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4. Darius and the Bisitun Inscription
About this Lecture
In this module, we concentrate on the fourth king of the Persian Empire, Darius the Great, focusing in particular on: (i) Darius’ self-presentation in the Bisitun Inscription, in which he claims to have ousted a usurper (Gaumata) to the Persian throne; (ii) the possibility that Darius was himself the usurper and Gaumata (real name: Bardiya) was the real king; (iii) Darius’ handling of the various rebellions that sprung up in the early years of his reign; and (iv) Herodotus’ (unlikely) story of how Darius was chosen as king of Persia and its (potential) kernel of truth in its depiction of hippomancy, i.e. divination based on the appearance of behaviour of horses.
In this course, Professor Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones (University of Cardiff) presents the Persian Empire through non-Greek sources including Persian art and architecture, sculpture and epigraphy, and parts of the Hebrew Bible. In the first module, we think about the nature of the Persian Empire itself, focusing in particular on the depiction conquered peoples in various Persian sources. After that, we think about who the Persian actually were, where they came from, and the importance of nomadism to Persian culture and society even in the fifth century BC. In the third module, we focus on the figure of Cyrus the Great, including his self-presentation in the Cyrus Cylinder and his depiction in the Hebrew Bible, before turning in the fourth module to the reign of Darius the Great and his self-presentation in the Bisitun Inscription. In the fifth module, we think about how differently Xerxes is presented in the Persian sources compared to the Greek sources, before turning in sixth and final module to consider what we can know about the lives of women in Persian society given their relative lack of representation in the ancient sources.
Professor Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones is Professor of Ancient History at the University of Cardiff. His research interests include Greek socio-cultural history, especially women's history and gender-issues, dress, and visual culture, and ancient Persia, especially the history and culture of the Achaemenid period (559-331 BC). Recent publications include Ctesias' History of Persia: Tales of the Orient and King and Court in Ancient Persia (2010) and King and Court in Ancient Persia 559-331 BCE (2013).
Cite this Lecture
Llewellyn-Jones, L. (2020, February 10). The Persian Empire, c.550-330 BC - Darius and the Bisitun Inscription [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/the-persian-empire-559-300-bc/darius-and-the-bisitun-inscription
Llewellyn-Jones, L. "The Persian Empire, c.550-330 BC – Darius and the Bisitun Inscription." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 10 Feb 2020, https://www.massolit.io/courses/the-persian-empire-559-300-bc/darius-and-the-bisitun-inscription