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C LASSICS. G RAND T HEORIES ( CONT.) The translation we gave of Pausania’s account of Bassae was that of Sir James Frazer, founding father of modern anthropology, as well as the editor, commentator, and translator of the Guidebook to Greece, whose monumental six-volume edition was delivered to the world in 1898. Frazer had paid a series of visits to Greece in the early 1890s to research hisPausanias; and he includes in his commentary a number of lyrical passages enthusing in high Victorian style on particular landscapes, flora, and pathways, flooding the routes taken by Pausanias with his own emotionally intense style of graphic description. He even complains slightly of Pausanias’ lack of interest in the scenery of the natural world: ‘If he [that is, Pausanias] looks up at the sunlightagainst the blue, or the sombre pine-forests that frince their crests, it is to tell you that Zeus or Apollo or the Sun-God is worshipped on their tops…’ It was in the context of this project that he paid his visit to Bassae in 1890. He carefully inspected the site and took drawings and measurements which he later transferred to his commentary on that section of Pausanias’ text. To embark on amajor edition of Pausanias was not an obvious choice for a scholar in the late nineteenth century. The Guidebook may have been an essential tool for early archaeologists, searching out the ancient sites of Greece. But it has never been admired for its literary quality, nor read in school or college as a central text of Classics. This is partly because it is a Greek work from the Roman empire, and assuch has always been eclipsed both by Greek from the so-called ‘classical’ period of Athenian civilization (in the fifth and fourth centuries BCE) and by Latin of its ‘classical period, from the first century BCE to the zenith of the Roman Empire in the second century CE. It is only in much more recent times that the enormous quantity of Greek writing from the time of Pausanias on through thecollapse of Rome to the rise of the Greek-speaking Byzantine empire centre don Constantinople (Istanbul) has held the attention of classical scholars, along with the welter of Latin texts, pagan and Christian, from the Later Roman Empire. There are other factors too in the relative neglect of Pausanias outside archaeological circles. The Guidebook is written in unassuming note form, by a writer who isotherwise completely unknown and whose work sheds no direct light on the more central classical texts. Besides, Pausanias’ careful accumulation of detailed information from site to site around the Greek mainland does not obviously engage its readers with powerful or impressive analysis on a grand scale. But Frazer himself had particular reasons for engaging with Pausanias. What attracted him tothe Guidebook was precisely the intricate detail in which Pausanias described not only the religious sites, public rituals, and myths of the Greek world, but also (in Frazer’s words) ‘the quaint customs, observances and superstitions of all sorts’. For at the time he started serious research on Pausanias, Frazer had just completed the first edition of the vast project for which he is most widelyknown: The Golden Bough. This was a work which gathered together ‘quaint customs and superstitions’ from all over the world and throughout history—and purported to explain them all, in one of the first and grandes of all anthropological theories that there have ever been. It was a prohect that grew and grew over Frazer’s

lifetime, from the modest two-volume edition of 1890 to the monumentalthird edition in twelve volumes that appeared between 1910 and 1915. The Golden Bough, in all its different editions, opens with a classical problem. The puzzle that Frazer set out to explain is the strange rule that governed the priest of the goddess Diana at her sanctuary at Nemi, in the hills south of Rome. According to Roman writers, this priest, who was known by the title ‘King’, won his...
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