- "all roads lead there", as it is commonly said.
Fewer have listened to the antique Roman saying in full –
“If you do not know where you are going,
all roads lead there”.
A useful proverb for those lost on journeys, and especially at clefts in the road, since it could be read two ways, both as a joke upon the human condition and the absurd notion that anybody really knows where they are going in life, and also as a argument for contentment and staying put, and a gentle warning against having fixed views about destinations.
Directions to Rome: EXEMPLUM 1.
The early map drawn by Piero le Rouge and published in 1488 has a typical medieval european design with Jerusalem (rather than Rome) being placed at the centre of a circular world. So for pilgrims setting off from a misty isle shaped like a narrow wedge far to the north, the general direction of travel for Rome would be south, east then being more towards Jerusalem, along the path to paradise towards the City of God, west being towards the Mahgreb, the very edge of the world, and further south towards all wickedness and iniquity of Africa. The 1511 world map by Bernades Sylvanus a few years later expanded the world sideways, stretching it both east and west, the centre sagging downwards like a pizza dough, thereby significantly changing both the compass directions and most direct routes of travel from England towards Rome, and the centre.
The great Albrecht Durer woodblock maps printed in 1515 restored a circular world, but Jerusalem was no longer to be found at the centre. Durer’s map had added a vastness of land and water both to the east and to the south, and the centre of the world has shifted and was now to be found in the sea to the south of Arabia on a passage to India.
Durer’s map was also surrounded by the faces of the twelve winds all blowing their hardest [Homer wrote of four winds - Boreas, Eurus, Notus and Zephyrus - Pliny in his Natural History of two wind systems, one of four and one of twelve. The common names for the twelve winds, which Durer also used on his map were as follows (beginning in the North): Septentrio, Aquilo, Caecias, Subsolanus, Vulturnus, Euronotus, Auster, Libonutus, Africus, Favonius, Corus, and Thrascias]. The twelve winds with their puffing cheeks told of the high risks of making journeys, and the extreme uncertainties of both direction and destination for any pilgrim setting off from London towards Rome, Jerusalem, or a trackless oceanic centre.