|Tu quoque, materiam longo qui quaeris amori,|
Ante frequens quo sit disce puella loco.
Non ego quaerentem vento dare vela iubebo,
Nec tibi, ut invenias, longa terenda via est.
Andromedan Perseus nigris portarit ab Indis,
Raptaque sit Phrygio Graia puella viro,
Tot tibi tamque dabit formosas Roma puellas,
'Haec habet' ut dicas 'quicquid in orbe fuit.'
Gargara quot segetes, quot habet Methymna racemos,
Aequore quot pisces, fronde teguntur aves,
Quot caelum stellas, tot habet tua Roma puellas:
Mater in Aeneae constitit urbe sui.
Ovid - Ars Amatoria
|For a long-term affair, won't have one till you've found|
The places where girls are thick on the ground.
Though Perseus brought back Andromeda from the Syrian coast
And Paris stole Helen from his foreign host,
You can achieve your ambition more easily.
I'm not recommending an expedition
Overseas or a gruelling march; look nearer home
And you'll say, "The prettiest girls in the world are in Rome"-
They're thicker than wheatsheaves on Gargara, grapes in Lesbos, birds in the trees,
Stars in the sky, fish in the seas,
For Venus is a strong presence
In the city her son founded.
Translation by James Michie.
Ovid and other Latin poets made reference to Metimno as a site known for its vineyards (in his translation James Michie chose to make reference to the whole island).
Its territory was one of the most fruitful, particularly in wine. (..) The soil is friendly to the vine. That so much esteemed by the Romans would preserve its quality if the inhabitants were more industrious in cultivation, and more careful in making and keeping it. (..) The ancient islanders mixed what was intended for exportation to Rome with sea brine, to render it finer and more sweet.
James Dallaway - Constantinople Ancient and Modern with Excursions to the Shores of the Islands of the Archipelago and to the Troas - 1797
Olive leaves frame the view of Metimno (today's Molyvos)
On the north west cape of the island is the town of Molivo. (..) Molivo is the antient Methymna; it is built up the side of the hill at that high point of land, which makes the north west corner of the
Richard Pococke - A Description of the East and Some Other Countries - 1745
Our mules conveyed us, several hours length, through olive-grounds, extremely luxuriant as to vegetation, but with foliage forming a melancholy shade; and the only cultivation of them we observed, were low walls built round to preserve the roots. The vineyards hang on the slopes of the hills at a distance. Dallaway
Today there are more olive groves than vineyards around the castle of Metimno.
Older part of the fortress built on bedrock, also in the image used as background for this page
The town is a mile in circumference; on the
summit of the hill there is a castle, about half a mile in compass, which
is inhabited by Turks, who have here their several bodies of soldiers with their agas, as at Mytilene.
(..) In this city the famous musician Arion was born,
who is said to have been carried on a dolphin. Pococke
Of Methymnae nothing can be traced here (..) Methymnae was the second city in the island, both in population and opulence. Dallaway
The rich agricultural centre celebrated by the Roman poets became during the Middle Ages a village whose inhabitants lived inside a small Byzantine fortress at the top of a hill.
Ottoman (left) and Genoese (right) gates
The head of land on which Molivo stands, together with a small
point of land to the south, makes a bay to the south east, and there is
an island before it, which is a defence to the harbour; this is the port of
Molivo for large ships, where they often load with oil. Pococke
The Gattilusio, who had acquired the whole island in 1355, enlarged and strengthened the fortress: the inner gate shows an Italian design. The fortress protected a small harbour from which olive oil was shipped to Italy or to Galata, an important Genoese trading centre located opposite Constantinople.
Second Ottoman gate and one of the towers
The Ottomans conquered Metimno in 1462 and they enlarged the fortress and protected the access to it with additional walls.
From the castle westward the ground declines, and makes a sort of a plain spot at the very point, on which one sees some little signs of the old city Methymna, particularly the foundations of the city walls on the south side of the hill, and the ruins of a large strong tower or castle over the present little basin on the south, which is
made by art for small boats; it is probable that the city extended from
the end of the point, about half a mile, to that steep ground on which
the present town stands. (..) The village of Petra seems to have
its name from a high rock in the middle of the town, which is inaccessible
every way, except on the north side, and being enclosed at top with a
wall, about a hundred yards in circumference, they deposit in it all their
valuable effects, when they apprehend any danger from the Corsairs:
They have also a chapel there to the Virgin Mary, and a church in the
town, there being a considerable number of Christians in this little place. Pococke
Today Petra is best known for its sandy beach.
View towards the Asian shore, where in the Xth century BC settlers from Lesbos founded the town of Assos
Methymna was computed to be Seven miles and a half from the shoar of the
continent, though it is now computed to be eighteen miles over, and it cannot be much less. Pococke
Bays and inlets of the sea most beautifully vary the mountainous face of the whole island. Dallaway
Metimno attracts a rather upscale tourism and a number of artists who have their studios right below the fortress.
There are not above two hundred Christians
here, who have three churches, for it is in a manner a Turkish town. Pococke
In general Greek authorities have paid little attention to the conservation of memories of the Ottoman period. Fountains are the exception to this rule; see other Ottoman fountains at Corinth and Candia (Iraklion).