But the Greenland colony was obscure, the country was believed to form part of Europe, and the records of the farther explorations were contained in sagas which were only rediscovered by modern scholarship. Throughout the middle ages, legendary tales of mythical lands lying in the western ocean - the Isle of St Brandan, of Brazil and Antilia - had been handed down.
Like "Brazil," it dates from a period anterior to the discovery of the New World, "Antilia," as stated above, being one of those mysterious lands, which figured on the medieval charts sometimes as an archipelago, sometimes as continuous land of greater or lesser extent, constantly fluctuating in mid-ocean between the Canaries and East India.
Later, when this was found to consist of a vast archipelago enclosing the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico, Antilia assumed its present plural form, Antilles, which was collectively applied to the whole of this archipelago.
Such in particular were the Greek Isles of the Blest, or Fortunate Islands, the Welsh Avalon, the Portuguese Antilia or Isle of Seven Cities, and St Brendan's island, the subject of many sagas in many languages.
ANTILIA or Antillia, sometimes called the Island of the Seven Cities (Portuguese Isla das Sete Cidades), a legendary island in the Atlantic ocean.
Antilia is marked in an anonymous map which is dated 1424 and preserved in the grand-ducal library at Weimar.
The Florentine Paul Toscanelli, in his letters to Columbus and the Portuguese court (1474), takes Antilia as the principal landmark for measuring the distance between Lisbon and the island of Cipango or Zipangu (Japan).
One of the chief early descriptions of Antilia is that inscribed on the globe which the geographer Martin Behaim made at Nuremberg in 1492 (see MAP: History).
Later Portuguese tradition localized Antilia in the island of St Michael's, the largest of the Azores.