The Persian Great King and the Gods in Herodotus

Recorded: February 19, 2020
Event: Contextualizing Iranian Religions in the Ancient World - 14th Melammu Symposium

by Kai Ruffing (University of Kassel)

The Persian Great King and the Gods in Herodotus

Herodotus uses a variety of literary tools to style the Persian kings in several ways, allowing for scholarship to draw a multitude of conclusions regarding the character of these figures. For example, contemporary research has drawn attention to the similarities between the Persian and Spartan kings (E. Millender) or their staging as Sophist Kings (V. L. Provencal). Furthermore, Herodotus played a literary game with Darius’ self-staging as lover of the truth or used the whole repertoire of topoi for describing Cambyses and Xerxes as tyrants. The present paper focuses on how Herodotus used gods and religion for his description and styling of the Persian kings. As will be shown, the intervention of the gods is an important literary tool for the Halicarnassian in his construction of the image of the Persian Great Kings.