The American School of Classical Studies at Athens

Matthew Cartier at a gallery in the Pentelic quarries


The New Pausanias

Moira Lavelle

Pausanias is the famous Roman traveler who came to Greece in the second century CE. He traveled around almost the entirety of Greece, describing what he saw and detailing local myths and legends.

The New Pausanias is a blog by Summer Session II student Matthew Cartier, who is about to enter his fourth year of undergrad at the University of Chicago. “Pausanias’s work is extremely relevant to both archaeologist and philologists who want to study ancient Greek material,” explained Cartier, “If archaeologists find something in a place that Pausanias described but they don’t have a positive identification, they can look at his stuff and say ‘Oh Pausanias says these things were here.' For the philologists or people examining Ancient Greek culture they can say ‘Pausanias describes it looking like this, and we can infer what the significance of the architecture of this certain place is.’”

Summer Session Students

Cartier and fellow SSII students reading an inscription in Kerameikos Cemetary

The blog developed out of a journal that Cartier had been keeping to remember all the sites the Summer Session was visiting. As they wound their way around Greece Cartier saw similarities in his travels and Pausanias’s: “I sort of bogarted his name because I was also traveling around Greece, seeing all the things, and I thought it was a fun classical reference to make.” 

However, Cartier says he hopes his writing style is not much like his namesake’s: “Pausanius is known for being famously long-winded and having extremely long digressions," he explained, "I try to keep the pace of the narrative moving on the blog, I don’t want to spend too much time talking about one place because I know not everyone wants to get bogged down in the minutiae of these sites.”

The New Pausanias is also different from the typical travel blog. There are pictures of Cartier with friends and local food delicacies, but mostly the blog focuses on the archaeological importance of various sites. “It sorts of takes its character from the program,” stated Cartier, “The Summer Session does resemble a broad survey tour, but the academic content is way deeper than anything you’re going to get elsewhere. You get to talk to people who are the one expert on what they do, the person who wrote the book on x,y and z, the people who have been excavating on the ground. I got to ask John Camp, the literal director of the Agora questions, and most people don’t get to do that.”

As he finishes up his classics degree at the University of Chicago, Cartier is writing a senior thesis looking at structures of domestic and international law in the Aeneid. He says he hopes to work on archaeology more in the future. But in the meantime Cartier plans on continuing the blog, writing short general-audience essays based on what he learned on his Summer Session.

Read the blog here: