05 September 2009

The Frogs

Video © Irene Connelly 18-4-2009.

The frogs here are the descendants of Aristophanes', and the "Brek-e-kek-kek coax coax" chirp is instantly, delightfully identifiable. These particular frogs were found in the open curve in the aerial photo, in the little river of Myloi, across the bay from Nauplion.

If you come to Myloi by the coast road, you will cross the railroad, which is that center line down the middle of the picture. The bare patch at upper left is the Myloi playground beside the main road, and the river flows from the Myloi pumping station into the sea. The famous archaological site of Lerna is at bottom left. When Nero and Pausanias made their visits, this area was a mysterious bottomless lake, but time and roadbuilding have left us a small, clear, rushing, green-glass river.

Following the river to the left in the video takes you past the orange grove in the upper right of the aerial photo, to the beach, and from across the river you see these ruins -- a 15th-century Venetian tower, and to its right, a double wall that leads to the remains of a small square tower.

The double wall is indicated on the aerial photograph. The space is wide enough for a man with weapons to get from one tower to the next. There is a double wall from the same period at Nauplion, running from the north side of the Toro bastion, the wall that once extended to the round tower at the shore. This double wall is now only visible at ground level for a short distance (below). Thirty years ago, I could walk through it from tower to tower.

The tower has been much aggravated by history, most recently in World War 2 when the Germans made use of the site. To the left of the tower in this picture is the large circular base of an anti-aircraft gun, and on the shore is a German pillbox. A 17th-century map shows a windmill on the shore.

This wall once indicated the border between Argos-Nauplion territory and the Despotate of the Morea of Theodoros and Demetrios Palaiologos. There are many Venetian complaints and diplomatic representations about raids from the Despotate up into Argos-Nauplion territory, and the occasional complaint of raids in the othe direction. The Anonymous Naupliote was brought to this borderline when he was returned from imprisonment at Mouchli in 1450.

Bartolomeo Minio used it for a starting point in 1480, when he and Giovanni Dario and the Ottoman representatives worked out the boundaries between Ottoman and Venetian territories in Greece after the long war. He wrote
Beginning from the White Tower by the shore, where it was shown by our elders and theirs in agreement, passing the river which is ours . . .

The boundaries had to be done all over again two years later, and Minio wrote:
They began at the White Tower on the shore, where the boundary of Nauplion begins . . .
Which makes one wonder: was the tower once painted white, so it could be identified from Nauplion, across the bay?

When I first came on the river and beach in 1978, it seemed the perfect image of the place where Odysseus came ashore, slept, and then encountered Nausikaa and her friends doing the laundry. It has changed very little in thirty years, and I introduced my grandchildren to it this past April when we met in Nauplion for Holy Week.

Should you visit, this is private property. The owners do not mind visitors, but they do mind the debris that visitors leave. At the top end of the wall is their house -- two-story, great verandas, four bedrooms, and a gazebo. You can see it in the aerial view. The house is for sale. The frogs are a bonus.


  1. Fascinating blog.

  2. Outstanding blog, I really envy it!
    A fellow Ottomanist


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