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Hellespont

From Academic Kids

Hellespont (i.e. "Sea of Helle," variously named in classical literature Hellesponium Pelagus, Rectum Hellesponticum, and Fretum Hellesponticum), was the ancient name of the Dardanelles. It was so-called from Helle, the daughter of Athamas, who was drowned here.

This entry was originally from an 1911 Encyclopedia.


Herodotus tells us that in c. 482 BC Xerxes, king of Persia and son of Darius, had two bridges built across the width of the Hellespont at Abydos in order that his huge army, ostensibly made of 5 million men, could cross from Persia into Greece. These bridges were both destroyed by a storm (vii.34) but after the sea was punished by receiving 300 lashes and a pair of fetters thrown into it, and engineers finished the bridges. In addition to punishing the Hellespont, Xerxes had the heads of those responsible for building the bridges cut off. The Histories of Herodotus vii.33-37 and vii.54-58 gives details of Xerxes' building and crossing of the bridges.


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