Pausanias (general)

Pausanias (Greek: Παυσανίας; died c. 470 BC) was a Spartan regent, general, and war leader for the Greeks who was suspected of conspiring with the Persian king, Xerxes I, during the Greco-Persian Wars. What is known of his life is largely according to Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War, together with a handful of other classical sources.

Pausanias 18th century print
Pausanias, 18th century print

Spartan lineage

As son of the regent Cleombrotus and nephew of the warrior king, Leonidas I, Pausanias was a scion of the Spartan royal house of the Agiads but not in the direct line of succession. After Leonidas' death, while the king's son Pleistarchus was still in his minority, Pausanias served as regent of Sparta. Pausanias was also the father of Pleistoanax who later became king. Another son was Cleomenes and Nasteria.

War service

1784 Map of the Battle of Plataea, Greece - Geographicus - BattleofPlataea-bocage-1784
Pausanias led the Greeks in their victory over Mardonius and the Persians at the Battle of Plataea in 479 BC.

Pausanias was leader of the Hellenic League created to resist the Persian invasion. He led the Greeks in their victory over Mardonius and the Persians at the Battle of Plataea in 479 BC.[1]. While the latter is sometimes seen as a chaotic soldiers battle,[2] others see evidence of both strategic and tactical skill on the part of Pausanias in delaying the engagement until the point where Spartan armour and discipline could have maximum impact.[3] Herodotus concluded that "Pausanias the son of Cleombrotus and grandson of Anaxandridas won the most glorious victory of any known to us".[4]

After the victories at Plataea and the Battle of Mycale, the Spartans lost interest in liberating the Greek cities of Asia Minor until it became clear that Athens would dominate the League in Sparta's absence. Sparta then sent Pausanias back to command the Greek military.

Suspected pact with Persia

Pausanias offering sacrifice to the Gods before his great battle
Pausanias offering sacrifice to the Gods before the Battle of Plataea.

In 478 BC Pausanias was suspected of conspiring with the Persians and was recalled to Sparta; however he was acquitted and then left Sparta of his own accord, taking a trireme from the town of Hermione. After capturing Byzantium the previous year, Pausanias was alleged to have released some of the prisoners of war who were friends and relations of the king of Persia. However, Pausanias argued that the prisoners had escaped. He allegedly sent a letter via Gongylos of Eretria to Xerxes, son of Darius, saying that he wished to help him and bring Sparta and the rest of Greece under Persian control. In return, he wished to marry the king's daughter. After Xerxes replied agreeing to his plans, Pausanias started to adopt Persian customs and dress like a Persian aristocrat.[5]

According to Thucydides and Plutarch[6] many Hellenic League allies joined the Athenian side because of Pausanias' arrogance and high-handedness. The Spartans recalled him once again, and Pausanias fled to Kolonai in the Troad before returning to Sparta as he did not wish to be suspected of Persian sympathies. On his arrival in Sparta, the ephors had him imprisoned, but he was later released. Nobody had enough evidence to convict him of disloyalty, even though some helots gave evidence that he had offered certain helots their freedom if they joined him in revolt. However one of the messengers that Pausanias had been using to communicate with Xerxes to betray the Greeks provided written evidence (a letter stating Pausanias' intentions) to the Spartan ephors that they needed to formally prosecute Pausanias.[7]

It is important to note, however, that our evidence comes from sources uniformly hostile to Pausanias – Athenians because they wished him removed from Greek command,[8] Spartan because of his innovatory views on freeing the Helots.[9]

Death

Death of Pausanias
Death of Pausanias, pursued by the Spartan Ephors.

The ephors planned to arrest Pausanias in the street, but he was warned of their plans and escaped to the temple of Athena of the Brazen House. The ephors surrounded the temple, put sentries outside the entrances and proceeded to starve him out. When Pausanias was on the brink of death by starvation they carried him out, and he died soon afterwards.[10] Thus Pausanias did not die within the sanctuary of the temple, which would have been an act of ritual pollution.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Herodotus, Historia 9
  2. ^ J Boardman ed., The Oxford History of the Classical World (Oxford 1991) p. 48
  3. ^ A R Burn, Persia and the Greeks (Stanford 1984) pp. 533–39
  4. ^ R Waterfield trans, Herodotus: The Histories (Oxford 2008) p. 567
  5. ^ Thucydides, History of the Peloponesian War 1.128–130
  6. ^ Plutarch, Cimon 6 and Aristeides 23
  7. ^ Thucydides I.133 s:History of the Peloponnesian War/Book 1#Second Congress at Lacedaemon - Preparations for War and Diplomatic Skirmishes - Cylon - Pausanias - Themistocles
  8. ^ R Waterfield trans, Herodotus: The Histories (Oxford 2008) p. 731
  9. ^ A R Burn, Persia and the Greeks (Stanford 1984) pp. 543, 565
  10. ^ Thucydides, History of the Peloponesian War 1.134

External links

Battle of Plataea

The Battle of Plataea was the final land battle during the second Persian invasion of Greece. It took place in 479 BC near the city of Plataea in Boeotia, and was fought between an alliance of the Greek city-states (including Sparta, Athens, Corinth and Megara), and the Persian Empire of Xerxes I (allied with Boeotians, Thessalians, and Macedonians).

The previous year the Persian invasion force, led by the Persian king in person, had scored victories at the battles of Thermopylae and Artemisium and conquered Thessaly, Phocis, Boeotia, Euboea and Attica. However, at the ensuing Battle of Salamis, the Allied Greek navy had won an unlikely but decisive victory, preventing the conquest of the Peloponnesus. Xerxes then retreated with much of his army, leaving his general Mardonius to finish off the Greeks the following year.

In the summer of 479 BC the Greeks assembled a huge (by ancient standards) army and marched out of the Peloponnesus. The Persians retreated to Boeotia and built a fortified camp near Plataea. The Greeks, however, refused to be drawn into the prime cavalry terrain around the Persian camp, resulting in a stalemate that lasted 11 days. While attempting a retreat after their supply lines were disrupted, the Greek battle line fragmented. Thinking the Greeks in full retreat, Mardonius ordered his forces to pursue them, but the Greeks (particularly the Spartans, Tegeans and Athenians) halted and gave battle, routing the lightly armed Persian infantry and killing Mardonius.

A large portion of the Persian army was trapped in its camp and slaughtered. The destruction of this army, and the remnants of the Persian navy allegedly on the same day at the Battle of Mycale, decisively ended the invasion. After Plataea and Mycale the Greek allies would take the offensive against the Persians, marking a new phase of the Greco-Persian Wars. Although Plataea was in every sense a resounding victory, it does not seem to have been attributed the same significance (even at the time) as, for example, the Athenian victory at the Battle of Marathon or the Spartan defeat at Thermopylae.

Pausanias

Pausanias (; Greek: Παυσανίας) is the name of several people:

Pausanias of Athens, lover of the poet Agathon and a character in Plato's Symposium

Pausanias (general), Spartan general and regent of the 5th century BC

Pausanias of Sicily, physician of the 5th century BC, who was a friend of Empedocles

Pausanias of Sparta, King of Sparta from 409 BC to 395 BC

Pausanias of Macedon, King of Macedon from 399 BC to 393 BC

Pausanias (pretender), pretender to the throne of Macedon in the 360s BC

Pausanias of Orestis, bodyguard who assassinated Philip II of Macedon in 336 BC

Pausanias (geographer), Greek traveller, geographer, and writer (Description of Greece) of the 2nd century AD

Pausanias of Damascus, Greek historian of the last quarter of the 2nd century BC

Pafsanias Katsotas, Greek general and mayor of Athens

Serpent Column

The Serpent Column (Ancient Greek: Τρικάρηνος Ὄφις Τrikarenos Οphis "Three-headed Serpent"; Turkish: Yılanlı Sütun "Serpentine Column"), also known as the Serpentine Column, Plataean Tripod or Delphi Tripod, is an ancient bronze column at the Hippodrome of Constantinople (known as Atmeydanı "Horse Square" in the Ottoman period) in what is now Istanbul, Turkey. It is part of an ancient Greek sacrificial tripod, originally in Delphi and relocated to Constantinople by Constantine the Great in 324. It was built to commemorate the Greeks who fought and defeated the Persian Empire at the Battle of Plataea (479 BC). The serpent heads of the 8-metre (26 ft) high column remained intact until the end of the 17th century (one is on display at the nearby Istanbul Archaeology Museums).

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