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Cultural Responses to the Persian WarsAntiquity to the Third Millennium$
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Emma Bridges, Edith Hall, and P. J. Rhodes

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199279678

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199279678.001.0001

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Aeschylus’ Persians via the Ottoman Empire to Saddam Hussein

Aeschylus’ Persians via the Ottoman Empire to Saddam Hussein

(p.167) 9 Aeschylus’ Persians via the Ottoman Empire to Saddam Hussein
Cultural Responses to the Persian Wars

Edith Hall (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Through a diachronic study of the uses to which Aeschylus' Persians has been put, this chapter argues that one of the most important factors underlying the longevity of the Persian Wars traditions has been the identification of the ancient Greeks' struggle against Achaemenid Persia with the Christian West's adversarial relationship with Islam. Although the image of the Ottoman Turk — with his turban, moustache, and curving sabre — certainly affected the iconography of other battles such as Marathon, the identification has been made most prominent culturally since the 16th century by authors revisiting the battle of Salamis. The facile identification of the entire Islamic world with the caricatured ancient Persians staged by Aeschylus has also been a factor informing the West's crude stereotype of the eastern tyrant, Muslim despot, and the polemical terminology of Freedom and Democracy that has often played an unhelpful role by fomenting aggression on both local and global scales.

Keywords:   Aeschylus, Persians, Persian Wars, ancient Greeks

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