Postcards For America

Annie O’Malley

Annie’s card is an image of the temple of Artemis in Turkey. This is Annie’s discussion of the card:

All that remains of the Temple of Artemis is one column standing in a marsh with cranes nesting at the very top. The temple was considered by many in antiquity to be one of "seven wonders of the world." Pliny the Elder wrote about its magnificence, describing in detail its architecture and layout down to the number of columns. It attracted philosophers who sought asylum from not men but "mankind", there were annual art exhibitions where sculptors were invited to construct bronze statues of Amazons and the like, and poets had competitions there. Ancient writers describe the oriental luxury, the golden pillars, and the paintings in the temple. And of course the devout cult of Artemis was very influential in Ephesus, a great player in ancient trading.

Like many ancient temples, the temple of Artemis served a dual capacity in being a banking as well as a religious institution. Many great figures sought asylum there. The children of the Persian king Xerxes for one. After Xerxes was defeated by the Greeks, Alexander the great took advantage of his position and forced the priests to release the fugitives to be stoned to death. One of the Ptolemy brothers was murdered there with his consort. In another tragedy Marc Antony forced the chief priest to bring out the hiding sister of Cleopatra, Arsinoe. He then murdered her, thus assuring Cleopatra (and himself) the throne of Egypt.

Anyhow, it's not for all the tragic deaths that I appreciate the site, it's that across the ancient world, from Egypt to Persia to China, this was a landmark of great human achievement. It stood along side the Pyramids as marvels of human ingenuity. And now literally a pieced together column is all that stands as shadow of its former self. I would like to have a postcard that reminds us that nothing is permanent, that great empires rise and fall. Postcards are meant to capture a moment in time and space, to immortalize an experience, but they are just as ephemeral as that great temple. Perhaps you could leave a copy of the postcard at the Washington Monument?

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Tucker Neel