Prosecards from the Edge (of a Continent)

A running commentary on my life in Izmir, Turkey...and other thoughts.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Izmir Imaginings

In the early days, when the prospect of moving to Izmir was still little more than rumor and speculation, the mere contemplation of the place would send my imagination spinning. Always one to appreciate the aural aesthetics of a good name, it pleased me that the name of the modern city, Izmir, rolls pleasantly off the tongue, conjuring images of fresh breezes, gracious coastlines and bright white ships. I was charmed by the sound, and thrilled at the prospect of living in a city whose name I would enjoy saying -- contrasted with, say, Düsseldorf or Yozgat (a Turkish city that’s rumored to be approximately as attractive as its name). And then to think that modern Izmir is, in fact, ancient Smyrna once again sets the mind awhirl, setting off echoes of history reaching back into myth. Rumored to be Homer's birthplace (approximately, anyway), Smyrna was founded in the third millenium B.C., when it shared with Troy the most advanced culture in Western Anatolia. The city subsequently became part of the Hittite empire, and later one of the most important cities of the Ionian Federation (when Homer is believed to have resided here), then fell successively under the rule of the Lydians, the Persians, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Seljuks and, finally, the Ottomans. Whew. (Undoubtedly there are one or two empires that I've missed, but give or take a few, that's the roster.) The city is surrounded by a Who’s Who of historical places -- Ephesus, Troy and Pergamom, to name a few. The region is the birthplace of St. Nicholas, and is believed to be where Jesus' mother Mary lived out her days. People who have never been to America sometimes tell me that they don’t really believe the country exists outside of the silver screen. I had similar a reaction to the prospect of living in the birthplace of legends. To think that not only did these places exist, but that I would soon be living on the edge of the wine-dark sea, sharing vistas that Homer may have once gazed upon (sadly altered today, alas) was the source of endless fascination to me.

Life in Germany was orderly and clean, it is true, but it had become too pedestrian, too safe, too predictable. What better cure than a new life in a place where epic sea voyages had been undertaken, battles fought and mythical creatures encountered, in a land loud with the echoes of civilizations past? Humming with anticipation, I packed up and boarded my flight.

1 Comments:

At 3:42 AM, Blogger dkcurry said...

Hi Kate,

More, more, more . . .

I'll let you know the next time I'm either in Bogota (which at the moment will be middle of July 2007) or when I'm on my way to Turkey.

I might venture to Morocco the Nov. 2 - 11, 2007 . . . interested?

Best to you and as always, wonderful to hear about your adventures.

Donna

 

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