The Eurythmics sing that they have traveled the Seven Seas. They say “traveled,” not sailed, but in any case, I’m not sure I’m clear what they’re talking about.
Aren’t there way more than seven seas? I mean, the Mediterranean Sea, itself a sea, hosts the Ligurian, Tyrrhenian, Adriatic, Aegean, Ionian, and Belearic seas, along with the Sea of Crete. I’m up to seven and haven’t even counted the connected seas, which are the Sea of Marmara, the Black Sea, and the Sea of Azov. In fact, at least 100 seas can be found on various maps of the world, so we could go on all day. But let’s not.
So where are The Seven Seas? Sinbad, a character whose legends may have originated in ancient Persia or Arabia, is said to have made seven voyages, and the medieval Arabs named seven seas: the “Sea of Fars” (Persian Gulf), the “Sea of Larwi” (Gulf of Khambhat in India), the “Sea of Harkand” (The Bay of Bengal), the “Sea of Kalah” (Strait of Malacca), the “Sea of Salahit” (The Singapore Strait), the “Sea of Kardanj” (The Gulf of Thailand), and the “Sea of Sanji” (South China Sea).
But hold on. The Greeks and Romans and French and Dutch would never have just accepted the Arabian view and left out their own home waters. Everyone had to have their say, and in European medieval literature, the Seven are tough to pin down. In some lists, the Seven Seas were the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the Black Sea, the Adriatic Sea, the Caspian Sea, the Persian Gulf, and the Arabian Sea. But other lists included the Aegean Sea, the North Sea, and the Indian Ocean.
Later, at the height of the tea trade in the 19th century, “sailing the Seven Seas” meant sailing the Banda Sea, the Celebes Sea, the Flores Sea, the Java Sea, the South China Sea, the Sulu Sea, and the Timor Sea—in other words, the seas of Asia that defined the Clipper route to the East. And nowadays, some people think the seven oceans, consisting of the North Atlantic, South Atlantic, North Pacific, South Pacific, Indian, Southern, and Arctic Oceans, make up the Seven Seas. I don’t like it. It lacks the romance of olden times.
The heck with it. I’m fine with the Eurythmics claiming credit for their travel to the Seven Seas. Who could prove them wrong?
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