Open up a world of Turkish inspiration with a Cornucopia digital subscription

Buy or gift a stand-alone digital subscription and get unlimited access to dozens of back issues for just £18.99 / $18.99 a year.

Print subscribers automatically receive FREE access to the digital archive.
Please register at with your subscriber account number or contact

Buy a digital subscription Activate free digital access (print subscribers only) Go to the Digital Edition
Find it


After Captain Beaufort and his team of naval surveyors had spent the day here “clambering over the ruins like excited small boys”, they all became came “committed antiquarians” sparking a European treasure hunt, described by James Mortimer in Cornucopia 27. Lying by a fine white sandy beach, Patara’s ruins are among the more accessible on the coast. The best view of the site is from the top of the theatre. Famous for its oracle of Apollo, Patara was also the birthplace of the 4th-century bishop St Nicholas.

Review | Cornucopia 38

Santa: Get a Life

By Robert Ousterhout

Despite his popularity today, what is remarkable about the actual St Nicholas is how much we do not know about him.

Discounting the transformations of the past two centuries, he remains firmly grounded as the patron saint of Greece, Russia, children, prisoners, sailors and travellers. Every Greek port has a chapel dedicated to him; Greek ships carry his icon in the belief that “St Nicholas holds the tiller”. Since the Middle Ages he has held universal appeal as one who intervenes to right injustices against the common people.

Here is what we do know: he was born in Patara on the south coast of Turkey, around 300 AD. he became bishop of Myra (now Demre), died and was buried there around the middle of the fourth century. That’s all.

Over time his biography has been embellished, and embellished… Despite evidence to the contrary, he is said to have attended the Council of Nicea in 325 where, a staunch defender of Orthodoxy, he apparemtly slapped the heretic Arius and made his teeth rattle.

By the sixth century he has rescued three citizens of Myra from unjust execution, and appeared in a dream to the Emperor Constantine to save three imprisoned generals from false accusations. So says Praxis de Stratelatis, the first recorded version of his life.

Giving presents comes later: in the ninth century we hear how he secretly provided dowries for impoverished girls so their fathers would not be forced to sell them into prostitution.

Nicholas’s story has been fleshed out with borrowed incidents from the lives of others…

More Reading
Buy the latest issue
Or, browse the back issues here
Issue 64, 2022 30th Anniversary Issue
£ 12.00

Cornucopia Digital Subscription

The Digital Edition

Cornucopia has joined forces with the digital publishing platform Exact Editions to offer individual and institutional subscribers unlimited access to a searchable archive of fascinating back issues and every newly published issue. This brand new resource is available cross-platform on web, iOS and Android and offers a comprehensive search function, allowing the title’s cultural content to be delved into at the touch of a button.

Digital Subscription: £18.99 / $18.99 (1 year)

Subscribe now

Print subscribers automatically receive FREE access to the digital archive. If you are already a subscriber, please register at with your subscriber account number or contact