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TEMPLE OF ATHENA — PAESTUM

(Reproduced in large part from my earlier post, Temple of Hera — Paestum)

Around 650 BC the Dorians founded Paestum after having been expelled from the city of Sybaris, across the Ionian Sea on the mainland of Greece. Three beautifully preserved Doric Temples comprise the main features of the site in what is now Southern Italy. Paestum flourished for a little over a century, then was severely damaged by attacks from the local Barbarians around 510 BC. Another 120 years later still it was dealt a fatal blow when the barbarians overran it again.

During the summer when the better known sites Pompeii and Herculaneum are overrun by tourists, Paestum, off the beaten track, remains an unusually placid and compelling place to visit. I had been serving as a guest lecturer on the cruise ship, Crystal Serenity, on a cruise that commenced in Venice, and visited the storied ports of Dubrovnik, Sorrento, Livorno (the port serving Pisa and Florence), Portofino, Monte Carlo among others. It was during the Sorrento visit that we rented an automobile, and drove first in the direction of Pompeii, and then south on the autobahn. The site is also accessible from Salerno, only 40-km away.

The Temple of Athena is seen head on from the south. Although not quite as well preserved as the Temple of Hera, it is still in an excellent state, featuring fluted columns with Doric capitals — all evocative of the iconic temple, the Parthenon, built a century later in Athens. The irony of site, is that although it contains the oldest, and best preserved of Doric temples, these majestic ruins were unknown all through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. But perhaps that was fortuitous for us — during medieval times it did not become a rock quarry as did many other pagan temples. The site was discovered in 1740, and first accurately described in 1779.

A memorable event occurred to us earlier in the day when we met an elderly Japanese couple on our cruise. As I was taking a photo of the couple, the man seemed fascinated with my camera (a 4.4 Megapixel Fuji Cool-pix 4700). “My camera,” he announced. “Your camera?” I asked puzzled, fearing I might have picked up the wrong camera somewhere. “My camera, I make them,” he said. He was the founder of Fuji Filmworks.

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Additional Photos by Bulent Atalay (batalay) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5972 W: 457 N: 10314] (34575)
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