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Pausanias, Description of Greece, Preface

Pausanias

c. 160 CE

Description of Greece

with an English Translation by W.H.S. Jones, Litt.D. in 4 Volumes. Volume 1.Attica and Cornith, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd., 1918.

Preface

Pausanias, reputedly born in Lydia, was a Greek traveler (as well as Greece he also visited Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Macedonia, Epirus) during height of Roman rule. His most important work is the Description of Greece [Periegesis Hellados], a sort of tourist guidebook, which remains an invaluable text on ancient ruins.

The Description of Greece survives in ten books in the form of a tour of Greece starting in Attica. The first book seems to have been completed after 143 CE, but before 161CE. No event after 176CE is mentioned in the work.

Pausanias begins his description of each city with a synopsis of its history followed by an account of the monuments in topographical order. He also discusses local daily life, ceremonial rituals, legend and folklore. His main concentration is on artistic workd from the glories of classical Greece, especially religious art and architecture. That he can be relied on for building and works which have since disappeared is shown by the accuracy of his descriptions of buildings which do survive.

For at Athens he discusses the pictures, portraits, and inscriptions recording the laws of Solon; the great gold and ivory statue of Athena in the Parthenon; and the monuments to famous men and of Athenians who died in battle.

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