A History of Iran: Empire of the Mind (Revised & Updated by Michael Axworthy

By Michael Axworthy

Iran is a land of contradictions.

It is an Islamic republic, yet one within which in simple terms 1.4 percentage of the inhabitants attend Friday prayers. Iran's non secular tradition encompasses the main censorious and dogmatic Shi'a Muslim clerics on this planet, but its poetry insistently dwells at the joys of lifestyles: wine, good looks, intercourse. Iranian girls are topic to 1 of the main restrictive gown codes within the Islamic global, yet make up approximately 60 percentage of the coed inhabitants of the nation's universities.

In A historical past of Iran, acclaimed historian Michael Axworthy chronicles the wealthy historical past of this advanced kingdom from the Achaemenid Empire of 6th century B.C. to the present-day Islamic Republic. In attractive prose, this revised version explains the army, political, non secular, and cultural forces that experience formed one of many oldest carrying on with civilizations on the earth, bringing us up glossy instances.

Concluding with an overview of the colossal adjustments the state has passed through because the revolution in 1979, together with an in depth examine Iran's ongoing makes an attempt to develop into a nuclear energy, A heritage of Iran deals common readers a necessary consultant to figuring out this unstable kingdom, that is once more on the middle of the world's realization.

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As we have seen, there probably was some considerable plurality of belief within the broad flow of Mazdaism at this time. But it seems more likely that the plurality was socially vertical rather than horizontal—a question of geography and tribe rather than of social class. Perhaps an earlier, pre-Zoroastrian tradition of burial still lingered and the elevated position of all the royal tombs was a kind of compromise. Halfway between heaven and earth—itself a strong metaphor. Around the tomb of Cyrus lay a paradise, a garden watered by irrigation channels (our word paradise comes, via Greek, from the Old Persian paradaida, meaning a walled garden).

The impression is that the wealth of the empire had enabled the Iranian military classes to distribute themselves across the empire and supply themselves with horses, changing the nature of Persian warfare. There seems also to have been a deliberate policy of military garrisoning and military colonies, notably in Asia Minor. According to Herodotus, Cyrus had warned that if the Persians descended to live in the rich lands of the plain (he probably had Babylonia particularly in mind), they would become soft and incapable of defending their empire.

Vologases I is believed to have built a new capital named after himself near Seleuceia and Ctesiphon, with the aim of avoiding the Greek character of those places. Some of his coins were struck with lettering in Aramaic script (the script in which the Parthian language was usually written) rather than in Greek, as had been the case before. 9 Although his immediate successors did not follow through with all of these novelties, they do prefigure the policies of the Sassanids. The gradual erosion of Greek influence and the strengthening of Iranian identity are features of the reigns after Vologases I.

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