We have chosen Cape Sounion for this High Impact Leadership program as it is a symbol of strength, majesty, and splendor. Cape Sounion is dominated by the Temple of Poseidon, one of the major monuments of the Golden Age of Athens. Its remains are perched on the headland, surrounded on three sides by the sea.
The earliest literary reference to Sounion is in Homer’s Odyssey (III. 278–285). The story recounts that as the various Greek commanders sailed back from Troy, the helmsman of the ship of King Menelaus of Sparta died at his post while rounding “Holy Sounion, Cape of Athens.” Menelaus landed at Sounion to give his companion full funeral honours (i.e. cremation on a funeral pyre on the beach). Archaeological finds on the site date from as early as 700 BC. Herodotus (VI.87) mentions that in sixth century BC, the Athenians celebrated a quinquennial festival at Sounion, which involved Athens’ leaders sailing to the cape in a sacred boat.
Cape Sounion is the promontory at the southernmost tip of the Attic peninsula, 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) south of the town of Lavrio (ancient Thoricus), and 70 kilometres (43 mi) southeast of Athens.