Pytheas was a 3rd century BC navigator from the Greek colony of Massalia (Marseilles) and is best known for his voyage in the north Atlantic, possibly around 240 BC. His trip took in the British Isles and as he ventured further north and claimed to have reached Thule. An assertion that has generated volumes of debate regarding Thule’s location. Pytheas described Thule as lying six day’s sail to the north of Britain. Iceland, Norway and the Faroes along with the Scottish Shetland and Orkney Islands have all been proposed as Thule.
Rhys Carpenter devoted an interesting chapter of his Beyond the Pillars of Hercules in which he suggested that Pytheas’ voyage was undertaken with commercial objectives in mind, but on that level it was unsuccessful. However, as a voyage of discovery, it was an unparalleled achievement earning for Pytheas Carpenter’s accolade of ”antiquity’s Greatest Explorer”.
Carpenter favours the idea that the term, ‘Pillars of Hercules’, when applied to the Strait of Gibraltar was used with the sense of boundary markers, indicating ”the limits of the Inner Sea that, for the Greeks, was the navigable world.”[p156]
Thule is the name given in ancient Greek and Roman literature for the most northerly part of the world. Around 300 BC the Greek navigator Pytheas claimed to have visited Thule, six days travel beyond Northern Britain. This may have been Iceland and in support of this idea a paper was submitted to the 2008 Atlantis Conferencein Athens by two Italian researchers, G. Giancarlo and M. Stucchi. In Germanic and Scandinavian traditions the name is applied to a long lost continent in the North Atlantic. Another candidate is the Estonian island of Saaremaa, which is also home to the (700BC (d) or 2000BC(b)) Kaali meteor crater field.
Just over a century ago, an extreme nationalistic German secret society called Germanenorden was founded and after a few years a schism in its ranks led to the Munich branch adopting the cover name of Thule-Gesellschaft. Some of its members sought to link Thule with Atlantis and the Aryans with the Atlanteans using some of the ideas of Helena Blavatsky and Jean-Silvain Bailly(a).
Karl Harrer, a member of the Thule Society along with the far-right politician Anton Drexler were founders of the German Workers Party (DAP) in 1919, two years later it changed its name to Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, better known as the Nazi Party. The Thule Society faded with the establishment of the DAP, although there was a failed attempt to revive it in 1933.
Claims that most leading Nazis had been members of the Thule Society seems to be a gross exaggeration, having only had Rudolf Hess a member for a brief period.