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date: 05 December 2023


, Greek travel author, fl. c. 150 ce


, Greek travel author, fl. c. 150 ce
  • Antony Spawforth


  • Ancient Geography
  • Greek Literature

Pausanias (3), from Magnesia (2) ad Sipylum (?) (fl. c.150 ce), wrote an extant Description of Greece (Περιήγησις τῆς Ἑλλάδος‎‎), the only major surviving example of ancient travel literature. His (unfinished?) description of ‘all things Greek’ (πάντα τὰ Ἑλληνικά‎‎) is limited to southern Greece (Achaia) with the omission of Aetolia and the islands. Contents: 1. Attica, Megara; 2. Argolis etc. ; 3. Laconia; 4. Messenia; 5–6. Elis, Olympia; 7. Achaea; 8. Arcadia; 9. Boeotia; 10. Phocis, Delphi.

His chief concern in his selective account was with the monuments of the Archaic and Classical periods, along with local history, and with the sacred, of which he had such a profound sense that his work has been claimed as a pagan pilgrimage. In concentrating on the poleis and their sanctuaries, he tended to organize his description radially around regional hubs. His concern for objects after 150 bce is slight, although contemporary sights and people attracted his attention. He wrote from autopsy, and his accuracy has been broadly confirmed by excavation, despite, e.g. topographical errors (W. K. Pritchett, Pausanias Periegetes II (1999), 1–167). Some modern scholars detect an anti-Roman attitude (e.g. 8. 27. 1, on which, however, see W. Hutton, CQ58 (2008), 622–37); others concede the complexity of his responses to the Roman world of which he was so much a part, right down to his very concept of the unified cultural legacy of European ‘Greece’.


  • W. Jones, trans. Description of Greece. Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1918–1935.
  • M. Rocha-Pereira, ed. Pausaniae Graeciae descriptio. Leipzig: Teubner, 1973–1981.
  • D. Musti and others (trans. and comm.), Guida della Grecia (1982– ).
  • J. Frazer, Pausanias's Description of Greece (1898).
  • H. Hitzig and H. Bluemner (eds.), Pausaniae Graeciae descriptio (1896–1910).
  • N. Papahatzis (ed.), Pausaniou Hellados periēgēsis (1974–1981).
  • Pausanias Historien, Entretiens Hardt XLI (1996).
  • K. Arafat, Pausanias' Greece (1996).
  • C. Habicht, Pausanias' Guide to Ancient Greece, rev. edn. (1998).
  • S. Alcock and others (eds.), Pausanias (2001).
  • W. Hutton, Describing Greece. Landscape and Literature in the Periegesis of Pausanias (2005).