Macquarie Asian Historical Research Society Seminar


  • 04/06/2013 – 6:00-7:00 PM


  • Presentation by Tim Briscoe (MQ PhD Candidate) – “Persia through Roman Eyes”


The Sasanian dynasty, which ruled the Persian empire between the third and seventh centuries A.D., proved to be the most persistent and dangerous threat to Roman dominance of the Near East until the Arab invasions of the seventh century forever ended Roman dominion in the region. As the Romans themselves grew to realise the very real challenge they faced from their eastern enemy, a wealthy and powerful empire with long traditions of its own, Roman authors began to detail the wars, diplomacy, and culture of their neighbour and rival. Over four centuries, Rome and Sasanian Persia navigated their way through periods of bitter war and uneasy or productive peace, through a relationship marked by trade connections, cultural exchange, religious tension (but also, at times, acceptance), and imperial rivalry.

This paper will examine some of the representations of Sasanian Persia in the Roman historiographical record. In addition, some of the implications of the ‘Romanist’/‘Orientalist’ debate which has emerged in recent decades will be discussed in relation to studies of Persia by ‘classical’ scholars. These ideological concerns, including accusations of ‘Eurocentric’ scholarship and the like, are one part of a debate central to the study of Asian history more generally.



Room: W6A 107



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