Ctesias' 'History of Persia': Tales of the Orient (Routledge by Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones

By Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones

In the direction of the top of the 5th century BC Ctesias of Cnidus wrote his 23 ebook historical past of Persia. Ctesias is a extraordinary determine: he lived and labored within the Persian court docket and, as a physician, tended to the world’s strongest kings and queens. His place gave him unique perception into the workings of Persian courtroom lifestyles and entry to the gossip and scandal surrounding Persian historical past and court docket politics, prior and current. His background of Persia used to be accomplished at a time whilst the Greeks have been occupied with Persia and turns out greatly to cater to modern curiosity in Persian wealth and opulence, robust Persian girls, the establishment of the harem, kings and queens, eunuchs and mystery plots. offered right here 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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See Stronk, forthcoming. See also Russell 1972, 46–47. Plutarch, Moralia, 854 E–874 C. 41 INTRODUCTION ones (by this, of course, Plutarch refers to Herodotus’ Persian, Egyptian, and, perhaps to a lesser extent, Phoenician sources). 115 This is very revealing. Plutarch shows himself to be not only a rigid moralist but an overt proHellenist in his choice of subject matter and engagement with the past. In this respect he rides the crest of the wave of the ‘Second Sophistic’ movement (the renaissance of Greek learning in the Roman Empire).

121 Wilson 1994, 5. 44 INTRODUCTION It is important to recognize that our main sources for Ctesias do not necessarily give us a clear account of how the Persica was constructed or what it contained. We have to filter the Persica through layers of later works, each one preoccupied with its own agenda, to such an extent that the pure essence of the Persica is almost all but lost. Nonetheless, despite the frustrations of working with a longvanished text preserved only through the colourations and inaccuracies of other authors, we can say with confidence that the Persica was an impressive work, an enormous and entertaining read.

Lewis’ view is becoming more accepted, and since the turn of this century, there has been a movement to review the validity of Ctesias’ court stories. 80 Most important is Rosemary Stevenson’s disagreement with the concept of Ctesian ‘petite histoire’. 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 .

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