Pausanias is an author from the second century AD, when the Roman Empire was at its military, cultural and territorial zenith. He is considered to be an author of the Second Sophistic, a literary trend characterized by a rhetorical bent and antiquarian interests – a yearning for a distant past in which Greece and Greek culture were still dominant. It is in this context that Pausanias’ Description of Greece must be viewed: he painstakingly records the material remains of the past he encounters on his journey, drawing on a wide knowledge mainly of myth and geography. Such structure as can be discerned in the book appears to be geographical: the book traces a journey from Attica to the Peloponnesos and ultimately towards Phocis by way of the regions north of Attica. The description begins and ends rather abruptly, raising questions as to the original structure of the work. Were there additional parts that have been lost to time, or perhaps an introduction clarifying the circumstances of the book’s writing? We cannot be sure, but what is left of the book paints a vivid picture of the latter days of classical Greece.

Dutch text

The full Dutch text (trans. Peter Burgersdijk) of Pausanias’s work is here presented as a .pdf-file. To browse the online edition, click Pausanias – Online.