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Kallie Szczepanski

The Greco-Persian Wars as Analogy?

By November 7, 2012

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Sassanid-era bas relief of a royal lion attacking a bull. Persepolis, Iran.

The Greco-Persian Wars of 492 to 449 BCE are among the more famous events in ancient history. Hollywood reminds us regularly of the Battles of Marathon and Thermopylae. However, I was caught off guard by a recent Washington Times financial analysis that used the ancient wars as an analogy for Greece's present-day economic woes.

Now, I can't speak to their economic argument - although I seriously doubt that Greece's debt crisis portends the fall of western civilization, really. But I do find it distressing that the authors compare public-sector unions to Darius the Great's army. "An angry horde is succeeding where the Persian army failed," the article continues, after quoting the all-Greek ancient sources that claim the Greeks were outnumbered by at least 10:1.

I understand that Greece is in financial trouble right now, but I deplore this misuse of history for alarmist and xenophobic ends. And I do wish that people would learn about Darius and the Achaemenid Empire from sources other than the records of their foes, the Greeks.

Photo by Indigo Prime on Flickr.com.


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