Episode 43: Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Zoroaster as depicted in a 19th-century sketch from a Parsi Community in India via Wikimedia Commons

By audience demand, we’re headed back in time. Before wrapping up the reign of Darius, it’s time to look back to the bronze age and talk about Zarathustra Spitama, the prophet more often known in the west as Zoroaster. This is the first of a two part series on the life and teachings of Zoroaster, as presented in the Gathas – 5 hymns to Ahura Mazda believed to be composed by Zoroaster himself.
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Episode 42: Darius the Shopkeeper

Bas reliefs on the Apadana stairs at Persepolis show various peoples of the Achaemenid Empire carrying tribute to the Great King via Wikimedia Commons

Darius the Great is one of Persia’s most infamous kings for many reasons. An illegitimate heir who reunified the empire. The king of the first war with Greece. Conqueror of territory at the far reaches of Persian control. He was many things. He was also a reformer and an administrator who oversaw the implementation of new systems of taxation, record keeping, and political organization. Those reforms formed the basis of Persian governance for centuries to come, and may be his longest lasting legacy.
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Interview 2: Ryan Stitt – The History of Ancient Greece

An Athenian depiction of a Greek and Persian duel via Wikimedia Commons

In preparation for Persia’s increased involvement with the Greek mainland, I think it’s a good idea to get some expert input on the “Yauna” on the western frontiers of the great empire. Please enjoy my conversation with the excellent Ryan Stitt of The History of Ancient Greece Podcast.
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Episode 41: The Greatest

Head of an Achaemenid nobleman or prince via Wikimedia Commons

To round out our series on Darius’ royal family, it’s only fair to talk about the men of the family. After all, like it or not, the narrative will follow them going forward. Grandpa Arsames, the fascinating Hystaspes, and all of Darius’ brothers, sons, and cousins get their own time in the spotlight. Then, it’s time to prepare for the competition to become the Greatest.
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Episode 40: Heiresses to the Empire

Cylinder Seal of Irdabama’s steward, Rashda. Depicting a royal woman and her servants in Neo-Elamite style (Brosius, 2006).

There were many Duksish (royal women) in Darius’ household, and there would be many more in future generations of the Achaemenid family, but three women in particular standout above the rest. Most famously we know of Atossa, daughter of Cyrus and mother of Xerxes, from our Greek sources. Thanks to the documents of the Persepolis Fortification Archive we also know about the remarkable wealth and influence of Artystone and Irdabama as Persian women in the early 5th century BCE.
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Episode 39: Rise of Achaemeneis

The head of a bronze statue often used to represent Achaemenid women (though it may actually be a beardless man) via Livius

Our sources for Achaemenid history are clearly biased towards the stories of men in the ancient world, but we actually know a lot about Achaemenid women. To fully understand the whole royal family, it’s time to get a better understanding of the role Royal Women – the Duksish – played in Persian society.
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Episode 38: The Last Battle

Nearly a decade after Aristagoras first went into revolt, and longer since the Athenians had reneged on their offerings of earth and water, the Persian Army came to take Darius’ revenge on Athens. For the first time, a Persian army landed on the Greek mainland. They made their camp on an unremarkable open plain that would soon be seared into Greek history forever: Marathon.
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Episode 37: Greece Awakens

A map of all the major Persian offensives against Greeks. Mardonius’ Thraco-Macedonian campaign is marked in green. The Greek campaign of Artaphernes and Datis is marked in brown. Via Wikimedia Commons

Even once the Ionian cities themselves were defeated, the consequences of their Revolt were ongoing. In 492 BCE, a new general, Mardonius, took to the field to settle matters in the Balkans. Two years later, the Persians turned their sites on Athens and Eretria in retribution for the aid they sent to the Ionians. In 490, Artaphernes and Datis launched the first Persian invasion of mainland Greece.
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Re- Introducing The Persian Royal Family Tree Project

I am pleased to announce some big developments in the ongoing family tree project. First and foremost, I was finally able to eliminate the confusing Dropbox-download and online Geneanet options. The full family tree is now completely online. Unfortunately I still can’t host it here because of the limitations enforced by WordPress. Instead, I’ve created a dedicated Wix site just for the family tree. See here or the Family Tree tab of the menu above.

The second major announcement is that I have completed the Achaemenid Family tree. Everyone from Achaemenes to Darius III and Alexander is now included. In the Complete 700-700 version of the tree (see here), this extends to most of the foreign dynasties with marriage-connections to the Achaemenids. There are some some further branches of the Argead Macedonian family to add, but the Achaemenid portions are complete.

Episode 36: Return of the Tyrannoi

A modern reconstruction of a Greek trireme, the standard war ship of the ancient Mediterranean via Wikimedia Commons

Even with Miletus defeated, the other rebel cities in shambles, Cyprus under control, and their armies victorious, the Persians had not heard the last of Ionian resistance. While the Greek rebels were fighting against the Persian Empire, the deposed tyrant Histiaeus was making plans to try and carve out a new niche for himself in Persian territory.
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