Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to that arrogant oligarchy who merely happen to be walking around. — G. K. Chesterton

Pausanias

d. 470 BC
Civilization: Greek — Sparta
   Field of Renown:  military — General
Era:  Persian War

Pausanias was a nephew of Leonidas, who was charged with leadership of the combined Greek forces after the death of the King. After the battle of Salamis, most of the Greek army retreated to the Peloponnesian penninusula, and worked to fortify the Isthmus. It soon became apparent that the remaining Persian forces under Mardonius, would not give battle there, and instead retreated to Boeotia, near their ally Thebes. In order to drive the enemy out of Greek territory, it would be necessary to meet them there.

plataea
THE BATTLE OF PLATAEA
It was nearly a year since the Battle of Salamis, when, after many delays, the two armies met at the field of Plataea. After an inauspicious beginning, the Greek forces, led by the Spartans, rallied, and completely defeated their Persian foes. It is said that of the nearly 250,000 Persians and allies who participated in the battle, only 3,000 escaped with their lives.

Pausanias followed up the brilliant victory at Plataea, with more victories at Cyprus and Byzantium, where the Greeks retook territories that had fallen into the hands of the Persians. Already, however, a great change was taking place in the bearing and disposition of Pausanias. Although he had born himself well after the victory at Plataea, and had even warned of the folly of greed and luxury after viewing the Persian camp, within only a few years he himself, had become very wealthy and decadent in his indulgences. In his camp at Byzantium he surrounded himself with luxuries and even dressed in the eastern style. There were rumors that he was corresponding with the Great King, and plotting to make himself master of Greece. He was recalled to Sparta by the authorities several times, and tried on charges of treason, but without definite proof it was not possible to make the charges hold. Eventually however, positive proof of his treachery was found, in the form of a letter sent to the Persian authorities. He fled to a temple for refuge, and there he suffered an ignoble death by starvation. In spite of his treachery, the Spartans gave Pausanias an honorable burial. Ever after he has stood as an example of the corrupting influence of wealth and power, even on a Spartan hero.


Key events during the life of Pausanias:


Year
Event
480 BC
Made regent for young son of Leonidas on the death of his Father.
479 BC
Led combined Greek army to victory over Persia at Plataea.
478 BC
Led expedition to Cyprus and Byzantium.
477 BC
Returns Persian prisoners taken at Byzantium to Xerxes; opens correspondence with great king.
475 BC
Recalled to Sparta to face charges of treasonable negotiations. Acquitted.
  More charges are made, but without solid proof.
470 BC
Unmistakable proof of conspiracy with Xerxes is discovered. Pausanias takes refuge in temple and starves.

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Other Resources


Story Links
Book Links
Bow against Spear  in  Pictures from Greek Life and Story  by  Alfred J. Church
Spoilt by Prosperity  in  Pictures from Greek Life and Story  by  Alfred J. Church
Battles on Plain and Shore  in  Helmet and Spear  by  Alfred J. Church
Of the Battle of Plataea  in  The Story of the Persian War  by  Alfred J. Church
Battles of Salamis and Plataea  in  The Story of the Greeks  by  H. A. Guerber
Death of Pausanias  in  The Story of the Greeks  by  H. A. Guerber
Battle of Plataea  in  The Story of Greece  by  Mary Macgregor
Delian League  in  The Story of Greece  by  Mary Macgregor
Plataea's Famous Day  in  Historical Tales: Greek  by  Charles Morris
After the Persian War  in  The Story of the Greek People  by  Eva March Tappan


Contemporary
Short Biography
Leonidas Spartan King whose whole army died defending the pass of Thermopylae.
Eurybiades Head of Spartan Fleet during the Persian War.
Themistocles Athenian hero of the Battle of Salamis. He masterminded Athenian naval supremacy.
Xerxes Raised an enormous army for Persian invasion of Greece. Defeated at Battle of Salamis.
Mardonius Brother-in-law of Xerxes and commander-in-chief of Xerxes's Army.
Artabazus Persian commander, satrap of Asia Minor. Correspondent of Pausanias.