7. Political Borders in Pausanias' Greece
Sylvian Fachard [+]
American School of Classical Studies at Athens
While touring the province of Achaia in the second century AD, Pausanias crossed and described dozens of political borders dividing Greek poleis. This may seem trivial, but no other Greek author dedicates such attention to the position and nature of political limits. In this paper, the author establishes a catalog of 60 borders recorded by Pausanias, mapping and categorizing each border-crossing according to its type and nature. The examination of the evidence shows that Pausanias’ attention and sensitivity for borders do not only betray a personal interest, but also a historical, topographical, geographical, and, perhaps more importantly, a geopolitical one as well. It also suggests that the Greek polis remained an important and recognized territorial cell in the world system of the Roman empire and that the borders of poleis continued to play a significant role. Moreover, the author argues that Pausanias should be held as an essential source for understanding how the polis, as a regional political entity braced by centuries of peer polity interaction, responded to the macro-geographical phenomenon of ‘global’ Roman ascendancy throughout the Mediterranean.