Friday, August 26, 2011

Top Ten Reasons Why Ancient Ephesus Rocks!

Number Ten: The Temple of Artemis
Ok…we’re talking one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, here people! Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Statue of Zeus at Olympia, Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, Colossus of Rhodes, Lighthouse of Alexandra, and Great Pyramids of Giza (which still kind of exist today)… Even though the Temple lay in ruins, still… to dash around those pillars… totally cool.
Number Nine: St. John the Evangelist Passed Through
John from the Bible is a stud. Bank on it. What a life. First, he is the son of Zebedee and a cousin to Christ. You’re kidding me, right? How cool is that. He stays at the crucifixion with Mary and races Peter to the tomb after word of the resurrection.
BUT… there’s more…
John travels all through Asia Minor, there are two great stories:
1. A priest of Diana, Aristodemus, challenged him to drink a cup of poison, but St. John made the sign of the Cross on it, then drained its contents. Thereafter, in Christian art, he is depicted with a sacramental cup and a winged serpent flying from it.
2. He is reportedly to have been boiled in oil, which didn’t kill him, and so frustrated by this, Roman emperor Domitian dumped his body on the island of Patmos where he receives the vision of the Book of Revelation.
He is the Patron Saint of Booksellers and Art Dealers, and is often confused with that locusts and wild honey nibbling other Biblical stud, John the Baptist.
Number Eight: The Vedius Gymnasium
This is one of the remaining structures of modern Ephesus and as you are walking down the stone road, you can see what a cool place this must have been. Staged for plays and early Olympic games, there were private viewing rooms, athlete chambers, baths, and well… basically luxury suits. That this place still remains is a wonder.
Number Seven: The Gladiator Graveyard
This is a recent find, somewhere around 2007, researches unearthed the remains of a very large graveyard depicting crushed skulls and broken bones of many fallen slave soldiers. I love the idea of gladiators on ships traveling around to take swipes at one another, but the reality is that it was a brutal and terrible life (Unless you’re cast as lead in an HBO series). The blood on these stones is another somber reason Ephesus is amazing.
Number Six: Roman Baths
You got to respect cleanliness, certainly. And the Romans were hygienic. Still to this day, evidence of ancient baths with heating pools still exist. A sign of a life of the value of relaxation, which is something, as an American, I need to schedule more time to do. Respect!
Number Five: Antony and Cleopatra Racing Chariots down Curetes Street
There are really few real-life lovers I pay attention to. John and Abigail, de Beauvior and Satre, Taylor and Hepburn, but how many of these duos had a Shakespeare plan penned for them? The Curetes Street in ancient Ephesus runs from the Hercules Gate to the Celsus Library, and gets its name from the priests that used to walk it. Lined with statues, shops, and monuments, that these stones still remains… that Antony and Cleopatra used to race their chariots up and down it … that’s so wonderful. Imagine them glaring at one another as those wheels spun. Viva love in the ancient world!
Number Four: Alexander the Great's Ego
Here’s the rumor, Alexander from Macedonia is passing all through the known world kicking butt and taking names, and putting his own name on everything (kind of like Donald Trump). After the Battle of Granicus in 334 B.C., Alexander tells the Ephesians that they should rename the Temple of Artemis after him. He offered to say a prayer and pay for the remolding… they declined.
For everyone you know who has an ego the size of an ancient wonder… that’s for you.
Numer Three: The Medusa Head on the Temple of Hadrian
Remnants of Hadrian exist all over, that must have been some wall…! But the notion that Medusa, the young priestess of Athena raped by Poseidon and cursed into this horrible beast , turned into company logo, is beyond me. What is she doing here? It just doesn’t make any sense. What were these Ephesians in to that made them want to celebrate a snaked-haired freak?
That’s a good question
Number Two: The Ephesus Theater
You really can’t believe it until you stand on the stage and look up. It’s just massive. It defines description. The steps just rise into the horizon and swallows you. No one really builds this large amphitheaters anymore, unless you’re at some funky college recital… our indoor stadiums just don’t do it justice. The smell from the moss on the stones alone… And to think that Apostle Paul stood here and preached…? Well, there could only be one thing cooler.
Number One: The Apostle Paul and the Virgin Mary Made it Their Home.
We know that during 51-53 A.D., while imprisoned in Rome, Paul wrote a number of epistles and letters to churches which constitute much of the New Testament. We also know that he lived in Ephesus for three years preaching and doing good works. For a guy that was restless and stubborn, irascible and eloquent, that must have been wonderful.
I’ve learned in my life that sometimes when you meet an amazing person, they don’t really belong to you, but to everyone around you. You can’t claim ownership of them because they keep moving and passing along. The Apostle Paul, from persecuting Christians to conversion, imprisonment to preaching, had such an impact on the world it is undeniable.
AND… that Ephesus is rumored to be the final resting place of The Virgin Mary, even though it might be a medieval tourist trap, is still beyond wonder.
What made both these two giants want to come here? The answer is somewhere, shrouded in mystery, waiting to be discovered.


  1. I wish i could do this!