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1. A Spartan of the Agid branch of the royal family, the son of Cleombrotus and nephew of Leonidas (Thuc. 1.94 ; Hdt. 9.10). His mother's name was Alcathea or Alcithea (Schol. ad Thuc. 1.134; Schol. ad Aristoph. Equit. 1. 84; Suidas calls her Ἀγχιθέα ; Polyaen. 8.51, Theano). Several writers (Arist. Polit. 5.1.5, 7.13.13; Plut. Consol. ad Apollon. p. 182; Dem. in Neaer. § 97, p. 1378, ed. Reiske; Suidas, s. v. Παυσανίας, &c.) incorrectly call him king (Paus. 3.4.9); he only succeeded his father Cleombrotus in the guardianship of his cousin Pleistarchus, the son of Leonidas, for whom he exercised the functions of royalty from B. C. 479 to the period of his death (Thuc. 1.94, 132; Hdt. 9.10). In B. C. 479, when the Athenians called upon the Lacedaemonians for aid against the Persians, the Spartans, after some delay (on the motives for which Bishop Thirlwall, Hist. of Greece, vol. ii. p. 327, &c., has thrown considerable light), sent a body of five thousand Spartans, each attended by seven Helots, under the command of Pausanias. From Herodotus (9.53) it appears that Euryanax, the son of Dorieus, was associated with him as commander. At the Isth mus Pausanias was joined by the other Peloponnesian allies, and at Eieusis by the Athenians, and forthwith took the command of the combined forces (Thuc. 1.130; Hdt. 8.3; Paus. 3.14.1; the words ἡγεμονία and ἡγεῖσθαι imply this), the other Greek generals forming a sort of council of war (Hdt. 9.50). The allied forces then crossed Cithaeron, and at Erythrae Pausanias halted and formed his line on the skirts of the Mountain, his forces amounting to nearly 110,000 men. Here they were assailed by the Persian cavalry under Masistius, who were repulsed after the Atheians had reinforced the Megareans, who were being hard pressed [OLYMPIODORUS], and Masistius had fallen. For the purpose of being better supplied with water, Pausanias now descended into the territory of Plataeae, and posted his army on the banks of a small stream, which Herodotus calls the Asopus, and which was probably one of its tributaries. Mardonius drew up his forces on the opposite bank of the stream. After a delay of ten days, during which the armies were kept inactive by the unfavourable reports of the soothsayers, Mardonius resolved to attack the Greeks. Information of his intention was conveyed by night to the Greeks by Alexander of Macedon. Accordingly, the next day the Persian cavalry made a vigorous attack upon the Greeks, and gained possession of the Gargaphian spring, on which the Greeks depended for their supply of water; and as there seemed no likelihood of a general engagement that day, Pausanias, with the concurrence of the allied generals, resolved to remove move nearer to Plataeae. This was done in the course of the ensuing night. On the following day the great battle of Plataeae took place. The Persian forces were speedily routed and their camp stormed, where a terrible carnage ensued. The Spartans were judged to have fought most bravely in the battle, and among them, according to Diodorus (11.33), Pausanias was selected as having acquitted himself most valiantly. But Herodotus makes no mention of his name in this connection. An Aeginetan urged Pausanias to revenge the mutilation of Leonidas, by impaling the corpse of Mardonius; an advice which Pausanias rejected with abhorrence. Pausanias gave directions that all the spoil should be left to be collected by the Helots. Ten samples of all that was most valuable in this booty were presented to Pausanias. Herodotus has preserved a story, that, to exhibit the contrast between their modes of living, Pausanias ordered the Persian slaves to prepare a banquet similar to what they commonly prepared for Mardonius, and then directed his Helots to place by the side of it a Laconian dinner; and, laughing, bade the Greek generals observe the folly of the leader of the Medes, who, while able to live in such style, had come to rob the Greeks of their scanty stores. (Hdt. 9.10-85; Diod. 11.29-33.)

As to the generalship of Pausanias in this action, Bishop Thirlwall remarks (Hist. of Greece, vol. ii. p. 352) : "Whether Pausanias committed any considerable faults as a general, is a question still more open to controversy than similar cases in modern warfare. But at least it seems clear that he followed, and did not direct or control events, and that he was for a time on the brink of rain, from which he was delivered more by the rashness of the enemy than by his own prudence. In the critical moment, however, he displayed the firmness, and if, as appears manifest, the soothsayer was his instrument, the ability of a commander equal to the juncture."

Immediately after the battle a formal confederacy was entered into, on the proposition of Aristeides (Plut. Arist. 21). The contingents which the allies were to maintain for carrying on the war against the barbarians, were fixed; deputies were to be sent from all the states of Greece every year to Plataeae, to deliberate on their common interests, and celebrate the anniversary of the battle; and every fifth year a festival, to be called the Feast of Liberty, was to be celebrated at Plataeae, the inhabitants of which place were declared inviolable and independent. It is this treaty which Thueydides calls τὰς παλαιὰς Παυσανίου μετὰ τὸν Μῆδον σπονδάς (Thuc. 3.68, camp. 2.71). Before the Greek forces withdrew, Pausanias led them to attack Thebes, and demanded the surrender of those who had been traitors to the cause of Greece. After a siege of twenty days, Timagenidas and Attaginus, who had been the leaders of the Median party, consented to be delivered up. The latter, however, made his escape. Pausanias dismissed his family unharmed; but the rest who were delivered up he had conveyed to Corinth and put to death there without any form of trial--"the first indication that appears of his imperious character" (Hdt. 9.88; Diod. 11.33). It was speedily followed by another. On the tripod dedicated by the Greeks at Delphi from the spoil taken from the Medes he had the following inscription engraved :

Ἑλλήνων ἀρχηγός ἐπεὶ στρατὸν ὤλεσε Μήδων,
Παυσανίας Φοίβῳ μνῆμ᾽ ἀνέθηκε τόδε.

The inscription was afterwards obliterated by the Lacedaemonians, and the names of the states which joined in effecting the overthrow of the barbarian substituted (Thuc. 1.132; Dem. in Neaeram, p. 1378, ed. Reiske; Corn. Nepos, Paus. 1 ; Hdt. 8.82). Simonides, with whom Pausanias seems to have been on terms of intimacy (Aelian, Ael. VH 9.41), was the composer of the elegy. (Paus. 3.8.2.)

In B. C. 477 (see the discussion by Clinton On the Athenian Empire, Fasti Hellen. vol. ii. p. 248, &c.) the confederate Greeks sent out a fleet under the command of Pausanias, to follow up their success by driving the Persians completely out of Europe and the islands. Cyprus was first attacked, and the greater part of it subdued. From Cyprus Pausanias sailed to Byzantium, and captured the city (Thuc. 1.94). It was probably as a memorial of this conquest that he dedicated to Poseidon in a temple on the Thracian Bosporus, at a place called Exampaeus, the bowl mentioned by Herodotus (4.81), the inscription on which is preserved by Athenaeus (12.9, p. 536a. b.). It does not distinctly appear what could have induced Justin (9.1) to call Pausanias the founder of Byzantium (a statement which is repeated by Isidorus, Origines, 15.1.42); though if, as Justin says, Pausanias held possession of the city for seven years, he may have had opportunities for effecting such alterations in the city and the government as nearly to have remodelled both, and the honours usually accorded to founders may have been conferred on him by the Byzantines.

The capture of Byzantium afforded Pausamas an opportunity for commencing the execution of the design which he had apparently formed even before leaving Greece. Dazzled by his success and reputation, his station as a Spartan citizen had become too restricted for his ambition. His position as regent was one which must terminate when the king became of age. As a tyrant over, not Sparta merely, but the whole of Greece (ἐφιέμενος Ἑλληνικῆς ἀρχῆς, Thuc. 1.128), supported by the power of the Persian king, he hoped that the reward of his treachery to Greece would be ample enough to satisfy his overweening pride and arrogance.

Among the prisoners taken at Byzantium were some Persians connected with the royal family. These Pausanias, by the aid of Gongylus, whom he had made governor of Byzantium, sent to the king without the knowledge of the other allies, giving out that they had made their escape. Gongylus escorted them, and was the bearer of a letter from Pausanias to the king, in which the former offered to bring Sparta and the rest of Greece under his power, and proposed to marry his daughter (Herodotus, 5.32. mentions that he had proposed to marry the daughter of Megabates). He at the same time requested Xerxes to send some trusty person to the coast to treat with him. Xerxes sent Artabazus with a letter thanking Pausanias for the release of the prisoners, and offering him whatever amount of troops and money he required for accomplishing his designs. (According to Plutarch, Parall. 10, he actually received 500 talents of gold from the king.) Pausanias now set no bounds to his arrogant and domineering temper. He treated the allies with harshness and injustice, made himself difficult of access, and conducted himself so angrily and violently towards all alike, that no one could come near him; and with a rashness that even exceeded his arrogance assumed the dress and state of a Persian satrap, and even journeyed through Thrace with a guard of Persians and Egyptians. The allies were so disgusted by this conduct, especially as contrasted with that of Cimon and Aristeides, that they all, except the Peloponnesians and Aeginetans, voluntarily offered to transfer to the Athenians that preeminence of rank which Sparta had hitherto enjoyed. In this way the Athenian confederacy first took its rise. Reports of the conduct and designs of Pausanias reached Sparta, and he was recalled; and as the allies refused to obey Dorcis, who was sent in his place, the Spartans declined to take any farther share in the operations against the Persians. Pausanias, on reaching Sparta, was put upon his trial, and convicted of various offences against individuals; but the evidence respecting his meditated treachery and Medism was not yet thought sufficiently strong. He however, without the orders of the ephors, sailed in a vessel of Hermione, as though with the intention of taking part in the war, and, returning to Byzantium, which was still in the hands of Gongylus, renewed his treasonable intrigues. According to Plutarch (Plut. Cim. 100.6; comp. Moral. p. 555b.), the immediate occasion of his expulsion from the city was an atrocious injury offered to a family of distinction in Byzantium, which ended in the tragical death of the victim of his lust and cruelty, at which the allies were so incensed, that they called upon the Athenians to expel him. He did not return to Sparta, but went to Colonae in the Troas, where he again entered into communication with the Persians. Having received an imperative recal to Sparta, and not thinking his plans sufficiently matured to enable him to bid defiance to the ephors, he returned at their command, and on his arrival was thrown into prison. He was, however, soon set at liberty; and, trusting to the influence of money, offered himself for trial. Still all the suspicious circumstances which were collected and compared with respect to his present and previous breaches of established customs did not seem sufficient to warrant the ephors in proceeding to extremities with a man of his rank. But even after this second escape Pausanias could not rest. He opened an intrigue with the Helots (comp. Arist. Polit. 5.1, 7), promising them freedom and the rights of citizenship, if they would rise and overthrow the government. But even when these designs were betrayed by some of the Helots, the ephors were still reluctant to act upon this information. Accident, however, soon furnished them with decisive evidence. Pausanias was still carrying on his intrigues with Persia. A man named Argilius, who was charged with a letter to Artabazus, having his suspicions awakened by noticing that none of those sent previously on similar errands had returned, counterfeited the seal of Pausanias and opened the letter, in which he found directions for his own death. He carried the letter to the ephors, and, in accordance with a plan suggested by himself, took refuge in the temple of Poseidon at Taenarus, in a hut which he divided by a partition, behind which he placed some of the ephors. Pausanias, as he expected, came to inquire the reason of his placing himself here as a suppliant. Argilius reproached him with his ungrateful disregard of his past services, and contrived that the ephors should hear from the lips of Pausanias himself the admission of his various intrigues with the barbarian. Upon this the ephors prepared to arrest him in the street as he returned to Sparta. But, warned by a friendly signal from one of the ephors, and guessing from the looks of another the purpose for which they were coming, he fled and took refuge in the temple of Athene Chalcioecus, establishing himself for shelter in a building attached to the temple. The ephors, having watched for a time when he was inside, intercepted him, stripped off the roof, and proceeded to build up the door; the aged mother of Pausanias being said to have been among the first who laid a stone for this purpose. When he was on the point of expiring, the ephors took him out lest his death should pollute the sanctuary. He died as soon as he got outside. It was at first proposed to cast his body into the Caeadas; but that proposal was overruled, and he was buried in the neighbourhood of the temple. Subsequently, by the direction of the Delphic oracle, his body was removed and buried at the spot where he died; and to atone to the goddess for the loss of her suppliant, two brazen statues were dedicated in her temple. (Thuc. 1.94, 95, 128-134; Diod. 11.44, 45; Nepos, Paus. 5; Suidas, s. v. Παυς.; Polyaen. 8.51.) According to Plutarch (de sera numinum Vindicta, p. 560), an oracle directed the Spartans to propitiate the soul of Pausanias, for which purpose they brought necromancers from Italy. As to the date of the death of Pausanias, we only know that it must have been later than B. C. 471, when Themistocles was banished, for Themistocles was living in Argos at the time when Pausanias communicated to him his plans (Plut. Themist. p. 123), and before B. C. 466, when Themistocles took refuge in Asia. The accounts of the death of Pausanias given by Nepos, Aelian, and others, differ, and are doubtless erroneous, in some particulars.

Pausanias left three sons behind him, Pleistoanax (afterwards king; Thuc. 1.107, 114), Cleomenes (Thuc. 3.26), and Aristocles (Thuc. 5.16). From a notice in Plutarch (Apophth. p. 230c.) it has been concluded that on one occasion Pausanias was a victor at the Olympic games. But the passage may refer merely to his success at Plataeae, having been publicly announced by way of honour at the games.

The character and history of Pausanias furnish a remarkable exemplification of some of the leading features and faults of the Spartan character and constitution. His pride and arrogance were not very different either in kind or in degree from that commonly exhibited by his countrymen. The selfish ambition which appears in him as an individual Spartan appears as characteristic of the national policy of Sparta throughout her whole history; nor did Sparta usually show herself more scrupulous in the choice of means for attaining her ends than Pausanias. Sparta never exhibited any remarkable fidelity to the cause of Greece, except when identical with her own immediate interests ; and at a subsequent period of her history appears with the aid of Persia in a position that bears considerable analogy to that which Pausanias designed to occupy. If these characteristics appear in Pausanias in greater degree, their exaggeration was but a natural result of the influence of that position in which he was placed, so calculated to foster and stimulate ambition, and so little likely ultimately to supply it with a fair field for legitimate exertion.

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479 BC (2)
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  • Cross-references from this page (30):
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 11.29
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 11.33
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 11.44
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 11.45
    • Herodotus, Histories, 4.81
    • Herodotus, Histories, 5.32
    • Herodotus, Histories, 8.3
    • Herodotus, Histories, 8.82
    • Herodotus, Histories, 9.10
    • Herodotus, Histories, 9.50
    • Herodotus, Histories, 9.53
    • Herodotus, Histories, 9.85
    • Herodotus, Histories, 9.88
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 3.14.1
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 3.4.9
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 3.8.2
    • Thucydides, Histories, 1.107
    • Thucydides, Histories, 1.114
    • Thucydides, Histories, 1.128
    • Thucydides, Histories, 1.130
    • Thucydides, Histories, 1.132
    • Thucydides, Histories, 1.134
    • Thucydides, Histories, 1.94
    • Thucydides, Histories, 1.95
    • Thucydides, Histories, 3.26
    • Thucydides, Histories, 3.68
    • Thucydides, Histories, 5.16
    • Plutarch, Aristeides, 21
    • Athenaeus, of Naucratis, Deipnosophistae, 12.56
    • Aelian, Varia Historia, 9.41
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