Magazine article The Spectator

Ancient & Modern

Magazine article The Spectator

Ancient & Modern

Article excerpt

A new exhibition of ancient Persian material at the British Museum has brought out the usual affirmations about how wonderfully humane and civilised Persians were, and how vicious the Greeks were in painting a picture of them as slavish, effeminate subjects of an oriental despotism that has helped pervert Western views of the East ever since.

It is true that, since the Persians left no accounts of themselves except the usual boastful lists of royal achievements (Darius talks merrily about the number of enemies he impaled), we largely rely on Greeks for information about them, especially Herodotus (died c. 430 BC ), who investigated why Greeks and Persians fought the Persian Wars (49079 BC ). He has much of interest to say about the Persians. He claims that they learned only how to ride, hunt and tell the truth and tells us, 'Their habit is to debate their most important decisions when they are drunk. Whatever they agree is submitted for a second opinion by the head of the household the next day, when they are sober. If they still agree on it, it is done, but if not, they abandon it. And whatever they agree on sober, they reconsider drunk.' This, of course, is a policy advocated by the new government 'Respect' adviser Louise Casey, who recently suggested some ministers might perform better if 'they turned up in the morning pissed', adding, 'Doing things sober is no way to get things done. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.