Cassiope Prototype

This is the current version of the visualization platform, using data representing all travel narratives that mention Cassiope. A similar version of the platform was presented at the Kenyon College Celebration of High Impact Practices on March 31, 2016.

Open this visualization in full screen.


About the Cassiope Visualization

This prototype visualizes every classical travel narrative that mentions Cassiope, a port on the island of Corcyra (modern Corfu). Each travel narrative is represented as a series of points and journey segments representing the travel between those two points. The prototype allows users to read entire narratives by clicking on the points and journey segments as well as to compare narratives to one another. When more than one narrative refers to the same place, zoom in to see all the individual points. Users are also able to filter the data in several ways using the menu buttons.

For the purposes of the project we define a travel narrative as a textual passage that describes or implies a journey between at least two discrete points. A travel narrative may comprise an entire text, a section of a text, or may stretch over several shorter texts. For the prototype we only consider travel between communities rather than intra-community travel. In the case of Cassiope, we found eight travel narratives that mention the port. These narratives describe travel through fifty-seven total places as far west as Rome and as far east as Corinth. In the case of Cicero and Galen, however, the travel narratives we visualized are in fact one section of larger journeys between Rome and Asia Minor.



The visualization reflects Cassiope’s links to the travel networks connecting Italy and Greece, a role which is also attested in the archaeological record (see Zernioti 2007). The frequency with which certain points are mentioned is also notable. Naturally, Cassiope appears most often. Further, as might to be expected, since Cassiope is on the route between Italy and the eastern Mediterranean, the second most frequently mentioned place is Brundisium. The third most commonly mentioned place, Rome, is less expected, given it is not proximate to Cassiope. All of the narratives, whether in Latin or Greek, were written in a Roman context between 50 BCE and the 6th century CE, which may explain the frequent references to Rome. In one sense, the visualization reinforces the the notion that all roads lead to Rome.

If we set aside the two latest sources, the Itinerarium Maritimum and Justinian, some other patterns emerge. In three of the remaining six narratives (Cicero, Gellius, and Epictetus) bad weather is involved. In two others (Suetonius and Galen) the travel to Cassiope is linked with hurrying: Galen is rushing to get out of Italy; Nero, in the thrall of philhellenism, is rushing to get to the Greek world; Cassiope provides the earliest opportunity to visit a Greek polis on his trip. Only Strabo, who describes not a specific journey, but rather reports more general information of the sort that might be found in itineraria, mentions neither bad weather nor a hurried traveler (the Itinerarium Maritimum and Justinian passages likewise describe general rather than specific travel).


Work Cited

Zernioti, D. 2007. ‘A Burial Complex in the Roman City of Cassiope in North East Corfu—Some Remarks,’ in A. Faber et al. (eds.), Körpergräber des 1.— 3. Jahrhunderts in der römischen Welt. Frankfurt: 121-9.

MAT Presentation at Mapping the Past Conference

In April 2016, Micah Myers gave a talk on Mapping Ancient Texts and the Cassiope visualization prototype at the conference Mapping the Past: GIS Approaches to Ancient History hosted by the Ancient World Mapping Center at the University of North Carolina.

All of the talks from the conference are available on YouTube. Number six on the playlist is Myers’ Mapping Ancient Texts presentation.