Persian-Wars tradition

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Thucydides (c. 455—400 bc) Greek historian


Aristophanes (c. 448—380 bc) Greek comic dramatist


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The glory‐days of the Persian Wars loomed large in defining mainland Greek identities until well into the Roman age. In Thucydides (2) 5th‐cent. Athens justified its empire by them, in the tradition of the epitaphios they are a cause for Athenian boasting (accompanied by distortion of the facts), and in Aristophanes for nostalgia. In the 4th cent. Macedon's rise prompted rhetorical appeals by Athenian politicians to ancestral resolve and self‐sacrifice in the Persian Wars. Philip II and Alexander (2) the Great countered this (mainly) Athenian rhetoric by presenting Macedon's Persian adventure as a Greek war of revenge for Persian sacrilege in 480 bc. Roman emperors from Augustus on equated Persia with Parthia in presenting eastern policy and warfare, along the way fuelling subject‐Greek memories of the Persian Wars, a favourite theme of the Second Sophistic.

Subjects: Classical Studies.

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