Provencal, Vernon L. 2015. Sophist kings: Persians as other in Herodotus. Bloomsbury Academic.
Sophist Kings: Persians as Other sets forth a reading of Herodotus’ Histories that highlights the consistency with which the Persians are depicted as sophists and Persian culture is infused with a sophistic ideology.
The Persians as the Greek ‘other’ have a crucial role throughout Herodotus’ Histories, but their characterisation is far divorced from historical reality. Instead, from their first appearance at the beginning of the Histories, Herodotus presents the Persians as adept in the argumentation of Greek sophists active in mid-5th century Athens. Moreover, Herodotus’ construct of the Sophist King, in whom political reason serves human ambition, is used to explain the Achaemenid model of kingship whose rule is grounded in a theological knowledge of cosmic order and of divine justice as the political good.
This original and in-depth study explores how the ideology which Herodotus ascribes to the Persians comes directly from fifth-century sophists whose arguments served to justify Athenian imperialism. The volume connects the ideological conflict between panhellenism and imperialism in Herodotus’ contemporary Greece to his representation of the past conflict between Greek freedom and Persian imperialism. Detecting a universal paradigm, Sophist Kings argues that Herodotus was suggesting the Athenians should regard their own empire as a betrayal of the common cause by which they led the Greeks to victory in the Persian wars.
About the author: Vernon L. Provencal is Professor of Classics at Acadia University, Canada.
Gabbay, Uri & Shai Secunda (eds.). 2015. Encounters by the rivers of Babylon: Scholarly conversations between Jews, Iranians and Babylonians in antiquity (Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism 160). Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck.
This volume presents a group of articles that deal with connections between ancient Babylonian, Iranian and Jewish communities in Mesopotamia under Neo-Babylonian, Achaemenid, and Sasanian rule. The studies, written by leading scholars in the fields of Assyriology, Iranian studies and Jewish studies, examine various modes of cultural connections between these societies, such as historical, social, legal, and exegetical intersections. The various Mesopotamian connections, often neglected in the study of ancient Judaism, are the focus of this truly interdisciplinary collection.
Callieri, Pierfrancesco. 2014. Architecture et représentations dans l’Iran sassanide (Cahiers de Studia Iranica 50). Peeters.
This volume contains the text of the five “Ehsan and Latifeh Yarshater Distinguished Lectures on Iranian Studies”, organized by the Unité Mixte de Recherche 7528 “Mondes iranien et indien”, and delivered in 2014 at the College de France in Paris. The aim of this book is to take stock of the architectural and figurative culture of Sasanian Iran on the basis of a new comprehensive evaluation of the varied range of architectural and artistic evidence known to us, and in the light of the recent discoveries published in Iran over the last few years. Without any pretence of being exhaustive, the idea is to bring more light to bear on the utilisation of built-up areas, forms of expression and visual communication, and the mechanisms involved in artisanal production. Two chapters are dedicated to the architecture, a field in which we are far from having arrived at a general consensus, while another chapter deals with a category of artistic production closely linked to the architecture, namely stucco work. The other two chapters look into the technical-stylistic aspects of types of production so far studied mainly from the iconographic point of view: the rock reliefs and the seals.
Rante, Rocco (ed.). 2015. Greater Khorasan: History, Geography, Archaeology and Material Culture (Studies in the History and Culture of the Middle East 29). Walter de Gruyter.
The modern sense of “Greater Khorasan” today corresponds to a territory which not only comprises the region in the east of Iran but also, beyond Iranian frontiers, a part of Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. In the past this entity was simply defined as Khorasan. In the Sassanid era Khorasan defined the “Eastern lands”. In the Islamic era this term was again taken up in the same sense it previously enjoyed. The Arab sources of the first centuries all mention the eastern regions under the same toponym, Khorasan. Khorasan was the gateway used by Alexander the Great to go into Bactria and India and, inversely, that through which the Seljuks and Mongols entered Iran. In a diachronic context Khorasan was a transit zone, a passage, a crossroads, which, above all in the medieval period, saw the creation of different commercial routes leading to the north, towards India, to the west and into China. In this framework, archaeological researches will be the guiding principle which will help us to take stock of a material culture which, as its history, is very diversified. They also offer valuable elements on commercial links between the principal towns of Khorasan. This book will provide the opportunity to better know the most recent elements of the principal constitutive sites of this geographical and political entity.