Šāpūr I, King of Kings of Iran and Non-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:
Šāpūr I, King of Kings of Iran and Non-Iran

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)


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Šāpūr I's prodigious military successes and innovations in Sasanian kingship had a great impact on Sasanian royal identity and visual culture for this reason, as well as the fact that his reign, of all Sasanian rulers, yields the greatest number of triumphal images depicting Roman emperors. His reign is pivotal for Roman and Sasanian agonistic exchange, as it marks the first time in the two realms' relationship that the imperial identity of one king dramatically changed in response to the existence and claims of the other. Under Šāpūr I, Sasanian royal ideology underwent a rapid series of important developments that radically reformed the bounds, claims, and identity of kingship in Iran and had a significant impact on Roman-Sasanian relations. The shock that Šāpūr I's victories brought to the Roman empire and the gain in confidence that they wrought for the Sasanian royal identity were huge. This chapter explores the transformation of the Sasanian empire's visual culture under Šāpūr I, Šāpūr I's capture of Valerian and his army, and the palace complex of Bīšāpūr and Roman architectural ornament.

Keywords: Roman empire; Sasanian empire; kingship; Šāpūr I; agonistic exchange; Iran; royal identity; visual culture; Valerian; Bīšāpūr

Chapter.  8681 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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