September 21st, 2008 – by: Allen_Taylor
Temple to Poseidon
Five days in and we‚Äôve made it to Athens. It was a fast day as the ship docked at 7:00 and sailed out at 5 the same evening, but it was a full day. We left at 8:00 on a bus headed to Cape Sounion. According to legend, Cape Sounion is the spot where Aegeus, king of Athens, leapt to his death off the cliff, thus giving his name to the Aegean Sea. The story goes a Minotaur was confined by its owner, King Minos of Crete, in a specially designed labyrinth. Every year the Athenians were forced to send 7 boys and 7 girls to Minos as tribute. These youths were placed in the labyrinth to be devoured by a Minotaur. Theseus, son of Aegeus, had volunteered to go with the third tribute and attempt to slay the beast.
He had agreed with his father that if he survived the contest, he would hoist a white sail. Aegeus, anxiously looking out from Sounion, saw a black sail on his son Theseus 's ship as it returned from Crete. This led him to believe that his son had been killed by the dreaded Minotaur. Per the legend, Theseus had overcome and slain the Minotaur, but tragically had simply forgotten about the white sail.
Cape Souion is the site of two ancient temples; one dedicated to Athena (only the foundations remain) and the other the famous one to Poseidon. The temple to Poseidon is the same age as the Parthenon, but was considerably smaller. Both are from the 5th century B.C. The original temple had six columns across the ends and thirteen down the sides.
This follows the classic ratio used in other temples where the number of columns running the length of the temple being twice plus 1 the number of columns on an end. Also following the classic style, the ends contained two colonnades of columns with a central room which contained a statue of the god that the temple was built to honor. The temple to Poseidon has been rebuilt to the extent possible after centuries of being damaged by earth quakes.
Leaving Cape Souion, we had lunch and a bus tour of the city of Athens, including a stop at the site of the modern Olympic stadium (built 1896). The stadium is all marble and was built when the ‚Äėmodern‚Äô games were restarted and the site moved from Olympus to Athens. For each Olympic games now, the flame is started at the traditional site in Olympus, then brought to the stadium in Athens where it remains for several days before beginning its journey to the city hosting the current games.
This stadium was also used when the games were last in Athens in 2002 and is routinely used for concerts.
The final stop of the day was the Acropolis, location of several temples (the most famous being the Parthenon) and the Herodian amphitheater. The Parthenon is built to the same style as the temple to Poseidon, but it is eight columns wide and seventeen columns in length. To reach the Parthenon, you must first walk through the Propylaia and beside the Temple of Athena Nike which was used as a store house for the spoils taken from Athens‚Äô enemies in battles. Off to the side of the Parthenon is the Erechtheion that marks the first use of statues as columns. The statues of the Erechtheion have one ‚Äúleg‚ÄĚ that is draped and provides the structural support of the column while the other is in a more relaxed pose.