Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.
Dispelling the alter orbis: 
Cultural Contradictions 
Craig Morley 
University of Liverpool
To show that ‘cultural’ relationship was not 
straight-forward but one of contradictions 
Focus; 
1) Attitudes To Cultural...
The Manichaeans, about whom you reported to Our Serenity 
with much insight, as we have heard, have come into existence 
a...
NISIBIS 
AMIDA 
CALLINICUM 
SINGARA 
DURA EUROPUS 
STRATA 
DIOCLETIANA 
“To evade the frontier guards” 
(AmmianusMarcellin...
“For Diocletian was the first to introduce 
foreign [Sasanian] and royal manner of 
adoration” 
(Ammianus Marcellinus 15.5...
Two Types of Cultural 
Appropriation & Incorporation; 
1) Simple Transfer 
2) Adaptation 
(Mosaic at Bishapur Palace) 
Sim...
“Antoninus brought a cheap 
property in Hisapis, a district 
immediately bordering the 
Tigris” 
(Ammianus Marcellinus 18....
NISIBIS 
CALLINICUM 
CAESAREA 
EDESSA 
ANTIOCH 
SELEUCIA 
Heavily Populated Cities 
Official Trading Centres 
(CJ 4.63.4.)...
Cross-Border travel: 
• Traders/merchants 
• Christianity – 
Pilgrims/Bishops 
• Diplomacy/Diplomats 
“Spectatus has retur...
Imitatio Alexandri 
Roman Universal Rule 
(“Imperium sine fine”) 
Alter Orbis 
VS 
Sasanian Universal Rule 
Achaemenid Her...
Two state religions: 
Roman Christianity 
& 
Sasanian Zoroastrianism 
“Similarly with great happiness he showed love 
for ...
THE CHURCH OF THE EAST 
SYNODS; 
• 410 
• 424 
• 484 
• 486 
In the eleventh year of the reign of Yazdgard, king 
of kings...
Culture a central component in overall Roman-Sasanian 
Relationship 
Cultural Exchange & Encounters helped 
to develop uni...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

Rome and the Sasanian Empire: Cultural Contradictions

1,372 views

Published on

Seminar paper by Craig Morley (University of Liverpool) at the University of Lincoln in October 2014,

Published in: Education
  • Login to see the comments

  • Be the first to like this

Rome and the Sasanian Empire: Cultural Contradictions

  1. 1. Dispelling the alter orbis: Cultural Contradictions Craig Morley University of Liverpool
  2. 2. To show that ‘cultural’ relationship was not straight-forward but one of contradictions Focus; 1) Attitudes To Cultural Encounters 2) Religion 3) Ideology
  3. 3. The Manichaeans, about whom you reported to Our Serenity with much insight, as we have heard, have come into existence and entered our realm only recently from our enemy, the Persian people, just like new and unexpected portents, and they inflict harm on civilised states; and we have been afraid that, as tends to happen, by scandalous customs and the bad laws of the Persians over the course of time will try to infect people of a more innocent nature, modest and quiet Romans and our whole empire with their malign poison. (Collatio LegumMosaicarum et Romanarum 15.3.1-8)
  4. 4. NISIBIS AMIDA CALLINICUM SINGARA DURA EUROPUS STRATA DIOCLETIANA “To evade the frontier guards” (AmmianusMarcellinus 18.5.2) Royal Canal
  5. 5. “For Diocletian was the first to introduce foreign [Sasanian] and royal manner of adoration” (Ammianus Marcellinus 15.5.18) “We found a [Sasanian] royal lodge built in the Roman manner…” (Ammianus Marcellinus, 24.5.1) “Now Chosroes built a city in Assyria in a place one day’s journey distant from the city of Ctesiphon, and he named it Antioch of Chosroes and settled there all the captives from Antioch, constructing for them a bath and a hippodrome and providing that they should have free enjoyment of their other luxuries besides. For he brought with him charioteers and musicians both from Antioch and other Roman cities.” (Procopius, BP. 2.14.1-4)
  6. 6. Two Types of Cultural Appropriation & Incorporation; 1) Simple Transfer 2) Adaptation (Mosaic at Bishapur Palace) Simple Transfers: •Sugarcane •Polo “The high degree of subtlety indicates that the sculptors and patron knew and deliberately played on traditions and symbols of both cultures” (Canepa, 2010: 139) Adaptions: • Regalia • Architecture • Symbols/Art
  7. 7. “Antoninus brought a cheap property in Hisapis, a district immediately bordering the Tigris” (Ammianus Marcellinus 18.5.2) “There was no marked frontier. The subjects of both peoples did not fear one another and did not suspect an attack, but they intermarried and had joint markets” (Procopius, De. Aed. 3.3.9-10) Stewart’s Model: HIGH SOCIAL MASS SHORT DISTANCE TRANSFER/EXCHANGE OF IDEAS/CULTURE
  8. 8. NISIBIS CALLINICUM CAESAREA EDESSA ANTIOCH SELEUCIA Heavily Populated Cities Official Trading Centres (CJ 4.63.4.) ARTAXATA
  9. 9. Cross-Border travel: • Traders/merchants • Christianity – Pilgrims/Bishops • Diplomacy/Diplomats “Spectatus has returned to us from his embassy, regarded by many as fortunate – some, because he saw so much land and mountains and rivers, by others, because he witnessed the way of life of the Persians, the customs and laws by which they live; others considered it a great thing to have seen the king himself and the jewels with which he was adorned” (Libanius, Ep. 331.1) “The Persians Say…” (Amm.Marc.18.4.2)
  10. 10. Imitatio Alexandri Roman Universal Rule (“Imperium sine fine”) Alter Orbis VS Sasanian Universal Rule Achaemenid Heritage Family of Kings Interdependence & Joint Civilisation “like eyes, [the two empires] are adorned by each others’ light” “Two Eyes” (Theo.Sim. 4.2.2-3) “Two Shoulders” (Syn.Or. 37) (Pet.Pat. fr. 13-14) “Two Lamps” (Pet.Pat. fr. 13-14) Equals
  11. 11. Two state religions: Roman Christianity & Sasanian Zoroastrianism “Similarly with great happiness he showed love for king Tiridates as a dear brother because of his knowledge of God; furthermore he made a treaty with him, holding the faith which was in Christ the lord as the common denominator, so that they might persevere assuredly and forever a steadfast friendship between the kingdoms.” (Agathangelos 877) My son, religion and kingship are brothers who cannot do without each other, for religion is the foundation of kingship and kingship is religion’s protector. And that which does not have a foundation collapses and that which does not have a protector perishes. (Mas’ūdī, Murūg 1 § 568) If you [the Shahs] were to render them [the Christians] familiar with our religion…they would love you and the land of the Aryans and would reject and draw away from the [Roman] emperor and his religion and his empire. 43. His Majesty, Ardashir, the king of kings, son of Pabag, acting on the just judgement of Tosar [a Magi], demanded that all those scattered teachings to be brought to court. Tosar assumed command; he selected those which were trustworthy, and left the rest out of the canon. And thus he decreed: From now on only those are true expositions of the Mazdean religion, for now there is no lack of information and knowledge concerning them. Dēnkard ‘Acts of Religion’ (Shaki, 1981).
  12. 12. THE CHURCH OF THE EAST SYNODS; • 410 • 424 • 484 • 486 In the eleventh year of the reign of Yazdgard, king of kings, victorious. After peace and tranquillity were restored to the Lord, [this king] gave freedom and rest to the congregations of Christ and allowed the servants of God to exalt Christ publically in their body, either with their death, or during their life, he drew aside the storm of persecution of all of the flocks of Christ, indeed, he ordered in all his empire that the temples destroyed by his fathers might be magnificently reconstructed in his own time; that those who had been tested for God who had suffered prisons and tortures, should go in liberty; that the priests, the chiefs, together with all the holy order should circulate with complete freedom and without fear. (Synodicon Orientale 17-18)
  13. 13. Culture a central component in overall Roman-Sasanian Relationship Cultural Exchange & Encounters helped to develop unique character of this two late antique empires Not simple, full of contradictions By 7th Century both empires bore greater resemblance to each other than to the empires of Severus Alexander & Ardashir I

×