Sunday, November 22, 2015

Aphaia Temple, Aegina

The island of Aegina, situated near Athens, is mostly known for the monastic complex where St Nectarios lived and where his relics are currently placed. However, another important attraction is located on this island, the Temple of Aphaia. It has a long history, dating back to the Late Bronze Age (144th century BC). The fact that many female figures have been discovered near the Temple indicate that this site was used for worship to a fertility and agricultural deity. The first Temple was completed in 570 BC. Unfortunately, this was destroyed by a fire. Nevertheless, a second Temple was erected, which still exists to this day.

Initially, the excavations showed that maybe this Temple was dedicated to the Goddess Athena. However, this altered when they found further inscriptions, dedicated to the Goddess of Aphaia. Mythology states that Aphaia is associated with Britomartis from Crete, daughter of Zeus and half-sister of Goddess Artemis. Britomartis was pursued by King Minos of Crete who had fallen in love with her. Because of this, she wished to escape, leaping into the Aegean Sea; however, she was caught in some fishermen’s nets, who eventually took her to Aegina. A fisherman, captivated by her beauty, wished to rape her. But, Britomartis fled onto the island of Aegina, disappearing into the woods. The word Aphaia derives from the same word for invisible, in Greek.

An interesting fact, and one that many conspirators wish to use as a significant fact, is that the Temple of Aphaia is positioned an equal distance from the Parthenon in Athens and the Temple of Poseidon in Sounion, Southern Attica. These three temples, on a map, form a triangle. Many who wish to point the significance of the ancient Greeks and their architectural, philosophical, cosmological etc. genius give a great importance to this fact. 

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