Considering the Demise of Ancient Selinunte in Marsala, Italy
Selinunte and Istanbul are, in a certain peculiar sense, sister cities. Both were founded by Greeks from the city of Megara, who spread throughout Europe during 7th century BC. But their modern situation could not be more different: Istanbul is a thriving metropolis of millions, while Selinunte is a skeleton with the bleached bones of its Doric columns mouldering in the unforgiving sunshine. The site stirs dual emotions. On the one hand, you'll be overcome by awe for the beauty of perfectly chosen ground. Selinunte was built along a river flowing into the Mediterranean on the south coast of Sicily. Its temples—or what's left of them—rise on a promontory overlooking the sea, and alien weeds and fluorescent hibiscus color the ruins. On the other hand, the silence of this place—broken only by bird song and the whisper of distant waves—underscores the totality with which an army of at least 100,000 Carthaginians laid waste to the city and its people in 409 BC. Thus, as you marvel at the mammoth proportions of the re-erected Temple of Hera, spare a moment to reflect on the colonists who lost their lives in an ancient struggle for power.