Winged Bulls and Sun Disks: Religion and Politics in the Persian Empire
Since Herodotus in the 5th century BCE, the Persian Empire has been represented as the exemplar of oriental despotism and imperial arrogance, a looming presence and worthy foil for the West and Greek democracy. History of the Achaemenid Empire, beginning with the rise of the Medes in the 7th century BCE to the fall of the Achaemenids to Alexander the Great's armies in 331 BCE. Focus on the intimate relationship between religion and empire and will also survey the diverse cultural institutions and religious practices found within the Empire. Evaluate contemporary representations of the Persians in politics and popular culture, such as the recent film "300" and the graphic novel on which it is based, in an attempt to better appreciate the enduring cultural legacy of the Greco-Persian wars.