On the Path of Persian History : The Islamic Republic of Iran May Impose Its Will on a Reluctant Population, but This Does Not Deny Its Glorious Past as One of the Greatest Empires History Has Known

By harnik, eva | The World and I, December 2001 | Go to article overview

On the Path of Persian History : The Islamic Republic of Iran May Impose Its Will on a Reluctant Population, but This Does Not Deny Its Glorious Past as One of the Greatest Empires History Has Known


harnik, eva, The World and I


Bundled up from top to toe, all female passengers put on head scarves before leaving the aircraft. We arrived in Tehran at 3:00 a.m., but the law of the Islamic Republic of Iran demands that women be completely and shapelessly covered up at all times in public, even if it's pitch black outside, with only the hands and face showing.

As I pulled the voluminous scarf down over my face, I wondered what the great men who came, conquered, and settled here would have thought, seeing women masquerading as black tents, or wearing long, loose coats, to spare the men from temptation.

Thus properly attired, we traveled in a comfortable, air-conditioned bus to see what remains of this vast empire. Especially focusing on the past glory of pre-Islamic Persia, we visited ancient sites, not in the chronological order of Persian history, but following a large circle that is framed by mountains to the east, north, and west and bordered by a hot desert plateau to the south. Mojga, our Iranian guide, warned us that we would travel over three thousand miles to meet the "ancients." She broke the tedium of long bus drives by serving coffee, tea, and delicious sweets she called "yummies," morning and afternoon.

People have lived within these boundaries for at least three thousand years. The last arrivals were Aryans, who came from central Asia between the ninth and sixth centuries b.c. (Iran means "Land of Aryans.") The first Aryans were the Medeans, settling in the area of today's city of Hamadan around 900 b.c. The Persians followed one hundred years later, moving down the plateau to Fars. Finally came the Parthians, who remained in the country's northeast corner.

The Medeans and Persians were united by Cyrus I, who established the Achaemenian dynasty and laid the foundation of the Persian Empire in 630 b.c.

His grandson Cyrus the Great beat the legendary Croesus, the wealthy king of Lydia, with charging camels that spooked Croesus' horses and terrified the enemy soldiers. Cyrus the Great conquered much of Greece, Lydia, the Anatolian plateau of Turkey, Iraq (Babylonia), Syria, and Palestine; his empire covered the Near East from the Aegean to the Indus River.

After his conquests, he built a capital employing Greek artists and builders at Pasargadae, near Shiraz, in 546 b.c. I had to search in my mind's eye for any Hellenistic influence. The long drive to Pasargadae brought little reward: it is in total ruins today, and its famed rose garden is a parched desert. For himself, Cyrus built a majestic but simple tomb nearby. Inside his gold coffin was the inscription: "I am Cyrus, who founded the Empire of Persia, and was King of Asia. Grudge me not therefore this monument." When Alexander the Great opened this grave 150 years later, he read the inscription and sealed it up again. Seeing this edifice, it was easy to imagine that Alexander was awed both by this imposing building and a kindred spirit's claim to greatness.

From tents to palaces

The next great Achaemenian ruler was Darius, who started building the new capital, Persepolis, with numerous palaces, stables, a treasury, and the great Apadana--a reception hall for ten thousand people.

Two staircases and a long wall led to the Apadana. More than five thousand carved figures seemed to move in slow procession on the wall, with delegations from the conquered nations bringing tribute to the king. Their jewels and gold ornaments were long gone, as the city is uninhabited, but dressed in their national costumes and leading their camels, horses, and even lions, they looked dignified, if not consenting and contented.

Cyrus the Great and Darius were far more than military leaders. Part of their success lay in dividing an enormous and ethnically diverse empire into twenty-eight satrapies: smaller, semi-independent provinces that received laws and protection in exchange for loyalty and taxes.

Darius, in particular, believed in just rule. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

On the Path of Persian History : The Islamic Republic of Iran May Impose Its Will on a Reluctant Population, but This Does Not Deny Its Glorious Past as One of the Greatest Empires History Has Known
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.