The Dark Side of Paradise

in Religion, Empire, and Torture

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print July 2007 | ISBN: 9780226481968
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226481913 | DOI:
The Dark Side of Paradise

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This chapter addresses the gaps that opened up between ideals and performance, or, more pointedly, how its ideals brought the empire into contradiction. The Avestan cognate of paridaida denotes a walled enclosure, but the structure to which it refers is the opposite of the Achaemenian paradise. In both the Achaemenian and the Zoroastrian paradise, walls separate the world outside, which is constituted as the existential norm, from an internal space that stands in marked contrast to it. Mithridates was charged with having exaggerated his role in Cyrus' death and with slandering the king, whose veracity he thereby implicitly impugned. The ordeal of Mithridates stands as a prime example of Oriental despotism. The ordeal of the troughs illustrates how extraordinarily ingenious, inventive, and self-confident an imperial apparatus can be in advancing so ridiculous and repulsive an argument.

Keywords: empire; paridaida; Achaemenian paradise; Zoroastrian paradise; Mithridates; Cyrus; Oriental despotism

Chapter.  5710 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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