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Aspects of History and Epic in Ancient Iran: From GaumÄta to WahnÄm

by M Rahim Shayegan Center for Hellenic Studies
Pub Date:
11/2012
ISBN:
9780674065888
Format:
Pbk 0 pages
Price:
AU$48.99 NZ$49.56
Product Status: Available in Approx 14 days
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Aspects of History and Epic in Ancient Iran focuses on the content of one of the most important inscriptions of the Ancient Near East: the Bisotun inscription of the Achaemenid king Darius I (6th century bce), which in essence reports on a suspicious fratricide and subsequent coup daA©tat. Moreover, the study shows how the inscriptionas narrative would decisively influence the Iranian epic, epigraphic, and historiographical traditions well into the Sasanian and early Islamic periods. Intriguingly, our assessment of the impact of the Bisotun narrative on later literary traditionsain particular, the inscription of the Sasanian king Narseh at Paikuli (3rda4th centuries ce)anecessarily relies on the reception of the oral rendition of the Bisotun story captured by Greek historians. As Rahim Shayegan argues, this oral tradition had an immeasurable impact upon the historiographical writings and epic compositions of later Iranian empires. It would have otherwise remained unknown to modern scholars, had it not been partially preserved and recorded by Hellanicus of Lesbos, Herodotus, Ctesias, and other Greek authors. The elucidation of Bisotunas thematic composition therefore not only allows us to solve an ancient murder but also to reevaluate pre-Thucydidean Greek historiography as one of the most important repositories of Iranian epic themes.
M. Rahim Shayegan is Associate Professor of Iranian at the University of California, Los Angeles.