Paestum

Jun 22, 2019 - Sea Cloud


As we sailed from Naples we had great evening light and views of the east coast of Capri. The seas were kind and we had a smooth overnight sail to our first stop: Paestum. At 8:30 we heard an in-depth introduction to the 30,000 square feet of sail on Sea Cloud. We now know to watch out for the “widow maker” and where the “skysail” is located. Slightly later that morning we met the staff. Although the wind was slight from first light, it picked up and by 11, we were averaging 4.5-5 knots with a 15-knot wind from the northeast.

After lunch we bordered coaches for our first stop at ancient Paestum of Greek Poseidonia. En route we passed a large farm of water buffalos from which comes the famous and delicious mozzarella di bufala. Our first stop in the ancient city was the very fine museum where we saw the earliest painted Greek temple pediments and the wonderful wall paintings from the Tomb of the Diver and other male and female figures enjoying a symposium and wonderful cast bronze water vessels known as hydria. This Greek city also contained two sacred sites—northern and southern sanctuaries with great temples in each area and the tomb of the city’s founder heroon.

The great German philosopher and classicist Friedrich Nietzsche, on first seeing the majestic Greek Doric temple of Athena, exclaimed that it was so perfect it must have been built by a god. Athena’s temple (where Romans may have worshiped Ceres) in the northern sanctuary is the product of much experimentation and the present temple, a fine example of the Doric architectural style. Yet one can see at the base of the capitals a subtle influence of later Iconic leaf decoration. The Doric style is easily recognized, as its capitals are typically square and unadorned. We visited and were privileged to enter the massive Temple of Poseidon (Neptune in Roman mythology), also a peristyle with 12 columns on its long sides (59.9 meters in length), the 24.3 meters distance of the 6 across the front and back, and one large interior cella containing the statue of Athena where the worshippers would have gathered. A wonderful visit to a magical place.

In the evening, we had a special celebratory and welcoming dinner.

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About the Author

Tom Heffernan

Historian

Tom, a native of New York City, who has had a life-long passion for travel and exploration, is the Kenneth Curry Professor of Humanities at the University of Tennessee and the founding Director of the university’s Humanities Center. His areas of interest are anthropology of religions and historical linguistics.

About the Photographer

Massimo Bassano

National Geographic Photographer

Massimo Bassano has worked as a freelance photojournalist since 1990. His work appears in National Geographic Traveler and National Geographic online edition, as well as many publications throughout Europe. Massimo's photographic subjects know no bounds—his recent assignments have covered social issues, international travel, fitness and health, fashion, and portraiture. In 2004, he was awarded a Ph.D. in journalism from the Italian Association of Journalism.

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