Pausanias: The Original Travel Writer



Born in ~110 CE, Pausanias was a Greek author, traveler, and geographer known for his 10-volume book, Description of Greece. The oldest cultural travel guide in existence, the book describes ancient Greece’s important sites and historic places from his own first-hand observations.

Based on the details of what he saw, archaeologists have retraced Pausanias’ footsteps, leading to great discoveries and excavations of ancient sites. Historians have used his invaluable book as a resource to reconstruct what life was like in antiquity, as Pausanias’ writings took place while cities were still active.


Athena Parthenos Replica

Athena Parthenos Replica

One of Pausanias’ best-known descriptions is that of the virgin goddess Athena’s statue that once stood inside the Parthenon. He said:

The statue itself is made of ivory and gold. On the middle of her helmet is placed a likeness of the Sphinx . . . and on either side of the helmet are griffins in relief. . . . The statue of Athena is upright, with a tunic reaching to the feet, and on her breast the head of Medusa is worked in ivory. She holds a statue of Victory about four cubits high, and in the other hand a spear; at her feet lies a shield and near the spear is a serpent.

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