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Establishing these cities was not easy task, as the Dorians were not the first people to inhabit this area. They had to fend off the continuous attacks of fierce Carians natives. Homer mentioned the Carians in his Iliad, calling them "barbarous of speech," (as coincidence linguists note that the dialect of the region Halicarnassus is now part of has the harshest dialect in the West of Turkey). Early historians credit the Carians with having taught the Greeks the use of handles on shields and crests on helmets, which were previously slung over the shoulder.
One small alliance between the Carians and the Dorians came about when a Greek opened a tavern around the spring at Salmacis (now submerged in the western end of Bodrum harbor, in present day Bardakci). Both Carians and Dorians became regular patrons, and the Carians eventually adopted a more orderly way of life from the colonists. Trade relations were established, and also for a while the two races coexisted in peace.
Salmacis fountain water were said to have relaxing properties. Although excellent to drink,the water had the effect of making men effeminate and soft. These claims resulted in the Hermaphrodite legend.
The teenage son of the Goddess of Beauty (Aphrodite) was said to have spent a day swimming in a lake formed by the fountain. The nymph of the lake Salmacis, fell in love with him and begged the gods and goddesses to allow them to live together in a single body. They granted her wish, creating the half woman half man figure of Hermaphrodite.

Herodotus wrote that Halicarnassus became increasingly aligned with a group of the Ionians (inland inhabitant). The misconduct of a Halicarnassian and this upset the other members of Hexapolis are considered a pretext for the city's expulsion from the league. All six cities competed in games celebrated annually at Tropium in honor of God Apollo.
Halicarnassian named Agasides won a bronze trophy one year and refused to follow the custom of dedicating it on the spot to God Apollo.
He instead hung it on the wall of his own house, inciting the wrath of the all other Dorian cities and giving them an excuse to cut off ties with Halicarnassus.
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