Wednesday, August 13, 2003

The Persian Way of Life

What I'm about to write is taken from the book of Xenophon, a Greek writer who travelled to many places and even wrote a book with the name of "The Persian Expedition" about Iran. He claimed that he had travelled with Cyrus the Great, the King of Persia and the below text is about how he identifyed Cyrus as a character. Xenophon's porpuse by writing this book was to introduce the persian culture to the Greeks and since his writing have survived, today we can learn about our history from Greek sources that may even be biase. What is evidant is that the ancient Perians lived a certain way and the only way to learn about their ways of life is to refer to ancient texts. Many believe that Cyrus was a mythical figure, even if so I believe what they wrote about him is what they expected from a wise man and is not to be underestimated. Just like the Greeks know their heroes ( Achillies, Odysseus, Herakles, jason, ....), I think we should get to know our heroes and celebrate them.
According to Xenophon, while Cyrus was marching against the King of Babylan, two of his mercenary generals, Xenias and Pasion deserted him, taking with them all the valuables and their soldiers. The Greeks thought that Cyrus would persue and punish them. But Cyrus collected his generals and this is what he said: " Xenias and Pasion have left us, but they can be sure enough that they have not got out of reach. I know the way they have gone and they have not escaped me, since I have triremes, which could over take their ships. But, by Heaven, I am certainly not going to pursue them. No one shall say that I make use of man while he is in my service, and then, when he wants to leave, that I arrest him and ill-treat him and take away his property. No! let them go, with the knowledge that they have behaved worse to us than we have to them. It is true that i hold their children and women under my guard at Tralles, but they will not even lose them. No! they will get them back again in return for the good service they did me in the past."
Xenophon has futher analyzed the character of Cyrus son of Ardeshir I as so:
" the cities which were in his command trusted him and so did the men. And the enemies he had were confident that once Cyrus had signed a treaty with them, nothing would happen to them contrary to the terms of the treaty."
"If anyone did him good or evil, he evidently aimed at doing one better. Some people used to refer to a habitual prayer of his, that he might live long enough to be able to repay with interest both those who helped him and those who injured him. It was quite natural then that he was the one man in our times to whom so many people were eager to hand over their money, their cities and their own selfs."
" When he saw that a man was a capable adminstrator, acting on just principles, improving the land under his control and making it increase its profits, he never took his post away from him, but always gave him additional responsibilities. The result was that his administors did their work cheerfully and made money confidently. Cyrus was the last person whom they kept in the dark about their possessions, since he showed no envy for those who became rich openly, but, on the contrary, tried to make use of the wealth of the people who attempted to conceal what they had."
"He thought that the reason to have freinds was to have people to help him, and he applied exactly the same principles to others, trying to be of most service to his friends whenever he knew that any of them needed anything."
"When people send him fine things to wear, wither armour or beautiful clothing, they saw that he remarks: I cant possibly wear all these finary on my own body, and send them to his friends who were in need."
"Often, when he had a particularly good wine, he would send jars full of it to his friends with the message: Cyrus has not for a long time come across a better wine than this; so he has send some to you and wants you to finish it up today with those whom you love best or: Cyrus enjoyed this; so he wants you to taste it too."

This was how all the Persians were brought up, following their King as an example. Xenophon in his book reffers to the way Persian children were disciplined, explaining, " All the children of the Persian nobles are brought up at the court, and there a child can pick up many lessons in good behaviour while having no chance of seeing or hearing anything bad".


Blogger sunflower said...

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10:16 AM  

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