The intersection of gods and kings in Achaemenid Iran

5:00pm - 6:30pm / Tuesday 17th October 2017 / Venue: Walbank Lecture Theatre Abercromby SQ (south)
Type: Seminar / Category: Department / Series: Classics and Ancient History Seminar Series
  • Suitable for: Anybody interested in the topic, including university staff and students and members of the public.
  • Admission: This event is free and open to all. No registration neccessary, for further information please contact Georgia Petridou:
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Prof. Christopher Tuplin, University of Liverpool.

It is a commonplace that Persians did not see their king as a god but Greeks thought that they did. In stark terms, perhaps this remains true. But there is room for nuance, and this presentations explores some of that nuance. Christopher starts with the relatively limited extent to which Greek sources directly assert Persian royal divinity.

Next, he offers a tale of two statues of Darius -- one in Sippar, which received cult according to a document of 485 BC and the more famous one found in Susa but created in Egypt: both objects raise problems but serve as a reminder that the intersection between Achaemenid kings and the divine might not only be problematic for Greeks.

Thirdly, Christopher looks for signs of the more-than-human king in the royal rhetoric of the imperial heartland. Finally, returns to Greek sources and, in particular, fourth century Greek ideas that the king was an image of god and a royal daimōn might be the object of worship or reverence.

Such matters lie within a wider landscape of questions -- the framing of royal ideology in public utterances, the discursive choices made in iconographic and textual media, the religious choices implicit in the selection of Ahuramazda as royal god against the background of a vividly polytheistic environment, and the extent of assimilation to or differentiation from traditional Mesopotamian representations of kingship. Black-and-white conclusions are not to be expected.