Primary Source: The Second Voyage to Guinea

European Exploration, Perception of the Other, and the Columbian Exchange

How did Europeans perceive the new people they encountered and how were they in turn perceived?

The Second Voyage to Guinea relates the travels of the ship called John the Evangelist captained by Englishman John Lok from the Thames River in England to Guinea. The account of the travels is heavily influenced by the stories of foreign peoples and lands like those in the letter of Prester John rather than in actual study of the people of Africa.

It is to be understood that the people which now inhabit regions of the coast of Guinea, and the middle parts of Africa, as Libya the inner, and Nubia with divers other great and large regions about the same, were in olden time called Aethiopes and Nigritae, which we now call Moors, Moorens, or Negroes, a people of beastly living, without a God, law, religion, or common wealth, and so scorched and vexed with the heat of the sun, that in many places they curse it when it riseth. . .

. . . But to speak somewhat more of Ethiopia . . . From whence toward the east reigneth the said Christian emperor Prester John. . . whose Empire reacheth fire beyond Nilus and is extended to the coast of the Red Sea and Indian Sea. . . . After this is a region called Troglodytica, whose inhabitants dwell in caves and dens; for these are their houses and the flesh of serpents their meat, as writeth Pliny and Diodorus Siculus. They have no speech but rather a grinning and chattering. There are also people without heads, called Blemines, having their eyes and mouth in their breast. Likeweise Strucophagi, and naked Ganphasantes; Satyrs also, which have nothing of men but only shape. . .