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History of Persia Podcast

Elamite Teaser History of Persia

It completely slipped my mind that the next episode would be due out on Thanksgiving Day. I've got family sleeping in my office this week so that's not happening, but I didn't want to leave you completely hanging. Fortunately, there might be some pre-Persian history that catches your interest over on The Oldest Stories. The Oldest Stories Website | Spotify | Apple | RSS In The Words of Zarathustra Patreon | Support Page Twitter | Facebook | Instagram — Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/history-of-perisa/support
  1. Elamite Teaser
  2. 61: Blood on the Eurymedon
  3. 60: Given Against The Demons
  4. 59: Holy War
  5. 58: Persia's First Family

Elamite Teaser

It completely slipped my mind that the next episode would be due out on Thanksgiving Day. I’ve got family sleeping in my office this week so that’s not happening, but I didn’t want to leave you completely hanging. Fortunately, there might be some pre-Persian history that catches your interest over on The Oldest Stories.
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61: Blood on the Eurymedon

Most of the decade following the first offensive Greek campaigns against Xerxes’ forces are lost to us. There are hints at great battles and rapid Athenian expansion, but almost nothing is certain until the Battle of the Eurymedon. In the mid-460s BCE, the Persian fleet had recovered enough to stage a renewed offensive, but the Athenian general Kimon had advanced warning. He commanded a fleet from Athens’ Delian League and made a preemptive strike in southern Anatolia, where he destroyed the fleet and routed the Persian army. This battle at the mouth of the Eurymedon River once again changed the direction of Persia’s war with Athens, effectively kicking Persian military power out of the Aegean for decades to come.

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60: Given Against The Demons

The Vendidad is a strange and unique document. It’s one part mythology, one part law code, and one part ritual manual. A collection of phrases and verses from a partly remembered oral tradition were composed at point A, strung together at point B, and written down at point C, all seemingly centuries apart. Dogs are great. Tortoises are not. Otters are the best. Flies are the worst. Strap in, and Do. Not. Hurt. The Water Dogs.

Dogs are sacred, so you’re absolutely getting pictures of my sacred “house dog.”

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59: Holy War

An Old Persian copy of the Daiva Inscription discovered at Persepolis, via Livius.org

Early in Xerxes’ reign, an infamous and dramatic story of religious conflict was inscribed at Persepolis. When Xerxes became king he put down a rebellion, but in the process encountered a community dedicated to a god or gods he considered false and immoral. As consequence he destroyed their sanctuary and worshiped Ahura Mazda in their place.
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58: Persia’s First Family

Xerxes depicted in Guillaume Rouillé’s Promptuarium Iconum Insigniorum, 1553

As the reign of another king draw’s toward a close, it’s time to look at the royal family. Xerxes’ household was like a microcosm of early Achaemenid history. His mother, Atossa, drew a direct connection back to Cyrus, his uncles, cousins, and siblings were woven into the political scene of his reign. Herodotus’ catalog of Persian commander’s is also a catalog of the Great King’s family, and many of them held positions of power as Satraps across the empire. The royal family is also an opportunity to look forward, and introduce the next generation of kings, satraps, generals, and rebels.
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57: Xerxes at Home

The modern ruins of Xerxes’ Gate of All Nations via Wikimedia.

It’s time to return to the imperial heartland and tour the “city” that Xerxes’ built. The foundations may have been laid by Darius, but Xerxes was the one who turned Persepolis from a construction project into a shining palace complex in the Iranian plateau.
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56: Domestic Affairs

“The Mishandling of the Wife of Masistes, daughter-in-law of the Persian King Darius” – Print by Jan Luyken, 1699

As the war with the Greeks drags on into obscurity, it is time to investigate what was happening inside the empire under Xerxes. In the far west, most territories slipped from Persian control completely. The Mediterranean coastal region was reconfigured and given a new leadership class to carry on the war against Athens. In the royal court, Xerxes dealt with infamous court drama and intrigue, while in Babylon the daily minutia of government wore on and dealt with economic crises.
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55: Still Loud on the Western Front

The Achaemenid fortress at Eion as seen today from Amphipolis, via Wikimedia

After the Persian defeat at Mycale, the stories of the Greco-Persian war get less dramatic, but the war itself did not come to an end. Late 479 BCE saw the beginning of Greek offensives in Persian territory, which continued long after the Spartans pulled out of the war in 478. The third year of war between Xerxes and Athens saw the foundation of the Delian League, which could continue to lead Greek attacks on Persian cities for years to come.
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54: Two By “Sea”

Mycale battlefield diagram via Livius.org

Supposedly on the same day as the Battle of Plataea, another battle was unfolding at the foot of Mount Mycale (modern Mount Dilek). The Greek fleet agreed to aid Samian rebels against Persia and sailed all the way to mainland Anatolia to fight the Persian fleet. Still recovering from Salamis, the Persians opted to turn the confrontation into a land battle, but the new general, Tigranes, and his men were overwhelmed and even more of the fleet was destroyed by Greek hands.
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53: One By Land

The Death of Masistios as imagined by M.A. Barth in 1832

After a year of relative success, the Persian occupation of northern Greece received its second massive defeat. For the first time, the Hellenic League managed to field the full might of a Greek army against the occupation force commanded by Mardonius. They clashed repeatedly in the plains surrounding the small town of Plataea until their maneuvers drew both sides into a decisive and bloody confrontation.
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