Xerxes Versus the Hellespont.


Modern day Dardanelles, a sea strait which connects the Balkans and Asia Minor as well as the Black sea with the Mediterranean, has a long history of being the go-to strategic hold for military and trade relations. It’s also been known to be a raging sassy sea mass that obliterates ships and crushes the dreams of empires. It also made Athamas cry.

In one of its most renowned acts of defiance, than called the Hellespont, succeeded in pissing off the purple-y Persian king Xerxes I during the opening acts of a precarious invasion of the Greek mainland.

Xerxes, proud of his Phoenician and Egyptian engineered cable bridges, which were marched about 1.5 kilometers across land for the express interest of laying them painstakingly across the Hellespont so that his army could skip merrily over to Thrace with a smile and a spear in the face, oversaw the completion of his dastardly plan and eagerly awaited his coming success.

Until the Hellespont decided that, “Well, I never voted for you!”, revolted and destroyed the bridges in a violent sea storm, giggling into the tides as it swept away Xerxes’ marvelous pride.

Enraged, Xerxes ordered the unsophisticated and foul dihydrogen monoxide rebel be punished severely for its insolence. Maybe three hundred lashes would get its attention. Also, in the interest of showing it who was boss, he ordered it branded with hot irons. Surely, the spiteful Hellespont snuffed those out quick, so instead a pair of leg shackles were tossed in instead.

And just in case the Hellespont wasn’t getting the message, the whippers were instructed to further berate the sea with verbal abuse that goes as follows:

You salt and bitter stream, your master lays this punishment upon you for injuring him, who never injured you. But Xerxes the King will cross you, with or without your permission. No man sacrifices to you, and you deserve neglect by your acid and muddy waters.

Xerxes eventually crossed, but never forget the courage of the Hellespont on that day and the striking story of the strait that became a bridge slave, the bridge slave who became a storm, the storm who defied a King. Oh, and if you ever happen to come across the Dardanelles in your travels, why not toss in a little love to show your support? Because 4 for you, Hellespont, you go Hellespont.

The Histories
by Hero “The Father of History” dotus.

A Touch of Classical Wisdom

Nevertheless, let us take this business seriously and spare no pains; success is never automatic in this world–nothing is achieved without trying.

-Said by Mardonius, a Persian military commander, at a conference to Xerxes, urging the King of Persia to war with Greece. c. 5th century BC.


The Histories
by Hero “The Father of History” dotus.