- 8,49 €
THE PERSIANS is a definitive new history of the Persian Empire, the world's first superpower.
The Great Kings of Persia ruled over the largest Empire of antiquity, stretching from Libya to the Steppes of Asia, and from Ethiopia to Pakistan. At the heart of the Empire was the fabled palace-city of Persepolis where the Achaemenid monarchs held court in unparalleled grandeur. From here, Cyrus the Great, Darius, Xerxes, and their heirs passed laws, raised armies, and governed their multicultural Empire of enormous diversity.
The Achaemenids, however, were one of the great dysfunctional families of history. Brothers fought brothers for power, wives and concubines plotted to promote their sons to the throne, and eunuchs and courtiers vied for influence and prestige.
Our understanding of the Persian Empire has traditionally come from the histories of Greek writers such as Herodotus - and as such, over many centuries, our perspective has been skewed by ancient political and cultural agendas. Professor Llewellyn-Jones, however, calls upon original Achaemenid sources, including inscriptions, art, and recent archaeological discoveries in Iran, to create an authentic 'Persian Version' of this remarkable first great empire of antiquity - the Age of the Great Kings.
Llewellyn-Jones, a director at the British Institute of Persian studies, documents the rise and fall of the Achaemenid empire in this immersive history. Contending that a reliance on Greek and Old Testament sources has skewed the popular understanding of ancient Persia, Llewellyn-Jones focuses on "genuine, indigenous" sources that have come to light in recent decades. Interwoven with the chronological history of the empire's founding by Cyrus the Great in 550 BCE; its fight to hold on to power in modern-day Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Greece, and India under Darius the Great and his son, Xerxes I; and its conquest by Alexander the Great in 330 BCE are topic-based chapters covering bureaucracy, slavery, royal marriage and inheritance, court politics, religion, and other matters. Llewellyn-Jones's impressive research ranges from shocking palace intrigues to tax code minutiae, though he occasionally strays into speculation, as when he asserts that Darius chose to demolish a gateway near Persepolis and construct a new one because "he clearly found the physical presence of Cyrus' monumental building perturbing." Still, Llewellyn-Jones expertly illuminates the decentralized, multicultural nature of the Achaemenid empire and offers valuable perspective on the modern Middle East, where the great kings of ancient Persia still feature in Iran's national self-image. This is a valuable contribution to the understanding of "history's first great superpower."