Letters from a Dusty Archive

26th, 2011
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Dear Xena,

First my apologies for neglecting you for so long. We have just been very, very busy and simply have had no time to write letters. Truth to tell we haven’t even been able to ge to Halicarnassus to buy papyrus until last weekend when we hitched a ride on a trading ship; and when it comes to making ink….well, you know Dio!

So, we are all fine at this end, the kids are shooting up, Cleon is now as tall as Dio and the twins now stand up to my shoulders. I hope yours are all OK and that you’ve all avoided the dreaded malaria.

Cleo had another set of kittens so we are slowly being overrun with cats.

Now the reason for me putting pen to paper. The “powers that be” in Cnidus have, in their wisdom decided to dig a channel from the top of the inlet to our south RIGHT ACROSS THE PENINSULA to the bay north of us. Can you imagine? The fools want to make the entire promontory into an island! We learnt about it when they served a compulsory purchase order on us. They will dig the channel right through our olive grove. Dio was furious and threatened to kill anyone who set foot on our land with a pick or shovel but the guy who served us notice came back a week later with some soldiers and warned Dio that the army would be doing the work and will not let “bloody civilians” [his words] stand in their way.

It seems that the channel is a defensive measure to deter the Persians, so the Corps of Engineers will undertake the work. If the breakwater at Cnidus is anything to go by then I doubt they’ll do a very satisfactory job. My money’s on the Persians!

So, let us know how things are with you and your gang and be sure to give Aphrodite a pat on the butt from Dio!

Love to you, Megareus and the kids


Rhoda and Diodorus


Dear Xena,

Many thanks for your speedy reply. The mail has certainly improved of late hasn’t it? Three weeks each way is incredible. As you predicted the work has indeed started on the channel and rumors abound as to the consequences. Most people over this side are predicting that once you people become an island then it’s only a matter of time before you declare independence from the Hexapolis. I can well see that allegiance with Athens might be very beneficial, and I see no great future for Anatolia, though the Persians might bring some improvements if [when?] they get here.

I’ve been talking to the bloke in charge of the Engineers who is a decent enough guy. I give him wine which I notice he doesn’t share with his fellow officers, and once a week we have him over for a meal. In return he has shown us the drawings of the channel and the necessary infrastructure [yes, yes, I learned that word from him!]. Two bridges are shown on the plan but Dio pointed out that the bridges will prevent the passage of ships through the channel and that one of the justifications that the Cnidus big-wigs came up with was that coastal trade would be greatly improved and much safer with the completion of the channel. The guy told us that the bridges would be high enough to allow the passage of ships. Can you imagine a bridge high enough to allow a ship to pass through the arch? Words fail me.

I guess that if they give up the bridge idea there will be ferries so we’ll still be able to visit you now and then. In fact Dio is thinking of buying a little boat so that we can cross the channel right at the bottom of the garden, but of course we’ll need a couple of horses on the other side and guess who’s going to be rowing over to feed them every day!

So Megareus and some of the council are off to see the oracle eh? May I ask which one? I know that most people go down to Telmessos but in my humble opinion that lady at Delphi offers the best value for money. Why not find out when the games are on and suggest that they make a long weekend of it?

We hope you are well and happy.

Love to you all from,

Rhoda and Diodorus


Dear Xena and Megareus,

Thanks for your reply. I’ve been thinking more about the channel, which I must say is progressing rather slowly. It might be fun to sit at the bottom of the garden and wave to all the ships going by and Dio is even considering setting up a small café, however I had a rather nasty thought. There are sharks in the Kerameikos Kolpus and it seems to me that they might well get it into their tiny brains to come down the channel to enjoy the warmer waters of the Metapontis Cannel. I really don’t fancy having sharks at the bottom of the garden.

Could you do us a favour sis’? Diodorus and some of his mates from the club are planning a weekend at Cnidus to ogle at that statue of Aphrodite again. [Personally I can’t see what they see in the skinny bitch; dear oh dear…that bottom!] Do you think you could get five admission tickets and three “touch-tickets” and keep them for the last week of the next new moon? The perv’s will leave here four days before the weekend. [I often wonder why it takes them four days to get there but they usually manage to get back to their wives in two!]

Love from,

Rhoda and Dio


Dear Xena and Megareus,

Many thanks for helping Dio and the lads. As predicted they were home in no time at all and now the horse needs a long rest [as does Dio!]

I have mixed feelings about the verdict of the oracle and the subsequent cancellation of the channel. Of course we will have to repay the compulsory purchase money and must forget our plans for a café but we get to keep about 50 of our olive trees and all in all life will go on more or less as before.

You know that I’m not a very religious person but when it comes down to it I guess that Zeus really did have it about right.

More or less on the same subject, we’ve had a lot of Persian estate-agents asking around lately. What do you make of it?

Love to you all,


 At the head of Bencik the Dorian peninsula is at its narrowest with Buyuk Cati on the other side. Herodotus tells us that when the Knidians were threatened by the Persians they set to work to dig a canal across here as a defensive measure. The red rock was evidently hard going and after consulting the oracle at Delphi they heard what they wanted to hear; that if the peninsula was meant to be an island then Zeus would have made it so. Work was abandoned and when the Persians invaded the Knidians were forced to surrender. When Commander Graves was surveying the region in 1844 he discovered traces of ancient cuttings in the rock.
Knidos was famous for…its statue of Aphrodite…The statue was by Praxiteles, one of the greatest Greek sculptors [and]…was one of the first of naked women.
[Rod Heikell. “Turkish Waters Pilot”]
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