This course investigates the three Persian empires of pre-Islamic Iran, the Achaemenids (559-330 B.C.E.), the Parthians (247 B.C.E. – 224 C.E.) and the Sasanians (224-651 C.E.). On the basis of the primary written and archaeological sources from Persia and the Near East, as well as the classical texts of Greek and Roman writers on Persia, we will discuss the foundation of empire, the king and his court, religion and the ideology of kingship, and the political and social organisation of the empire. Special attention will be paid to the topos of “the Other”, or “the Barbarian”, created by the Greeks in the aftermath of the Greco-Persian wars of 480/79 B.C.E., and continued by the Romans who regarded first the Parthians and then the Sasanians as their main rival and enemy.
The Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations (History)