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Answering Another Question

“Yes, Lisa. I see you have another question.”

“You say the Mediterranean ports were open from only March through November —”

“Well, Vegetius said the best time for sailing was from May 27th through September 14th, but the Romans observed a more extensive season anyway".

“I don’t understand. Who was Veggie?"

“Vegetius. Flavius Vegetius Renatus. He was a Roman nobleman and military expert who lived after Miriam’s time, during the Late Roman Empire, in the fourth century CE. But even before him, sailing was viewed as too dangerous during the winter season.”

“But why? They didn’t have to worry about the sea freezing, did they?”

“Two reasons, Lisa: seasonal winds and storms. In The Deadliest Sport, Miriam’s brother explains that ships heading north from Alexandria would be sailing into the teeth of the Etesians. Only a Roman naval vessel would dare challenge those winds and only to haul critical cargo or transport troops. Squads of oarsmen would have to beat the choppy sea while the swells fought back, smashing the deck with sheets of their rage.”

“And the storms?”

“It wasn’t merely the severity of the storms, which were bad enough, but the clouds obscured the sun and stars, which the sailors needed to navigate. And then the mists veiled cliffs, headlands, and mountains.”

“So that’s why the season figures so much into Miriam’s stories.”

“Exactly, Lisa.”

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