In Achaemenid studies, one of the topics of debate is the supposed “tolerance” of the Achaemenid authorities towards the various ethnic and cultural groups within their empire. In comparison with previous and later empires, the Achaemenids are seen as more willing to allow the continued operation of seemingly independent legal and religious traditions within specific regions. Furthermore, there is little evidence of any attempt at “Persianization,” an active or passive encouragement of the adoption of Persian customs by non-Persian subjects.
My talk will give an overview of some of the theories which seek to explain this behavior, and will go on to offer a more nuanced interpretation. To whatever extent that there was a coherent policy which guided the imperial authorities’ interaction with and management of local entities, is it possible that this policy extended beyond the borders of the empire? Using Greco-Persian treaties as a test case, I argue that the Achaemenid policy of incorporating local legal traditions into their system of rule also guided their management of their Aegean frontier. In connection with this, I will also discuss the nature and use of Greek and Latin sources on the Achaemenids, specifically the mediation of information from the Near East by Greek historians, and Greek popular understanding of the Persian world.
Please RSVP by 11/7 to firstname.lastname@example.org.