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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Pausanias (c. 110–180 A.D.)
Critical and Biographical Introduction by Bernadotte Perrin (1847–1920)
THIS name stands for no distinct and heroic personality like that of the great Spartan victor at Platæa, but for a collection of interesting items about the antiquities, history, geography, mythology, and religions of ancient Greece. All these items interest us; but they evidently interested the author of the collection for special reasons. He had certain leanings towards special classes of objects among the antiquities; towards special phases and periods of history, mythology, or religion. He has therefore omitted many items which would have interested us far more than many which he offers. His selection is often tantalizing or aggravating. But he seems to have begun his work for himself more than for others; and only after his selections and collections were made, did he attempt to give his work a literary dress which should appeal to lovers of literary form. His work is therefore, more than works composed primarily and wholly for effect upon others, an expression of himself. And this is fortunate, at least on this account,—that we know absolutely nothing of the author except what may be inferred from his work.  1
  He nowhere mentions his own name. He may have done so in an introduction or a conclusion to the work, which, if they ever existed, have been lost. But his book is cited by later writers as the work of Pausanias; and they call it, what he never expressly calls it himself, a ‘Guide to Greece.’ He himself calls it rather a ‘Commentary on Greece.’  2
  The beginning is abrupt, the close is even fragmentary; and he has not fulfilled the desire which he expresses (i. 26) of “describing the whole of Greece.” He has commented on the antiquities, history, mythology, geography, and religious cults of Attica and Megara, the Argolis (Corinthia), Laconia, Messenia, Elis, Achaia, Arcadia, Bœotia, and Phocis. That is, he has started with Athens, and proceeded through the Isthmus of Corinth and around the Peloponnesus, then crossed the Corinthian gulf, and begun with the territories north of Attica and Athens. What he would have included under his term “Greece,” and how much longer his collection was designed to be, cannot be inferred from him. His work breaks off abruptly with a legend about the building of the temple of Æsculapius at Naupactus.  3
  Various phrases of the author imply that he was a Lydian; but whether Magnesia or Pergamum or still another city was his birthplace or home, he does not clearly show. His work was prepared slowly and published gradually. At least, the first book was issued before the other nine; and he more than once feels moved to supplement deficiencies in the first. The material which he gives us on Elis is divided into two books. The charmed number of the Muses is thus abandoned for no apparent reason. The other titles correspond each with a book. This division into books may not be due to Pausanias himself, but a younger contemporary cites his work in the divisions which have come down to us. The work was prepared between the years 140 and 180 A.D., as internal evidence indirectly shows. The author was therefore happy enough to see Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius on the imperial throne. He was contemporary with Justin Martyr, Herodes Atticus, and Lucian. He witnessed that last renascence of all that was good in the ancient world, which characterizes the great age of the Antonines. But no word betrays his personal feelings or relations to the great figures or events of his time. The guide-book has wholly absorbed the guide.  4
  Pausanias was by no means the first to write an antiquarian guide-book. The titles of a large number of such works are known to us, and sparse fragments of the works themselves have been embalmed here and there in the citations of lexicographers or grammarians. As the many religious sanctuaries of Greece increased in wealth and ceremonial tradition, a class of local professional guides and scribes grew up, intimately associated with the official registrars of the different shrines and precincts, whose records are among our most valuable primary sources for the history of the country. These local guides took the visitor all about a sacred precinct, explaining the edifices, monuments, and cults, just as modern cicerones do. The mass of local information thus accumulated and imparted orally to visitors was also reduced to book form for circulation and study. We know, for instance, of a ‘Guide to the Acropolis of Athens,’ among many similar works, by Polemon,—a learned antiquarian and geographer of the second century B.C. There were likewise guides to Sparta, Delphi, Olympia, Sicily, Macedonia, as well as to particular sanctuaries like the Heracleia of Thebes. This literature had increased to an enormous mass in the time of Pausanias, owing largely to the interest which the conquering Romans took in the treasures of the land they plundered so freely, and also to the natural tendency to classify and catalogue that which has ceased to reproduce and transmit itself by its inherent vitality. But all this literature of antiquarian information has perished, except for fragments. The work of Pausanias—the most comprehensive, but apparently by no means the best, of which we hear—is all that has come down to us; a compilation instead of original material.  5
  The author tried to condense many bodies of local antiquarian lore into one comprehensive and yet compact work. He was evidently burdened with excess of material, and often embarrassed in his choice. He insists over and over again that he is selecting and describing only what he deems most memorable. His work is therefore like the modern traveler’s ‘Handbook of Europe,’ as compared with special guides to Italy, France, Rome, Paris, or St. Peter’s. But it is noticeable that as he goes on with his work, he becomes less and less able to resist the pressure of his material. The first book reads in many places like a mere catalogue, and a partial one at that. It is true that nowhere is the wealth of material so overwhelming. But in the later books—that containing the description of Delphi, for instance—the author seems to give himself freer rein, as though aware at last that he could not restrict himself within the limits first set. It is true of Pausanias also, in yet greater degree than of Herodotus and Thucydides, that as he advances with his work, his workmanship improves. Both method and expression grow better.  6
  But it is not only the works of Greece which Pausanias purposed to describe. The words of Greece, in explanation of those works, he also plans to give; and the words even more fully than the works. He mentions what he thinks most worthy of mention among mountains, rivers, cities, countries, sanctuaries, and monuments. He adds in the form of introductions or digressions whatever will help the reader’s understanding and appreciation, drawing his materials from historical, geographical, mythological, artistic, or scientific lore. His principle of arrangement is mechanical. It is at first purely topographical. He passes in his survey from one country of Greece to the next adjoining; from the main or central city of that country in radiating lines through the rest of the land; and in local descriptions from one monument to another conveniently near. His phraseology of transition from work to work would be unendurably monotonous were it not for his illustrative digressions. But neither history, geography, mythology, architecture, nor sculpture is treated in any progressive or consecutive order of details. Evolution is lost sight of in mere juxtaposition.  7
  Pausanias did not write a systematic treatise, then, but a practical aid to a traveler following a route laid down for him, to be used on the spot, in the presence of monuments or ceremonies. He has been happily called a Bädeker, not a Burkhardt. Like Bädeker, he points out what is most worth seeing; and supplies in convenient form the current opinions or literary judgments about these sights. He emancipated the traveler from local professional guides, as Bädeker does. After the first book on Attica, and gradually as his work progressed, he gained a sort of literary education, which shows itself in a tendency to group into general introductions, at the beginning of the great topographical divisions of his work, materials which at first he was inclined to scatter amid the brief mention of monuments or localities. That is, he gradually passes from the manner of a cataloguer or annalist to that of the ancient logographers, who grouped about a certain city or country, however prominent, the collective history of a people or of the known world. But Pausanias never rises to the level of a philosophical, artistic, scientific historian, like Polybius, Thucydides, or Herodotus. And he never achieves a good style, although his style improves from beginning to end of his work. His book seems to have given him all the education and literary training he had.  8
  Pausanias shows no special national sympathies like Herodotus, no social predilections like Thucydides, no political antipathies like Xenophon. In all these matters he is colorless. Even in religious matters he reveals no partiality for the ceremonial or devotional growths from Asiatic sources, as might be expected from his own origin. Beyond a reverential fondness for the great Eleusinian worship and doctrines, he declares no religious allegiance. Neither can he be classed with any of the great schools of philosophy. He takes no distinct attitude, as Plutarch and Polybius do, on the great questions involved in the relations of the Roman Empire to subject Greece. Compared with Plutarch, his elder by only a few years, or with Lucian, his brilliant contemporary, he seems to be in the great world but not of it. He shows no contact with any great tendency of the age. He is unaware of the existence of Christianity. He is a religious antiquary.  9
  The kernel of his work, and of each division of it, as has been said, is an enumeration of the notable “sights.” His language here either expressly claims or at least implies personal visitation and observation on his part,—“autopsy.” There is no good reason to doubt the direct claims at least, though some of the phrases which merely imply autopsy are doubtless literary mannerisms taken from his sources. He must therefore have traveled over those nine great divisions of Greece which he describes. But he evidently had traveled farther and seen more. The greater part of Asia Minor, Syria, Phœnicia, Palestine, Egypt, even the oasis of Zeus Ammon in the desert of Sahara. Rome and her neighbor cities Puteoli and Capua, he speaks of having seen. That is, in preparing his work, he visited the Greek part of the Roman Empire, and the great seat of that Empire itself. But the notes of what he actually saw constitute really the lesser half of his work. The greater part is taken up with the manifold material which he laboriously collected, either orally, from professional guides and local authorities, or from books. His range of literary authorities is immense. He must have had access to some great library like that of Pergamum. He used the vast stores at his command freely; and on the whole, considering the literary tenets and practices of his age, intelligently and fairly. Whatever is in Herodotus, Thucydides, or Xenophon, he presupposes as known to his readers. What he takes from his endless array of later sources, he does not credit to those sources, as modern literary ethics demand. But the literary standards of his time, and the practice of his contemporaries and predecessors, not only tolerated but demanded a large sacrifice of fidelity in the acknowledgment of borrowed material: a sacrifice to the demands of literary form. And so it is that the modern critical spirit is often offended at citations of authorities at second hand, with no mention of the intermediate step; at lack of citation when material is plainly borrowed; at vague phrases of reference to certain distinct sources; at citation only when exception is taken to the words of his authority, but not when adjacent material from the same authority is accepted and incorporated. But all these sins can be laid at the door of his contemporaries and predecessors, and above all at the door of his great model Herodotus.  10
  For Pausanias evidently tried to clothe his dry and often tedious compilation with the undying charm of Herodotus’s manner. He did not adopt the Ionic dialect in which his master wrote, but he borrowed liberally his phraseology, and often affected his deliberate suspense of judgment, or his naïve intimations of skepticism. But for this elaborate literary artifice, we might think that Pausanias had no ambition to be read and handed down as literature, but only to prepare for his private use a memorandum of his travels, illustrated by notes from his subsequent voluminous reading.  11
  With all his faults. Pausanias is a precious witness for us of much that has forever disappeared. Before the great era of excavations came, Greek classical archæology was little more than a commentary on Pausanias. The excavations at Athens, Olympia, and Delphi have subjected him to severe tests; but he comes forth from them with fresh claims to our confidence and respect.  12
  The English translations of Thomas Taylor (London, 1794, 3 vols.) and of Arthur Richard Shilleto, in Bohn’s Classical Library (London, 1886, 2 vols.), have been superseded by the excellent version, with commentary of J. G. Fraser (6 vols. 1898 and 1913). The Teubner text was edited by Schubart (Leipzig, 1875, 2 vols.); that of Hitzig and Blümner (Leipzig, 1896–1910, 3 vols.) has critical and explanatory notes.  13

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