Contributor: Catriona Seth
Description: The name ‘Dardanelles’ might make you think of a busy shipping canal or of the site of a deadly First World War campaign. The ‘Hellespont’, which refers to the same body of water, might lead you to Hero and Leander’s sad story, recounted in classical sources, but also revived by Christopher Marlowe in 1598)or by Leigh Hunt in 1819. Both terms refer to a single strait. At its narrowest—where its currents are extremely strong—it is 1.2 kilometres across. Whilst it was made famous in myth and in history for tragic deaths, the site is also important for having offered Byron an occasion to accomplish a seemingly heroic act—swimming safely across—and to use this as an occasion for self-publicity which tells us something about how he viewed himself as an individual and as an author.