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Contrast between Byzantium and Calchedon

What then makes Byzantium a most excellent site, and Calchedon the reverse, is just this: and although at first sight both positions seem equally convenient, the practical fact is that it is difficult to sail up to the latter, even if you wish to do so; while the current carries you to the former, whether you will or no, as I have just now shown.
B.C. 410.
And a proof of my assertion is this: those who want to cross from Calchedon to Byzantium cannot sail straight across the channel, but coast up to the Cow and Chrysopolis,—which the Athenians formerly seized, by the advice of Alcibiades, when they for the first time levied customs on ships sailing into the Pontus,1—and then drift down the current, which carries them as a matter of course to Byzantium. And the same is the case with a voyage on either side of Byzantium. For if a man is running before a south wind from the Hellespont, or to the Hellespont from the Pontus before the Etesian winds, if he keeps to the European shore, he has a direct and easy course to the narrow part of the Hellespont between Abydos and Sestos, and thence also back again to Byzantium: but if he goes from Calchedon along the Asiatic coast, the case is exactly the reverse, from the fact that the coast is broken up by deep bays, and that the territory of Cyzicus projects to a considerable distance. Nor can a man coming from the Hellespont to Calchedon obviate this by keeping to the European coast as far as Byzantium, and then striking across to Calchedon; for the current and other circumstances which I have mentioned make it difficult. Similarly, for one sailing out from Calchedon it is absolutely impossible to make straight for Thrace, owing to the intervening current, and to the fact that both winds are unfavourable to both voyages; for as the south wind blows into the Pontus, and the north wind from it, the one or the other of these must be encountered in both these voyages. These, then, are the advantages enjoyed by Byzantium in regard to the sea: I must now describe its disadvantages on shore.

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410 BC (1)
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  • Cross-references to this page (2):
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), CHRYSO´POLIS
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), SESTUS
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