The Curse of the Corinth Canal
Curses and ill-fated prophecies are usually reserved for Biblical stories and tomb raiders, but the plans and construction of the Corinth Canal seems to have been cursed from the start. The ancient Greek philosopher Apollonius of Tyana (15-100 CE) prophesied that ill would befall anyone who proposed to dig a Corinthian canal and, unfortunately, he was right.
Three Roman rulers considered the idea but all suffered violent deaths. The Roman dictator Julius Caesar considered digging a canal through the isthmus but was assassinated before he could commence the project. Next, Caligula had interest in the idea but got no further as he too was assassinated. Finally emperor Nero was the first to actually attempt to construct the canal, personally breaking the ground with a pickaxe in 67 CE, but the project was abandoned when he died shortly afterwards.
The idea of the canal was revived after Greece gained formal independence from the Ottoman Empire in the early 1800s but it continued to prove too costly. However, even its completion in 1893, financial and operational difficulties continued for decades. Disruption caused by the First and Second World Wars produced further problems as did the heavily faulted unstable nature of the sedimentary rock along the canal’s walls.
Although the Corinth Canal saves traveler 700 kilometers (430 mile) by cutting through the narrow Isthmus of Corinth, it is too narrow for modern ocean freighters and is now used mainly for tourist traffic.
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