Women and the Economy of Achaemenid Persia
Judging from the Greek sources the wealth of Achaemenid royal women was well known. Herodotus recalls that the Egyptian town Anthylla provided the king's wife with shoes (2. 98. 1). In Alcibiades I Plato refers to the vast amount of property owned by the mother of the Persian king, Amestris ( Alc. I 121c-123cd). Xenophon mentions the estates of Parysatis in Syria from which she supplied the rebellious troops of her son Cyrus in his revolt against Artaxerxes II (an. 1. 4. 9). It was also known that Parysatis owned villages in Media (an. 2. 4. 27; Lewis 1977: 22 and n. 113). Accordingly we have to assume that the peasants and craftsmen of these villages were officially in Parysatis' service. When Parysatis was banned from the Persian court and moved to Babylon, she presumably took up residence on her estates ( Plut. Art. 19. 10).
Plato's reference to the wealth of the king's mother was intended to mock Alcibiades by comparing his wealth to that of someone who, besides being wealthier, was both a foreigner and a woman. Obviously the reader of Plato's text understood the implication; so it must have been common knowledge that Amestris held land as property. Extensive land holding by Greek women was uncommon.1 Aristotle drew attention to the danger which could arise by allowing women to have such power in his criticism of Spartan society, in which women held most of the property ( pol. 1270a 27-32).____________________
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Publication information: Book title: Women in Ancient Persia, 559-331 B.C. Contributors: Maria Brosius - Author. Publisher: Clarendon Press. Place of publication: Oxford. Publication year: 1998. Page number: 123.
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