William Hutton

in Classics

ISBN: 9780195389661
Published online May 2011 | | DOI:

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Pausanias was a Greek author of the second century ce (b. c. 115–d. c. 180), whose only known work is the Periegesis Hellados (variously translated as “Description of Greece,” “Guide to Greece,” etc.). The Periegesis is a ten-volume, topographically organized account of the heart of mainland Greece, covering Attica, the Peloponnesus, and central Greece as far west as Delphi and a bit beyond, and comprising descriptions of sites and monuments, local and regional histories, mythical and folkloric traditions, and accounts of religious customs and rituals. Although there was some doubt about this in previous centuries, it is now generally accepted that the work is based on Pausanias’s own travels and investigations in the region, and that it provides a unique and valuable eyewitness account of the state of Greece in the author’s own time. Pausanias presents the information that he gathers in an orderly and interconnected series of itineraries. This has fooled more than one reader into treating the text as a sequential account of a single tour that Pausanias took through Greece. In reality, Pausanias was at work on the Periegesis for a number of decades and probably made several visits to many of the sites he describes. The structure of his itineraries is thus a deliberate organizational construct rather than a record of his movements. Pausanias frequently tells the reader that his account is extremely selective. He aims to record only the most noteworthy of Greece’s cities, shrines, and monuments, and the most important historical and mythical traditions associated with them. What he chooses to include and exclude reflects a preference for the ancient over the contemporary and the religious over the secular. Despite these limitations, his account has served as an invaluable source of information for archaeologists, historians, art historians, and a wide variety of scholars in other disciplines. In recent years, Pausanias has also received recognition as an interesting representative of 2nd-century mentalities and ideologies.

Article.  8308 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Classical Art and Architecture ; Classical History ; Classical Literature ; Classical Philosophy

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