November sunshine

Jan Sanders Regional Director of Mediterranean Programs


November 6, 2015

Some students and staff headed out of Athens on a sunny Friday for the Temple of Poseidon at Sounio. Those of you keen on Greek mythology will know Sounio as the place where Aegeus, King of Athens and father of Theseus, threw himself into the sea. Theseus had gone off to Crete to do battle with the Minotaur in order to rescue the young Athenian men and women who were annually sacrificed to this fantastical half bull / half man creature. Heroic Theseus had a lot of help from Ariadne, daughter of Minos, King of Crete. In fact, she was the one with the brains and the real hero of this story. Unfortunately she fell in love with Theseus and joined him and his crew on the return trip to Athens. Greek myths are, after all, Greek and Ariadne was dumped on the island of Naxos by Theseus, the philanderer. Maybe that is why he forgot to change the sails of his ship. Dad Aegeus had asked his boy Theseus to unfurl white sails, instead of the normal black, if he had escaped the grip of the monstrous Minotaur and was returning with his crew. Theseus forgot this small point in his haste to depart Naxos and, as his ship sailed around the promontory of Sounio, Aegeus saw the black sails and jumped into the sea which, forever after, has been known as the Aegean. Perhaps it would have been better if Aegeus had taught Theseus a few manners.