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Unexplained Aerial Objects From Antiquity To Modern Times – 05 The voyage of Timoleon from Corinth to Sicily was guided by one or more blazing lights

Identifier

028749

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A description of the experience

Wonders In The Sky - Unexplained Aerial Objects From Antiquity To Modern Times - and Their Impact on Human Culture, History, and Beliefs - Jacques Vallee and Chris Aubeck

Circa 343 BC, Near Sicily, Italy: a blazing light

In Diodorus Siculus' first century text Historical Library, (book 16, 24-5) we read that the voyage of Timoleon from Corinth to Sicily was guided by one or more blazing lights referred to as lampas : "Heaven came to the support of his venture and foretold his coming fame and the glory of his achievements, for all through the night he was preceded by a torch blazing in the sky up to the moment when the squadron made harbor in Italy."

Note: This might have been a comet, but it has never been matched with any known cometary object, according to Gary Kronk's Cometography.

P. J. Bicknell, writing in The Classical Quarterly ("The Date of Timoleon's Crossing to Italy and the Comet of 361 BC" in New Series, Vol. 34, No. 1, 1984, 130-134) argues that "a cometary hypothesis is barely compatible with the implication of Diodorus' account that the lampas were visible in the east at nightfall and therefore in opposition to the sun... All in all it is difficult to resist the conclusion that Diodorus (or his source) elaborated on the lampas for dramatic effect..."

Bicknell leans towards the interpretation of the objects as a spectacular meteor shower, possibly the Lyrids, which would put the date of his voyage at 21 March 344 BC. However this does not account for a phenomenon seen "all through the night" in a fixed direction.

Source: Gary Kronk. Cometography-A Catalog of Comets, Volume I Ancient- 17 99 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 511.

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