The Persian Great King and the Gods in Herodotus

Recorded: February 19, 2020
Event: Contextualizing Iranian Religions in the Ancient World - 14th Melammu Symposium
Citation: Ruffing, Kai. "The Persian Great King and the Gods in Herodotus," Contextualizing Iranian Religions in the Ancient World - 14th Melammu Symposium. February 19, 2020.

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 a 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.

About the Speaker

After graduating from high school in 1986 and then doing military service, Kai Ruffing studied history and Latin philology for teaching at the University of Münster from 1988 to 1995. The state examination took place in 1994. Ruffing then studied ancient history, Latin philology, and modern history from 1995 to 1997. In 1997 he received his doctorate with Hans-Joachim Drexhage with the thesis The viticulture in Roman Egypt. In 2005 the habilitation took place with the thesis The professional specialization in trade and handicraft: Investigations into its development and its conditions in the Roman imperial period in the eastern Mediterranean area on the basis of Greek inscriptions and papyriat the University of Marburg and the appointment as a private lecturer. From 2010 to 2013 he was an academic senior counselor at the Department of Ancient History at the University of Marburg. Ruffing was visiting professor at the University of Innsbruck in 2009. In 2010 he was appointed adjunct professor in Marburg. In 2013 he was appointed to the University of Kassel, where he has been a professor of ancient history since the 2013/14 winter semester. He declined appointments to the University of Trier (2016) and the University of Innsbruck (2017).