Aaron Plattner is going to present a working paper on ‚Pausanias in Amyklai and Lebadeia. Apollon’s throne and the oracle of Trophonios‘

Presumably a native of Asia Minor, Pausanias was a Greek writer of the second-century AD, who lived in the period of the Antonines. He is famous for being the author of ten books entitled Περιήγησις τῆς Ἑλλάδος (Periégesis tês Helládos, Engl. Description of Greece). The work’s focus is on the „classical“ Greece of the First Sophistic (5th century BC). Pausanias is mainly interested in the religious sphere of the archaic-classical period as well as its material, mythical, and ritual-performative forms of expression. Although, in his time, these sanctuaries, temples, aetiological narratives, rituals, festivals, cult images, etc. no longer existed to the full extent, Pausanias nonetheless selects some of these to picture them vividly on a textual level for his educated audience. He therefore applies the rhetorical stylistic device of ἔκφρασις (ékphrasis, Engl. description). Thus, it is in many cases hard to distinguish between historic and fictional utterances, especially for those who comprehend the work as a travel report or tourist guide.

Thus, my research project is a contribution to clarifying the question of how Pausanias’ idiosyncratic writing can be adequately described. By the means of a reinterpretation of the work’ intention, based on the analyses of approximately 30 descriptions, it can be shown that Pausanias is neither a tourist guide nor a peculiar historiographical piece of work, but rather a museum guide for educated women and men coming from different ethnic backgrounds and constituting the Roman elite, the museum being Roman Achaea, where the reader encounters the ubiquitous cultural highlights of the Greeks that are part of their collective memory. For Pausanias deliberately creates semanticized space, in which a collection of antiquities is not only admired by the reader, but in which the latter feels addressed by the described places and gains the impression to really be in situ.

The present paper is a first draft of my dissertation’s third chapter, as scheduled. It contains the discussion of two ekphrastic examples, the first being an object description (Apollon’s throne), and the second being a description of ritual practices (oracle of Trophonios). In both cases, the discussion’s aim is to show how the text tries to establish a connection to its reader in order to give him or her the impression of being present.