Pausanias: Travel and Memory in Roman Greece

Pausanias: Travel and Memory in Roman Greece

Pausanias: Travel and Memory in Roman Greece

Pausanias: Travel and Memory in Roman Greece

Synopsis

Pausanias, the Greek historian and traveler, lived and wrote around the second century AD, during the period when Greece had fallen peacefully to the Roman Empire. While fragments from this period abound, Pausanias' Periegesis ("description") of Greece is the only fully preserved text of travel writing to have survived. This collection uses Pausanias as a multifaceted lens yielding indispensable information about the cultural world of Roman Greece.

Excerpt

This volume is dedicated to the principle that Pausanias deserves more—and more ambitious—treatment than he tends to receive. The editors independently discovered, early in their careers, what Konstan here calls “the joys of Pausanias”: Elsner, for instance, through his interest in pilgrimage; Alcock with her exploration of landscapes in Roman Greece. Part of the fascination of using him, we found, was that the Periegesis was infinitely richer, and more stimulating, than one would have expected from its conventional reputation. Over the centuries, Pausanias has, of course, been considered a happy survival, a marvelous cornucopia, an ancient Baedeker, and a sturdy resource to mine for names and places, fragments of history, and versions of myth. He has also been periodically decried as long-winded, tedious, inaccurate, and digressive. The idea that the Periegesis might have much more to offer than either an interesting factual bricolage or a way to generate checklists of civic cults was, at least until quite recently, rarely considered.

That situation is now changing drastically, and for once, a clear turning point can be identified. It is fair to say that this collection of essays would never have had its genesis without the revolutionary work of Christian Habicht and his 1982 Sather Classical Lectures, published in 1985 as Pausanias—Guide to Ancient Greece (rev. ed., 1998). Habicht not only offered a passionate and cogent defense of the Periegete's accuracy but also began to place the account in its own historical and social context and to push the edges of its interpretive envelope. His decision to take Pausanias seriously, coupled with a simultaneous growing curiosity about the world of the so-called Second Sophistic, has contributed to a florescence of “Pausaniacs” at the end of the millennium: books, conference proceedings, an index verborum, a fast-growing assemblage of articles throughout the 1990s, and—not least—two new critical editions with extensive commentary book by book .

This outburst, as Henderson notes, parallels a similar surge of interest at the turn of the nineteenth century, which one might perhaps call the “First Pausanian Sophistic. ” Habicht provided a seminal impetus in late-twentiethcentury studies, in part by uniting the best in German- and English-language . . .

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