A Traveller’s Tales: Myth and Storytelling in Pausanias’ Periegesis


People involved in this project

Principal investigator:

School Humanities
Department Classics and Ancient History
Dates September 2011 - September 2014
Funder British Academy
Contact person Dr Greta Hawes

More about this project

In his Periegesis (Guide to Greece), Pausanias takes us on a journey through Greece of the second century AD. More than merely a travel guide to ancient Greece, this text provides a uniquely insightful portrait of Greek culture and ethnicity. It has long been valued as a documentary resource for Greek myth, recording unusual variants and providing a unique glimpse of indigenous attitudes towards these stories. But despite recent renewed interest in the Periegesis as a literary work, no systematic investigation of its presentation of myth has been attempted. My project offers the first wide-ranging study of Pausanias as a narrator of myths and aims to provide us with a better understanding of how Pausanias should be used as a source for myth. It will illuminate the role of storytelling within the wider themes of the Periegesis and Pausanias' use of myths in relation to the established conventions of ancient travel writing. More broadly, it will trace the particular ways in which myths give significance to the landscape and bolster a sense of local and collective identity.