Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Kirsty Mason on Thomas Harrison, Writing Ancient Persia. Classical essays

In Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2012.02.29  Kirsty Mason reviews:

Thomas Harrison, Writing Ancient Persia. Classical essays. London; New York: Bristol Classical Press, 2011. Pp. 190. ISBN 9780715639177. $24.00 (pb).

She cites Harrison's discussion of the use of Persepolis Fortification Archive materials:
"Looking at Persian sources, primarily the Persepolis tablets, Harrison discusses the problems with this source of information: namely that they derive from a very specific time period (late 6th and early 5th centuries) and location and are written in Elamite and thus do not reflect the entire empire".

"When discussing royal women, who are often depicted as crueller than the Persian kings, Harrison notes two things: first: that Classical depictions show Persian royal women acting primarily in the interests of their families, holding vast power and demonstrating masculine traits. However, Achaemenid scholarship views such depictions as clich├ęd and the result of misogyny or ignorance and, therefore, to be dismissed. Second: that despite the above opinions dismissing Greek accounts, most Greek sources do loosely support Persian sources, in particular the Persepolis tablets which show "enterprising and resolute" Persian royal women. It is surmised that Achaemenid scholarship has too great a desire to reverse the negative reputation of Persian women noting that it is not only Persian women in Greek sources who are depicted as cruel in the interests of their families".
There has already been a response to the review.

Persepolis in Pleiades