This is an apolitical forum for discussions on the Axis nations, as well as the First and Second World Wars in general hosted by Marcus Wendel's Axis History Factbook in cooperation with Michael Miller's Axis Biographical Research and Christoph Awender's WW2 day by day.
Another ancient Greek name is ‘Helles’, the cape at the tip of the peninsula where most of the British and French were based in 1915. It takes its name from an important Greek myth about two young siblings called Helle and Phrixus.
A wicked stepmother devises a plot to have the boy Phrixus sacrificed by his own father, but the children make their escape on a magical flying ram with a golden fleece. The ram carries them away, but the little girl Helle falls to her death into the sea below. The stretch of water where she landed was thus called the ‘Hellespont’ by the Greeks, or ‘Sea of Helle’ (ie, the Dardanelles); and the name ‘Cape Helles’ comes from the same story.
The name ‘Gallipoli’ (Turkish ‘Gelibolu’) comes from the ancient Greek ‘Kallipolis’, which means ‘beautiful city’ or ‘beautiful town’. There were ‘polises’ (Gr poleis) throughout the ancient world. Naples or ‘Neapolis’ (= ‘New City’) is a famous example, but many other settlements ended with the word ‘-polis’.
So when you use the word ‘Gallipoli’, you are speaking ancient Greek – after a fashion. You may not know it, but you are also evoking the idea of physical beauty (Kalli-). Originally it was Kallipolis itself that was meant to be beautiful, but because of the modern town’s size as the largest settlement, the name ‘Gallipoli’ came to identify (in English) the whole peninsula.
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