Ctesias' 'History of Persia': Tales of the Orient (Routledge by Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones

By Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones

Towards the tip of the 5th century BC Ctesias of Cnidus wrote his 23 ebook History of Persia. Ctesias is a striking determine: he lived and labored within the Persian courtroom and, as a physician, tended to the world’s strongest kings and queens. His place gave him certain perception into the workings of Persian court docket existence and entry to the gossip and scandal surrounding Persian heritage and court docket politics, earlier and current. His History of Persia used to be accomplished at a time whilst the Greeks have been enthusiastic about Persia and turns out a great deal to cater to modern curiosity in Persian wealth and opulence, robust Persian girls, the establishment of the harem, kings and queens, eunuchs and mystery plots.

Presented right here in English translation for the 1st time with commentaries, Ctesias deals a desirable perception into Persia within the 5th century BC.

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Extra info for Ctesias' 'History of Persia': Tales of the Orient (Routledge Classical Translations)

Example text

Ctesias is also the first author in western literature to describe the fabled unicorn: The Indians have wild asses . . the body is white in colour, the head purple, the eyes dark blue. On the forehead they have a horn, one cubit long, the lower part of which . . is pure white, while the uppermost part, which is pointed, is dark purple, and the middle is black. (Indica 48b) Ctesias’ claims to have seen ‘Indian things’ himself may mean that he had viewed Indian objects and perhaps met Indians at the Persian court.

For a thorough examination of pretwentieth-century Ctesian scholarship, see Karttunen 1997. 49 Meyer is cited in Murray 2001, 42. E. v. Ktesias col. 2047. E. v. Ktesias col. 2059–2071. 52 Lenfant 2007a, 204. 22 INTRODUCTION Jacoby’s unforgiving criticism of Ctesias was reiterated in later scholarship, especially that of the latter decades of the twentieth century. A. R. Burn judged Ctesias to be reckless with the truth and ‘concerned only to make an impression’,53 while N. G. L. 54 In 1973 Robert Drews’ important study The Greek Accounts of Eastern History reactivated a vigorous anti-Ctesian movement, which has influenced scholarship to the present day.

As Stronk has suggested, although we cannot suspect Photius of deliberately misusing Ctesias in order to fulfil a hidden agenda (like 117 Stronk 2007, 34–35. For an overview of the sources for the Life of Artaxerxes see Stevenson 1997, 24–29. 118 Saintsbury 1900, Vol. I, 184; Wilson 1994, 1–2. See also Bigwood 1989. 119 Most importantly, Photius’ review of Ctesias’ great work removes much of Ctesias’ literary style – a facet of the Persica that the Byzantine Bishop greatly enjoyed (Testimonium 13; see further below) – and with it much of the spirit of the original work.

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