Pausanias (pron.: //; Ancient Greek: Παυσανίας Pausanías) (c. AD 110 – AD 180) was a Greek traveler and geographer of the 2nd century AD, who lived in the times of Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. He is famous for his Description of Greece (Ἑλλάδος περιήγησις), a lengthy work that describes ancient Greece from firsthand observations, and is a crucial link between classical literature and modern archaeology. This is how Andrew Stewart assesses him:
A careful, pedestrian writer, he is interested not only in the grandiose or the exquisite but in unusual sights and obscure ritual. He is occasionally careless, or makes unwarranted inferences, and his guides or even his own notes sometimes mislead him; yet his honesty is unquestionable, and his value without par.
Pausanias was probably a native of Lydia; he was certainly familiar with the western coast of Asia Minor, but his travels extended far beyond the limits of Ionia. Before visiting Greece, he had been to Antioch, Joppa and Jerusalem, and to the banks of the River Jordan. In Egypt, he had seen the Pyramids, while at the temple of Ammon, he had been shown the hymn once sent to that shrine by Pindar. In Macedonia, he appears to have seen the alleged tomb of Orpheus in Libethra. Crossing over to Italy, he had seen something of the cities of Campania and of the wonders of Rome. He was one of the first to write of seeing the ruins of Troy, Alexandria Troas, and Mycenae.
Pausanias' Description of Greece is in ten books, each dedicated to some portion of Greece. He begins his tour in Attica, where the city of Athens and its demes dominate the discussion. Subsequent books describe Corinth, Laconia, Messenia, Elis, Achaia, Arcadia, Boetia, Phocis and Ozolian Locris. He famously leaves out key portions of Greece such as Crete. The project is more than topographical; it is a cultural geography. Pausanias digresses from description of architectural and artistic objects to review the mythological and historical underpinnings of the society that produced them. As a Greek writing under the auspices of the Roman empire, he found himself in an awkward cultural space, between the glories of the Greek past he was so keen to describe and the realities of a Greece beholden to Rome as a dominating imperial force. His work bears the marks of his attempt to navigate that space and establish an identity for Roman Greece.
He is not a naturalist by any means, though he does from time to time comment on the physical realities of the Greek landscape. He notices the pine trees on the sandy coast of Elis, the deer and the wild boars in the oak woods of Phelloe, and the crows amid the giant oak trees of Alalcomenae. It is mainly in the last section that Pausanias touches on the products of nature, such as the wild strawberries of Helicon, the date palms of Aulis, and the olive oil of Tithorea, as well as the tortoises of Arcadia and the "white blackbirds" of Cyllene.