King Midas, Roman and the Turkish Barber

stories in my life

Remember that a crown is nothing but a hat with a hole in it!

My parting words after telling the Greek myth of King Midas and the golden touch. It’s been a long time since I told that story and even longer since I told the lesser known tale of his continuing foolishness, King Midas has donkey’s ears. However, visiting the ruins of the ancient Greek city of Ephesus (Efes), in combination with an invitation to cross the threshold and enter the hallowed male domain of a Turkish barber to photograph his work, I am reminded of the importance of the second story.

In ancient times King Midas of Phrygia, now a region in western Turkey, narrowly escaped an ignominious death after realising that his wish to turn everything he touched to gold meant that he would die of thirst and starvation. The God Dionysius expunged the wish and commanded…

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Cats of Ephesus

The ancient Greek city of Ephesus, (Efes) in Turkey is home to a bevy of well-fed felines, curled up on marble columns and sprawling in the sun. They have resided here since antiquity. In Islamic tradition cats are admired for their cleanliness and throughout modern day Turkey are treated with kindness, even venerated. The medieval Egyptian zoologist Al- Damiri (1344-1405) wrote that the first cat was created when God caused a lion to sneeze, after animals on Noah’s ark complained of mice. The cats usefulness in ridding cities of rats and mice not only assisted in protecting the granaries and library scrolls from being eaten but also the spread of disease by vermin. Their venerable status is therefore nothing to be sneezed at!