The Mongol Empire: Its Rise and Legacy

By Michael Prawdin; Eden Paul et al. | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER XXVI
THE LAND BETWEEN THE REALMS

I

THE history of Western Asia is a living epic, the epic of the struggle of Iran against Turan, the settled world of Persian civilisation against the world of the roughriders of the steppes. Again and again, from the steppes of Turan, the waves of horsemen poured across the land of towns and gardens, of culture and science; and again and again did Iran assimilate the men from the steppes, transform them into devotees of Persian life, literature, and art, effeminating them, and then rising against the invaders. The Iranians although since time immemorial they had been subjugated and ruled dozens of times by the Turanians, never came to regard the latter as anything but inferiors, even when the Turanians assimilated the ways of the conquered. In the Shahnamah, compiled towards the close of the tenth or the beginning of the eleventh century, we read about the days of the glorious Parthian dominions: "History was void, the throne of Iran belonged to no one, and centuries passed during which one could say that there was no emperor anywhere upon earth."

In Shiraz, the City of the Roses, began the nationalist Persian rising which led to the overthrow of the Parthians, the "strangers", who had ruled Iran for nearly five hundred years and had defended them against Rome. In the Holy Wars which ensued, the Parthians were expelled, and the Persian dynasty of the Sassanids established.

While the Roman Empire was collapsing, for four centuries the Sassanids continued to resist the incursions of the Turanian nomads into the everlasting frontier-land between Iran and Turan,

-411-

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