A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, July 16, 2012

"Alexander the Not-So-Great": A Persian Perspective

At the BBC, Professor Ali Ansari reminds us that the traditional view of Alexander the Great might not be shared if looked at from the Persian side. An excerpt:
Although Alexander is characterised by the Persians as a destroyer, a reckless and somewhat feckless youth, the evidence suggests that he retained a healthy respect for the Persians themselves.
Alexander came to regret the destruction his invasion caused. Coming across the plundered tomb of Cyrus the Great in Pasargad, a little north of Persepolis, he was much distressed by what he found and immediately ordered repairs to be made.
Had he lived beyond his 32 years, he may yet have restored and repaired much more. In time, the Persians were to come to terms with their Macedonian conqueror, absorbing him, as other conquerors after him, into the fabric of national history.
And thus it is that in the great Iranian national epic, the Shahnameh, written in the 10th Century AD, Alexander is no longer a wholly foreign prince but one born of a Persian father.
It is a myth, but one that perhaps betrays more truth than the appearance of history may like to reveal.
(Hat tip to Trita Parsi for this one.)

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