Thalatta! Thalatta!

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Θάλαττα, θάλατταThe Sea! The Sea! — painting by Bernard Granville Baker, 1901

Thálatta! Thálatta! (Greek: Θάλασσα! θάλασσα! — "The Sea! The Sea!") was the shouting of joy when the roaming 10,000 Greeks saw Euxeinos Pontos (the Black Sea) from Mount Theches (Θήχης) in Trebizond, after participating in Cyrus the Younger's failed march against the Persian Empire in the year 401 BC. The mountain was only a five-day march away from the friendly coastal city Trapezus. The story is told by Xenophon in his Anabasis.[1]


Thálatta (θάλαττα, pronounced [tʰálatta]) is the Attic form of the word. In Ionic, Doric, Koine, Byzantine, and Modern Greek it is thálassa (θάλασσα).


The cry is mentioned by the translator[2] and put in the mouth of the narrator of Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth, when their expedition discovers an underground ocean.

The phrase appears in Book 1 of James Joyce's 1922 novel Ulysses when Buck Mulligan, looking out over Dublin Bay, says to Stephen Dedalus, "God! ... Isn't the sea what Algy calls it: a great sweet mother? The snotgreen sea. The scrotumtightening sea. Epi oinopa ponton. Ah, Dedalus, the Greeks! I must teach you. You must read them in the original. Thalatta! Thalatta! She is our great sweet mother. Come and look." In Book 18, Molly Bloom echoes the phrase in the closing moments of her monologue: "and O that awful deepdown torrent O and the sea the sea crimson sometimes like fire."[3]

Iris Murdoch wrote a novel called The Sea, The Sea which won the Man Booker Prize in 1978.[4]

The following year saw the release of The Warriors, based on the novel by Sol Yurick, which included at the end the line, "The sea! The sea!"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Xenophon. "Anabasis: Book 4, Chapter 7, Section 24". Perseus Project. Tufts University. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
  2. ^ Journey to the Center of the Earth, translated by Frederick Amadeus Malleson
  3. ^ Joyce, James (1922). Ulysses (Gabler ed.). New York: Vintage, 1986. pp. 4–5, 643.
  4. ^ Murdoch, Iris (1978). The Sea, The Sea. Chatto & Windus.