A Tale in Red: Selene, Endymion, and the Lake.

It had been a warm, winter August in São Paulo, Brazil, when I decided write a book (Turkey West to East) about my forthcoming travels in Turkey. Not just any book, but a book telling of the history, feelings and culture I wanted to discover about those lands. I did not intend, then, to write a blog as well, I didn’t feel disciplined enough to do it. I normally only write when my mind is full of words and when I am so overwhelmed with feelings that I am near the point of exploding. That was probably the reason I had never been a blogger. Another, was my multiple passions: science, literature, photography, history, studying people’s behaviour, anything requiring research, thought and creativity; how could I coordinate them to create a profitable blog? All the marketing/internet gurus say it’s not possible do that, but then, I’m not a marketing guru, I am a woman who wakes every morning with new ideas; with something different to say or to explore.

I changed my mind about the blog because of Firat’s insistence that I do something live online. In 2011, the capacity for transmitting video live from Turkey was very poor. The mobile network was good enough to allow us to make calls, even when in the middle of the mountains, but it couldn’t meet the demands when large volumes of data were involved. I began the blog on one of our days off, a day when we were to stay longer in the same hotel, and when I could allocate Firat the job of ‘burning ’ all the photos we had taken to CD.

Seated on my bed, I began by commenting on my impressions of Turkey, and, step by step, telling of our adventure. Of course, I didn’t have much time to polish my English (at that time it was much worse than it is now) and with a slow Internet, online searches and corrections were extremely difficult. So, I decided that I would just write it as well as I could, to get my ideas down, and then, later, begin to correct my mistakes.

Another decision that Firat helped me to take, was about what write in the blog. I did not want to give away too much from the content of my planned book. The book was my precious child, being incubated, nurtured by discoveries along every kilometre that we travelled. I therefore left many of the finer details out of the blog, nuances of the legends, the extra details that I thought you would love to know once the blog had wetted your appetite; details that the book will love to tell you.

In that respect, the story of Selene and the Lake wasn’t originally destined for the blog, but something of the emotions it invoked made me want to write it here to represent the passion that I feel reawakens every night as I write. I hope you enjoy the legend of Selene and Endymion…

The day, itself, was not auspicious; it was raining cats and dogs; no, really! It was as if all the Greek gods were angry with us mortals, and had decided to wash away all our sins, mistakes and stupidity in a single day. Firat was driving, not as carefully as I would have preferred, but slowly enough to avoid disaster. “Too bad it’s raining, but I still want to show you the lake.” he said while backing off the road to turn round; he had passed the entrance to the restaurant.

It wasn’t difficult find a place to sit. Firat ordered çay and lit his cigarette. It was cold, so I protected myself from the wind while looking at the lake. The grey day brought a sense of solitude, isolation and sadness. The mountains around the lake were only shadows, and the boats that would normally colour the water with their reds, greens, and yellows were all restrained at the pier, waiting for the rain to stop. Firat, noticing my melancholy, began to talk about his childhood, especially how he used to misbehave, and how his parents would aim to address it. By contrast, I never was a badly behaved girl; I was strange, and Firat’s face showed me that he really couldn’t comprehend what I was saying, so I changed to talk about my son, and how Felipe was a very well behaved young man, more focused on being perfect than on playing-up. However, we laughed a lot at Firat’s stories, even if I couldn’t identify with his attitudes.

When Firat turned to a map on the wall, I finally began to understand the reason we were there. “Do you see this map? It shows the outline of the park where the lake is; this is a picture of the goddess Selene, and these are the mountains where Endymion is sleeping.” I did not know the story, so kept quiet while Firat’s voice conjured up images of the goddess Selene, the sister of Helios, daughters of the Titans. She was the goddess of the moon, but fell in love with a mortal, a hunter who lived in these lands, his name was Endymion.

Endymion was so beautiful that Selene could not resist and gave herself to him. Zeus did not approve and decided that Endymion should die.

Selene intervened and asked Zeus to put him, instead, into an eternal sleep, so he would remain “forever young”. Selene also asks Zeus for permission to reveal herself as a goddess to Endymion.

Zeus agreed, meaning that, every night, Selene could descend to Mount Latmus to sleep next to Endymion, making love to him, next to the lake that we were seeing.”

“What do you think about this story? Beautiful isn’t it …?”

There are actually numerous versions of the legend, in one Endymion was a fisherman, in another he was a king. Still others, tell us it was Selene who asked Zeus to keep Endymion young because of his beauty, and not Zeus jealousy that condemn Endymion to the eternal dream. It doesn’t matter which version we choose, they each illustrate that the love of a goddess for a mortal is always possible. Moreover, that such love is not only beautiful…it is productive: Selene had fifty daughters by Endymion, each of them reflecting the beauty of their mother; I hope my blog will be equally inspiring…

%d bloggers like this: