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Following Pausanias

[...] Pausanias was one among many travellers to the land of Greece but at the same time he was unique. His text is emblematic for its sophistication and has been used by many others who followed in his footsteps. The erudition and attention to detail of the "Periegesis" of Pausanias assisted like no other text the "discovery" of Greek antiquities. For this reason, the increasing appeal of Pausanias' text to travellers is intimately connected with the rise of antiquarianism and the advent of archaeological exploration in the early modem period but also with the sense of historical perspective and the notion of the past as a distinct moment in the succession of events. For this very reason the "Periegesis" serves as the inspiration and basis for a large part of the travel literature acquired by the founder of the Gennadius Library, Joannes Gennadius. [...]
One of the best-known collections of the Library is the so-called Geography and Travel collection. It consists of books, engravings, manuscripts and maps written by travelers who toured Greece and the general area of the Eastern Mediterranean from the 15th to the 19th centuries. Already in the 4th century AD travelers came to the area for religious reasons, primarily to visit the biblical pilgrimage sites in Palestine. Pilgrims' accounts focus on the description of the sites as well as of the places that they visited on their way to the Holy Land. In the late Middle Ages and the early Renaissance merchants and traders added their own body of literature with a different set of information of a more practical nature. In the early modern era, with the rise of humanism and antiquarianism, the scope of the travels was modified to serve in addition to personal, religious, economic and political objectives, also intellectual concerns that included more specific details on history and archaeology. In this period Greece becomes a land with a past, indeed a glorious past. This is the time when the text of Pausanias reveals itself as an important document for consultation and inspiration. [...]

Maria Georgopoulou
Director, The Gennadius Library

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