Narrating Imperial Success from the Achaemenid Period to the Late Roman Republic

Recorded: July 6, 2023
Event: Achaemenid Workshop 2
Citation: Degen, Julian. "Narrating Imperial Success from the Achaemenid Period to the Late Roman Republic." Pourdavoud Institute: Achaemenid Workshop 2 (July 6, 2023).

by Julian Degen (University of Trier)

In the Achaemenid period a set of imperial narratives and tropes were created and disseminated, serving the intention of the Great Kings to legitimize their rule over a multicultural empire. These narratives may have rooted deep in the imperial tradition of the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian empire, but the Achaemenids rather modified than simply adapted them. These narratives helped the Iranian rulers to create a royal persona in which the subjects of either cultural background could view them as legitimate rulers. In the course of the transformation of the Achaemenid Empire in the world of Hellenism, Alexander and his successors had to deal with the Achaemenid concept of monarchy. The latter may have undergone modifications, but the narratives have not lost their original character. Interestingly, the narratives of the Achaemenid period were still important to powerful imperial agents in the post-Hellenistic period. This applies to the political atmosphere of the Roman Republic in particular. Even in the afterglow of Hellenism imperial agents used narratives of the Achaemenid period, albeit modified in a process of filtering and adaption, in order to stage their political success.

About the Speaker

Julian Degen holds a PhD in Ancient History and Ancient Near Eastern Studies which he received from the University of Innsbruck. He was a research-fellow and academic teacher at the universities of Innsbruck, Hildesheim, Kiel and Trier. His research interests are Greek historiography, Alexander the Great, the Achaemenids, ancient Geography and the economy of the Roman Empire on which he published widely. At the moment he is working on his habilitation-project which is dedicated to the maritime economies in the Mediterranean World of Strabo’s Geographica.