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An Honest Man


An Honest Man.

The statue is of the Greek philosopher Diogenes who is carrying a lantern and “looking for an honest man” on the streets of Sinop, a town on the Black Sea coast of Turkey.  Both Diogenes and Julya were born and grew up here. The story goes that Alexander the Great, who vacationed in Sinop in between his wars and kept his mistresses here, approached Diogenes one day as the philosopher was sitting in the town square.

“What can I do for you?” the Emperor asked.

“Stand aside,” Diogenes, replied, “You’re blocking my sunlight.”

A little later, Alexander stated that were he not Alexander he would prefer to be Diogenes. Diogenes replied that were he not Diogenes he would prefer to be Diogenes.

Sinop, which has a natural harbor, has been the home of many great civilizations. The Hittites founded the town around 1600 B.C. The Greeks recolonized it in the 7th century B.C.  Julius Caesar founded a Roman colony there in 47 B.C. The Ottomans occupied the town from 1050 to roughly 1919, when it became a part of the newly created Turkey.   Each civilization was built on the ruins of the previous ones, so there are great castles and Roman walls and Ottoman prisons to explore.

Sinop is actually a promontory sticking into the Black Sea. It housed a large U.S. Army base during the cold war, used mainly for gathering intelligence on Russia. It is a beautiful ocean community, only recently discovered by the travelers when air service from Istanbul was instituted.

One story is that the town was named after Sinope, the beautiful daughter of the river god Asopus. Zeus was so smitten with her that he promised her anything she wanted if she would marry him. She requested “eternal virginity.” The outwitted Zeus granted her wish and allowed her to live her life on the promontory.

The beautiful Julya lived here until she was 18 years old, when she left for America. We are spending a week here and enjoying rediscovering her old haunts. The town’s tranquility is threatened by the proposed building of a nuclear waste site here by the Japanese, pursuant to a deal by Turkey’s current Islamist government. God only knows what Diogenes, known for developing the philosophy of Cynicism, would have to say about this.

The second photo is the view from our hotel room widow.

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