A History of Sestos Essay

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Sestos was an Ancient Greek polis located on the Thracian Chersonese; it was situated at the narrowest point of the Hellespont, directly opposite the city of Abydos. Today, the ruins of Sestos are located near the Turkish town of Eceabat. Sestos was an Aeolian colony as it was founded by settlers from Lesbos some time during the 7th century BC (Herodotus 9.115). The city of Sestos was the fortress of the Hellespont region, “with a hilltop citadel whose walls ran down to flank the best harbour of the region” (Brody, Murray & Sacks 2005, p309). Sestos was home to Hero from the Byzantine myth ‘Hero and Leander’ (Cramer 1828, p328). According to the myth, Hero was a priestess of Aphrodite who lived in a tower in Sestos, while Leander was a young man from Abydos who fell in love with Hero. Every night Hero would light a lamp to guide Leander as he swam across the Hellespont to be with her. One fateful winter’s night, a storm blew out Hero’s lamp; Leander became lost amongst the rising waves and drowned. When Hero saw the body of her lover, she threw herself from her tower to be with him in death. While Sestos itself wasn’t a great political, economic or military power; its strategic location gave the city significant importance. Its location on the Hellespont meant that the city played an important role in enabling Athenian trade with ports in the Euxine Sea such as Byzantium. In reference to the importance of the grain imports, the Athenian rhetor Peitholaos, described Sestos as “the bakers board of the Peiraeus” (Aristotle, Rhetoric 3.10). The Greco-Persian Wars saw Sestos play an important role. The city itself was annexed by Darius I in 512BC when the Persian forces conquered all the cities that were a part of the Miltiades’ Chersonesitan state (Herodotus 6.33-39) and the Persian General Artayctes was set up as tyrant (Herodotus 7.33). With the death of Darius I
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