Pausanias, Description of Greece 1
Pausanias, our tour guide to the mysteries of ancient Greece, stands upon the Sounion promontory at the edge of the world, so it seems. This tip of land rises high above the Aegean Sea about 43 miles south of Athens. Upon it rests the slender ivory pillars of the Temple of Poseidon where Lord Byron once etched his name into the base of one of the columns and wrote these memorable words:
“Place me on Sunium’s marbled steep,
where nothing, save the waves and I,
may hear our mutual murmurs sweep…”
Pausanias, standing in the shadow of the glorious temple atop the promontory, points to the harbor ahead and then bids us glance at the ancient town of Laurium. He mentions in a passing breath that this was where the Athenians once exploited silver mines. It was from these mines that untold scores of unfortunate slaves toiled night and day, scraping out the precious silver to make Athenian coins. There were as many as 20,000 pitiful slaves, many of them children, who worked in deplorable conditions and died forgotten in these ghastly silver-sprayed shafts of the deep.
For Pausanias, the mines were a mere novelty and he didn’t linger more than a few seconds before leading us on to grander themes. But I wonder—
Are you forgotten? Do you call Laurium home? Isaiah reminds us of a golden truth:
“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you” (Isa. 49:15).
Don’t let the mines crush you.
God has not forgotten you.
“We sometimes think we want to disappear,
but all we really want is to be found.”