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'The Lemnian' - Fiction
Published in Blackwood's Magazine 189 (1143) 1-13 January1911
Subsequent Short Story Collection: The Moon Endureth (1912)


This short story was an early result of a cruise from Istanbul around the Aegean in 1910. During it Buchan landed at Thermopylae, where in 480 BC three hundred Spartans had held back Xerxes' army until attacked in the rear, according to Herodotus. The story describes how an islander from Lemnos blundered into the Spartan camp and felt obliged to fight with them against the Persians, although the Greeks were his ancestral enemies. Buchan described in a letter to Gilbert Murray how he had got 'lost in the hills' (Adam Smith 1965, 177) and refers to Murray's book The Rise of the Greek Epic (1907), which describes the Ionian migrations and how an island tribe such as the Lemnians might have moved from island to island to escape the invaders.

Michael & Isobel Haslett, 2001

(taken from their article 'Buchan and the Classics: Part 2: The Classics in Buchan's work', published in The John Buchan Journal, issue 25, Autumn 2001, and available through Journal Orders).

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