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Myth, Truth, and Narrative in Herodotus$
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Emily Baragwanath and Mathieu de Bakker

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199693979

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199693979.001.0001

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The Mythical Origins of the Medes and the Persians

The Mythical Origins of the Medes and the Persians

(p.255) 10 The Mythical Origins of the Medes and the Persians
Myth, Truth, and Narrative in Herodotus

Pietro Vannicelli

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers the rich set of traditions Herodotus reports about the origins of the Medes and the Persians. It first investigates the traditions regarding Perseus and his descendants, and highlights the important role played by the genealogical link between Perseus and the Persians in the propaganda against Argos in the aftermath of the Persian wars. It next considers the great army list of book 7, in which the origins the Persians are presented in detail. After illustrating the phenomenon evident elsewhere in the Histories of the double-root of traditions about the origins of a people, with a distinction between the people and their eponymous hero on the one hand, and the ancestor of the royal dynasty on the other, it addresses the possibility of a similar double-root to Herodotus' traditions about the origins of the Persians and their kings. Various passages of the Histories indeed supply two different approaches to the origins of the Persian Kings, one of which contains Persian elements (a linear genealogy going back to Achaemenes: 7.11.2; cf. 3.75.1), while the other is purely Greek and connects them with Perseus (on Perseus: 1.125.3; cf. 7.220.4).

Keywords:   Heraclids, Leonidas, medism, oracle, Persian kings, Spartan kings, Dorians, Lydians, Macedonias, Medes

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