Thinking Iranian, Rethinking Greek
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CitationNagy, Gregory. 2017. "Thinking Iranian, Rethinking Greek." Classical Inquiries. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.eresource:Classical_Inquiries.
AbstractWhat do you first think of when we hear the words Iranian and Greek spoken in the same breath by anyone today? I bet you would be thinking, in a vague sort of way, about the fact that Iranians and Greeks were in ancient times at war with each other. And there would be one name that would most likely come to mind before any other name. Remembering what we learn from conventional world history, as we start thinking some more about it, that one name would be of course Alexander, or, to be more specific, Alexander the Great. The ‘greatness’ of this man, as we think even more about it, is linked primarily to his military and political conquest of the Persian Empire in the fourth century before our era. But there is a disconnect in our overall thinking here. Focusing for the moment on Alexander, I have just now used the word Persian instead of the word Iranian in referring to the empire that he conquered. We are thinking Greek here, in the sense that we are following what the ancient Greeks thought about the empire that Alexander conquered. We are talking about *the* Persian Empire. If we were thinking Iranian, however, we could be talking instead about *an* Iranian empire, even if we are aware that the word Persian could somehow be used as the equivalent of Iranian in this context. Recognizing such a disconnect, I argue that we need to rethink what the ancient Greeks thought about the Iranian world—and, conversely, what the ancient Iranians thought about the Greek world. That is what I mean when I say in the title: rethinking Greek. In these brief remarks that I have prepared for a very special event celebrating the greatness of this Iranian world, I propose to do such rethinking by not neglecting to think Iranian while thinking Greek.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:40827371
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