A History of Names

The final chapter, "Of Certain Elements of Cosmography" describes Europe, named for a girl of that name, daughter to King Agenor, who one day was carried off to Crete by Jupiter, who took the form of a snow-white bull.

In the paragraph about Africa Waldseemüller reports that the Ethiopian Ocean borders it on the south and that it is named Africa because "it is free from the severity of the cold." and further writes that Asia got its name from a queen of that name (Waldseemüller 1907, 69).

These statements had been appearing in geographical treatises for hundreds of years. This conventional material precedes Waldseemüller’s remarkable statement: "Now, these parts of the earth have been more extensively explored and a fourth part has been discovered by Amerigo Vespucci (as will be set forth in what follows). Inasmuch as both Europe and Asia received their names from women, I see no reason why any one should justly object to calling this part Amerige, i.e., the land of Amerigo, or America, after Amerigo, its discoverer, a man of great ability. Its position and the customs of its inhabitants may be clearly understood from the four voyages of Amerigo, which are subjoined" (Waldseemüller 1907, 70).

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