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Achaemenid Persia: Images and Memory at Rome (205 BCE – 115CE)

Serena, M. (2020) Achaemenid Persia: Images and Memory at Rome (205 BCE – 115CE). PhD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00104244


This thesis explores the Roman perception of Achaemenid Persia. It investigates how they came in contact with the Greek cultural memory of the Persian East, how they acquired and reused it and, in the process, they created their own original memories of Persia. The work focusses on three instances of appropriation and the context within which they occur in order to understand by what forces they were prompted. First, it shows how the clash with Mithridates, territorial expansion and internal rivalry in the Late Republic promote the creation of a complex image of Persia as a symbol of triumph and victory over external enemies and internal political adversaries. Then, it sets the appropriation of the Athenian memory of the Persian Wars within the context of the transformation of the Republic into the principate and the subtle ideological and political manoeuvring that accompanied it. Finally, it argues that in a new Roman world in which the power is transferred from the aristocracy to the princeps, Persia, or, more precisely, the Persian kings, becomes a point of interest providing opportunities for those interested in exploring the idea of autocracy. The Persian ruler becomes a yardstick against which to gauge the tyranny of the emperor and, as such, he is used by Seneca the Younger to build figure of archetypical despot: the emperor Gaius. The dissertation contends that the Roman reworking of Persian memories produced a a new perception of Persia which closely reflects the evolution of the power dynamic of Roman policy.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Marzano, A.
Thesis/Report Department:Department of Classics
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Humanities > Classics
ID Code:104244
Date on Title Page:September 2019
Additional Information:Image on page 161 redacted for Copyright reasons


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