Pausanias was a Greek geographer from the second century AD (about 111-180). He came from Asia Minor, but on his numerous journeys he visited Greece, Macedonia, Egypt, Palestine and Italy. He wrote a kind of traveller’s guide, titled ‘Guided tour around Greece’. He described importants monuments on the Greek mainland, which he had visited with a guide. He had special attention for religious customs and works of art and told many myths and anecdotes. This kind of antiquarian literature, showing a great love for the classical period, is typical of the ‘second sophistic’, the main literary movement of his time.

The work consists of ten books, two of which describe the region of Elis. In these books he gives an extensive description of Olympia. Much of what we know today about the monuments at Olympia and the history of the Olympic games, is directly based on his work. The archaeological excavations at Olympia have confirmed the details of Pausanias descriptions: of many buildings and statues which he describes, remains have been discovered.

© KU Leuven, 2012