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Great King / King of Kings. Survival and Transformation of a Persian Title in the Hellenistic Period, c. 330–30 BCE: From the Achaemenids to the Parthians

Jan 10, 2018 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
306 Royce Hall, 10745 Dickson Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095 United States
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Rolf Strootman (Utrecht University)

The Old Persian imperial titles Great King and King of Kings (xšāyaθiya vazạrka and xšāyaθiya xšāyaθiyānām) disappeared after the Macedonian conquest of the Achaemenid Empire in 330 BCE. But already before the Parthians reestablished Iranian kingship in Iran, the title Great King had returned in a Greek version: basileus megas. That title was adopted around 205 BCE by the Seleukid emperor Antiochos III (‘the Great’) and by several of his successors. When later the Parthian rulers Mithradates I and Mithradates II assumed pretensions to the titles of Great King and King of Kings respectively, they too used Greek renderings of these titles, until finally the Sasanians introduced the Middle Persian title of šāhān šāh (King of Kings).

What did these tiles signify? Did their meaning change in the course of time? And how were they transmitted across their c. 125-year period of absence?

About the Speaker

Stootman’s research focuses on imperialism, court culture and religion in Greece, the Middle East and Central Asia. He is also interested in east-west relations and the Western image of the “Orient”, the cultural aspects of warfare, the history and topography of the city of Istanbul and the impact of Antiquity in contemporary popular culture.Rolf Strootman studied history and archeology at Leiden University, and cultural heritage and museology at the Amsterdam School of the Arts (Reinwardt Academy). In 2007 he obtained his doctorate in Utrecht on The Hellenistic Royal Courts, a study of elites and monarchical ritual in the Hellenistic empires in a comparative perspective. His most recent books are After the Achaemenids: Courts and Elites in the Hellenistic Empires (2014) and The Birdcage of the Muses: Patronage of the Arts and Sciences at the Ptolemaic Imperial Court, 305-222 BCE (2016), and the collections Persianism in Antiquity (2016; with MJ Versluys) and Empires of the Sea: Maritime Power Networks in World History (2019; with F. van den Eijnde and R. van Wijk).

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Jan 10, 2018
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
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306 Royce Hall
10745 Dickson Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095 United States
+ Google Map