As folks might be aware, I regularly come across claims about the ancient world made in the popular press which seem to have somewhat shaky foundations. This week (amidst assorted email woes) I decided I might as well post these 'all together' on Sundays as a sort of feature of their own. So this week, I'm wondering about:

From SitNews (inter alia):

Interestingly, lore has it that a naked woman onboard would calm the seas. That's why many vessels have a bare breasted figurehead of a woman on the bow. Superstition amongst sailors said that the figurehead should have eyes to find a way through the seas when lost, while her bare breast would shame a stormy sea into calm. Pliny, the ancient Roman scientist and historian, first recorded this belief over 2000 years ago.

Anyone have a source for Pliny saying this? Next, we have an item from the Anniston Star:

Alexander the Great dreamed of a waterway connecting the Black Sea and the North Sea. There is a ditch in the Alps that reminds us of his dream.

There was a strange press release too ... but it doesn't want to come up now.