Your RDA of Irony

Hedda Gobbler Would Make a Great Name for a Turkey

Yes, to answer that endemic question of  Thanksgiving, the main course was named for the country. Europeans of the 16th century thought the North American bird resembled a fowl common to Turkey.   

The Turks, however, never thought of naming the fowl for themselves. They call it the Hindi, which refers to India. (I have no idea what the real Indians call the bird but it might be something vicious about Pakistan.)

Furthermore, but for a slight Byzantine miscalculation, we would be referring to that misnamed bird as the Anatolia.

Until the 11th century, there were no Turks in Turkey.  In fact, the peninsula then was known as Anatolia.  It was a nice, thoroughly Greek region, and one of the most lucrative parts of the Byzantine Empire. In 1071, however, a Greek aristocrat named Andronicus Ducas became the inadvertent founder of Turkey.

The Byzantine general simply wanted to kill his emperor Romanus IV but was too finicky for an assassination. Ducas waited until the imperial army was fighting Turkish nomads in eastern Anatolia, near the town of Manzikert. He then ordered a retreat, abandoning the emperor to the enemy. Ducas rushed backed to Constantinople to install his cousin on the now empty and available throne.

(In fact, the Emperor Romanus was captured alive. Under the circumstances, the Turkish Sultan could coerce a favorable treaty. Romanus was soon after released; but his return to Constantinople was unappreciated by his usurping successor. The Byzantine retirement package consisted of blinding and exile.)

Unfortunately, the Byzantine Empire was in just as miserable shape. Andronicus Ducas had overestimated the army’s ability to retreat. It disintegrated, leaving Anatolia–half of the empire– defenseless. The Turks weren’t nomads after that.

And we won’t be trying to digest an Anatolia on Thanksgiving.


p.s.  A Further Tribute to the Pilgrims:

  1. Ed bedermanthanks says:

    And if you were a milkman named Tevye, you would be from Anatefka

  1. There are no trackbacks for this post yet.

Leave a Reply