Month: December 2013

Month: December 2013

Two thoughts on the accession of Darius I

Darius the Great, fourth notable king of Persia, came to the throne under unusual circumstances. In the version which he tells, he was a distant relative of king Cambyses, an impostor pretended to be the king’s brother Bardiya and took the throne, and when Cambyses suddenly died it was necessary for Darius and six of his companions to slay the impostor, fight nineteen battles in a single year against rebels and pretenders, and restore order and unity to the world. This story has been preserved in one of his inscriptions at Behistun in Iran, in a damaged papyrus from Elephantine on the Nile, and by the Greek historian Herodotus. Some of my recent readings have made me reconsider my views on it.
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A Cheerful Winter Story

George Monbiot has a story to tell about life in the jungles of Brazil.  The Guardian published it here and I urge my gentle reader to read his story before they read my thoughts, because it is a good story.

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A New Book

After a recent trip to the bookstore, I believe that I have a copy of every English or German book on the Achaemenid army. This is easier than it sounds, because there are only three of them. One could of course add other books- Bezalel Porten’s on everyday life in a garrison town on the... Continue reading: A New Book

A Comment to Herodotus

Herodotus, Histories 7.44-46, tr. George Rawlinson: Having arrived here at Abydos, Xerxes wished to look upon all his host; so as there was a throne of white marble upon a hill near the city, which they of Abydos had prepared beforehand, by the king’s bidding, for his especial use, Xerxes took his seat on it,... Continue reading: A Comment to Herodotus

Philippus Arabs

Emperor Maximilian’s memorial at the Hofkirche is one of the most impressive monuments of Innsbruck.  Being an early modern aristocrat, he made extravagant plans which could not be fully carried out after his death.  A number of bronze busts of Roman emperors, which my guidebook tells me were meant to be part of a set of 34, are... Continue reading: Philippus Arabs

An unusually forthright statement

“The University of Calgary is a significant business … a $1.2-billion (a year) business.  The space, specifically for the president, that the board of governors worked out of was embarrassing.” Mr. Bob Ellard, VP Facilities Development, University of Calgary, quoted by Mark McClure, Calgary Herald, 18 November 2013.  Ellard was explaining why he and his... Continue reading: An unusually forthright statement

An Ajax or a Socrates?

My estimable colleague Jona Lendering recently expressed dismay that historians of the Macedonian Kingdom of Bactria tried to read kings’ personalities in their portraits on coins (here).  Since no literature from Hellenistic Bactria survives, and very few sources from India or the Mediterranean mention it, scholars have been more than usually tempted to apply any methodology which might... Continue reading: An Ajax or a Socrates?