All Stories

Off to Buthrint and another Blair joke

Tom Winnifrith
Saturday 4 August 2012

According to Virgil’s Aenid, the City of Buthrint in Southern Albania was established by folks associated with Troy as a miniature Troy. Of course this is all cobblers. The Aenid is essentially a story of a journey. Rather like another book entitled “A Journey” it is pure fiction dressed up as historical fact.

According to the great Roman author, when Aeneas fled Troy with his band if followers he popped in here to find a mini Troy before heading off to Carthage for his fling with Dido before moving onto Rome via Scicly. Of course, in Rome, the Trojans hook up with the Latinus tribe and the rest is history. Yup. If you believe that you also reckon there were WMD in Iraq capable of hitting British bases in Cyprus within 45 minutes. And no-one would fall for that would they?

But it suited the folks in Buthrint, then known as Buthrotum in honour of a bull that escaping sacrifice tried to swim here from Epirus and then died on the beach here (this time not a Blair myth but one from Teucros of Cyzicus), to be associated with Troy and thus Rome as the Roman empire expanded. Thus while the place pre-dates Rome, its glory rose after Caesar landed in 44 BC.

The attraction of the town is that not only is it a natural fortress but it also sits on a giant freshwater lagoon which was rich in fish. I never really get the Latin obsession with fish. These were the folks who considered a sauce made of completely rotten fish as a delicacy. I think I shall pass on that one. But why would they have been so keen on lake fish rather than fish from the Med & Adriatic. Roach, perch, eel, carp and stickleback or cod, mackerel, turbot, see bass, octopus – your call?

Post Rome and Byzantium and skipping a few hundred years the town has its second wind under the Venetians who also ran Corfu and used this as their mainland base. Again, the fresh fish was, for some reason, a key attraction. Whilst the Turks were repulsed from Corfu, Buthrint could not hold out forever and became part of the Ottoman empire. Today it is a world heritage site having, to his credit, been well cared for by Norman Wisdom groupie and evil dictator Enver Hoxha.

More from Buthrint, pictures included, whenever I can get online next. That maybe some time. My next destination is Zitsa in Northern Greece. With no travel arranged that may take 5 or 6 days during which time internet connection will be “intermittent.” Blogging thus may be sporadic.

If you enjoyed reading this article from Tom Winnifrith, why not help us cover our running costs with a donation?
About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
[email protected]
Recently Featured on ShareProphets
Sign up for my weekly newsletter

Required Reading

Recent Comments

I also read