The Gryphon’s Skull: :

H. N. Turteltaub


H. N.Turteltaub is a pen name of Harry Turtledoveve

This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this novel are either fictitious or are used fictitiously..

Copyright 2002 by H. N.Turteltaubub

Map by Mark Stein Studiosos

The ‘Hellenic Traders’ Series:

Over the Wine Dark Seaa

The Gryphon’s Skulll

The Sacred Landd

Owls to Athenss

The Gryphon’s Skull is dedicated to Jack Horner, whosee Dinosaur Lives gave me the idea for it.  I owe him special thanks for the pleasure of his conversation, and for his patience with my questions about Protoceratops skulls.  Any errors, of course, are purely my own.

A Note on Weights, Measures, and Money

I have, as best I could, used in this novel the weights, measures, and coinages my characters would have used and encountered in their journey. Here are some approximate equivalents (precise values would have varied from city to city, further complicating things)::

1 digit = 3/4 inchh

4 digits = 1 palm

6 palms = 1 cubit

1 cubit = 1 1/2 feet

1 plethron = 100 feet

1 stadion = 600 feet

12 khalkoi = 1 oboloss

6 oboloi = 1 drakhma

100 drakhmai = 1 mina

(about 1 pound of silver)

60 minai = 1 talent

As noted, these are all approximate. As a measure of how widely they could vary, the talent in Athens was about 57 pounds, while that of Aigina, less than thirty miles away, was about 83 pounds..




Spring. Never in all his twenty-six years had Menedemos been so glad to see the sailing season come round again. Not that winter in Rhodes was harsh. Menedemos had never seen snow fall here, nor had his father. Even so ….

His fingers caressed the steering-oar tillers of the merchant galley Aphroditeas they might have stroked a lover’s skin. His cousin Sostratos stood on the akatos’ poop deck with him. Sostratos was a few months older and most of a head taller, but Menedemos captained the ship. His cousin served as toikharkhos, keeping track of the Aphroditeand of what they would bring in and spend on their trading run. Sostratos had a splendid head for numbers. People, now, people gave him a good deal more trouble.

From the quay at which the Aphroditewas tied up, Menedemos’ father called, “Be careful. By the gods, be extra careful.”

“I will, Father,” Menedemos said dutifully. One of the reasons he was so glad to escape Rhodes was that that meant escaping Philo-demos. Living in the same house with him through the winter had been harder this year than in any other Menedemos could remember. His father had long been convinced he couldn’t do anything right..

As if to prove as much, Philodemos called, “Listen to your cousin. Sostratos has the beginnings of good sense.”