1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Pausanias (traveller)

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20836041911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 20 — Pausanias (traveller)John Edwin Sandys

PAUSANIAS, Greek traveller and geographer of the 2nd century A.D., lived in the times of Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. He was probably a native of Lydia, and was possibly born at Magnesia ad Sipylum; he was certainly interested in Pergamum and familiar with the western coast of Asia Minor; but his travels extended far beyond the limits of Ionia. Before visiting Greece he had been to Antioch, Joppa and

Jerusalem,[1] and to the banks of the river Jordan. In Egypt he had seen the pyramids and had heard the music of the vocal Memnon, while at the temple of Ammon he had been shown the hymn once sent to that shrine by Pindar. He had taken note of the fortifications of Rhodes and Byzantium, had visited Thessaly, and had gazed on the rivulet of " blue water " beside the pass of Thermopylae. In Macedonia he had almost certainly viewed the traditional tomb of Orpheus, while in Epirus he was familiar with the oracular oak of Dodona, and with the streams of Acheron and Cocytus. Crossing over to Italy, he had seen something of the cities of Campania, and of the wonders of Rome.

His Description of Greece (περιήγησις τῆς Ἑλλάδος) takes the form of a tour in the Peloponnesus and in part of northern Greece. It is divided into ten books: (i.) Attica and Megara; (ii.) Argolis, including Mycenae, Tiryns and Epidaurus; (iii.) Laconia; (iv.) Messenia; (v.) and (vi.) Elis, including Olympia; (vii.) Achaea; (viii.) Arcadia; (ix.) Boeotia, and (x.) Phocis, including Delphi.

Book i. was written after Herodes Atticus had built the Athenian Stadium (A.D. c. 143), but before he had built the Odeum (c. 160–161). There is reason to believe that this book was published some years before the rest. The statement in book v. (i, 2), that 217 years had elapsed since the restoration of Corinth (44 B.C.), shows that Pausanias was engaged on his account of Elis in the year A.D. 174, during the reign of Marcus Aurelius. He repeatedly refers to buildings erected by Hadrian, who died in A.D. 138. He had lived in that emperor's time, but had not actually seen that emperor's favourite, AntinoUs, who died about 130. He mentions the wars of Antoninus Pius against the Moors, and of Marcus Aurelius (in and after A.D. 166) against the Germans (viii. 43). The latest event which he records is the incursion of the robber-horde of the Costobocs (A.D. c. 176; X. 34, s). Book i. having been published before 160, and books vi.-x. after 174, the composition of the whole must have extended over more than fourteen years.

The work has no formal preface or conclusion. It suddenly begins with the promontory of Sunium, the first point in Attica that would be seen by the voyager from the shores of Asia Minor, and it ends abruptly with an anecdote of a blind man of Naupactus. The author's general aim may be inferred from his saying at the close of his account of Athens and Attica: “Such (in my opinion) are the most famous of the Athenian traditions and sights; from the mass of materials I have aimed from the outset at selecting the really notable” (i. 39, 3). It 's possibly in the hope of giving variety and interest to the topographical details of Athens that the author intersperses them with lengthy historical disquisitions; but the result is that the modern reader is tempted to omit the “history” and to hasten on to the “topography,” on which the author is now a primary authority. In the subsequent books he introduces two improvements. His account of each important city begins with a sketch of its history; and, in his subsequent descriptions, he adopts a strictly topographical order. He takes the nearest road from the frontier to the capital; he there makes for the central point, e.g. the market-place, and describes in succession the several streets radiating from that centre. Similarly, in the surrounding district, he follows the principal roads in succession, returning to the capital in each case, until, at the end of the last road, he crosses the frontier for the next district. In the later books he supplies us with a few glimpses into the daily life of the inhabitants. He is constantly describing ceremonial rites or superstitious customs. He frequently introduces narratives from the domain of history and of legend and folk-lore; and it is only rarely that he allows us to see something of the scenery. But, happily, he notices the pine-trees on the sandy coast of Ehs, the deer and the wild boars in the oak-woods of Phelloe, and the crows amid the giant oak-trees of Alalcomenae. He tells us that “there is no fairer river than the Ladon,” “no reeds grow so tall as those in the Boeotian Asopus,” and the rain that deluges the fallow plain of Mantinea vanishes into a chasm to rise again elsewhere. It is mainly in the last three books that he touches on the products of nature, the wild strawberries of Helicon, the date-palms of AuUs, and the olive-oil of Tithorea, as well as the bustards of Phocis, the tortoises of Arcadia and the “white blackbirds” of Cyllene. He is rather reticent as to the character of the roads, but he records, with the gratitude of a traveller, the fact that the narrow and perilous cornice of the Scironian way along the coast of Megara had been made wider and safer by Hadrian. He is inspired by a patriotic interest in the ancient glories of Greece, recognizing in Athens all that was best in the old Greek life, and lamenting the ruin that had befallen the land on the fatal field of Chaeronea. He is most at home in describing the religious art and architecture of Olympia and of Delphi; but, even in the most secluded regions of Greece, he is fascinated by all kinds of quaint and primitive images of the gods, by holy relics and many other sacred and mysterious things. He is interested in visiting the battlefields of Marathon and Plataea, and in viewing the Athenian trophy on the island of Salamis, the grave of Demosthenes at Calauria, of Leonidas at Sparta, of Epaminondas at Mantinea, and the colossal lion guarding the tomb of the Thebans on the Boeotian plain. At Thebes itself he views the shields of those who died at Leuctra, and the ruins of the house of Pindar; the statues of Hesiod and Arion, of Thamyxis and Orpheus, in the grove of the Muses on Helicon; the portrait of Corinna at Tanagra, and of Polybius in the cities of Arcadia. At Olympia he takes note of the ancient quoit of Iphitus inscribed with the terms of the Olympic truce, the tablets recording treaties between Athens and other Grecian states, the memorials of the victories of the Greeks at Plataea, of the Spartans at Tanagra, of the Messenians at Naupactus, and even those of Philip at Chaeronea and of Mummius at Corinth. At Delphi, as he climbs the sacred way to the shrine of Apollo, he marks the trophies of the victories of the Athenians at Marathon and on the Eurymedon, of the united Greeks at Artemisium, Salamis and Plataea, of the Spartans at Aegospotami, of the Thebans at Leuctra, and the shields dedicated in memory of the repulse and defeat of the Gauls at Delphi itself. At Athens, he sees pictures of historic battles, portraits of famous poets, orators, statesmen and philosophers, and inscriptions recording the laws of Solon; on the AcropoUs, the trophy of the Persian wars, the great bronze statue of Athena; at the entrance to the harbour of the Peiraeus, the grave of Themistocles; and, outside the city, the monuments of Harmodius and Aristogeiton, of Cleisthenes and Pericles, of Conon and Timotheus, and of all the Athenians who fell in battle, except the heroes of Marathon, “for these, as a meed of valour, were buried on the field.”

In the topographical part of his work, he is fond of digressions on the wonders of nature, the signs that herald the approach of an earthquake, the phenomena of the tides, the ice-bound seas of the north, and the noonday sun which at the summer solstice casts no shadow at Syene. While he never doubts the existence of the gods and heroes, he sometimes criticizes the myths and legends relating to them. His main interest is in the monuments of ancient art, and he prefers the works of the 5th and 4th centuries B.C. to those of later times. At Delphi he admires the pictures of Polygnotus, closing the seven chapters of his minute description with the appreciative phrase: “so varied and beautiful is the painting of the Thasian artist” (x. 31, 2). In sculpture his taste is no less severe. Even in the “uncouth” work of Daedalus, he recognizes “a touch of the divine” (ii. 4, s). In architecture, he admires the prehistoric walls of Tiryns, and the “Treasury of Minyas,” the Athenian Propylaea, the theatre of Epidaurus, the temples of Bassae and Tegea, the walls of Messene, the Odeum at Patrae, as well as the building of the same name lately built at Athens by Herodes Atticus (vii. 20, 6), and finally the Stadium which that munificent Athenian had faced with white marble from the quarries of Pentelicus. His descriptions of the monuments of art are plain and unadorned; they bear the impress of reality, and their accuracy is confirmed by the extant remains. He is perfectly frank in his confessions of ignorance. When he quotes a book at second hand he takes pains to say so.

He has been well described by J. G. Frazer as “a man made of common stuff and cast in a common mould; his intelligence and abilities seem to have been little above the average, his opinions not very different from those of his contemporaries.” His literary style is “plain and unadorned yet heavy and laboured”; it is not careless or slovenly; the author tried to write well, but his “sentences are devoid of rhythm and harmony” (Introduction, pp. xlix., ixix.).

In considering his use of previous writers, we must draw a distinction between the historical and the descriptive parts of his work. In the former it was necessary for him to depend on written or oral testimony; in the latter it was not. In the historical passages, his principal poetic authority is Homer; he frequently quotes the Thcogony of Hesiod, and he often refers to Pindar and Aeschylus. His writings are full of echoes of Herodotus, and his debt to Thucydides and Xenophon extends beyond the isolated mention of their names (i. 3, 4; vi. 19, 5). He has carcfuUy studied the Elean register of the Olympic victors; he makes large use of inscriptions, and has generally examined them with care and copied them with accuracy. In the descriptive portion the question arises whether he derived his knowledge from personal observation, or from books, or from both. He does not profess to have seen everything, but he does not acknowledge that he has borrowed any of his descriptions from previous writers. He “cannot commend the men who took the measurements” of the Zeus at Olympia (v. 11, 9). “A certain writer,” who states that a particular spring is the source of an Arcadian river, “cannot have seen the spring himself, or spoken with any one who had; I have done both” (viii. 41, 10). There are fifty passages in which he either directly states or implies that he had seen the things that he describes. All of these have been carefully collected and examined by R. Heberdey (1804), who, by using a distinctive type in marking on a map the places “seen” by Pausanias, and by joining those places by lines representing the routes described by him, has shown the large extent of the author’s travels in Greece. The complicated coast of Hermionis has, however, been incorrectly described (ii. 34, 8 seq.), and there is some confusion in the account of the three roads leading to the north from Lepreüs, in the extreme south of Elis (v. 5, 3).

A greater difficulty has long been felt in connexion with the “Enneacrunus episode” in the description of Athens (i. 8, 6, and 14, 1–6). In the midst of the account of the market-place, north-west of the Acropolis, the reader is transported to the fountain of Enneacrunus and to some buildings in its neighbourhood, and is suddenly brought back to the market-place. It has been naturally assumed that the Enneacrunus can only be the fountain of that name in the bed of the Ilissus. If so, the description of the fountain is out of place, and its insertion at this point has been ascribed either to some confusion in the author’s notes or to a dislocation in the text. On the other hand, it has been suggested that the description may really refer to some other fountain near the market-place, which was shown to Pausanias as the Enneacrunus. Thus it has been held by Dr Dorpfeld that the name Enneacrunus was originally applied to a spring west of the Acropolis, that the old name of this spring, Callirrhoe, had been abandoned from the time when Peisistratus converted it into a “fountain with nine jets,” and that the names Callirrhoe and Enneacrunus were afterwards transferred to another fountain in the bed of the Ilissus. The evidence of his own excavations has led him to place the original Enneacrunus near the eastern foot of the hill of the Pnyx, and to identify certain adjacent remains with the buildings mentioned by Pausanias. If this opinion is correct, the account of the Enneacrunus, and the neighbouring buildings, in Pausanias, ceases to be an “episode,” and falls into the natural sequence of the narrative. (The “episode” has been fully discussed by the expounders and translators of Pausanias, and by the writers on the topography of Athens. Dr Dorpfeld’s views are clearly set forth in Miss J. E. Harrison’s Primitive Athens (1906). A. Malinin’s paper (Vienna, 1906), which assumes a dislocation of the text, has lieen answered by Dörpfeld (Wochenschrift für kl. Philologie (1907), p. 940 seq.)

The account of the law courts of Athens and of the altars at Olympia may have been derived from monographs on those subjects. In both cases the author departs from his usual method of following the order of place, and deals with a group of monuments belonging to the same class. But in the extant literature of antiquity (as J. G. Frazer has shown) no passage has been found agreeing in form or substance so closely with the description in Pausanias as to make it probable that he copied it. The theory that Pausanias borrowed largely from Polemon of Ilium, who flourished about 200–177 B.C., and wrote on the Acropolis and the eponymous heroes of Athens, on the treasuries of Delphi, and on other antiquarian topics, was incidentally suggested by Preller in his edition of the fragments (1838), and was revived by Professor von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff in 1877 (Hermes, xii. 346). It was subsequently maintained by A. Kalkmann (1886) that Pausanias slavishly copied from Polemon the best part of his descriptions of Athens, Delphi and Olympia, and described those places, not as they were in his own age, but as they had been in that of Polemon, some 300 years before. It is alleged that, in the notices of the monuments on the Acropolis of Athens, and of the sculptors and the athlete-statues of Olympia, the lower limit of Pausanias is practically 150 B.C.; it is inferred that the authority followed by him ended with this date, and it is more than suggested that his sole authority was Polemon. But the comparative neglect of works later than 150 B.C. might also be explained by the fact that the independence of Greece came to an end in 146. And, further, it so happens that Pausanias refers to very few sculptors for the 140 years (296–156 B.C.) before the age of his supposed authority, while some of the sculptors represented at Olympia have since been placed after that date, and not a few of the Athenian monuments described by Pausanias belong to the period between that date and the accession of Hadrian, or, approximately, the period between about 166 B.C. and A.D. 117 (Gurlitt, Über Pausanias, pp. 117 seq., 194 seq., 257-267). More than one hundred extracts from, or reference to, the works of Polemon have come down to us, and it has been shown by Mr Frazer that “the existing fragments hardly justify us in supposing that Pausanias was acquainted with the writings of his learned predecessor; certainly they lend no countenance to the view that he borrowed descriptions of places and monuments from them.” Again, it has been urged that his brief description of the Peiraeus is not true of his own time, as it had been burnt by Sulla (86 B.C.), and was still lying desolate in the age of Augustus, but his account of the buildings and monuments has been confirmed by an inscription conjecturally ascribed to the time of Pausanias (Frazer ii. 14 seq.). It has also been stated that the description of Arcadia must have been borrowed from far earlier writers, because Strabo (p. 38S) says that most of the famous cities of that land had either ceased to exist or had left hardly a trace behind them; but the evidence of coins has proved that at least seven of the eleven cities described by Pausanias were still in existence long after the death of Strabo. It has further been assumed that his account of the temple of Apollo at Delphi is “irreconcilable with the remains of the building” and with the inscriptions recently discovered by the French archaeologists. We are told that Pausanias describes the temple of the 6th century B.C. as if it still existed in his own time. On the contrary, he states that the first sculptures for the gables were executed by a pupil of Calamis, the pupil of a sculptor still at work in 427 B.C., and the shields that he saw suspended on the architrave were captured from the Gauls in 279. Again, his description of New Corinth, built in 44 B.C., more than a century after the time of Polemon, is most minute and systematic, and it is confirmed by coins of the imperial age. In at least one important point Pausanias compares favourably with Strabo. While Strabo erroneously declares that not a vestige of Mycenae remains, Pausanias gives a brief but accurate description of the Lion-gate and the existing circuit-wall of the Acropolis, with a notice of the tombs “within the wall” (ii. 16, 5-7), a notice which led to their discovery by Schliemann. In all parts of Greece the accuracy of his descriptions has been proved by the remains of the buildings which he describes; and a few unimporl, ant mistakes (in v. 10, 6 and 9; viii. 37, 3, and 45, 5), and some slight carelessness in copying inscriptions, do not lend any colour to an imputation of bad faith. It has been stated with perfect justice by Frazer (p. xcv. seq.) that “without him the ruins of Greece would for the most part be a labyrinth without a clue, a riddle without an answer.” “His book furnishes the clue to the labyrinth, the answer to many riddles. It will be studied so long as ancient Greece shall continue to engage the attention and awaken the interest of mankind.”

Editions.—Siebclis (Leipzig, 1822); Schubart and Walz (1838); Teubner texts, Schubart (1862), and Spiro (1903). Text, Latin translation and index, L. Dindorf (Didot, Paris, 1845); text and German commentary, Hitzig and Blümner, books i.-ix., already published in five parts (Leipzig, 1896-1907). Special edition of Descriptio arcis Athenarum, Otto Jahn (Bonn, 1860), 3rd ed., with maps and plans, &c., A. Michaelis (1901). F. Imhoof-Blumer and Percy Gardner, “Numismatic Commentary on Pausanias,” first published in Journal of Hellenic Studies, vi.-viii. (1885-1887); J. G. Frazer, Pausanias’s Description of Greece, in six vols., introduction and translation (vol. i.), commentary (vols, ii.-v.), maps and index (vol. vi.) (Macmillan, London, 1898); introduction reprinted in Frazer’s Pausanias and other Greek Sketches (1900).

Special Literature.—Wernicke, De Pausaniae studiis herodoteis (Berlin, 1884); Wilamowitz, “Thukydideslegendc,” in Hermes (1877), xii. 346; P. Hirt, De fontibus Pausaniae in Eliacis (Greifswald, 1878); A. Flasch, in Baumeister’s Denkmäler, s.v. “Olympia,” 90 pp. (1887); A. Kalkmann, Pausanias der Perieget (Berlin, 1886), and Archäologischer Anzeiger (1895), p. 12; opposed by W. Gurlitt, Uber Pausanias (Graz, 1890), 494 pp.; Bencker, Anteil der Periegese an der Kunstschriftstellerei (1890), and R. Heberde-, Die Reisen des Pausanias in Griechenland, with two maps (Vienna, 1894).

The present writer is much indebted to Gurlitt’s comprehensive monograph, and to the admirable Introduction prefixed to J. G. Frazer’s excellent Translation and Commentary. See also C. Robert, Pausanias als Schriftsteller (Berlin, 1909).  (J. E. S.*) 

  1. The tomb of Helena at Jerusalem, which Pausanias viii. 16, 4–5. compares with the Mausoleum, is mentioned by Josephus, Ant. xx. 4, 3; Bell. jud. v. 2, 2; 3, 3; 4, 2; and Eusebius, H.E. ii. 12, 3. Helen, the daughter of Izates, king of Adiabene, sent large shiploads of provisions to Rome during the great famine in the time of Claudius (A.D. 44–48). Her tomb is identified by universal consent with the so-called " Tombs of the Kings, " half a mile north of the Damascus gate. Cf. Schürer, Geschichte des jüdischen Volkes, 3rd ed., iii. 120–122; view of tomb in Picturesque Palestine, i. 103.