most definitely a flat earth believer. His voyage was preserved by Herodotus (IV. 44). Of surviving ancient Greek Periplus, only one is known to have been flat earth based (Massaliote Periplus).

Two of the most prominent ancient geographers – Diodorus Siculus and Strabo were believers in a spherical earth and ridiculed flat earth beliefs (Geographica, I. 1. 20; Bibliotheca Historica, III. 60 ff). By the time of Pliny the Elder (77AD), there were certainly no ancient Greek or Roman flat earth geographers left, and Pliny himself recorded exactly this. (N. H, II. 64).


The earliest Greek historian was Herodotus, the ‘father of history’ (450BC). Other authors (Dionysius of Halicarnassus, On Thucydides, V) however referenced a small list of logographers who predated Herodotus, and so the earliest chroniclers were considered to be Hecataeus of Miletus and Hellanicus of Lesbos. Of these, Hecataeus was the oldest, having been born in 550BC. Hecataeus was a flat earth believer, and even produced a very early map of the classic Homeric model (with Oceanus surrounding the earth). Fragments from Hellanicus’ writings also seem to prove he was a flat earth believer (Oxyrhynchus Papyri 11, 1359).  However as for Herodotus, it is known he was skeptical of the idea of Homer’s flat earth model. Writing on Oceanus he mocked the belief in a world-encircling ocean (Histories, II. 21; IV. 8; IV. 36).

Old Norse

Detailing the flat earth belief among the Old Norse.

Intro (Modern scholarly opinion)

The belief that the Old Norse and Germanic pagan tribes believed in a flat earth cosmology has been the most prevalent view since the 19th century amongst historians and scholars. As the Norwegian historian James Rudolf Keyser summarized in 1854:

‘‘The earth as the Norse imagined was a lying flat disc.’’


The Norse believed that the earth was surrounded by a stream of impassable water on a flat disc. In this stream lived a huge snake or serpent called Jormungandr. One of the earliest literary references comes from Bragi Boddason (the skaldic poet) who lived in the 9th century, in his Ragnarsdrápa (XIV) he wrote:

‘‘…the son of Aldaföðr wanted to try his strength against the sea-lashed snake of the earth.’’

Jormungandr was so large in size he was able to surround the earth and grasp his own tale, earning himself the name ‘‘Midgard Serpent’’. The name Midgard itself was a name applied to the home of ordinary men on earth. In the creation account preserved in Gylfaginning (VIII) it is stated that during the creation of the earth, an impassable sea was placed around the earth like a ring:

And Jafnhárr said: “Of the blood, which ran and welled forth freely out of his wounds, they made the sea, when they had formed and made firm the earth together, and laid the sea in a ring round. about her; and it may well seem a hard thing to most men to cross over it.

This is also found briefly noted in Snorri’s Ynglinga Saga (I):

It is said that the earth’s circle which the human race inhabits is torn across into many bights, so that great seas run into the land from the out-ocean.

Sun, Moon and Stars

It is clear the Norse had a flat earth geocentric cosmology, therefore not much need to be wasted on their belief regarding celestial objects. As Jacob Grimm summarized on the Norse belief in stars, moon and the sun (Deutsche Mythologie, XXII):

All the heavenly bodies have particular spots, seats, chairs assigned them, which they make their abode and resting-place; they have their lodges and stages.
Yggdrasil and Irminsul

The Norse Axis Mundi is found as a tree called Yggdrasil. The Prose Edda states it stood in the centre of the earth. Its Germanic counterpart was Irminsul. According to the German monk Rudolf of Fulda in 860AD (De Miraculis Sancti Alexandri, III):

”They also worship a tree of great size, it stands under the open sky, in their language they call it
Irminsul, which in Latin is a world pillar since it is holding up everything.”

The 11th century German chronicler Adam of Bremen also noted:

”They worshiped, too, a stock of wood, of no small size, set up in the open. In native language, it was called Irminsul, which in Latin means ‘universal column,’ as it sustained everything.”

From these old sources it is clear Irminsul was the Germanic Axis Mundi; it was a venerated ‘‘world-pillar’’ or ‘‘world-column’’ which was believed to hold up the Heavens of the flat world.