Biography on the Pausanias!
Pausanias, son of Cleombrotus became the regent of his child-cousin Pleistarchus son of Leonidas, the hero of Thermopylae.
He was a man of remarkable military ability who showed his worth in the battle of Plataea where he had to oppose an abler general than himself.
But as Prof. Bury remarks, his talents as a politician were not equal to his talents as a general.
He leapt into fame at Plataea and soon it was noticed that he was like Miltiades, another instance of the liability of the Grecian leading men to be spoiled by success. As conqueror of Plataea he had acquired a renown unparalleled in Grecian experience together with a prodigious share of the plunder concubines, horses, camels, gold-plate, which were well calculated to make the sobriety and discipline of Spartan life irksome. But the irony of the situation was that, while his power was great on foreign command, it became subordinate to that of the ephods when he returned home.
His newly acquired insolence was manifest soon after the battle of Plataea. In the commemorative golden tripod dedicated by him to the temple of Delphi he caused an inscription describing himself as ‘commander of the Greeks and destroyer of the Persians’. It was a tall, unseemly boast to which the Spartans themselves objected, and got the inscription erased. Needless to say, Pausanias’ discontent was great.
Nevertheless, Pausanias was appointed to command the allied fleet by the Spartans, to emancipate the eastern Greeks from the Persian yoke. Twenty ships from various cities of Peloponnesus were placed under him. Athens alone furnished thirty ships under Aristides and Cimon. Other triremes also came from the Ionian and insular allies.
Pausanias first sailed to Cyprus in which island he liberated most of the Grecian cities from the Persians. He next turned to the Bosphorus of Thrace and undertook the siege of Byzantium which was a post of great strength and importance, occupied by a considerable Persian force with several leading Persians and also kinsmen of Xerxes.
The line of communication between Greece and the Euxine (Black Sea) was thus cleared of obstruction. It was on the capture of this latter place that Pausanias’ ambition and discontent ripened into distinct treason. He connived at the escape of some kinsmen of Xerxes.
He entered into negotiations with Xerxes suggesting that he had released the Persian captives to please the Persian king and if it would please the latter, he would marry his daughter; and bring under Persian dominion both Sparta and the rest of Greece. In imagination Pausanias saw himself already the Satrap of Greece. Xerxes highly pleased with Pausanias immediately sent down Artabazus to supersede Megabates with a view to actively furthering the project of Pausanias.
Throughout the whole course of the expedition to Cyprus and Byzantium, Pausanias had been insolent and domineering, treating the allies shabbily compared to the Spartans. But on receipt of the communication from Xerxes and supplied with funds for corruption, Pausanias’ insane hopes knew no bounds and he started behaving as if he had already become the son-in-law of Xerxes and despot of the Hellas.
He behaved more as a tyrant than as a general and ruined all chances of his country’s remaining the head of the Greek confederacy which the Persian invasion had called into being. His haughty reserve, with uncontrolled burst of wrath, rendered him unapproachable. The exasperated eastern Greeks in the circumstances placed themselves under the protection and headship of Athens. This was inevitable, for Athens being a maritime power was naturally marked out for the leadership in the prosecution of war beyond the sea.
Fortunately for Greece Pausanias’ treasonable plans were not deliberately laid and veiled until ripe for execution but manifested with childish impatience. Being a small man and elated by vanity, he was unable to refrain from betraying, in little things, his treacherous designs. Reports of his doings aroused anxiety and alarm in Sparta and he was recalled to answer for his conduct, and seemingly the Spartan vessels with him.
Lack of positive proof of his Persian intrigue led to his acquittal on this count, he was punished only for some acts of injury which he had done to particular persons. Yet he was mistrusted by the Spartans who sent out Dorcis to supersede him as commander. But a revolution of immense importance for Greece had already taken place in the minds of the allies. The headship was in the hands of Athens, and Dorcis the Spartan found the allies not disposed to recognise his authority. The Spartan government made no further attempt to win back the allegiance which the Aegean and the Asiatic Greeks had transferred to Athens.
Pausanias was an instance of the fate of an ambitious man who had neither the preliminary education necessary to enable him to feel at home in an important position which was not of his own seeking, nor sufficient sagacity and strength of character to supply the defect. In fact. Spartan training was not calculated to fit people for a career among luxurious barbarians and a man of the stamp of Pausanias lost his head when brought in contact with them.