I’ve written about Sounion before; isolated at the end of a cape commanding spectacular views of the Aegean, it has long been attracting the romantic and the adventurous. Far away from settlements and curious eyes, many of the temple’s visitors saw fitting to carve their names on its ancient columns. Today the temple is fenced off and guarded, so this sort of vandalism has stopped. Nevertheless, the graffiti remain, a testament to some people’s desire to leave their mark anywhere, anyhow.
Determined to make the best of a bad situation, historians today mine the graffiti for clues on the profile of the visitors during the 19th and early 20th century.
In this photo we see the drawing of a three-masted barque, as well as several names, among them that of Lord Byron, who famously came to Greece as a volunteer in the Greek War of Independence, and died here. But more about him, in a later post.
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You’d think Lord Byron would have better things to do than vandalize old monuments. Can that really be by him?
All we know for sure is that he went to Sounion and was inspired by the landscape (which appears in his long poem Isles of Greece as Sunium). However, in true romantic form, he was more interested in contrasts and drama and less in the antiquities themselves (whose form and symmetry were admired by the neoclassicists, sworn enemies of the romantics). Besides, from what I gather about the man, Byron’s foremost interest was Byron himself. I judge him perfectly capable of such an act.
Yes, and many years ago I saw that he also placed his name on the foundation of the Parthenon.