Pausanias

/paw say"nee euhs/, n.
fl. A.D. c175, Greek traveler, geographer, and author.

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flourished AD 143–176

Greek traveler and geographer.

His Description of Greece is an invaluable guide to ancient ruins. He describes the religious art and architecture of Olympia and Delphi, the pictures and inscriptions at Athens, the statue of Athena on the Acropolis, and (outside the city) the monuments of famous men and of Athenians fallen in battle. According to James George Frazer, without Pausanias the ruins of Greece would be "a labyrinth without a clue, a riddle without an answer."

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▪ Greek geographer
flourished AD 143–176, b. Lydia [now in Turkey]

      Greek traveler and geographer whose Periegesis Hellados (Description of Greece) is an invaluable guide to ancient ruins.

      Before visiting Greece, Pausanias had traveled widely in Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Macedonia, Epirus (now in Greece and Albania), and parts of Italy. His Description takes the form of a tour of Greece starting from Attica. It is divided into 10 books; the first book seems to have been completed after 143, but before 161. No event after 176 is mentioned in the work.

      His account of each important city begins with a sketch of its history; his descriptive narration follows a topographical order. He gives a few glimpses into the daily life, ceremonial rites, and superstitious customs of the inhabitants and frequently introduces legend and folklore.

      Works of art are his major concern: inspired by the ancient glories of Greece, Pausanias is most at home in describing the religious art and architecture of Olympia and Delphi. At Athens he is intrigued by pictures, portraits, and inscriptions recording the laws of Solon; on the Acropolis, the great gold and ivory statue of Athena; and, outside the city, the monuments of famous men and of Athenians fallen in battle. The accuracy of his descriptions has been proved by the remains of buildings in all parts of Greece.

      The topographical part of his work shows his fondness for the wonders of nature: the signs that herald the approach of an earthquake; the tides; the icebound seas of the north; and the noonday sun, which at the summer solstice casts no shadow at Syene (Aswān), Egypt.

      The famed anthropologist and classical scholar Sir James Frazer said of Pausanias: “without him the ruins of Greece would for the most part be a labyrinth without a clue, a riddle without an answer.”

▪ Greek military officer
died probably between 470 and 465 BC , Sparta [Greece]

      Spartan commander during the Greco-Persian Wars who was accused of treasonous dealings with the enemy.

      A member of the Agiad royal family, Pausanias was the son of King Cleombrotus I and nephew of King Leonidas. He became regent for Leonidas' son after the father was killed at Thermopylae (480). Pausanias commanded the allied Greek army that defeated the Persians at Plataea (479), and he led the Greeks in the capture of Byzantium (478).

      While Pausanias was at Byzantium, his arrogance and his adoption of Persian clothing and manners offended the allies and raised suspicions of disloyalty. Recalled to Sparta, he was tried and acquitted of the charge of treason but was not restored to his command. When the Athenians separated from the Spartans to form the Delian League, Pausanias returned to Byzantium privately and held the city until expelled by the Athenians (probably in 477). He retired to Colonae near Troy but was later again recalled to Sparta to face charges of conspiracy. Suspected of plotting to seize power in Sparta by instigating a helot uprising, he took refuge in the Temple of Athena of the Brazen House to escape arrest. The Spartans walled in the sanctuary and starved him to death.

      Although Herodotus doubted that Pausanias had colluded with the Persians, Thucydides, writing years after the events, was certain of his guilt. It is conceivable that the Spartans had made Pausanias a scapegoat for their failure to retain the leadership of Greece.

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Universalium. 2010.

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