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Through Cape Sounion, Greece

Venture forth with me and see what I see
as we explore the imaginary

Today’s roaming through Greece takes us to Homer’s imagination of the Odyssey, one of the oldest written poems, the beginning of the roots from which Western literature grew. The wrath of Poseidon over Greek hero Odysseus in the epic journey touches upon this very place, the Cape of Sounion where describes many who died and the ships that were destroyed and scattered in all directions, while Odysseus had to go through all the temptations and hardships in order to complete his mission.

Cape of Sounion, Temple of Poseidon, the site of religious worship from the earliest history, served as ground sacred to the god of the sea Poseidon. Sailors in particular visited the temple before or after their journey in the hope of becoming synchronised with the divine plan of Poseidon and having a safe and uneventful journey. Poseidon, a shape shifting Olympian God in control of the sea, earthquakes, floods, drought and horses tried for dominion over Athens but lost to the goddess Athena. Whereas the fear of Poseidon’s wrath was strong as his powerful trident meant life or death, Athena’s power was internal and philosophical and on the long run maybe long lived.

She also buried a seed and produced an olive tree which was much more useful than the salty water spring that Poseidon created in the contest for the city. It was Cecrops the first king of Athens who picked her as the patron deity for his city state.

Earlier scholars had even posited the question of whether the temple was dedicated to Athena at some point in history, but later the discovery of inscriptions confirmed that it was truly a Temple of Poseidon and it may have been built by the architectural mind or the school of minds going by the name ‘The Hephaisteion Master’. The Temple of Hephaestus in Athens and the Temple of Nemesis at Rhamnous also have similar designs.



Cape Sounion
Date January 2017
Exploring Homer, Poseidon, Triton, Athena, Pericles, Athens, similar temples in Athens, history
Connecting to Heidegger, Descartes, Newton, Giacometti, architecture of other places

Architecturally, the Temple of Poseidon is one of the largest temples in Greece and reflects to an extent the Parthenon as it was built at around the same time, c. 440 BC at the height, under Pericles, of the Golden Age of literary and artistic works. Extending democracy (even though it had existed for some time, it was Pericles who successfully broadened its franchise), a great patron of art and progress due in part to his own broad and comprehensive education. Many invasionary forces came and went but it was the plague that truly destroyed the apex of Greek power including Pericles himself who also wasn’t immune to the invisible destroyer.

The sea near the Cape Sounion is known for being stormy and unpredictable just like Poseidon himself who was integrated into so many other mythological stories, a true element of water. His son Triton whose upper body was human and had a long soft fin used the sound through his twisted conch shell to either calm or agitate the waters. Like anything historical, it was the cacophony he made that made him well known even among the monsters of mythological lore who used to run away from his terrible sounds. In music theory, tritone is comprised of three whole tones and since medieval times it was considered the most dissonant of all combinations. In the 18th century it was even termed ‘diabolus in musica’ (the Devil in music) and avoided all together; however, since the Romantic period having such a strong connotation it served many composers in depicting the spectrum between good and evil.

Imaginary supersonic bubble is exploring

Charlie and Earling visited Sounion in January 2017 and while the mythology and history mesmerized them, they also wanted to explore the thoughts of Heidegger who also visited the cape in 1962.

Charlie: I am truly inspired with the concentration of power that ancient Greece managed to realize around something as immaterial as temples. Politics was obviously an integral part, but instead of fighting between each other they focused on different ideologies and Gods. Certainly they all reflected the internal state of collective consciousness, but it is interesting how a symbol can unite and divide.

Earling: In the context of unite and divide, let’s revisit the collective thought of 20th century civilization which had a focused fragmented thinking, possibly a result of the founding pillars that Rene Descartes and Isaac Newton had established, but it is the thought of Heidegger that intrigues, reminding us of the sense of “being” rather than thinking or calculating.

Charlie: The temporal nature of the bodies they inhabit further inspires towards Dasein (“being-there”) as Heidegger conceptualized, rather than floating in the sea of calculation, effectiveness and problems solving which albeit necessary for the progress and innovation doesn’t touch upon the essence of human soul.

Earling: Here is what Heidegger wrote in relation to this temple we are visiting: “the people of this country knew how to inhabit and demarcate the world against the barbarous in honor of the seat of the gods. …they knew how to praise what is great and by acknowledging it, to bring themselves in front of the sublime, founding, in this way, a world.”

Charlie: It is not only the awe towards the ability to nourish the sublime that Heidegger proposed in his philosophical treatise but also the sense of Authenticity to which one arrived in the quest to being (“being-there”) as opposed to just thinking.

Earling: I think I want to connect this to Giacometti’s transparent constructions and the interplay between external events and finding the inner core.
Extract from

Giacometti was a believer of life and he insisted that each creature creates his or her own void as a result of living. This void, although unintentional, shapes the form of that creature and only the core is left to move and transform, helpless to it’s static existence and the inhabiting shell.

To conclude this written journey I think it would be important to share Martin Heidegger’s further thoughts: “Art’s ability to manifest the “essential strife” between “earth and world…the world grounds itself on the earth and the earth juts through the world…the world, in resting upon the earth, strives to raise the earth completely [into the light]. As self-opening, the world cannot endure anything closed. The earth, however, as sheltering and concealing, tends always to draw the world into itself.”

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