Episode 21: The Faith of the Magi

An Achaemenid relief of two magi bringing sacrifices and torches to what may be a tomb or temple doorway from Dascylium. via Livius

After all that business with Gaumata that Magos, I figured we had time to keep talking about magi. This episode explores the religious developments and beliefs in Persia during the Achaemenid period. I’m focusing on Zoroastrianism, but also discussing how naming a religion like that for the ancient Persians is harder than it might seem.
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Episode 20: The Forgotten King

Darius I the Great as he appears on the Behistun Inscription.

522 BCE was a crazy year for the Persian Empire. That was the year that Bardiya – or maybe Gaumata – seized power. He overturned his brother and ruled the empire to try and save it. He halted rebellion and made peace with the nobility. However, nobody can usurp the throne or be a reformer without making a few enemies, and Darius became a lethal enemy to Bardiya.
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Episode 19: Three Kings and The Magi

Gaumata trampled under Darius’s foot as depicted in the Behistun Inscription. From Livius.org via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.

In 522 BCE, the Persian Empire sat on the edge of Chaos. Between March and September of that year, 3 men sat on the Persian throne, and according to the official royal history one of those kings was actually impersonated by a couple of magi. This episode is the first to really question who the Magi were. This episode also discusses the many theories of what really happened that year.
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Aspects of History and Epic in Ancient Iran: From Gaumāta to Wahnām

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Episode 18: The Tyrant and The Kings

Polykrates by Mikhail I. Kozlovsky, 1790 in bronze, in the Russian Museum. The piece depicts the crucifixion of the tyrant. From Stebanoid via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

The story of Polykrates, the Tyrant of Samos, intersects repeatedly with the history of the Persian empire during his life. From his rise to power in the vacuum left when Miletus was conquered, to his alliance with Egypt against the Persians, and finally to his death on the orders of a Satrap. His story feeds directly into the history around Oroites, the Satrap of Sparda (the kingdom formerly known as Lydia). Oroites tried to seize some power for himself in events that prepare our narrative for the chaotic years following Cambyses’ death.
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Announcement 01: Croeseids

A gold Croeseid c. 560-540 BCE from the original run of heavier coins. Image from CNG Coins via Wikimedia Commons under GNU Free Documentation License

Hello everyone! I’ve got some announcements, updates, and news about the show for you, and as a little bonus for listening to my fundraising spiel, there’s a mini-episode on the history of the world’s first coinage at the end. Thank you everybody!
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Episode 17: The Mad King

Cambyses killing the Apis Bull as depicted in a sketch from the 1881 Illustrated History of the World from Ward, Lock, and Co.

The story of Cambyses isn’t just the conquest of Egypt, but also the dark side of it. According to Herodotus Cambyses was a mad king, driven to paranoia and acts of terrible violence while he was Egypt. The Greek Historian, as well as the Behistun Inscription, tell how Cambyses II murdered his family members and drove his own empire into open revolt. This episode describes the Persian tragedy of the King of King’s fall into madness.

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