Sunday, June 01, 2014


By the black rocks, dividing the sea in two,
are the shores of the Bosporus, Thracian Salmydessus.
Some of the ancient unsavoriness of Salmydessus is provided by Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography. Phineus's city seems to have found some stability in organized crime:
SALMYDESSUS (Ἁλμυδισσὸς ἤτοι Σαιμυδησσός, Ptol. 3.11.4; Halmydessos, Plin. Nat. 4.11. s. 18; Mela, 2.2.5), a coast-town or district of Thrace, on the Euxine, about 60 miles NW. from the entrance of the Bosporus. (map)
The eastern offshoots of the Haemus here come very close to the shore, which they divide from the valley of the Hebrus. The people of Salmydessus were thus cut off from communication with the less barbarous portions of Thrace, and became notorious for their savage and inhuman character, which harmonised well with that of their country, the coast of which was extremely dangerous. 
Aeschylus (Prom. 726)1 describes Salmydessus as “the rugged jaw of the sea, hostile to sailors, step-mother of ships;” and Xenophon (Xen. Anab. 7.5.12, seq.) informs us, that in his time its people carried on the business of wreckers in a very systematic manner, the coast being marked out into portions by means of posts erected along it, and those to whom each portion was assigned having the exclusive right to plunder all vessels and persons cast upon it. This plan, he says, was adopted to prevent the bloodshed which had frequently been occasioned among themselves by their previous practice of indiscriminate plunder.

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