The Greeks themselves derived the name from an
eponymous King Erythras and knew that the waters so described were deep blue. Modern scholars sometimes attribute the name to the seasonal blooms of the red-hued Trichodesmium erythraeum in the
Red Sea.Agatharchides had written of the origin of the name Erythraean Sea on the book (De Mari Erythraeo, § 5) in a story about the king Erythras: "There was a man famous for his valor and wealth, by name Erythras, a Persian by birth, son of Myozaeus.... the glory of the Island ascribed to him by the popular voice because of these his deeds, that even down to our own time they have called that sea, infinite in extent, Erythraean Sea".
The name "Erythraean Sea" has been or is still used for the following places:
In the opening sentences of
Herodotus' history, written in the 5th century BC, he refers to the
Phoenicians having come originally from the Erythraean Sea.
In centuries past, the name "Erythraean Sea" was applied by
cartographers to the north-western part of the
Indian Ocean, mainly the area around
Cape Guardafui and the coast of
Hadhramaut. This appellation has now become obsolete and the name
Gulf of Aden is used although for a smaller area. In maps in which the north-western part of the Indian Ocean is named thus, the Red Sea appears as "Arabian Gulf".
The name "Erythraean Sea" was used as well to refer to some gulfs attached to the Indian Ocean, specifically,
Gulf of Aden and
Gulf of Oman.
As a name for the
Red Sea, especially after the 19th century. The modern country of
Eritrea was named after the Ancient Greek name.
Since 1895, the name has also been applied to a large dusky region on the surface of planet
Mars that is known as
The Periplus of the Erythrean sea, containing an account of the navigation of the ancients, from the sea of Suez to the coast of Zanguebar, William Vincent (ed.), 2 voll., London, 1800,