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How Aegean Sea took its name: the legend of King of Athens, Aegeus

Athens ● Cape Sounio ● 08 August 2017

The mistake of a son and the death of a king

The route from Piraeus to Cape Sounio is the most wonderful route in Athens, if not in Greece. The street is near the sea, the sun mirrors on the crystal waters of the Saronic Gulf, numerous bars and taverns create a scenery like an island, and the hotels by the sea remind you that this is one of the most tourist areas in Athens. The sea of Athens is the Saronic Gulf, but Cape Sounio, where the ancient temple of Poseidon is built, overlooks the Aegean Sea. The landscape is breathtaking. The temple is built at the edge of the cape, on a steep cliff, and the view of the Aegean Sea is magnificent.

However, the most impressive thing with that location is not the natural beauty, the crystal waters, the feeling of swimming in the Aegean Sea, although you are in a large city, the luxury hotels and restaurants or the Greek taverns, where you can eat seafood and drink ouzo. What takes your breath away is the myth behind this temple, behind the Aegean Sea, behind this steep slope. Cape Sounio is not just a cape, but the place where a king lost his life by the mistake of his son.

Aegeus was the mythical king of ancient Athens, the grandson of the first ruler of the city, Erichthonius. He married two women, but the pairings didn't produce children, so after a prophecy in the oracle of Delphi, he married the daughter of King Pittheus of Troezen, Aethra. Aethra became pregnant and gave birth to Aegeus' son, the hero Theseus.

The ancient temple of Poseidon in Sounio

When Theseus grew up, Athens was defeated in the war with Crete, and the price Athens had to pay was that every nine years seven male and seven female youths were sent to Crete to be devoured by the Minotaur in the labyrinth of King Minos' palace. Theseus volunteered to go with the youths in Crete and slay the Minotaur. Because his father, Aegeus, was scared about his son's life, Theseus agreed to announce his father his fate upon his return. If he managed to slay the Minotaur and was alive, he would display white sails on his ship. Otherwise, the sails would be black.

Aegeus waited for his son in Cape Sounion, where today is located the temple. Theseus managed, with the help of Ariadne, the daughter of King Minos, to slay the Minotaur and was alive.

 But Theseus forgot to change the sails from black to white because he was so happy for his success that he drank wine and had fun with his friends. Aegeus saw the ship coming from the Aegean Sea as he was standing in Cape Sounio. When he saw the black sails, he was so devastated that he threw himself off the cliff and into the sea where he perished.

Due to this tragic mistake of Theseus, due to a misunderstanding, Aegeus lost his life. The sea where he committed suicide took his name, and the ancient Athenians built there a temple to honour the king of Athens.

Where to Stay

Hotel in Athens, Greece Elizabeth Hotel
8.5 10
Elizabeth Hotel
46, Arkadias Str., 11527 Athens, Greece

Elizabeth Hotel is only 10 minutes away from Panormou Metro Station. Syntagma Square is just 4 stops away using the metro and the Eleftherios Venizelos Airport can be easily reached as it is directly connected with Panormou Metro Station.

Hotel in Athens, Greece Chris Hotel
8.5 10
Chris Hotel
6, Potamou str., 14564 Athens, Greece

Hotel Chris is situated in a quiet spot in Nea Kifisia, 100 m from the E75 motorway and 2 km from Kifisia Train Station. Athens city center can be reached within approximately 30 minutes using the electric train. Athens International Airport is at 38 km.

Hotel in Athens, Greece Diethnes Hotel
8.4 10
Diethnes Hotel
52, Peoniou str.(Larissis Station), 104 40 Athens, Greece

Diethnes Hotel is located in Athens, just a 3-minute walk from Larissa Metro Station and Athens Railway Station. Syntagma Square is just 4 metro stops away.