having seen the sanctuary and death oracle of poseidon earlier, it was only right for us to see the temple of poseidon at sounio, about an hour’s drive from athens. the temple of poseidon dates from 440 b.c. according to legend, this was the spot from which the greek hero theseus’ father, king aegeus, threw himself into the sea: theseus had gone to crete to fight the minotaur in a ship flying black sails, and had told his father that if he won, he would fly white sails on his ship upon his return, while if he died, the crew would fly the black sails. theseus did defeat the minotaur, and he won the hand of king minos’ daughter ariadne as well. athena told him to leave ariadne behind, however, and he was so distraught that he forgot to change the sails to white. aegeus saw the black sails from the distance and threw himself into the sea (which subsequently was named the aegean sea).
closer to today, one can see lord byron’s name scratched into the base of one of the pillars. byron visited greece for the first time in 1810, before becoming known as a poet and supporter of greek independence, and apparently this was the thing to do. i didn’t find his name, but i found the names of plenty of others from later in the century, including one from (presumably) an italian soldier toward the end of world war ii.
|you will need to click on these photos to see them more clearly.|