Thursday, August 11, 2016

Diskin Clay's Encounter with Oinoanda

I stumbled across what appears to be the unpublished correspondence of Diskin Clay, the American academic that wrote the extensive article in ANRW on Oinoanda.

The chapter on his encounter with the ruins in the early years of the revival of exploration of the site is worth repeating:

Oinoanda, 1975 & 1977

A brief memoir for Angelo Casanova
in Harmonia: Scritti di Filologia Classica in onore di Angelo Casanova
 (Florence 2012)

I was far from Fetiye and the Xanthos in Lycian Turkey when I first discovered Oinoanda.  In 1972, I was teaching at l’Université de Lille III (Charles de Gaulle) and directing a mémoire de maîtrise on the philosophical inscription of Diogenes of Oinoanda.  Claire Millot and I were studying and perplexed by New Fragment 7 that Martin Ferguson Smith had published the year before (in the American Journal of Archaeology 74 [1971], 365-69), an issue in which he published twelve new fragments to bring the total of new fragments he had discovered since his second visit to the site in 1969 to sixteen.  New Fragment 7 comes from the Physics Treatise.  Smith first interpreted the text (of two columns and part of a third) to be a description of cosmogony based on the physics of Democritus.  By the unreliable luck of a philologist, I had just been reading Plutarch’s tract against Epicurus’ ethical philosophy with the provocative title, “That According to Epicurus the Pleasant life is not Even Possible.”  There I discovered a quotation from a letter Epicurus wrote to fellow Epicureans in Lampsakos describing a shipwreck he barely survived on his way to Lampsakos on the Asiatic coast of the Propontis (Moralia 1090E).  I wrote to Martin to report my discovery.  With his characteristic generosity and enthusiasm for Diogenes and his inscription he embraced the suggestion that I was soon to publish.

Eventually my discovery of Epicurus’ shipwreck led to my joining the Oinoanda Survey in the summers of 1975 and 1977.  Oinoanda is not easy to reach, but not as difficult as other parts of the Kibyratis described by George Bean in his Lycian Turkey (London 1978) 170-175.  Oinoanda is a mountain city dominating the high plain (yayla) of Seki and the sources of the Xanthos River.  In the early summer of 1975, I had been visiting Turkey with my friend Charles Kahn, and we had come down from Istambul and the Bosporus for a Presocratic tour of Ionia.  At the end of our Presocratic tour, I left Charles to catch a bus up to Izmir and I took a dolmush (a share taxi, meaning “it is said to be full”) to Fethiye.  The next day I took the yellow Ali Jet up to Seki where I was greeted by Martin Ferguson Smith, Alan Hall of the British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara, and the architectural expert J. J. Coulton, who was to study the buildings and draw up a plan of the site.

The mountain of ancient Oinoanda is known locally as Asar Bel, “the ridge with the ruins.”  The ascent of the mountain begins at the small village of Incealiler at the foot of the mountain to the south.  It is not a steep climb and takes about forty-five minutes.   The climber has no sense that he is approaching an ancient city until he encounters the first limestone joints for the pipes that supplied the city with water carried by an aquaduct bringing water down to Oinoanda from a lake to the south.  The path leads to the impressive and well-preserved southern walls.  Beyond these lie the agora and a confusion of stone leading to “The Great Wall.”  This is a defensive wall to the north of the city constructed perhaps in the second century A.D. or later.  It is fertile with inscriptions from Diogenes’ stoa, some of which the French had pried out during their campaigns of 1884, 1885, and 1889.  Beyond to the north is the open space the French called l’Esplanade.  It too conceals Diogenes inscriptions, as has been demonstrated by excavations conducted in 2008 by Martin Smith and Jürgen Hammerstaedt.  Further north is the theater.  Its inscriptions are all civic.  The acropolis on the northern edge of the city is guarded by the vigilant lions on sarcophagus lids.  We would draw up rainwater from the sarcophagi for our squeezes, being careful to avoid snakes.

As luck would have it, on my first day at the site I discovered a new fragment on the wall enclosing the Esplanade to the east.  In it Diogenes explained how hail can form in the summer (New Fragment 82 = Fr. 99 of Smith’s The Epicurean Inscription).  This is in fact not a fragment but a “monolithic maxim.” 

At the beginning of our explorations in the summer of 1975, we and our young surveyors from the North London Polytechnic Institute camped out in tents at the top of the mountain.  We had three site guards.  All were armed with shotguns.  The fiercest of these was Mehmet.  Mehmet and I would hunt for oregano on the mountainside to season the omelets I would make for my colleagues and the starving surveyors.  Our sylvan life on the mountain was not to last long.  Late one afternoon a group of four or five armed men arrived at our camp.  With Turkish politeness we greeted them hosh geldinez (“you have come as a pleasure”).  The expected reply should have been hosh bulduk  (“we find you as a pleasure”).  We did not receive it.  We served tea and they sat with their guns pointed vaguely but significantly in our direction.  They were what the Italians would call tombaroli (tomb-robbers). That night there was gunfire that seemed to be directed towards our tents.   This brought our stay on the mountain to an end.  We moved down to Seki where we stayed in an austere schoolhouse whose only decoration was a large poster incongruously illustrating every variety of ocean fish.  The Mediterranean (or Ak Deniz, White Sea) was very far from us.

Seki and Incealiler held many charms.  On our way up the mountain we could sometimes hear the crippled shepherd Sami Bey playing his reed pipe.  Then on our way down in the late afternoon our site guards, Ali and his wife, would offer us ayran (yogurt mixed with cold water), a drink we relished at the end of a long hot day.  Ali’s wife was the only woman I actually looked at during my two seasons on the mountain above yayla.  The women with their children would work the fertile plain of Seki with their heads covered.  Sometimes we could sight camels down on the plain, or Ak Dag, the White Mountain, looming to the east of Seki.  Down on the coast not far south of Fetiye was the Olu Deniz (the Dead Sea) where we would swim and relax every two weeks.  There I came to understand the difference between the Turks of the Mediterranean and the Turks of the interior.

In 1975, I took a bus up to Smyrna where I stayed at the Grand Ephesos Hotel.  Before swimming in the hotel’s pool I took a much-needed bath.  As I washed I discovered a strange lump in my left armpit.  It was an engorged tick that I had transported from the mountain.  The pool, comfort, and food of the hotel restored me to civilization, yet I missed the mountain.  I flew up to Istanbul and from Istanbul to Athens and from Athens to what was then home, Portland, Oregon.  My second return from Turkey in 1977 (now to Baltimore, Maryland), was more sudden and abrupt.  Jim Coulton and I were down in Fetyie where we picked up a copy of the Jumhuryet (The Republic).  There we found the headline “Ankarada Kolera” (Colera in Ankara”).  We immediately returned to Seki, picked up our belongings, and hurried to Kushadashi for a boat to take us to Samos and then to the Peiraeus before the Greek authorities imposed a ban on travelers coming from Turkey.  The prevalent Imbat (a strong wind from the north, in Greek, the bãthw) was blasting the sea at 8 Beaufort and the scenes of seasickness were grisly.  I returned to Athens and America, never to return to Turkey again.  Martin Ferguson Smith still ranges the mountain of Oinoanda with his daughter and granddaughter, but less often.  He often works in Seki on the plain below. 
The count of new fragments discovered by 2010 came to 138; with the publication of the survey results for which the Austrian Institute in Ankara is now responsible, the total of new finds mounts to 190.  I dedicate these short memoirs of my two summers in Oinoanda to my colleague Angelo Casanova who in 1984 published his splendid edition of Diogenes, I Frammenti di Diogene d’Enoanda.  He has never been to Oinoanda, but there is a fine photograph of Martin Ferguson Smith, Angelo Casanova, and myself taken at the entrance of the archaeological site of Herculaneum.  He now has a print of it.       

            A last memory of mountains: On the Olympic peninsula on the northern shore of in Washington state, there is a nice path that leads to its western extremity.  There I found the town of Sappho.  I did not know then that I would get to know and write on her poetry or admire her statue on the main square of the capital of Lesbos.  On the Olympic peninsula I found a poster announcing a dance and assuring us that “Terpsichore will not be absent.”  Sometimes it is better to take the low road.

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