Cape Sounion- No place you'd rather be

What do you know about Greece? A picturesque country?

That blue place? Mykonos?

Santorini?

What about ancient Greece? Have you heard of Cape Sounion?

It is a promontory located south-southeast of Athens, Greece. Cape Sounion, or better known as Sunium promontorium in Latin, is a popular tourist attraction till this day because of its scenery and also the history that dates back to the times of Aegeus, the King of Athens and Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea.

Aegeus According to ancient Greek mythologies, Cape Sounion is the spot where Aegeus, King of Athens,  committed suicide due to an unfortunate misunderstanding involving his son, Theseus. Before that, Aegeus was in conflict with Crete as he often lost in competitions against the son of King Minos of Crete, Androgeus. Hence, out of anger, Aegeus suggested Androgeus to go and kill the Marathonian Bull. However, Androgeus ended up being killed and this angered King Minos. A peaceful resolution was eventually reached between the two, that is- to send offerings (7 male and 7 female youths every 9 years).

They would be placed into a complicated labyrinth, where it held Minotaur and be served as sacrifices for it to devour. This tradition continued on until the appearance of Theseus.

Theseus had volunteered to be part of the sacrifice team to head over to Crete to finish off Minotaur. In order to reassure Aegeus of his safety, he made a pact with him and promised that he would hang white sails on his ship as a sign of success upon his return to Athens. However, Theseus forgot about changing the black sails on his ship on his way back, despite him achieving success.

This made Aegeus, who was waiting patiently for Theseus to return on Cape Sounion believe that Theseus failed to make it back alive and due to his devastation, he committed suicide by jumping into the sea. Thus, in commemoration of Aegeus, the Athenians later named the sea surrounding Cape Sounion after him, The Aegean Sea.

Poseidon

In ancient Greek mythologies, Poseidon is not only the Ruler of the Sea, but also the god of earthquakes and horses. Poseidon’s realm included not only oceans, but also freshwater rivers. He is often portrayed to be easily irritable and is known to sometimes, resist the control by his younger brother, Zeus, the King of Mount Olympus. Hence, he would sometimes vent his frustrations by pounding and shaking the earth and sea, which is most feared by the people.

Temple of Poseidon

On the land of Cape Sounion also lies the spectacular Temple of Poseidon, that is known for its scenic views and rich history that was passed down from Ancient Greece to present times.

While the Temple was first constructed in the archaic period, it was destroyed by the Persians in the second Greco-Persian War in 480 BCE. After the second Persian Invasion, Pericles ordered the rebuilt of the Temple, where it was completed around 440 BCE.

Till this day, only 16 of the columns remain as part of the ruins of the Temple which was built by same architect behind the Temple of Hephaestus in Athens’ Ancient Agora, Iktinos.

The intention behind the construction of this temple was more of an emotional plea to seek the blessings from Poseidon, who was the God of The Sea.

Cape Sounion was the last point on the lands of Athens that the ancient Athenian sailors were able to see, as they sailed out into the Aegean Sea and Mediterranean Sea. Cape Sounion was also the first point for the sailors to spot the moment they return from their journeys. Hence, the Athenians decided to build a temple for Poseidon there, in hope that he would bless the sailors with a safe return to Athens.

Previously, we might be admiring these scenic places of interest virtually through the web without knowing what lies beneath the the picturesque view that it currently presents to the public. Who would have known the history of the Aegean Sea to be such a tragic one, triggered simply by a misunderstanding? We could not have fathom how much the Greeks worshipped their Gods, till the extent of building temples to seek for protection. It was an insightful find on our part, and we believe that it will also be beneficial for fellow history lovers out there.

So the next time you visit Greece, where do you think you will go?

Still ain’t convinced that this IS the place? Check this out! [vimeo 130985781 w=345 h=345]