Philosophical Europe ||| The Political Progress ||| European Witness ||| EU News
Blog ||| Special Homages: Meister Eckhart / David Copperfield
TURKEY : THE BLIGHT OF ASIA
Table of Contents
SMYRNA AS IT WAS
Polycarp, the patron saint of Smyrna during the long years of its existence as a Christian city, was burned alive in an ancient stadium whose contour is still plainly visible, on February twenty-sixth, in the year A. D. 156; Chrysostom was tortured and torn in pieces by a Turkish mob in front of the military headquarters of the Khemalist forces in Smyrna on September ninth, A. D. 1922. In Asia Minor were held the great Christian assemblies: at Nicea, Ephesus and Chalcedon, were born the Church fathers, St. Paul and the two Gregories. It was at Ephesus, near Smyrna, that St. Paul fought with beasts after the manner of men.
Greek civilization has again and again developed in Asia Minor to be crushed by Asiatic invasion. At its height it produced the immortal cities of Pergamus, Smyrna, Colophon, Philadelphia, Ephrsus, Halicarnassus. The whole land was dotted with lesser towns adorned with schools of art and beautiful temples from many of which sprang famous philosophers and poets. Ionia is a graveyard of ancient Greek cities and marble villages toward which the interest of American scholars has been turning more and more. A pioneer in this field was J. R. Sitlington Sterrett, who has left an unforgettable name among American archeologists.
The climate of Smyrna resembles very much that of Southern California. Snow rarely, if ever, falls in winter, and during the summer the country is daily refreshed by a breeze from the sea, the embates, or, in the Smyrna dialect, the imbat.
The route to Smyrna from Athens lies between Euboea and Andros and between the islands of Chios and Mytilini, the ancient Lesbos, famous as the home of Sappho. It skirts the great promontory of Kharabournou and enters the Hermian Gulf. To the left is the ancient city of Phocea. A colony from Phocea founded Marseilles, France, some thousands of years ago. It is interesting to know that the massacre and expulsion of the inhabitants in June, 1914, excited special interest and sympathy in the modern French city.
The harbor of Smyrna is one of the best in the world, comparable to that of Vancouver. At the bottom of the Hermian Gulf we come to a sort of sea-gate, the entrance to the harbor proper, in which the largest sea-going craft can safely anchor. Smyrna has attained great importance in late years as a commercial port. While other harbors, especially that of its ancient rival, Ephesus, have been filled by deposits brought down by the rivers, that of Smyrna has not suffered the same fate, the silt of the delta of the Hermus having tended only to narrow its mouth.
Among the first objects pointed out to the traveler on entering the bay are the "Two Brothers," or twin mountain peaks, which are identical in appearance. At the right is the ancient fortress bombarded by the British fleet during the war whose guns can plainly be seen by passengers upon steamers. Soon after passing the fortress, Smyrna appears nestling in the arms of a long, white, semicircular bay, resembling that of Naples, to which it is scarcely second in beauty, and climbing the slopes of Mount Pagus, crowned by an ancient wall and fortress. The city itself, with its suburbs, stretched far around the semicircle on both sides.
Previous chapter : THE GREEK RETREAT
Next chapter : THE DESTRUCTION OF SMYRNA
Back to Table of Contents * Read Excerpts only
The Blight of Asia in Print