The Art and Ritual of Kingship within and between Rome and Sasanian Iran

Matthew P. Canepa

in The Two Eyes of the Earth

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9780520257276
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520944572 | DOI:
The Art and Ritual of Kingship within and between Rome and Sasanian Iran

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)


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Through art and ritual, Roman and Sasanian sovereigns could communicate complex, multivalent, even contradictory, messages about their identity. Much like the accessions of the Roman empire, the primary goal of the Sasanian rituals was to mediate between the realm's various power bases and ritually appropriate structures and spaces that were significant to Sasanian kingship. Unlike their late Roman counterparts, Sasanian royal accession rituals were not limited to a single city. Accession ceremonies often encompassed several sites throughout the Sasanian empire. The Romans and Sasanian kings interacted with each other, exchanged ideas and images in a competitive and violently hostile atmosphere, even in circumstances where they substantially adopted and integrated their opponent's cultural material. For this reason, the processes of Roman-Sasanian cross-cultural interaction are best described as agonistic exchange. This chapter looks at the art and ritual of kingship within and between Rome and Sasanian Iran. It discusses trade between the two realms, warfare between them and the resulting deportation and forced resettlement of massive numbers of individuals from their homelands, and diplomacy and communication between the two empires.

Keywords: Roman empire; Sasanian empire; kingship; art; ritual; trade; diplomacy; deportation; warfare; agonistic exchange

Chapter.  10083 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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