Gero and Leandre. Love, sea and death of
Greece. Ancient Greece.
Hellespont - the passage between Aegean and the Sea of Marmara. In the bottleneck of the passage on opposite coast - the cities of Sestos and Abydos. In those days there was no Constantinople yet, there was no Istanbul. And these cities were as if the links connecting Europe and Asia Minor. Trade, navigation and passions was humming.
This history was informed us by Museus (Musaeus by nickname “Grammars“). He lived in Greece in the 6th century AD that was slightly closer to the events described in his composition, than our time.
So, once in two cities located on opposite coast of the Hellespont Strait there were holidays in honor of gods including Aphrodite. On them gathered both from Greece, and from Cyprus, and from Lebanon. A holiday - as well as now - the place where it is possible to get acquainted, cheerfully to spend time with new acquaintances, well and so on.
The heroine of this history by the name of Gero lived in Sestosa, in a tower on the seashore. She brought a vow of service to Aphrodite and lived in solitude, only in the company of the servant. She never participated in concourses of contemporaries, never was on holidays. So her parents and she wanted.
The character of the story is Leandre - lived in Abydos. And here in honor of Adonis and Aphrodite in Sestosa the holiday prepares. Gero for the first time “is published“. (Here in the narration some fog: it was one or accompanied by the servant?) .
What was seen by young people when Gero appeared on public? “Gero wanted nothing in life except how to be Aphrodite`s priestess. But her face reminding the whiteness the Moon shone love. Moreover, say that when it went, appear, that it goes on a meadow of roses, and her legs fly even not as at three, and as at one hundred gration.
Many young men were ready to sacrifice it themselves without the rest though they arrived to a festival to Sestus to make a sacrifice to gods. Its perfection, such close, acted on them much stronger, than inaccessible beauty. And they thought that they will nevermore see such refinement and a charm though earlier they could see beautiful women in many cities and furthermore in Sparta, the island of such delightful women as Elena Prekrasnaya.“ (Museus).
The youth swallowed languages. “Many young men blinded by Gero`s beauty lost a speech power. They said that they are ready to die immediately if they are able first to spend night with Gero, or they are ready to marry on it even at the price of immortality or that to them will never bother to behold it. But, as always, someone is silent, and someone does. Leandre whose love banished all fears approached Gero with silent gestures. Here so often the love comes. While words come (and they come too slowly), beauty finds the way to soul. As they say, through eyes. And here: Gero and Leandre connected hands before they pronounced at least the word“. (Museus)
Where to go? Leandre brought it into the temple of love, to Aphrodite`s temple and began to beg to be given. He said that it for it now the goddess that it for it a star which is not brighter in the sky. Gero was silent, but as if absorbed his passion. And her heart flashed, and she told it: “The stranger, your words can excite a stone! “ She told
to Leandre that they cannot get married even if they would like: parents against marriage with the stranger. Then Leandre told that he will come to it from Abydos. Only that it lit to it a lamp that it could find to it the road.
They became lovers. They spent together sleepless nights, and in the morning it came back to Abydos. And both looked forward to darkness to enjoy with each other. “In twilight Leandre wandered about the coast, expecting a signal, and when there got dark and came night, Gero lit a lamp on a tower. And he lit up when saw the burning lamp, and felt that Aphrodite born in the sea protects it, and he rushed naked to the sea. Cutting waves, Leandre was to himself the ship, the oarsman, suite, verifying the course on a lamp which Gero blocked from wind the raincoat.“ (Museus).
Everything was good while it was warm. When the winter came, the sea became cold and rough, and even seamen extended the ships on the coast. Leandre continued to swim to the beloved. But once it appeared in the center of a storm, and the flaw blew into a lamp on Gero`s tower. And Leandre could not reach the treasured coast. Waves threw out his body to a tower foot. And when Gero saw him who is covered with wounds by rocks, she rushed from a tower to the sea.
The legend of lovers was very popular. In Abydos in the 2nd century AD let out a coin with the image of appointment of lovers. Poets and prose writers of all times devoted to Gero and Leandre the works. Artists not once drew scenes from life of young lovers: appointments, partings, death.
In Peter Paul Rubens`s picture of in a deathlike way pale Leandre wash ashore nereids, inhabitants of the seas. They already almost stopped a storm, fight of winds - northern with southern and east with western, in the sky the window lit with the moon appeared. They attract it to the coast, far away from a monster with a huge mouth. They try to stop water shaft, they manage it - and the abyss becomes as if a cradle for the dead. They extend unfortunate on the coast, and Gero already falls from the tower, as if flies on the last meeting with the beloved.
Why Aphrodite, the goddess of love, did not save lovers from such fate? Perhaps, because (as Museus writes) “it was a wedding without dances, a bed without anthems that Hera, the patroness of marriage, was not an umilostivlena that parents did not glorify Gimeney, otherwise, necessary ceremonies were not executed“. But despite everything, the image of ardently in love lives in memory of people already several millennia.
However not all absolutely trusted a legend. One of doubts - an opportunity to cross this passage. As writes Bronevsky V. G. in “Notes“ “Dardanellsky... in the ancient time - the Gellespontsky passage received the name from the tsar Dardan who built on it the city of the name (nowadays small Dardanelless).
It is impossible to believe that on such current which sometimes happens on 6 miles (10,5 versts verst - 1 km 66 m) in an hour, Kserks through the passage could claim the bridge; for this reason Gero and Leandre`s fine history is even less probable .“
But it turned out i that it is possible to overcome the passage by swimming. Three years later after these notes, in 1810, lord George Gordon Byron crossed this place on Hellespont. From Sestus to Abydos he floated one hour ten minutes and wrote about it such poem:
The verses written after crossing by swimming of Dardanelless between Sestos and Abydos.
Leandre, the Greek in love courageous,
O of the maiden, for everything is known to you:
it Crossed Dardanelless
counter to waves More than once.
At December night, in an hour seething,
It to Gero on appointment floated,
Crossing breadth of the passage, -
Oh, their destiny was sad!
I floated under a bright sun of May;
the Son of a century sickly, I am proud,
Was tired a body stretching: What
I set up a record!
Leandre, as tells the legend,
In darkness of December night floated, Looking for
love and possession;
pushed Me vanities a heat.
It was necessary to both of us hardly,
I us struck anger of gods;
It - drowned, I - fever
In water cold took.
(on May 9, 1810)