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Tuesday, March 15, 2005


"Beware the ides of March..." William Shakespeare (Julius Caesar)

Of course, the ides of March conjurs the ghosts of Shakespeare and, in particular that of Julius Caesar who was immortalized by the bard in his play. Thinking of this day reminded me of an interesting visit my friend Patrick and I made two years ago to a lovely beach town in Turkey.

The little hamlet of Gumusluk is a day-trip out of Bodrum on the shore of a fine small natural harbour. It was once the harbour of ancient Mindos. Some of the ruins of the town are under water which you can explore if you are a scuba diver.

I looked through my notes from that visit and here is what I wrote about it:

Our second day in Bodrum we set off for a change of scene and took a
little dolmus( mini bus) to a small fishing village a half hour from
the city. Gumusluk Beach is a blue flag beach, though it’s mostly
stony with sand farther out in the shallows. We got beach chairs
and umbrellas free for the day courtesy of the beach café where we
ate lunch. The sea here is jade green, the water calm and shallow.
After our swim we walked though the village which is the site of
ancient Mindos.

The classical city of Mindos was inhabited from prehistoric times to
4th c. AD. Some house foundations can be seen on the hillside or
underwater, which can be explored by divers.
In ancient times Mindians mixed their wine with sea water to relax
the stomach so they were called “the brine drinkers’

Now here's why the ides of March reminded me of this little village:

After the assassination of Julius Caesar, Brutus and Cassius lived in Mindos
for over a year.

As I'm a historical fiction writer these unexpected vignettes of history really capture my imagination.
I remember standing on the curve of that little beach imagining what it must have been like back then, putting myself into Brutus' and Cassius' heads as they 'hid out' there. What was their life like, those two assassins?

On a previous trip in northern Greece I had visited ancient Philippi, named by Philip II of Macedon -- Alexander's father -- the site of the Battle of Philippi in 42 B.C. in which Octavian and Antony defeated Caesar's murderers, Brutus and Cassius.

It is experiences like this that make my life as a historical-fiction (and travel) writer so rich.
I've been lucky to have had many opportunities to visit places like this. And the thought of heading back to Greece again this summer is such a thrill. I haven't quite decided what my focus will be this trip. I'm probably not going to visit northern Greece as I've been there so many other times and I'm pretty well finished researching my novel.

It looks like I'll be heading to the Peloponnese in the path of the Spartans (and the Macedonians were there too). I've still got stories to write from my last visit (the stories about Turkey included) so retracing my steps might help inspire me to get those travel tales written.

"O Julius Caesar! thou art mighty yet!
Thy spirit walks abroad, and turns our swords
In our own proper entrails."

"His life was gentle, and the elements
So mix'd in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, "This was a man!"
William Shakespeare: "Julius Caesar"

1 comment:

Scott Oden said...

It's the little details that can only be gleaned by visiting a site that give an otherwise flat story sparkle -- and those of us who haven't been there, we thank you for sharing your memories with us! Have fun in Greece this year! (Nooo . . . I'm not jealous, not one bit -- lol!)