on Artemisia..

Artemisia was a local tyrant of Halikarnassos in the early 5th century BC. She fought together with Xerxes the Great at the naval battle of Salamis in 480 BC - and she was renowned by the Achaemenid Great King as a wise and courageous woman. Most probably she was neither nice nor kind. But she fascinates me...


There is an Indian story - at least I heard it as an Indian story - about an Englishman who, having been told that the world rested on a platform which rested on the back of an elephant which rested in turn on the back of a turtle, asked (perhaps he was an ethnographer, it is the way they behave), what did the turtle rest on? Another turtle. And that turtle? "Ah, Sahib, after that it is turtles all the way down." Such, indeed is the connection of things... Cultural analysis is intrinsically incomplete. (Clifford Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures, 1973)

I like the turtles; in fact my first turtles in the landscape experiences happened in the summer of 1996, at ancient Theangela. These slow - or I think I prefer to see them as hesitant, reluctant animals - moving, but slowly-slowly, yavas-yavas, siga-siga, as my human foundation. And I am much more fund of the metaphor than Newton's shoulders of giants. Maybe because I imagine those giants as rough creatures, moving in abrupt manners, or perhaps standing still as Atlas carrying the weight of the sky on his shoulders. Not much dynamics left in that image.

Turtles may be slow; surely they are not very clever. But they are well-adjusted to their living conditions, they are tougher than many others, and they move, rapidly even, when they lay eyes on what they desire.

Cistern at Theangela, east of Halikarnassos. Beatiful pillars with drafted corners!

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