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Liberation Ideology and the Achaemenid Empire

By Nicholas Rockwell (University of Colorado, Denver)

This paper argues that the concept of freedom was a key component in the creation of the Achaemenid Persian Empire (550-330 BCE). Classical scholarship has frequently dismissed the idea that societies in the ancient Middle East had political freedom and collective governance (cf. Finley 1964, 1981; Raaflaub 2004). However, there is good reason to question this traditional view (cf. Fleming 2004; Vlassopoulos 2007, esp. 97-122; von Dassow 2011).

Iranian Princesses in the Age of Successors: Gender, Ethnicity, and Social Position

By Krzysztof Nawotka (University of Wrocław)

This paper gauges the social position and the role(s) played by noble Iranian women in the age of the Successors, learning whether and to what degree their gender and ethnic background made them less, more, or equally successful than noble Macedonian and Greek women. The cohort selected for the investigation is Rhoxane, the widow of Alexander the Great, and a group of Iranian noblewomen, who in spring of 323 BCE married Alexander's companions in a mass ceremony arranged by the king in Susa, namely Apama and Amastris.

Empire Building under Cleopatra VII, Heir of the Ptolemies and the Seleucids

By Christelle Fischer-Bovet (University of Southern California)

The paper identifies the main aspects of Hellenistic kingship in the mid-first century BCE Ptolemaic kingdom by looking beyond generic features such as the importance of personal monarchy and the influence of the court, which are common to most premodern monarchies. In particular, Hellenistic rulers retained their association with Alexander and his imperialist policies, as well as specific naming practices and epithets, and a particular display of abundance and wealth (tryphê) intertwined with Dionysiac imageries.

Men, Mounts, and Mouths: Considering the Logistics of the Parthian Army

By Nikolaus Leo Overtoom (Washington State University)

This paper will introduce readers, who perhaps are familiar with the much-discussed militarism and logistical capabilities of the Greeks and Romans, to the underappreciated military and logistical innovations of the Parthians (with a focus on the crucial issue of food and drink organization and supply). The Parthians introduced a new style of warfare and supply to the wider Hellenistic world that reflected their non-traditional, asymmetric approach to warfare (Olbrycht 2016; Overtoom 2017).

Limits of Hellenism: The Kingdom of Persis and the Founding of the Sasanian Empire

By Khodadad Rezakhani (Leiden Institute for Area Studies, Leiden University)

Persis, the southern kingdom of Iran during the Seleucid and Arsacid periods, is often considered part of the Hellenistic world, mainly due to their synchrony with other Hellenistic kingdoms. However, very few signs of what is considered “Hellenism’ actually appear in Persis. Neither the Greek script nor Greek royal titles show up on Persis coinage or royal representations. The kingdom’s administration appears to have been a continuation of the existing Achaemenid institutions and was formed away from Hellenistic markers such as autonomous poleis.

“Punished With the Fate of Marsyas”: Princes, Nobles, and the Royal Succession in Sasanian Iran

By Scott McDonough (William Paterson University)

Prince Hormizd, son of the King of Kings Hormizd II (302–309), was born to rule Iran. However, most of his life was spent as an exile, serving the enemies of his homeland. As Zosimus relates, when the aristocrats at a palace banquet failed to show Hormizd the respect he considered his due, he threatened them with the “fate of Marsyas” (Hist. nova 2.27.1–2).