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American Journal of Philology 123.4 (2002) 633-637

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Susan E. Alcock, John F. Cherry, and Jas; Elsner, eds. Pausanias: Travel and Memory in Roman Greece. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. xii + 379 pp. Cloth, $65.

As he moves from monument to monument and polis to polis, Pausanias gives the impression that the sun is always shining and the weather fresh and sweet. Beyond the next turn in the road, there might be a grove or spring and maybe a precinct of Demeter, a statue of Artemis, or a little temple of Aphrodite. If they were "worth seeing," we can rely on Pausanias to let us know. Delivering a mixed narrative that weaves together history, myth, and his own style of ekphrasis, his even-toned voiceover makes him a comfortable traveling companion. Or does it? We know that the oaks on Mt. Parnon make the forest dark (they are still there today), but for Pausanias, the land is called Skotitas, "Dark," not for the shadows of the oaks, but for Zeus Skotitas who had his sanctuary nearby. As Ada Cohen points out in her essay, Pausanias does not describe the landscape itself but only the places where it intersects with divinity. As the collaborators here make clear, similar principles of selection operate on other levels. Pausanias may enable us to visualize a lost world, but the view is sanitized. Writing at the peak of Roman wealth, power, and privilege, he gives us old Greece with hardly a trace of Rome. He presents cities without houses, landscapes without agriculture, sanctuaries without worshippers, and the past without the present. Like the cardboard and cellophane 3-D glasses worn by cinema audiences in the 1950s, his text brings into temporary and unstable focus a very specialized scene, but the view is that of a virtual museum, a theme park created for our viewing enjoyment.

How did he do it and what are the consequences? I admit that when it comes to Pausanias, I am one of those "seekers after lost religions" whom Elsner classifies with archaeologists surveying the text of Pausanias for possible excavation sites. We will all be a little more careful after reading this book. Yet, where else [End Page 633] could we find the information Pausanias gives? Habicht rehabilitated Pausanias in the 1980s by demonstrating how well his text stands up when compared with the surviving external record. Pausanias did not have a spreadsheet to keep straight the sixty-nine altars at Olympia, but he must at least have taken notes.

The arrangement of the articles presented here replicates a familiar academic setting. Structured like a weekend conference, the book divides into three sessions ("The Traveler and the Text," "Studies and Comparisons," and "Nachleben"), with four papers and two comments in each session. Very generally, the topics are: landscape as language (J. Elsner); mental baggage and method (E. Bowie); informants and information (C. P. Jones); pilgrimage and the inspiration of vision (I. Rutherford); selection and cultural choice (M. Torelli); memory and memorization (D. Konstan); identity, monumentality and the recall of mo(nu)ments sublime (J. Porter); representation of space and movement (A. Cohen); archaic text and image on the chest of Kypselos (A. M. Snodgrass); filling the empty map of Messenia (S. E. Alcock); Greek narratives in Roman images (B. Bergmann); other Spartas (P. Cartledge); shaping the genre of travel writing (S. B. Sutton); Leake's Pausanias and Greek topography (J. M. Wagstaff); rearranging Pausanias or Farnell on Greek ritual (J. Henderson); Harrison and Verrall present Pausanias for the hoipolloi (M. Beard); Sparta and the French Enlightenment (S. Bann); and remembering and reforming the past (J. Cherry).

There isn't space enough here to do justice to every argument, but I will take a sentence to praise the editors for inspiring the synergy of so many specialties. Archaeologists talk about texts; literary scholars talk about places and objects; and art historians discuss the relation between the two. The section entitled Nachleben surveys the nineteenth-century efflorescence of Pausanias and from four very different vantage points evaluates his influence on...


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