Ancient Greek Literary Letters: Selections in Translation (Routledge Classical Translations)

Ancient Greek Literary Letters: Selections in Translation
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web.difccourts.ae/el-diseo-universal-para-el-aprendizaje-educacin.php See Stevenson , 1—3 and Georges On Greek literary interaction with the Persian world, see Sancisi-Weerdenburg But it was only after the Persian occupation of the Greek-speaking cities of Western Asia Minor in the s BCE that Persia itself became the focus of more intense study, with the Greeks trying to understand the nature of the unwelcome new superpower. Christopher Tuplin presents a useful composite picture of the Persians as seen in Greek literature: They. There is great wealth. Persians are liable to pride, hauteur, and inaccessibility.

They enjoy a luxurious life-style exemplified by clothing, textiles, food and drink, tableware, means of transport, fans and fly-whisks, furniture in a positively organized, regi- mented fashion: but the queens are sexually virtuous and sometimes energetically warlike. This is probably the background context of the fragment. Painted glazed wall plaque. Eunuchs will be encountered; and impalement or crucifixion is employed as a punishment.

Also working within the same genre was Hellanicus of Lesbos who was born around BCE and who is reputed to have lived to the age of eighty-five. Throughout his long life he remained fascinated by ethnography and wrote several books on barbarian peoples Cypriaca; Lydiaca; Persica; Scythica , as well as works on the diverse peoples of Greek-speaking lands Aeolica; Lesbiaca; Argolica; Boeotica; Thessalica.

Of the sixteen surviving fragments of his Persica we can deduce that he was the first Greek author to deal with the complex history and legends of Assyria and Babylonia, and he also covered the rise of the Medes and Persians. Thus he manages to explain the two traditions about Tuplin , He argued, therefore, that all historians who came after Herodotus must have modelled their works on his monumental work. This idea was reflected in the structure of the FGrH itself, since Jacoby passionately argued for a post-Herodotean date for most of the fragmentary historians he collected together.

Robert Fowler, however, presents a powerful counter argument, claiming a contemporary or pre-Herodotean date for many of those whom Jacoby places after him. It is this attitude which sets Herodotus apart from his contemporaries who were happy to report facts but rarely mentioned or criticized sources and, as far as extant material indicates, never openly considered them in front of the listener. In brief, in the period following the Persian Wars there was a deliberate literary practice whereby authors of various literary genres dramatic, poetic, historical demonstrated, usually for derogatory Boedeker For Herodotus and Achaemenid historiography, see Balcer Herodotus does, however, provide accurate details for facets of Persian life: he notes the satrapal and tribute systems employed throughout the Empire 3.

While he is essentially pro-Greek, Herodotus also finds much to admire in Persian culture 1. See Marincola , However, the main theme of the work — the origins and development of the wars of the Greeks and the Persians — pulsates throughout the narrative and is never forgotten. Almost half of the text of the Histories deals with the Greco-Persian conflict. Drews thinks of him purposely reacting against Herodotus to convince his audience that what they read in the Histories was wrong or irrelevant and there may be some truth in this.

Ctesias was more than that. For Bichler, Ctesias was the creator of a literary game in which he teased his readers by deliberately seeking for literary sensations and overturning their Herodotean expectations. He created nothing less than genre-parody. While it is true that Ctesias was intentionally entertaining, and that he wrote for a contemporary audience and did not expect to be read half a millennium later , it is difficult to think that he aimed only at creating a parody around the figure of the revered Herodotus.

The Persica is more than a literary joust. In fact, Ctesias simply en- visaged his interaction with the Persian world differently from Herodotus. Combined with his own indifference in augmenting the orthodox and established Greek narrative of events provided by Herodotus, it is no wonder that the Persica differs so radically from the Histories.

The idea that Ctesias reproduces Persian traditions and used Persian sources for his work is becoming more popular in scholarship. His Persica is preserved in thirteen fragments and owes a considerable debt to Ctesias, but he does not adhere to Ctesias slavishly and was no more willing to follow Ctesias blindly than Ctesias was to follow Herodotus.

Dinon appears to have lived and worked in Asia Minor and was in a good position to enquire about the nature of the Persian Empire; indeed it has been suggested that he had direct sources from the Persian court, possibly via a member of the household of Tiribazus, the Satrap of Sardis.

So much so, indeed, that Jacoby was prepared Kuhrt , 60; Stronk See further below, pp. See also Lenfant There is no evidence that Heracleides was interested in Assyrian or Median history and he possibly concentrated his work on Persian history alone. The long fragments preserved in Athenaeus, however, provide detailed accounts of court life: palaces, royal feasts, concubin- age, bodyguards, and palace security.

See also Sancisi- Weerdenburg Both authors are completely reliant on Ctesias as their ultimate source. This is certainly true of the conflict between Greeks and Persians, which appears in either sketchy outline or mangled chronological narrative. It is no coincidence that the desire to understand their powerful neighbours was expressed by the Greeks of Asia Minor, and the authors of all known Persica, Herodotus amongst them, were born and often resided in cities under the intermittent domination of the Achaemenids.

We know that Themistocles allegedly only took a year to learn Persian well enough to converse in it without an interpreter Plutarch, Life of Themistocles 27 , and so it is feasible that in his seventeen-year Stevenson , It evidently would not be fitting for an Achaemenid princess to speak such a barbaric language either: and so, when Alexander the Great married his two royal Persian brides, he had to send them off to Susa with tutors in order that they learn the Greek tongue Diodorus Siculus Persian words evidently found their way into the Persica, too.

But what exactly was the language Ctesias spoke at court? Old Persian, the language of the royal inscriptions of the Achaemenid kings, was only one of the many languages of the Empire and may never have been a spoken language at all, but one utilized solely for the written word. Akkadian, Elamite, and Imperial Aramaic, to name but some of the languages of this polyglottal Empire, were possibly spoken and written at court too. This multi-lingual system may have worked on a par with, say, the Russian court in the early decades of the twentieth century. On Greek attitudes towards foreign languages, see Vignolo Munson Russian was used for all governmental purposes, but was not regarded as a language fit for courtiers.

English was the preferred language of communication for the Tsar and his immediate family, although German was also a language utilized by the Tsarina and her blood-kin. As a servant of the Great King, albeit a privi- leged one, he was no doubt frequently in the sphere of the royal family and may unobtrusively have picked up many incidental details as he went about his daily business. At other times he questioned indi- viduals, and it is possible that Ctesias used the accounts of many different classes of people in his composition of the Persica.

Ctesias, Marincola ascertains, is the earliest historian to make this claim, and argues that: We ought not to doubt that this form of validation, in which the author portrayed himself as close to those in power, was important for establishing the authority of the [later] historians of Alexander and his successors.

It may explain why the patronage of a king was desirable for a historian, since he would have scant chance to know secret transactions and the councils that had led to the deeds. What evidence is there for these official records? Jacoby Drews , On gossip and Near Eastern history, see Lasine , 93—, and for references to Ctesias and gossip, see — In other words Ctesias is either lying about his sources or, if they did exist, they were good for nothing.

A series of records known as the Treasury Texts are dated to the reign of Artaxerxes I and record ration payments and the disbursements of silver from the Persepolis treasury. A final group of documents, written in Elamite and Imperial Aramaic, are the so-called Q-series from Persepolis, also known as Travel Texts, which outline rations provided for travellers and their animals. See also Henkelman, forthcoming Here the lion represents chaos that the King, as the champion of truth and order, must vanquish.

While this image has symbolic religious value, the hunting of lions was a popular royal sport. The story might have at its root the notion that Megabyzus was attempting to usurp the throne through his appropriation of the image of royal lion slayer. Raised relief. Door jamb in the Hall of a Hundred Columns, Persepolis.

This was recorded in the book of annals at the insistence of the king. Esther 2. This should come as no surprise because the archival library system in Neo-Babylonia was strong and had taken its inspiration from the Assyrians. It is hard to imagine that Ctesias had the ability to read the ancient cuneiform scripts of the Near East, but he may have had them read aloud to him. What is import- ant, however, is that these sources came from inside Persia and most likely represented a considered response of the Persian aristocracy to their society and their history, in which they reinforced the See the letter quoted in the Old Testament book of Nehemiah 2, 7—9.

It incorporates public audience halls and banqueting halls as well as several private palaces and administrative blocks. View of the site from a hillside Shah-e kuh , which overlooks the palaces and contains two royal tombs from the fourth century BCE. As Oswyn Murray explains it: [The Persica] is truly a Persian history — not the invention of a Greek doctor, but an account of Persian court life as the Persian aristocracy saw it. It is a genuine expression of Persian traditions about the past.

He regarded them as an account of royal events Murray , Esther 6. Therefore, to keep the monarch entertained through the long sleep- less night, the royal records must have been more than a dry list of daily events. Christensen goes further, however, and suggests that Persian epics of later centuries — the highly fragmentary Parthian Book of Rulers Xwaday Namag , and the eleventh century CE Farsi Book of Kings Shahnahmeh by Ferdowsi — as their names suggest, were a continuation of a tradition of Achaemenid royal records and stories.

As has already been briefly noted, in the ancient Near East, communication was almost always oral and the art of storytelling itself was so central to society that it was often used in a communal setting. Storytellers rarely ever recited tales from rote memory; old traditions were usually updated and made alive with new examples, varying details, and shifting emphasis. Of course, we do not know what kind of stories Ctesias listened to in his years at the Persian court, since our knowledge of early Persian oral traditions is a blank, although it is hard to imagine that the Persians or any peoples for that matter had no form of storytelling customs at all.

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Greek sources certainly hint at a Persian literary tradition: Strabo suggests that the Persians received their schooling via a combination of instruction and storytelling in poetry and prose It is difficult to imagine that entertainment was the primary function of royal chronicles, however. Athenaeus preserves an observation from Dinon in which court minstrels composed songs with political allegories C—E ; he also provides evidence for a romantic fourth-century BCE Persian folk-tale, the love story of Odatis and Zariadres A—F. The Greeks also supply evidence of a Persian maybe even Median tradition for stories featuring Cyrus the Great.

This is logical, as Deborah Levine Gera reasons: It would seem that the burden of proof lies upon those who would deny the Persians. Cyrus the Great, in particular, left his mark upon Babylonian and Jewish literature; it is difficult to believe that his own people did not commemorate him in some fashion. Of course we do not know if in the Persica Ctesias ever mentioned what his sources were for a given story.

Evidence for a Persian epic tradition is hard to come by, however, although some Iranologists suggest that certain tales found in later works have common elements or motifs, which can be identified in the Achaemenid-period writings of Ctesias, Herodotus, and Xeno- phon. For a relationship between Iranian epic and the Greek tradition, see also Davis Both heroes serve as lackeys in a royal palace before their pre-destined greatness is eventually recognized and both flee the court, raise armies, and rebel against the established order.

The legends surrounding the establishment of two great dynasties seem to have become confused, with the merged story eventually being set down in written form in the Karnamag whence it was transferred into the great Shahnameh itself. The peoples of the ancient East certainly had a keen sense of history, but thought about it differently from the way we do in the modern West.

Persians, Babylonians, and Assyrians comprehended their past in terms of their myths, especially creation stories, and the grand tales of gods, heroes, and kings. King- ship as a manifestation of divine will stands at the centre of the Near Eastern concept of historical progression.

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The actual details of histor- ical events within a reign were of less interest than the pattern by which the reign was explained in relation to mythic events. The visible events on earth were the reflections of the activities of the gods who com- municated to men through the events they set in motion.

Wars and conquests were often seen in this light.

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This is to do with the fact that the Farsi epic originates outside of Fars province, the Achaemenid homeland. See Davis , xx. She the goddess determined not to remain with the people of Arabia and set out for Assyria. However, there is a further aspect to the composition of the Persica that is often overlooked. The Persica is connected to a historiographic tradition that was blossoming in the Near East in the period between the mid seventh and late fifth centuries BCE. Best known of the genre is the Israelite work called the Davidic Court History.

Written by scribes in the post-Solomon era, but in the age before the Hebrew deportment to Babylon, it is assumed by Biblical scholars that this Court History was reworked into the Old Testament canon in the post-exilic age, II Samuel 15, 1—3. See also Glassner The original text of the Court History is believed to incorporate most of II Samuel, except for the first few chapters and a few more minor parts , and the opening chapters of I Kings.

It reveals the tensions within the Davidic court and plays up stories of intrigue, rebellion, and sexual adventures. Set in the Achaemenid court at Susa, the book follows the exploits of a Jewish girl who enters the harem of the Great King, whom she eventually marries. She later uses her exalted rank to secure the safety of her people from persecution by Haman, an anti-Semitic high official who has access to the royal seal. Court intrigues and the machinations of prominent courtiers form the background to the story which is, most scholars agree, packed with incidental detail about Persian court life, palace protocol, the topography of Susa, and the like.

Talmon suggests that: the author of the Esther-story shows an intimate knowledge of Persian court-etiquette and public administration. If his tale does not mirror historical reality, it is indeed well imagined. It is generally held that Esther was composed in the Achaemenid era, sometime in the early fourth century BCE, and that its author was very familiar with Persian institutions. Robert Gordis argues that: Gray , Hertzberg , Baily For a lively interpretation of the Davidic Court History, see Kirsch , — There is a considerable number of Persian and Aramaic words and idioms.

There are, however, no Greek words, a fact which clearly points to a pre-Hellenistic date. However, it does point to a genre of history-writing that was perhaps current in Babylonia and the Levant in the later Achaemenid age, which centred on the affairs at the heart of government and, specifically, at the royal court.

See also Moore , iii. Marincola , For a further discussion of Ctesias as a proto-novelist, see Holzberg It is debatable whether we should think of Ctesias and Xenophon for that matter as a predecessor of the Hellenistic novelist. See further Auberger This is an apposite term, because a novella is a story of limited length, intended to entertain, and with a plot which, typically, operates around the reversal in fortunes of a central character.

Xenophon as we will explore was certainly familiar with the genre, and in fact much of the history of the time was composed in this way. Herodotus and Thucydides certainly contain character- istics of the novella. The novella is found in Hebrew writing of the era too. The Hebrew version of the biblical book of Esther has all the hallmarks a novella the final Greek version of the text, however, probably developed into its canonical form in the immediate centuries after Ctesias.

The story is set in a precise location Susa; Esther 1. Here the unknown author of Esther has chosen to set his story at a precise moment in time and in an exact locale and has to face his critics on the thoroughness of his research and his use of historical data. To look at the historical accuracy of his work is a legitimate act and many Biblical scholars have attempted to do just this , but that does not prejudge the question of literary genre. His Cyropaedia Education of Cyrus , a didactic semi-fictionalized biography of Cyrus the Great which is in fact a fawning panegyric about Cyrus the Younger contains no fewer than four novellas interwoven into the For a good discussion of Esther, its background, and its place in scholarship, see Berlin These are the stories of Panthea the Lady of Susa 5.

Xenophon uses the novellas carefully throughout the main body of the historical work and each of the four stories share several important, and overlapping, features: 1 All four stories are presented episodically and are fitted into the wider picture of the Cyropaedia.

This idea has been discounted in favour of viewing the novel as a genre arising from, but different from, historiography although the cross-over points between the genres are often deliberately blurred. Ctesias and Xenophon with his Cyro- paedia also must have made the decision to write his Persica in a specific way in which the affinities between history and novella-style story-telling would be developed in his own literary form.

At no See the full discussion in Gera , ff. See Gera , — See also Due That is our longstanding misconception of his work. However, as has been suggested above, Ctesias and Xenophon did not write full-scale novels, but the more manageable form of the novella. Do they originate with Ctesias? The astonishing similarity between the Zarinaea story in the Persica and that of Panthea in the Cyropaedia is in itself enough to take the claim seriously. Certainly, the character-types of the Persica seem to be replicated later by Xenophon.

Each of these women is excessively beautiful, and each finds herself at the heart of battle, and at the centre of romantic, and ultimately tragic, conflict. Interestingly, both authors make use of a love triangle motif: Xenophon creates a romantic interest around the figures of Abradatas-Panthea-Araspas, while Ctesias utilizes Onnes-Semiramis-Ninus for the same effect. Both authors use the spectacle of the suicide of a loving and loyal spouse as a climactic event. Most importantly, and transparently, are the similarities between the figures of Panthea and Zarinaea.

Both of the beautiful women reject her would-be lover to preserve her marital honour; both admirers kill themselves because of unfulfilled passion. I have seen them make gifts of what they ill could spare, I have seen them praying, yes, praying, to be rid of their passion, as though it were any other malady, and yet be unable to shake it off; they were bound hand and foot by a chain of something stronger than iron.

There they stood at the beck and call of their idols, and that without rhyme or reason; and yet, poor slaves, they make no attempt to run away, in spite of all they suffer; on the contrary, they mount guard over their tyrants, for fear these should escape. But there is another important key to understanding the nature of how the novella operated in the Persica: the characters utilize direct speech.

Dialogue is the central feature of the novella-format. But what role did dialogue play in the Persica?

Introduction to the Series

This is hard to ascertain. However, the strongest evidence we have for the use of dialogue in the Persica is found in the Testimonia T14a. It is a matter of debate whether Demetrius intended his treatise to be a handbook of rhetoric or a work of literary criticism, but it is possible that Demetrius wrote it for pupils who had completed preliminary courses in rhetoric.

In Testimonium 14a Demetrius comments with approval on the way in which Ctesias used dialogue for dramatic effect. He provides an analysis of a brief vignette in which a messenger tentatively breaks the news to Parysatis about the death of her son, Cyrus the Younger, on the battlefield at Cunaxa.

Testimonium 14a. Here, of course enargeia is linked with dramatic pathos although enargeia is something that was admired in history writing too. Greek history writing could therefore replicate standard tragic scenes or, at the very least, utilize tragic devices. The visiting herald is amazed to see a mound of armour piled high as a proud war trophy, but he does not realize that the equipment belongs to his Plutarch On the Glory of Athens A praises Thucydides for his vivid history writing.

In turn, pity and fear are put into effect through reversal and recognition. Oedipus is at once transformed from the powerful king of Thebes to an object of pity and scorn. Thucydides helps to dramatize the incident through his use of dialogue: Someone, under the mistaken idea that the herald had come from the troops at Idomene, asked him what he was so surprised about and inquired how many had been killed. It was a relief force coming from the city of the Ambraciots.

He cried out loud and, overwhelmed by the extent of the disaster, went away at once without doing what he came to do and without asking any more for the recovery of the corpses. But can more be said about the integration of the novellas into the Persica en masse?

Ancient Greek Literary Letters: Selections in Translation by Patr Rosenmeyer

It is unlikely that the novellas were thrown at random into the structure of the book, for there is a strong sense of balance in the overall organization of the Persica through which history and novella seamlessly progress together. In doing so he pays homage to the Achaemenid queen. Parysatis is crafted as a second Semiramis. He uses the figures and actions of the two women as a means of bringing his work from the mythical past into the historical present as Semiramis the queen of legend makes way for Parysatis, the queen of historical fact.

The literary tactic Ctesias employs to dramatize their stories and define their characters, however, remains the same. It is clear that, on all levels, Ctesias is deliberately blending historical fact and novella-style storytelling in order to create a rich, fluid, and gripping historical drama. What does Demetrius mean by this? On the most obvious level Ctesias cannot be classified as a poet, certainly not in the way that Homer or the Attic tragedians are known as poets. Ctesias, after all, does not write in meter, a defining characteristic of what we regard as poetry.

But it differs this way: that one writes what happened, the other what might happen. Aristotle, Poetics 9. We noted above the link between history and tragedy, so regarding Ctesias as a poet is not altogether heretical. However, by filtering the Persica through an Aristotelian prism, we can now regard the work as one in which historiography — composed from a reliable core of historical facts — is blurred into a kind creative dramatic history or historical novella. His discussion of Ctesias as a poet is of utmost importance.

Ctesias refuses to be pinned down as an author of any specific genre. But should we feel pleasure when reading history? The Hellenistic historian Duris of Samos c. His critique of earlier historians is an important comment on the conceptualisation of history writing: Ephorus and Theopompus fell far short of the events. FGrHist 76 F1 In other words, Duris suggests that a good historian should try to present his readers with a dramatic scenario, or at least give the illusion of a drama.

He implies no doubt with Aristotle in mind that the past can be better communicated if imagination is combined with historical reporting and interpretation. Pleasure was the touchstone of reading Ctesias in antiquity, or so it would appear from the various Testimonia. As far as Demetrius was concerned, the pleasure of reading Ctesias derived, as we have noted, from his vividness enargeia.

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Photius was far more enthusiastic in his praise. Ctesias, he confirms, is a straightforward read, but his style gives great enjoyment: The pleasure of his history comes mainly in the way he elaborates his tales with a lot of pathos and surprising twists and in the way it is adorned with so much variety in a way similar to fables.

Testimonium 13 Ctesias clearly enjoyed a wide readership in antiquity, and it becomes apparent that people engaged with his style. Some years after his death, the tradition in which he worked indeed, the tradition he perhaps founded was still in operation. As Quintillian observed: Historiography is very close to poetry and is somehow a sort of poetry-in-prose. It is written for a narrative purpose, not for facts, and a historian creates his oeuvre not to argue and win a court case, but to give posterity something to remember and to win glory for its author.

Quintillian, Institutions But the mix is so dense that each aspect of the composition bleeds into the next and any barrier between history and poetry is impossible to see. The result is a work of great novelty and ingenuity and clearly one that exercised great appeal in antiquity.

Now, at the close of this short study, are we any closer to understanding the nature of the Persica? Certainly, it has become clear that, although we might suppose that history and fiction are almost antonyms, this is not the case. Historical fictitious narratives test our boundaries of credibility. They dance on a tightrope of actuality and illusion. We have seen that he is actually a poet-cum-novellist working within the framework of history.

History is present in the Persica, but not in the form we have come to expect. He predominantly records events at court. Because Ctesias himself is a courtier and the Persia he knows is the Persia of the royal residence at the heart of the Empire. This does not necessarily negate any interest he has in the bigger political picture of Greco-Persian relations, nor does it mean that the Persica was devoid of any political message, it is simply that Ctesias opts through necessity to explore the Persian world from its royal centre.

At court he works with his Persian and Babylonian, and possibly even Assyrian sources to produce a history of Persia from the inside, and as such he is in tune with an Eastern approach to history in general. He adds to that a Greek inquisitiveness about the East and his own interpretation of what he sees and hears. He augments this with an imaginative elaboration that befits a good novelist. The account of the reign of Artaxerxes II is not a sensationalist tragic history but a court history, written along the lines of other court histories created at that time, and as such it records the kind of machinations, plots, tensions, and cruelties that are present at the courts of all absolute rulers.

He was concerned with presenting new and different accounts of the Near Eastern past, which he had found preserved in numerous eastern traditions, literary and oral. As we have seen, the Indica is a Persian take on its semi-mythic neighbour. We cannot and should not use the Indica to reconstruct a political or cultural history of the subcontinent, for this, after all, is the land of the fabled unicorn. But from the Indica, we must also remember that this was the land of the Greek-speaking parrot, a bird whose description by Ctesias at least matches our own knowledge.

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These comparisons culminated in what remains the most definitive book on the subject of oral poetry, Lord []; see Mitchell and Nagy Bryn Mawr Classical Review Translation by Perrin, B. Later phases of theater are meagerly attested; for example, the Dyscolus of Menander survives as the only near-complete text from the era of New Comedy in the late fourth century b. The poetic virtuosity of the Hellenistic poets is evident in the evocative power of their choices in wording Bowie , article 13 , the deftness of their narrative technique Harder , article 14 , and their seemingly effortless applications of past conventions to present realities Gutzwiller , article For example, his poetic catalog of enemy casualties in the Persians amounts to an artistic reworking of genuine archaic Greek conventions of publicly announcing the casualties of war Ebbott , article 3.

Out of the fantas- tical comes the verifiable; even a Book of Wonders can proffer accurate factual information. The same point stands for the combination of history and storytelling that is the Persica. This is a work of history, but a history composed mainly from a Persian and Babylonian tradition. The Persica can be used as a history because it records the way in which the Persians remembered or imagined their past.

The result of this type of stance, argues Daniel Varisco, is that: any Western author who cites an imaginary or fanciful Orient thus becomes complicit expressis verbis in the verbal mis- representation of real Orientals. For his part, and unsurprisingly given the sources at his disposal and his agenda in writing a history of the East from the inside, Ctesias penned a pro-Persian history of Persia. Lucian confirms this in his somewhat perversely tongue-in-cheek treatise How to Write History: The one task of the historian is to relate how things happened: he [Ctesias] would not be able to do this inasmuch as he was either afraid of Artaxerxes whose doctor he was or because he hoped to receive a purple kaftan and a Nisaean horse as payment for praising him in his writing.

Testimonium 11hd In other words, Lucian clearly regarded the Persica as a work in which the achievements of the Great Kings of Persia are lauded and eulogized. A sweeping history, which exalts the achievements of the Persian monarchy but marginalizes the Greeks? What could have motivated Ctesias to write such a pro-Persian book? Lucian supplies the answer: either fear of King In this Ctesias might have set a trend for later historians.

See Marincola , 89— More importantly, he wrote with the purpose of presenting events from a Persian point of view, so that it was unnecessary to make a corresponding declaration about his sources from the Greek side.

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No pretence of impartiality seems to have been given, nor were the historical events themselves his exclusive concern. Ctesias promised accuracy but not necessarily impartiality of viewpoint. It is also worth noting that, in his use of Ctesias, Diodorus might have conjured up a Sardanapallus of his own imagination, in the same way as he may have reworked the figure of Semiramis.

He tells good stories, yes, but not necessarily titillating ones. It is clear that the royal women of Achaemenid Persia did not live in purdah, nor did they inhabit an Orientalist world of sultry sensuality, but they did form part of a strict hierarchical court structure that moved in close proximity to the king. On the importance of the harem and polygamy in ancient empires, see Scheidel Stories of sexual shenanigans, the stuff of Orientalist dreams, are kept to a minimum, and even when they do appear, they serve a bigger picture.

Royal women fight over rank and position and privilege, and when eunuchs overreach their allotted positions and aim for the throne, the queens act swiftly and punish them. The squabbles, rivalries, double-dealings, murders, and executions must be seen in the context of dynastic politics. Absolute monarchies are open to a particular form of political tension, which usually focuses on the royal family and on the noble families that surround the king. Within such institutions, women of the dynastic family often rise to positions of political agency, not through any formal route to power, but by other, less qualifiable means.

Cross- cultural and cross-temporal comparisons with other court societies reveal this to be a truth. See also Tougher See also important comments on the nature of the historiography on Persian women by Harrison , See, however, Lenfant , 93—95, who is inclined to follow Sancisi-Weerdenburg in seeing Ctesias followed by Dinon as the perpetrator of the myth of the beautiful, debauched Persian princess. These are not wild, uncontrolled women; these are domestic women, albeit of the household of the monarch, whose bloodline they vigilantly protect. In the process of recording he reacted to his sources in a manner typical of other Greek writers of Persica for, as James Davidson points out: the Greeks did not invent things, but were quite happy to misunderstand, modify, or simply decontextualize some salient Persian facts, images, and representations, for, of course, it was the grains of truth that gave negative construc- tions their cogency.

Said used this ideology as the springboard to launch his attack on the Western creation of an imagined East. But what has this to do with Ctesias? It is worth noting, however, that Queen Atossa and Queen Artystone, the daughters of Cyrus II, and the wives of Darius I do not figure in the Persica at all, although they are mentioned in Herodotus, 3. See Brosius , 41— See Llewellyn-Jones, forthcoming The scene depicts a royal audience and is rich in its detailed depiction of court dress and ceremony. The two sculpted reliefs were later moved from the Apadana to the Treasury where one still resides.

The other, better preserved, scene is in Tehran. A new, enlightened reading of Ctesias is possible, given that the fragments of the real, Persian, world that Ctesias knew are available for our scrutiny too. As Varisco has suggested, the ghosts of the Orientalist past can probably never be laid totally to rest, but we need not be frightened out of our critical scholarship by this problematic spectre.

One upside, though, is that variations in the styles of different authors do, I think, emerge — and fortunately the flair and sheer readability of many of the writers do shine through.

  1. Routledge Classical Translations;
  2. Classics New Books List: January- October | Washington University in St. Louis.
  3. Gregory Nagy, Greek Literature: Introductions and Suggested Bibliographies.
  4. Contemporary Ergonomics 2009: Proceedings of the International Conference on Contemporary Ergonomics 2009!
  5. Translation as Rewriting?

Within the translation, names are generally Latinized the excep- tion being where a name or work is far better known in its Hellenized form : thus Arbaces not Arbakes , Tanyoxarces not Tanuoxarkes , etc. Where there are Persian words, these are generally given in italics and glossed if necessary. On occasion, footnotes are provided on the translation of individual words. In her edition, Lenfant follows the numbering of F. Jacoby, Fragmente der Griechischen Historiker Leiden, , although the text cited by Lenfant is sometimes more protracted than that found in Jacoby.

Fragments are given reference numbers beginning with F. MDS classes with significant recommendations overlap, excluding ones under the same top-level class. Melvil Dewey invented his Dewey Decimal System in , and early versions of his system are in the public domain. Home Groups Talk Zeitgeist. I Agree This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and if not signed in for advertising. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.

Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. The first referenece to letter writing occurs in the first text of western literature, Homer's Iliad. From the very beginning, Greeks were enthusiastic letter writers, and letter writing became a distinct literary genre. Letters were included in the works of historians but they also formed the basis of works of fiction, and the formal substructure for many kinds of poem.

Pa The first referenece to letter writing occurs in the first text of western literature, Homer's Iliad.