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CHAP. winding length of the Bosphorus extends about XVII. sixteen miles, and its most ordinary breadth
may be computed at about one mile and a half. The new castles of Europe and Asia are constructed, on either continent, upon the foundations of two celebrated temples, of Serapis and of Jupiter Urius. The old castles, a work of the Greek emperors, command the narrowest part of the channel, in a place where the opposite banks advance within five hundred paces of each other. These fortresses were restored and strengthened by Mahomet the Second, when he meditated the siege of Constantinople:" but the Turkish conqueror was most probably ignorant, that near two thou. sand years before his reign, Darius had chosen the same situation to connect the two continents by a bridge of boats. At a small distance from the old castles we discover the little town of Chryso. polis, or Scutari, which may almost be considered as the Asiatic suburb of Constantinople. The Bosphorus, as it begins to open into the Propontis, passes between Byzantium and Chalcedon. The latter of those cities was built by the Greeks,
& The ancients computed one hundred and twenty stadia, or fifteen Roman miles. They measured only from the new castles, but they carried the streights as far as the town of Chalcedon.
h Ducas Hist. c. 34. Leunclavius Hist. Turcia Musulmanica, 1. xv, p. 577. Under the Greek empire these castles were used as state prisons, under the tremendous name of Lethe, or towers of oblivion.
Darius engraved in Greek and Assyrian letters on two marble columns, the names of his subject nations, and the amazing numbers of his land and sea forces. The Byzantines afterwards transported these columns into the city, and used them for the altars of their tutelar deities. Herodotus, 1. iv, c. 87.
a few years before the former; and the blindness CHAP. of its founders, who overlooked the superior advantages of the opposite coast, has been stigmatised by a proverbial expression of contempt.
The harbour of Constantinople, which may be The port, considered as an arm of the Bosphorus, obtained, in a very remote period, the denomination of the Golden Horn. Thecurve which it describes might be compared to the horn of a stag, or as it should seem, with more propriety, to that of an ox. The epithet of golden was expressive of the riches which every wind wafted from the most distant countries into the secure and capacious port of Constantinople. The river Lycus, formed by the conflux of two little streams, pours into the harbour a perpetual supply of fresh water, which serves tocleanse the bottom, and to invite the
periodical shoals of fish to seek their retreat in that convenient recess. As the vicissitudes of tides are scarcely felt in those seas, the constant depth of the harbour allows goods to be landed on the quays
without the assistance of boats; and it has been observed, that in many places the largest vessels may rest their prows against the houses,
* Namque artissimo inter Europam Assiamque divortio Byzan. tium in extremâ Europâ posuere Græci, quibus, Pythium Apollinem consulentibus ubi conderent urbem, redditum oraculum est, quærerent sedem cæcorum terris adversam. Eâ ambage Chalcedonii monstrabantur, quòd priores illuc advecti, prævisâ locorum utilitate pejora legissent, Tacit. Annal. xii, 62.
i Strabo, 1. x, p. 492. Most of the antlers are now broke off ; or, to speak less figuratively, most of the recesses of the harbour are filled up. See Gyll. de Bosphoro Thracio, l. i, c. 5.
CHAP. while their sterns are floating in the water.na
From the mouth of the Lycus to that of the harbour, this arm of the Bosphorus is more than seven miles in length. The entrance is about five hundred yards broad, and a strong chain could be occasionally drawn across it, to guard the port
and city from the attack of an hostile navy." The Pro
Betweenthe Bosphorusand the Hellespont, the pontis,
shores of Europe and Asia receding on either side inclose the sea of Marmara, which was known to the ancients by the denomination of Propontis. The navigation from the issue of the Bosphorus to the entrance of the Hellespont is about one hundred and twenty miles. Those who steer their westward course through the middle of the Propontis, may at once descry the high lands of Thrace and Bithynia, and never lose sight of the lofty summit of Mount Olympus, covered with eternal snows.' They leave on the left a deep gulf, at the bottom of which Nicomedia was seated, the imperial residence of Diocletian; and
* Procopius de Ædificiis, l. i, c. 5. His description is confirm ed by modern travellers. See Thevenot, part i, l. i, c. 15. Tournefort, Lettre xii. Niebuhr Voyage d’Arabei. p. 22.
* See Dancange, C. P. I. i, part i, c. 16, and his Observations sur Villehardouin, p. 289. The chain was drawn from the Acropolis, near the modern Kiosk, to the tower of Galata ; and was supported at convenient distances by large wooden piles.
• Thevenot (Voyages au Levant, part i, la i, c. 15) contracts the measure to 125 small Greek miles. Belon (Observations, l. ii, c. 1) gives a good description of the Propontis, but contents himself with the vague expression of one day and one night's sail. When Sandys (Travels, p. 21) talks of 150 furlongs in length as well as breadth, we can only suppose some mistake of the press in the text of that judicious traveller:
they pass the small islands of Cyzicus and Procon- CHAP. nesus before they cast anchor at Gallipoli; where the sea, which separates Asia from Europe, is again contracted into a narrow channel.
The geographers who, with the most skilful The Helle. accuracy, have surveyed the form and extent of spont. the Hellespont, assign about sixty miles for the winding course, and about three miles for the ordinary breadth of those celebrated streights.” But the narrowest part of the channel is found to the northward of the old Turkish castles between the cities of Cestus and Abydas. It was here that the adventurous Leander braved the passage of the flood for the possession of his mistress. It was here likewise, in a place where the distance between the opposite banks cannot exceed five hundred paces, that Xerxes imposed a stupendous bridge of boats, for the purpose of transporting into Europe an hundred and seventy myriads of barbarians." A sea contracted within such nar
P See an admirable dissertation of M. d'Anville upon the Helles. font or Dardanelles, in the Memoires de l'Academie des Inscriptions, tom. xxviii, p. 318-346. Yet even that ingenious geographer is too fond of supposing new, and perhaps imaginary measures, for the purpose of rendering ancient writers as accurate as himself. The stadia employed by Herodotus in the description of the Euxine, the Bosphorus, &c. (l. iv, c. 85) must undoubtedly be all of the same species: but it seems impossible to reconcile them either with truth or with each other.
? The oblique distance between Cestus and Abydus was thirty stadia. The improbable tale of Hero and Leander is exposed by M. Mahudel, but is defended on the authority of poets and medals by M. de la Nauze. See the Academie des Inscriptions, tom. vii, Hist. p. 74. Mem. p. 240.
" See the seventh book of Herodotus, who has erected an elegant trophy to his own fame and to that of his country. The review ap
CHAP. row limits, may seem but ill to deserve the sin. XVII.
gular epithet of broad, which Homer, as well as Orpheus, has frequently bestowed on the Hellespont. But our ideas of greatness are of a relative nature: the traveller, and especially the poet, who sailed along the Hellespont, who pursued the windings of the stream, and contemplated the rural scenery, which appeared on every side to terminate the prospect, insensibly lost the remembrance of the sea; and his fancy painted those celebrated streights, with all the attributes of a mighty river flowing with a swift current, in the midst of a woody and inland country, and at length, through a wide mouth, discharging itself into the Ægean or Archipelago. Ancient Troy,t seated on an eminence at the foot of Mount Ida, overlooked the mouth of the Hellespont, which scarcely received an accession of waters from the tribute of those immortal rivulets the Simois and Scamander. The Grecian
pears to have been made with tolerable accuracy ; but the vanity, first of the Persians, and afterwards of the Greeks, was interested to magnify the armament and the victory. I should much doubt whether the invaders have ever outnumbered the men of any country which they attacked.
s See Wood's Observations on Homer, p. 320. I have, with pleasure, selected this remark from an author who in general seems to have disappointed the expectation of the public as a critic, and still more as a traveller. He had visited the banks of the Hellespont; he had read Strabo ; he ought to have consulted the Roman itine. raries; how was it possible for him to confound Ilium and Alex, andria Troas (Observations, p. 340, 341), two cities which were sixteen miles distant from each other?
+ Demetrius of Scepsis wrote sixty books on thirty lines of Ho. mer's catalogue. The sixteenth book of Strabo is sufficient for our curiosity.