The Letoon

A Stoa at the Letoon

This afternoon, we visited the Letoon, a sacred place from Antiquity near Xanthus. With an extremely well-preserved theater, a double stoa, a nymphaeum, a Byzantine church, and three temples, this is a very nice site. One can understand why the Lycian League chose this sanctuary as its meeting place.

According to an old legend, told by the Roman poet Ovid (Metamorfoses, 6.317-381), one of the temples is built on the site where Leto and her two children, Artemis and Apollo, had an encounter with a group of ill-mannered peasants. It was a very hot day and everything was dry and dusty. So, Leto, thirsty, requested some water, but those Lycian peasants denied it to her. When she requested a drink for a second time, they used their sticks to make the water of the pool more troubled. Immediately, the gods punished them, changing them into frogs, so that they could continue to pollute the waters and speak dirty language.

The well no longer exists, and we found it easy to imagine how dry this land can be. Near the theater, the soil was full of cracks. On the other hand, near the temples, the changing water-table has created a new pool. The frogs are again there, and their noise is deafening.

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