A Greek-Aussie: love writing, love the outdoors, love my 2 kids, love heavy metal and love life (usually!).
Published November 21st 2013
The Acropolis is probably as well known world wide, as Vegemite is to Australians! Or, perhaps a more fitting comparison for this article would be that the Acropolis is as well known as Uluru. I say Uluru, because it's steeped in mystery and myth in terms of Aboriginal spirituality and potential mystic auras.
Did you know that the Acropolis is associated with such mystery and intrigue too? Did you know that it's part of a mysterious triangle? Part of an exact equilateral triangle? The other two parts of the triangle are another two Ancient Greek sites built in the same period (around 500 BC) : the Temple of Poseidon at Sounio, south of Athens, and the Temple of Aphaia at Aegina (an island close to Athens).
When viewed from the sky, you can apparently see this triangle which these 3 ancient sites make up. And, from an earthly perspective, the ancient sites make a proven equilateral triangle, as determined by their measurement.
Temple of Poseidon
The Acropolis ∆ Temple of Aphaia
The ancient unit of measurement was in 'stadia', which means arena (literally called stadia in Modern Greek), as in stadium. That's right, the sporting event arenas / stadiums. It all ties in, as this word 'stadia' originated at the Ancient Olympics from the running race that comprised of one length of the stadium at Olympia. The 'stadio' (plural -'stadia'), is an Ancient Greek measure of length, equaling 600 human feet. It equals 180 metres (600ft) these days too, but originally was 15 percent larger or smaller – depending on whose foot I suppose.
You probably know about the Acropolis – that it's temple is dedicated to the Goddess Athena, that it's located above Athens and built 5th century BC .
There's another other magic triangle temple though, that of Aphaia in Aegina which was built around the same time. Though in a beautiful green location and well preserved (by skeleton ancient ruin standards) it is not as generally well known.
Aphaia refers to the word 'invisible' in Ancient Greek, which gives a clue into the mythology behind the temple which was built to honour the goddess named Aphaia. Story has it that she originally hailed from Crete but was taunted by King Minoas whose advances she wanted to escape. During her exodus, a fisherman tried to rape her as she was fleeing via sea to Aegina, and once there she disappeared (ie became invisible) into the woods.
The magic triangle temples were not all about female worship though, as the third one, the Temple of Poseidon at Sounio (south of Athens) was in honour of Poseidon, the sea god,. And so the Ancient Greeks being the apt thinkers and designers they were, chose this part of the trio to be overlooking the Aegean Sea.
Myth has it that at this temple, the King at the time, Aegeus, over reacted, and what a tragic event this prompted. At the Temple's site which looked out onto the sea, Aegeus awaited his son's return from Crete (whose mission it was to slay the Minotaur), The deal was that if Thiseus (his son) sailed back to Athens with a white sail on his ship, he was alive (and successful in his Minotaur slaying mission). But lo and behold, the ship's sail was black – forgot to change it, and the devastated father Aegeus suicided by throwing himself into the sea. The sea got it's name 'The Aegean' from this king and his plight.
So what's with the triangle? What does it represent? what was the significance of this triangular structure for these 3 important temples? Well. … sorry, but not sure! And that's why the 'Magic'. There are many speculations, some super ethereal but possible, like the three sides representing the 'eternal being' through: eg.
Past ∆ Future
Another could be astronomical, that the triangle reflects the pattern of stars / planets in the sky and hence an astrological interpretation. Your mind can go really lateral on triangle metaphors, such as representing female, female, male (as in Athena, Aphaia and Poseidon).
An interesting linguistic / hieroglyphic type interpretation is the Greek letter of the alphabet (used even today), delta – written 'Δ'. Being a triangle, delta meant and symbolized a door for the Ancient Phoenicians and Hebrews, which the Greeks picked up on, or vice versa. The Ancient Egyptians had their delta too, as in the mouth of the NIile. Symbolically thus, 'delta' the triangle stood for another world or dimension perhaps?
Then there's the more complex realms of mathematics/ geometry, which the triangle is a fundamental of, and was connected to this very same era through Pythagoras the Ancient Greek philosopher / mathematician. He used the triangle extensively, as a type of harmonizing symbol, even in music.
A more practical explanation that still retains the magic of this
triangle is the visual contact that was apparently possible between the three Temples. This was to signal and inform the populations (of potential attack,or why not even of festivals [?]) through signals of fire and reflected glass. And all this without mobile towers – cool!
It's all mind boggling really, and amazing, and humbling for us today when we realize the significance of these sights beyond tourist attractions.