Text: “This is apparently a popular Turkish legend that I was told on a family trip to Istanbul. It is the story of The Maiden’s Tower, a popular tourist destination. It tells the tale of a princess who was locked in a tower to protect her from a prophecy that she would die from a snake bite. As the legend goes, the king of Constantinople was told by a fortune-teller that his daughter would die from a snake bite on her 18th birthday. In an effort to protect his daughter, the king had a tower built in the middle of the Bosphorus Strait, where he locked the princess away. On the princess’s 18th birthday, the king brought her a basket of fruit as a gift. Unbeknownst to the king, a snake was hiding in the basket, and when the princess reached in to grab a piece of fruit, the snake bit her and she died.”
Context: CW is a close friend of mine and he claimed this popular Turkish legend was told to him and his family by way of a tour guide while they were visiting Istanbul. He claimed, “I thought this story was cool but the most interesting part was how the tower was real and it was so isolated from the whole area that the story kind of became believable in a way”. I found this interesting and asked him to explain more and he just stated that actually seeing the setting of a legend for himself made the legend come to life and seem more believable, whether or not the story is true, it was unique getting to know it was actually possible. He remembered this story because he enjoyed the trip so thoroughly and he actually had a few pictures of the tower which allowed me to understand why the story seems so possible.
Analysis: After rereading the account of this legend I was able to find two main lessons. Firstly, the story highlights the dangers of overprotectiveness. The king’s decision to lock his daughter away in a tower shows how a desire to protect someone can become excessive and ultimately lead to unintended consequences. Instead of shielding his daughter from harm, the king inadvertently brought about her demise. Secondly, the story underscores the notion of fate and how it cannot be avoided. Despite the king’s best efforts to protect his daughter, the prophecy that she would die from a snake bite still came true. With these two lessons in mind, the legend had a purpose and therefor was easier for me to understand. It seemed to me that this legend was likely popular among all residents of Turkey considering it manifests in a popular location within one of Turkeys most populated and popular locations. The story being told to CW and his family indicated to me that it was also popular for the story to be told to visiting groups of tourists. After some research I found that the exact origins of the story of the Maiden’s Tower were unclear, as it has been passed down through oral tradition over many centuries. But it is believed to have originated in ancient Greek mythology, where it was known as the “Legend of Leandros and Hero.” The story was later adopted by the Byzantine Empire, which built a tower in the Bosphorus Strait to protect the city of Constantinople from invasion. Over time, the legend evolved into the tale of the princess who was locked in the tower to protect her from a prophecy. This timeline meant this story has a rich history and consisted of elements from several different cultures which made it all the more interesting.