Hellespont (Turkish Polytonic| "Çanakkale Boğazı", Greek Polytonic| Ἑλλήσποντος; i.e. "Sea of Helle", variously named in classical literature "Hellespontium Pelagus", "Rectum Hellesponticum", and "Fretum Hellesponticum") was the ancient name of a narrow strait, now known by the modern European term" 'the Dardanelles'." It was so called from Helle, the daughter of Athamas, who was drowned here in the mythology of the Golden Fleece.

Herodotus tells us that c. 482 BC the king Xerxes I of Persia and son of Darius had two bridges built across the width of the Hellespont at Abydos in order that his huge army, ostensibly made of 5 million men (most historians put the actual number of this army at closer to 250,000 men, though a second school of thought lends the accounts of Herodotus more credence, bringing the number closer to 400,000), could cross from Persia into Greece. This crossing was named by Aeschylus in his tragedy "The Persians" as the cause of divine intervention against Xerxes. [http://classics.mit.edu/Aeschylus/persians.html; the play.]

The Hellespont was also the body of water which Leander would cross in order to tryst with his beloved, the priestess Hero. Lord Byron famously swam the Hellespont as a feat of his athletic prowess.

Xerxes' Crossing

According to Herodotus (vv.34), both bridges were destroyed by a storm and Xerxes had those responsible for building the bridges beheaded and the strait itself whipped. The Histories of Herodotus vii.33-37 and vii.54-58 give details of Xerxes' building and crossing of the bridges. Xerxes is then said to have thrown fetters into the strait, given it three hundred lashes and branded it with red-hot irons as the soldiers shouted at the water. [Green, Peter "The Greco-Persian Wars" (London 1996) 75.]

Herodotus commented that this was a "highly presumptuous way to address the Hellespont" but in no way atypical of Xerxes. (vii.35)

Harpalus the Macedonian eventually helped the invading armies to cross by lashing the ships together with their bows facing the current and two additional anchors. [Green, Peter "The Greco-Persian Wars" (London 1996) 75.]

Geographical information

It is located at approximately coord|40|13|N|26|26|E|. The strait is 61 kilometers (38 mi) long but only 1.2 to 6 kilometers (0.75 to 4 mi) wide, 55 meters (180 ft) deep with a maximum depth of 82 meters (300 ft). Water flows in both directions along the strait, from the Sea of Marmara to the Aegean via a surface current and in the opposite direction via an undercurrent. It is an important international shipping channel giving access to Istanbul and the various Black Sea ports beyond Bosphorus.



External links

* [http://www.fsmitha.com/h1/map13ga.html Map of Hellespont]
* [http://www.livius.org/he-hg/hellespont/hellespont.html Livius.org: Hellespont]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Hellespont — L Hellespont est l ancien nom du détroit des Dardanelles qui relie la mer Égée au nord est à la Propontide (mer de Marmara) et sépare l Europe de l Asie mineure. Ce nom est lié à la légende de Phrixos et Hellé …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Hellespont — Hel les*pont, n. [L. Hellespontus, Gr. ?; ? the mythological Helle, daughter of Athamas + ? sea.] A narrow strait between Europe and Asia, now called the {Daradanelles}. It connects the [AE]gean Sea and the sea of Marmora. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Hellespont — (a. Geogr.), die Meerenge, welche den Thracischen Chersones von Asien trennt u. das Ägäische Meer mit der Propontis verbindet; jetzt die Straße der Dardanellen. Sie erhielt den Namen von Helle (s.d.); sie hat stellenweise eine so geringe Breite,… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Hellespont — (Hellespontos, »Meer der Helle«, s. Phrixos), antiker Name der Dardanellenstraße (s. Dardanellen), deren engste, nur 7 Stadien breite Stelle (zwischen Sestos und Abydos) von Xerxes überbrückt wurde. Dieselbe Stelle war im Altertum berühmt durch… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Hellespónt — (grch., d.i. Meer der Helle, s.d.), im Altertum Name der jetzigen Dardanellen (s.d.) …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Hellespont — Hellespont, die Meerenge, welche aus dem ägäischen Meere in die Propontis der Alten führt und das schwarze Meer mit dem mittelländischen durch das mare di Marmora verbindet. (S.Dardanellen.) …   Damen Conversations Lexikon

  • Hellespont — Hellespont, d.h. Meer der Helle, die Meerenge, welche das Marmorameer (Propontis) mit dem ägeischen verbindet, die jetzige Straße der Dardanellen, vergl. Dardanellen …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • Hellespont — nom donné par les Anciens aux Dardanelles …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Hellespont — [hel′əs pänt΄] [Gr, lit., “sea of Helle”, after Hellē, legendary girl who drowned there] ancient name for DARDANELLES …   English World dictionary

  • Hellespont — Landsat Bild der Dardanellen. Karte der Dardanellen Die Dardanellen (türkisch Çanakkale boğazi) sind eine Meerenge in der …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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