By Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones

In the direction of the tip of the 5th century BC Ctesias of Cnidus wrote his 23 publication historical past of Persia. Ctesias is a extraordinary determine: he lived and labored within the Persian courtroom and, as a physician, tended to the world’s strongest kings and queens. His place gave him distinct perception into the workings of Persian courtroom lifestyles and entry to the gossip and scandal surrounding Persian historical past and courtroom politics, previous and current. His heritage of Persia was once accomplished at a time whilst the Greeks have been enthusiastic about Persia and turns out greatly to cater to modern curiosity in Persian wealth and opulence, strong Persian girls, the establishment of the harem, kings and queens, eunuchs and mystery plots. provided the following in English translation for the 1st time with commentaries, Ctesias bargains a desirable perception into Persia within the 5th century BC.

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Extra info for Ctesias' 'History of Persia': Tales of the Orient (Routledge Classical Translations)

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90 Lavers 2009, 6. See also Bigwood 1993a. 91 Lavers 2009, 5, 28. 92 While it was commonplace for ancient authors to criticize earlier sources rigorously, it was much rarer for them to praise a good work; in the pre-Hellenistic world sources regarded as trustworthy and secure were usually passed over in silence. 93 In this context the absence of criticism of the Persica might be revealing. 96 It is unlikely that sensationalism surged through all of Ctesias’ mammoth work; in fact Photius shows that Ctesias also dealt with the routine facts and figures associated with ‘proper’ history, since he attempted to enumerate the parasangs and staging-posts on the route from Ephesus to Bactria and India, as well as listing the names of monarchs of Assyria and Persia down to the reign of Artaxerxes II (Fragment 33 §76).

She argues that: to reject all court stories as trivial and irrelevant is too sweeping. Some describe major events or events which though themselves insignificant, had far-reaching consequences . . [Ctesias and other] authors of Persica appear to have considered events at court to be important and . . 81 We will return to this idea later. 78 79 80 81 Cook 1985, 206. Lewis 1977, 21–22; see comments also in Lewis 1980. Murray 2001, 42, n. 57. Stevenson 1997, 45–46. 29 INTRODUCTION Stevenson investigates the methodology used by Ctesias and fellow authors of Persica in a wide selection of court stories ranging from love affairs with concubines, to regicide, from treason trials and executions to the machinations of royal matriarchs – the very stuff of Sancisi-Weerdenburg’s Ctesian Decadence – and makes an important pronouncement: Ctesias emerges as potentially an accurate source, party to fairly detailed information and able to write a reasonable description of what he sees and hears without undue bias.

55 Drews 1973, 103–117. 23 INTRODUCTION gossip about court intrigues’. 57 Ctesias is assumed to offer nothing of value and his history is composed of tittle-tattle and pillow talk. 58 Or so it would appear. In 1983 the inaugural meeting of the Achaemenid History Workshop met at Groningen in the Netherlands and initiated a major revival of Achaemenid studies. Eminent academics specializing in ancient Iranian and Greek history met to discuss the key theme of the conference: was the Achaemenid Empire in decay during the last century of its existence?

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