For I have seen the shadow of the earth upon the moon


“Evidence” was inspired by a quote from the explorer Ferdinand Magellan. About to set sail around the world at a time when the medieval Christian church officially believed that the earth was flat, he knew that he was in no danger of sailing off the edge. He had the empirical evidence of his own eyes – he had seen the actual shadow of the actual earth upon the moon, and the shadow was round, and so therefore the earth must also be round. And off he went, and of course he was right.

I loved this from the moment I heard it, and had it filed away somewhere in my inspirational quotes file, and I thought it would make a nice painting,

The trouble is, he never said that. Magellan was born in 1480, and there’s no mention of any such quote in any record of his voyages until the 1800s when someone made it up and attributed it to Magellan. A lot of people must have loved it as much as I did, because they kept repeating it, and then we invented the internet, and now it’s pretty much an Internet True Fact. Except it isn’t true. Dammit.

Also, it turns out that the medieval Christian church, while it was definitely AWFUL, did not believe that the earth was flat. The ancient Greeks figured out that the earth was round in Hellenistic times, and we’ve all pretty much known that since then. Dammit again.

After discovering all of that, I painted it anyway, because I love what the quote represented to me originally and now it also serves as a kind of meta-reminder to make sure you have evidence before you go believing what you hear just because you want it to be true.