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Pausanias (Greek: Παυσανίας) (d. c. 470 BC) was a Spartanmarker general of the 5th century BC. He was the son of Cleombrotus and nephew of Leonidas I, serving as regent after the latter's death, since Leonidas' son Pleistarchus was still under-age. Pausanias was also the father of Pleistoanax, who later became king. Pausanias was responsible for the Greek victory over Mardonius and the Persia at the Battle of Plataea in 479 BC, and was the leader of the Hellenic League created to resist Persian aggression during the Greco-Persian Wars.

After the Greek victories at Plataea and the Battle of Mycale, the Spartans lost interest in liberating the Greek cities of Asia Minormarker. However, when it became clear that Athens would dominate the Hellenic League in Sparta's absence, Sparta sent Pausanias back to command the League's military.

In 478 BC Pausanias was suspected of conspiring with the Persians and was recalled to Sparta, however he was acquitted and then left Sparta of his own accord, taking a trireme from the town of Hermionemarker. After capturing Byzantium Pausanias was alleged to have released some of the prisoners of war who were friends and relations of the king of Persia. However, Pausanias argued that the prisoners had escaped. He sent a letter to King Xerxes (son of Darius), saying that he wished to help him and bring Sparta and the rest of Greece under Persian control. In return, he wished to marry the King’s daughter. After receiving a letter back from Xerxes in which Xerxes agreed to his plans, Pausanias started to dress like a Persian aristocrat and he started to adopt Persian customs.

Many Spartan allies joined the Athenian side because of Pausanias’ arrogance and high-handedness. The Spartans recalled him once again, and Pausanias returned because he didn’t wish to be suspected of Persian sympathies. On his arrival in Sparta, the ephors had him imprisoned but he was later released. Nobody had enough evidence to convict him of disloyalty; even though some Helots gave evidence that he had offered certain Helots their freedom if they joined him in revolt. Argilius, a former eromenos of Pausanias and one of the messengers that Pausanias intended to send to Xerxes as a ruse to have him killed by the king, opened the letter suspecting foul play and thus provided written evidence to the Spartan ephors that they needed to formally prosecute Pausanius.

The ephors planned to arrest Pausanias in the street but he was warned of their plans and escaped to the temple of the Goddess of the Brazen House. The ephors walled up the doors, put sentries outside and proceeded to starve him out. When Pausanias was on the brink of death they carried him out but he died shortly thereafter.


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