Ekphrasis und Resonanz. Die Stimmen der Gegenstände, Rituale und Heiligtümer bei Pausanias

Dissertation von Aaron Plattner, gemeldet am 06.02.2019
Karl Franzens Universität Graz, Klassische Philologie

Effective June 24th, 2020

Research Question

At the core of the dissertation project on 2nd century AD Greek writer Pausanias is the question of how his work can be adequately described. Although this question is a philological one, it has been of high relevance also to the hard facts disciplines, mainly Archaeology, Ancient History, and Religious Studies, because it touches their question of validity of Pausanias’ data.


The dissertation’s aim is twofold: First, a systematic analysis of selected ekphrastic passages in Pausanias, which up to this day has been a desideratum of classical scholarship. Second, a new interpretation of the work’s unspoken intention inspired by Rosa resonance theory from the discipline of Sociology.

Theories and Method

Passages containing descriptions of objects, rituals, and sanctuaries, are analysed in the light of ancient ekphrasis theory, modern resonance theory, and several theories on reader guidance in order to show how ekphrases in Pausanias are supposed to function. While there cannot be made use of any empirical evidence, archaeological evidence is taken into consideration to broaden the perspective.

Relying on the assumptions, that the author’s intention is prior to the form of his product and that this same intention must be seen within the framework of 2nd century AD Mediterranean world with all its implications, I intend to trace it back in a methodologically correct way. My interpretation on the one hand builds on the results of the foregone ekphrases-analysis as well as on the form of the text as a whole. On the other hand, it builds on the larger context, in which Pausanias’ work is embedded – that is especially the political system, the conditions of literary production, the awareness of literary fiction, the Roman elite’s Paideia-discourse, and the questions of Greek identity in an increasingly globalized ancient world.

Expected Result

The dissertation’s expected result is to eventually give a plausible answer to the initially posed research question About the adequate way of describing Pausanias’ literary work. My final answer for various reasons consists in the underlying concept of a virtual museum tour through different thematic sections. This interpretation’s value consists in its capability to allow a certain degree of fiction next to unquestionable historicity of the data most of Pausanias' modern readers are interested in.