Theses Doctoral

Comparative perspectives on Persian interactions with Greek sanctuaries during the Greco-Persian Wars

Oppen, Simone Antonia

This dissertation considers Aeschylus’ Persae and portions of Herodotus’ Histories as attempts to shape memories of the Greco-Persian Wars by invocation of material evidence at very different moments in the fifth century BCE. Given the literary and archaeological nature of our surviving Greek evidence, this consideration is a necessary part of the larger project towards which I work: a history of Persian interactions with Greek sanctuaries during the Greco-Persian Wars. Greek archaeological evidence offers one set of comparative perspectives on these interactions. I attempt to place Aeschylus and Herodotus in dialogue with this evidence in chapters two and three. Herodotus, unlike Aeschylus, depicts respectful Achaemenid behavior at Greek sanctuaries during the Greco-Persian Wars. To contextualize this depiction, I examine earlier sources from the western Achaemenid Empire in chapter four. In so doing, I build on methodology demonstrated in the introductory chapter to consider a second set of comparative perspectives. Close reading of Herodotus in parallel to these sources provides a basis for fully examining types of behavior which have often been explained away in previous scholarship on the historian. Notably, Herodotus’ depiction, unlike our surviving earlier sources from the western Achaemenid Empire, often considers how such behavior relates to more violent aspects of conquest, and as such provides a contrast to these surviving earlier sources. I suggest that this contrast—Herodotus’ depiction of both sacrilege and respectful behavior—can be understood in his historical moment. And yet this suggestion is but a beginning.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Irwin, Elizabeth K.
Ma, John T.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
February 8, 2019