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Old 07-03-2008, 09:42 PM   #1
Minister
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Persian Empire resources?

I've skimmed through the resources thread, but there's a notable absence of references to the Persian Empire. I'm sure I can get a little information by checking the Greek resources, since they had this little war thing going on for a while, but does anyone know some good references for the Persian Empire of the 5th and 6th centuries B.C.? (Online would be great -- my local library is pretty limited, as is my money for research books.)

The novel I'm doing the prep work for is less a military action-adventure and more a political thriller/mystery, so accounts of battles, while interesting and their dates and outcomes significant to my plot, aren't what I'm primarily after. Life at court, religious system of the Persians, and political intrigues and tensions of the day would be great. I'm leaning toward setting the piece in the reign of Artaxerxes, mid-400s B.C.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 07-03-2008, 09:52 PM   #2
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Persian sources are extremely rare. JM Cook's The Persian Empire, A. T. Olmstead's History of the Persian Empire, Herodotus, Xenophon (though be wary of Xenophon's Cyropaedia -- he transposed a Spartan upbringing on poor Cyrus). Plutarch wrote a bio of Artaxerxes II, too. Online, try livius.org.

It's not clear if the Persians just didn't keep good records or if the Greeks and Macedonians destroyed them.

Good luck!

Scott
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Old 07-03-2008, 10:43 PM   #3
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Thanks! I knew about Herodotus, and I've worked through the Biblical literature of the timeframe, which gives some interesting detail, but isn't concerned with the big-picture politics of the empire except insofar as it concerned the Jewish people. I'll have to check out the others you've listed.

I guess the paucity of information gives me lots of room for story, eh? I just don't want to take liberties where they aren't warranted.

Edited to add that livius.org looks tremendous. Thanks again!
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Old 07-03-2008, 11:50 PM   #4
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I made great use of livius for my novel Memnon (which takes place mostly in Persian-held Asia Minor during the 4th century). I had many of the same problems: either the sources were silent or they conflicted. I forgot to mention Diodorus Siculus . . . his history of Philip and Alexander has quite a bit about Persia, too. Try the Perseus Digital Library (http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/) -- it has electronic texts of quite a few obscure Greek historians. If you expand your search into the era of Alexander the Great, you should be able to pick up a few more details regarding life in the Persian court.

Happy Hunting!

Scott
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Old 07-04-2008, 12:40 AM   #5
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Can you get a membership at a University library near you? Most charge less than $100/year for non-students and if it's a good library, you'll get access to online journal databases. Worth their weight in gold.
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Old 07-04-2008, 03:09 AM   #6
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It's a good idea, but the nearest real college (University of North Carolina Wilmington) is roughly 45 minutes from where I live -- too much in time and gasoline to get there often, and I don't even know that they have a great library. I kinda live in the boondocks -- it's why the local public library system doesn't have much either. I might check the local community college branch to see if their library would have access to the online journal databases -- if so, that's likely better than a big book collection to me, anyhow.
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Old 07-04-2008, 04:26 AM   #7
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Ah ha! Resources.

Thank you for the question and the answers. Those resources are now included in the Resources by Era thread.
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Old 07-04-2008, 04:46 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Minister View Post
I kinda live in the boondocks -- it's why the local public library system doesn't have much either. I might check the local community college branch to see if their library would have access to the online journal databases -- if so, that's likely better than a big book collection to me, anyhow.
One journal that might be of specific interest to you is JSTOR (unfortunately, I'm not sure what the acronym means). I had a friend with university-level access to their database, and he was able to scan and send me a copy of a rare article called "Memnon of Rhodes at the Granicus" by McCoy. It came in quite handy.

I'm a boondocker, too (rural Alabama), and one thing I was able to do was to make use of the interlibrary loan program -- though generally the titles I requested were reference and thus I couldn't physically check them out. Instead, I made ample use of the library photocopier. Also check Alibris.com, an online used book dealer. They quite often have old library copies on sale for cheap. See if your library has a copy of the Cambridge Ancient History. It's a huge multi-volume survey of history. I think it's updated every year or two.

Lastly, you might also try asking questions at the Pothos.org forum. It's dedicated to the study of Alexander the Great, but quite a few of the regulars are knowledgable on the Persian Empire, plus at least one member is a native Iranian historian.

The internet, it abounds with awesome

Scott
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". . . Reads like a cross between the Arabian Nights and a Hollywood blockbuster. Memnon and Men of Bronze put Mr. Oden squarely on the hist/fiction map. The Lion of Cairo assures his place in the very front rank."-- Steven Pressfield (Gates of Fire)

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Old 07-04-2008, 05:39 PM   #9
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Awesomeness abounding, indeed!

Thanks for the additional resources. *kicks self for not specifically checking for the Cambridge series, though he didn't see it in his browsing* Sadly, our library system consists of two rather small libraries, and I already have access to the larger of the two -- I don't think they ever get things from outside that system, and they've never added a book just 'cause I asked for it.

I'll have to scoot on over to Pothos.org and start pestering them with specific questions. That sounds like another tremendous resource. (It won't bother them if I start asking pointed questions about ancient poisons used in assassinations, will it?)
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Old 07-04-2008, 07:09 PM   #10
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I'll have to scoot on over to Pothos.org and start pestering them with specific questions. That sounds like another tremendous resource. (It won't bother them if I start asking pointed questions about ancient poisons used in assassinations, will it?)
It shouldn't . . . though you might try a search of the forum archives, because I think there was a huge thread on poisons last year, in response to the theory that Alexander was poisoned. There are several writers who hang out there, too. They tend to pump other members for info


Best,


Scott
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Out Now: THE LION OF CAIRO

". . . Reads like a cross between the Arabian Nights and a Hollywood blockbuster. Memnon and Men of Bronze put Mr. Oden squarely on the hist/fiction map. The Lion of Cairo assures his place in the very front rank."-- Steven Pressfield (Gates of Fire)

Coming Soon: SERPENT OF HELLAS

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Old 07-04-2008, 07:44 PM   #11
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Quote:
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It's a good idea, but the nearest real college (University of North Carolina Wilmington) is roughly 45 minutes from where I live -- too much in time and gasoline to get there often, and I don't even know that they have a great library.
Yeah, but once you have the library card, you can usually access the library and journals online. Call the college and see what your options are. Most journal articles are available in pdf from the online databases.

Alternately, if you take one course at Athabasca University (online Canadian University accredited in the US) you get access to their database. My husband will be finishing his degree there this summer and I don't know what I'm going to do without the journals. I've been searching and saving articles like crazy hoping I've got everything I'll need between his graduation and my return.
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Old 07-04-2008, 08:06 PM   #12
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Ah. Very interesting.... I'll have to look into that (though I probably have neither time nor money for a class); if I can access the journal databases from my office, then it might well be worth to get a non-student subscription.

(And yeah, I totally miss the library where I went to grad school. Even when I can get the same information from a computer program or online, there's just nothing quite like having the book in your hand or cluttering up your desk.)
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