King John II of Portugal appointed him, in October of 1487, to head an expedition to sail around the southern tip of Africa in the hope of finding a trade route to India. Having rounded the Cape of Good Hope, Dias continued east. Dias wanted to continue sailing to India, but he was forced to turn back when his crew refused to go further. It was only on the return voyage that he actually discovered the Cape of Good Hope, in May 1488. Dias returned to Lisbon in December of that year, after an absence of sixteen months. The discovery of the passage around Africa was significant because, for the first time, Europeans could trade directly with India and the other parts of Asia, bypassing the overland route through the Middle East, with its expensive, and often duplicitous, middlemen.