Recorded: February 19, 2020
Event: Contextualizing Iranian Religions in the Ancient World - 14th Melammu Symposium
Citation: Degen, Julian. "Herodotus and the Persian Priests: The Histories as a Source for Iranian Religion," Contextualizing Iranian Religions in the Ancient World - 14th Melammu Symposium. February 19, 2020.
by Julian Degen (University of Innsbruck)
Herodotus and the Persian Priests: The Histories as a Source for Iranian Religion
Herodotus’ Histories is the most important, extant ancient Greek account on Achaemenid history. Persian priests are often mentioned as active agents in the Herodotean world, and thus the Histories seems to be a valuable source in assessing Iranian religions. While Herodotus appears to provide authentic information to his readership, he nonetheless crafted an account that adhered to Greek cultural and intellectual norms, and was colored by his own perspective. By examining the role of Iranian priests within the Histories and collating the Herodotean information with Greek epigraphical sources and cuneiform texts, I will argue that Herodotus’ work, despite its manifest bias, contains authentic information on the state of Persian religion in the Achaemenid empire, which was presented in a Greek discourse on empire and good rulership.
About the Speaker
Degan, after earning his post-graduate degree, became a lecturer in Ancient History at the Leopold-Franzens University of Innsbruck. He then went on to earn his doctorate in which his dissertation field was in Ancient History and Archeology, “Alexander III. between east and west. Indigenous traditions and the staging of power in the Macedonian world empire.” He then continued to become an assistant to Professor Dr. Rollinger as he continues to study other fields.