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Old 05-23-2011, 02:45 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Re: The Curriculum of Elementary and High Schools in the West

"I get the feeling that most Jews, Christians, and Muslims would not want people to know about Zoroaster because they're afraid of how Zoroaster would change people's preconceptions on religion and Persian culture."

--> I'm afraid I disagree. Most westerners don't have a clue about other cultures. They are not even close to worrying about whether Zoroaster ideas would change people's preconceptions on religion and Persian culture.

"...is Persian culture seriously that uninteresting?"

Most people in the world -- easterners as well as westerners -- only see things from their own cultural perspective, and, quite frankly, they don't give a hang about other cultures. It's not that Persian culture is uninteresting, it's that these people find all foreign cultures uninteresting. As I mentioned before, I'm shocked by how many of my fellow Americans haven't got a clue as to the difference between China and Japan. They take the same attitude towards Persian culture and every other foreign culture in the world as well.
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Old 05-23-2011, 02:47 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Re: The Curriculum of Elementary and High Schools in the West

Wil,

You did better than we did. In my schooling, the Chinese dynasties were barely mentioned. Perhaps one of the *problems* is that there have been so many Chinese dynasties. My college students here in China have trouble just listing them all!
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Old 05-23-2011, 05:12 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Re: The Curriculum of Elementary and High Schools in the West

been a long time and fawget my spelling errors...but to the tune of Frarajaca, and it isn't all of them...but the majors...

Shang Cho Chin Han
Shang Cho Chin Han
Sway Tang Song
Sway Tang Song
Wong Min Chin Republic
Wong Min Chin Republic
Mao Zedong
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Old 05-24-2011, 12:05 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Re: The Curriculum of Elementary and High Schools in the West

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Pythagoras is said to have emulated Zoroaster.
"IS SAID"??? By whom?
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Plato wanted to go to Persia to study under the Zoroastrians, but was prevented because of war.
Says who?
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Aristotle placed Zoroaster 5000 years before the Trojan Wars.
Says who? Pythagoras, Plato, and Aristotle never mentioned Zoroaster at all, and I doubt that any of them had ever heard of him.
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Even Soctrates was tried for impiety because he had "invented Gods" andhe had mapped out an ethical system not much unlike that of the Zoroastrian Heptad.
There was absolutely nothing about "inventing Gods" in his trial. He did not map out any ethical system, but prodded people to think about such things for themselves. There is nothing remotely like Zoroastrianism in any of the literature about Socrates. Where are you getting this stuff?
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In general the ancient Greeks believed that the ancient Persian culture was even more ancient than that of the Egyptians and looked to them for their ethical wisdom.
I do not know of a SINGLE Greek who believed that Persia was more ancient than Egypt, or looked to Persia for wisdom.
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The longest period of Democracy in Greece was under Pericles who was another one of these Medized Greeks.
"MEDIZED"??? What in the world are you talking about? The democratic constitution of Athens was introduced by Solon, generations before Greeks had ever even heard of Persia; and Pericles was from the generation which despised Persia most.
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Apparently the jirgas have been an institution between the days of Cyrus the Great and the establishment of Afghanistan.
"APPARENTLY"??? Appears to whom? I know no source whatsoever which would trace any Afghan institutions back earlier than medieval times.
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I'm not saying the Jirgas system is perfect, but it is democracy and very similar to what we got going here in the U.S.
It is so thoroughly dissimilar that I would never have expected anyone to make even a remote comparison.
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Old 05-24-2011, 06:16 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Re: The Curriculum of Elementary and High Schools in the West

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"IS SAID"??? By whom?
Pythagoras is called the best emulator of Zoroaster – Cyrillus adv. Jul. III

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Says who?
Plato intended on going to the Magi but was prevented from doing so by the wars then raging in Asia – Diogenes of Laerte

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Says who? Pythagoras, Plato, and Aristotle never mentioned Zoroaster at all, and I doubt that any of them had ever heard of him.

I do not know of a SINGLE Greek who believed that Persia was more ancient than Egypt, or looked to Persia for wisdom.
Eudoxus asserts just as Aristotle does some years later, that the Magi were older than the Egyptians

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There was absolutely nothing about "inventing Gods" in his trial. He did not map out any ethical system, but prodded people to think about such things for themselves. There is nothing remotely like Zoroastrianism in any of the literature about Socrates. Where are you getting this stuff?
In his Apology Socrates distinguishes between divine wisdom and human wisdom. This transcendent wisdom imparts the supreme forms, namely, The Good, The True, The Just, The Beautiful, to human reason, in the same way that the Amesha Spentas or hypostasis of Ahura Mazda are revealed. “Perfection”, “Law and Order”, “Good Mind,” and “Immortality,” these attributes were to be enforced not only in individual human conduct but also in what Xenophon would include under “state”.

Socrates also refers to “new or old” supernatural beings, an indirect confession of his Zoroastrian influence. He was “guilty of corrupting the minds of the young, and of believing in deities of his own invention instead of the gods recognized by the state” (Apology 24, tr. By: Hugh Tredennick, The Penguin Classics)

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"MEDIZED"??? What in the world are you talking about? The democratic constitution of Athens was introduced by Solon, generations before Greeks had ever even heard of Persia; and Pericles was from the generation which despised Persia most.
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"APPARENTLY"??? Appears to whom? I know no source whatsoever which would trace any Afghan institutions back earlier than medieval times.
I already mentioned the Persian council system of government which was different than their Mede overlords.

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It is so thoroughly dissimilar that I would never have expected anyone to make even a remote comparison.
How exactly? Here we have an electoral college. We, certainly I, have no say in who the electors are. There its the tribal heads who are the electors. Neither system is dependent only on the popular vote.
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Old 05-24-2011, 06:21 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Re: The Curriculum of Elementary and High Schools in the West

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Most people in the world -- easterners as well as westerners -- only see things from their own cultural perspective, and, quite frankly, they don't give a hang about other cultures. It's not that Persian culture is uninteresting, it's that these people find all foreign cultures uninteresting. As I mentioned before, I'm shocked by how many of my fellow Americans haven't got a clue as to the difference between China and Japan. They take the same attitude towards Persian culture and every other foreign culture in the world as well.
Well who are these westerners and easterners, exactly? Where do the distinctions between these two designations lie or has that already been answered? How its it determined who is grouped with who? Does it come down to race or do the distinctions go beyond that?
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Old 05-25-2011, 09:44 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Re: The Curriculum of Elementary and High Schools in the West

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Pythagoras is called the best emulator of Zoroaster – Cyrillus adv. Jul. III
I need a bit more information here: Google turns up no-one by that name than a couple of Byzantine lawyers from a thousand years after Pythagoras.
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Plato intended on going to the Magi but was prevented from doing so by the wars then raging in Asia – Diogenes of Laerte
This quote I was able to substantiate, in this text of Diogenes chapter 3 "Plato". It is at the end of a list of the places Plato did travel (Italy, Asia Minor, the Middle East, Egypt) and the people he did talk to and were influenced by. It says he wanted to go to Persia, but was never able. So, OK, he did think there were some people worth talking to there, but he never did, which is why we don't any shred of a trace of Zoroastrianism in his writings.
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Eudoxus asserts just as Aristotle does some years later, that the Magi were older than the Egyptians
According to this and other sources, the "Magians" that Eudoxus was referring to were not the Zoroastrians, but their enemies the polytheists (like the faction that tried to usurp from the Achaemenid dynasty during the "pseudo-Smerdis" affair) and astrologers, whose lore he believed was derived from the Chaldeans (as opposed to having originated in Iran); his assertion was that the Mesopotamian civilization was older than the Egyptian (which is correct). Whether the "Magians" that Plato wanted to visit were of this kind, or the Zoroastrian kind, or whether Plato even knew anything about the multiple religious factions in the east, I cannot say.

I am unable to substantiate that Aristotle refers to Zoroastrians or Magians of any kind anywhere in his works. Possibly someone has taken the Secret of Secrets (a medieval Arabic forgery attributed to Aristotle) to be a genuine work; that is the only explanation I can find for this claim.
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This transcendent wisdom imparts the supreme forms, namely, The Good, The True, The Just, The Beautiful, to human reason, in the same way that the Amesha Spentas or hypostasis of Ahura Mazda are revealed.
Not at all "in the same way": like the Abrahamic God, Ahura Mazda is conceived as a personal being, who creates emanations by acts of will; Socrates was harshly critical (see the Euthyphro in particular) of any such view, insisting that The Good was prior to the will of any being, "divine" or otherwise.
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Here we have an electoral college. We, certainly I, have no say in who the electors are.
I take it you are not a citizen? *I* got to vote.
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There its the tribal heads who are the electors.
The tribal chiefs are an unelected, self-perpetuating class which tyrannize over the rest of the population. They are frequently on the edge of violence with each other, because they are raised to be unaccustomed to having their self-will thwarted. A jirga in which neighboring tribal chiefs can settle their differences is better than perpetual warfare, but often amounts to trading away their subject people as a kind of "property": the notorious case where a "Romeo-and-Juliet" romance between teenagers from rival clans led to "Juliet's" clan feeling insulted, so that their men were allowed to gang-rape a woman of "Romeo's" clan to balance the dishonor, is not remotely similar to anything that would happen in America, and to call this "democracy" is ridiculous.

The word jirga is not ancient, and I do not know of any reason to think that the present Afghan institutions have any roots going back further than the disintegration of the Timurid emirates. Before the Muslim and Mongol invasions, there may have been more respectable institutions in that part of the world, but it is not a well-documented region.
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Old 05-27-2011, 08:13 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Re: The Curriculum of Elementary and High Schools in the West

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I need a bit more information here: Google turns up no-one by that name than a couple of Byzantine lawyers from a thousand years after Pythagoras.

This quote I was able to substantiate, in this text of Diogenes chapter 3 "Plato". It is at the end of a list of the places Plato did travel (Italy, Asia Minor, the Middle East, Egypt) and the people he did talk to and were influenced by. It says he wanted to go to Persia, but was never able. So, OK, he did think there were some people worth talking to there, but he never did, which is why we don't any shred of a trace of Zoroastrianism in his writings.

According to this and other sources, the "Magians" that Eudoxus was referring to were not the Zoroastrians, but their enemies the polytheists (like the faction that tried to usurp from the Achaemenid dynasty during the "pseudo-Smerdis" affair) and astrologers, whose lore he believed was derived from the Chaldeans (as opposed to having originated in Iran); his assertion was that the Mesopotamian civilization was older than the Egyptian (which is correct). Whether the "Magians" that Plato wanted to visit were of this kind, or the Zoroastrian kind, or whether Plato even knew anything about the multiple religious factions in the east, I cannot say.

I am unable to substantiate that Aristotle refers to Zoroastrians or Magians of any kind anywhere in his works. Possibly someone has taken the Secret of Secrets (a medieval Arabic forgery attributed to Aristotle) to be a genuine work; that is the only explanation I can find for this claim.
For the list of prominent ancient Greeks who were aware of Zoroaster see Zarathushtra in the Gathas, and in the Greek and Roman Classics by Wilhelm Geiger. I realize that this source may be a little outdated, but he makes a good case when it comes to demonstrating that the ancient Greeks were aware of the Zoroastrians. In a recent source The Magi: From Zoroaster to the "Three Wise Men" Ken r. Vincent also implies that Plato and Aristotle studied under the Magi. Peter Clark in Zoroastrianism: An Introduction to an Ancient Faith discusses how "it has been suggested that a menog, or immaterial, creation can be understood as a prototypical getig creation and because of this attention has been drawn to a conceptual similarity between the Zoroastrian and Platonic notions of "physical" and "spiritual" realms.

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Not at all "in the same way": like the Abrahamic God, Ahura Mazda is conceived as a personal being, who creates emanations by acts of will; Socrates was harshly critical (see the Euthyphro in particular) of any such view, insisting that The Good was prior to the will of any being, "divine" or otherwise.
Ruhi Muhsen Afnan makes the connection between Zoroastrianism and the ancient Greeks in Zoroaster's Influence on Anaxagoras the Greek Tragedians and Socrates After reading Geiger these connections he makes are much more believable. If Pythagoras, Plato, and Aristotle were aware of Zoroaster, then why wouldn't Socrates and other prominent Greeks have been aware of Zoroaster. It is particularly the idea that Socrates "invented supernatural beings" and these forms, The Good, The True, The Just, The Beautiful, that give me the impression that he was indeed influenced by Zoroaster. Ultimately, I just don't see how the ancient Greeks could not have gotten wind of Zoroastrianism when the Persian frontiers extended as far as the borders of Athens. And what else could Medism have been?

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I take it you are not a citizen? *I* got to vote.
I'm a citizen, but neither I nor you appoint the electors and our vote is merely a symbolic one.

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The tribal chiefs are an unelected, self-perpetuating class which tyrannize over the rest of the population. They are frequently on the edge of violence with each other, because they are raised to be unaccustomed to having their self-will thwarted. A jirga in which neighboring tribal chiefs can settle their differences is better than perpetual warfare, but often amounts to trading away their subject people as a kind of "property": the notorious case where a "Romeo-and-Juliet" romance between teenagers from rival clans led to "Juliet's" clan feeling insulted, so that their men were allowed to gang-rape a woman of "Romeo's" clan to balance the dishonor, is not remotely similar to anything that would happen in America, and to call this "democracy" is ridiculous.

The word jirga is not ancient, and I do not know of any reason to think that the present Afghan institutions have any roots going back further than the disintegration of the Timurid emirates. Before the Muslim and Mongol invasions, there may have been more respectable institutions in that part of the world, but it is not a well-documented region.
I'm not going to justify tyrannical attitudes here. All I'm going to say is that Afghanistan has been practicing democracy longer than the Greeks, the Americans, and the English, however imperfect it may be. I don't think that tyranny is the result of Afghan democracy. Afghan democracy is good. What is not good is war, lawlessness, and how it degrades a society. Afghanistan has a long history of invasion and at present is a very war-torn nation. Xenophon describes a democratic system in his Cyropaedia. So democracy has been a democratic institution in the past. What kind of system of government the Pashtuns were practicing in between then and the Timurid accounts you speak of I don't know, but why would it have been any different? At present the English still have a monarchy even though it may be a symbolic one, what it represents is plain old disgusting. The Afghans don't, and since they've been practicing the jirga or democratic council system did they ever?
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Old 05-28-2011, 11:47 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Re: The Curriculum of Elementary and High Schools in the West

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For the list of prominent ancient Greeks who were aware of Zoroaster see Zarathushtra in the Gathas, and in the Greek and Roman Classics by Wilhelm Geiger. I realize that this source may be a little outdated, but he makes a good case when it comes to demonstrating that the ancient Greeks were aware of the Zoroastrians.
It does me no good for you to tell me that someone I don't know "makes a good case" when you don't tell me anything about what his case was. All I find is that no Greek from before Alexander, not a single one that I can find, mentions the name "Zoroaster" at all; and that when "Magians" are referred to, they are not just non-Zoroastrians, but actually anti-Zoroastrians.
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In a recent source The Magi: From Zoroaster to the "Three Wise Men" Ken r. Vincent also implies that Plato and Aristotle studied under the Magi.
If he implies that, then he is just wrong. Didn't we just look at the primary source saying that Plato thought of going to Persia but never made it? And Aristotle was not much of a traveller at all, getting as far east as the isle of Lesbos once, but otherwise sticking between Athens and Macedonia.
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Peter Clark in Zoroastrianism: An Introduction to an Ancient Faith discusses how "it has been suggested that a menog, or immaterial, creation can be understood as a prototypical getig creation and because of this attention has been drawn to a conceptual similarity between the Zoroastrian and Platonic notions of "physical" and "spiritual" realms.
A vague similarity in concepts does not make much of an argument that one is the source of the other. In particular, the Platonic forms do NOT arise from the will of any personal being; Zoroastrianism with Ahura Mazda completely deleted would be quite a different thing.
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If Pythagoras, Plato, and Aristotle were aware of Zoroaster...
That's a big "if".
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Ultimately, I just don't see how the ancient Greeks could not have gotten wind of Zoroastrianism when the Persian frontiers extended as far as the borders of Athens.
No, the Persian frontiers did not extend there. They were REPULSED, remember? The invaders and defenders did not discuss philosophy with each other during the battles.
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And what else could Medism have been?
I don't know what you are referring to as "Medism" in this context. The Medes were enemies of the Persians, and in accounts of the "Smerdis" affair the polytheistic "Median Magi" are the opponents of the Achaemenid regime and its Zoroastrian religion.
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I'm a citizen, but neither I nor you appoint the electors and our vote is merely a symbolic one.
You could not possibly be more mistaken. Our votes determine who the electors are, and it is the role of the electors which is "merely symbolic", as they pre-announce who they will cast ballots for, so that it does not matter at all who they individually happen to be.
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I'm not going to justify tyrannical attitudes here.
Uh... that's exactly what you are doing when you name tyranny by an unelected small class of unaccountable "elders" raised to be ego-driven as a "democracy".
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All I'm going to say is that Afghanistan has been practicing democracy
Nothing that Afghanistan has ever practiced as far back as we have any record resembles "democracy" in the slightest.
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What is not good is war, lawlessness, and how it degrades a society. Afghanistan has a long history of invasion and at present is a very war-torn nation.
Afghanistan has ALWAYS suffered from internal wars of tribe against tribe, because of its tyrannical system. This has made it a tempting target for invasion, although invaders have often found it very slippery ground.
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Xenophon describes a democratic system in his Cyropaedia.
No. He describes an elective monarchy, although in practice the choice of successor was determined by inheritance or violence and the vote purely a formality; and once in power, the monarch was absolute and unchecked.
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Old 05-29-2011, 04:53 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Re: The Curriculum of Elementary and High Schools in the West

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It does me no good for you to tell me that someone I don't know "makes a good case" when you don't tell me anything about what his case was. All I find is that no Greek from before Alexander, not a single one that I can find, mentions the name "Zoroaster" at all; and that when "Magians" are referred to, they are not just non-Zoroastrians, but actually anti-Zoroastrians.
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If he implies that, then he is just wrong. Didn't we just look at the primary source saying that Plato thought of going to Persia but never made it? And Aristotle was not much of a traveller at all, getting as far east as the isle of Lesbos once, but otherwise sticking between Athens and Macedonia.
Dang. You should really probably read Ruhi Muhsen Afnan, but here goes: Afnan links Anaxagoras who was in the Persian military and philosophized about a concept very similar to Ahura Mazda he called "Mind" to Pericles who defected to the Persians and had relations with Aspasia who "brought all the Greeks over to the Persian interest" to Socrates who spoke of "Mind and Mindlessness" like Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu. Xerxes appointed a Magi to tutor one Meandrius the son of Protagoras "who became an outstanding figure mentioned by Plato" Euripides influences were Anaxagoras, Aeschylus, Archelaus, Diogenes, and Protagoras. While in Athens Euripedes was invited by Protagoras to read his book On the Gods which denied Greek heritage. Aeschylus wrote "Persae" which explains how the Persians withdrawl from Greece was due to the fact that Xerxes did not exemplify the Zoroastrian values Cyrus and Darius did. Themistocles who was key in warding off the Persians at Salamis was a hearer of Anaxagoras and defected to the Persians. Thucydides was forced to take refuge in the court of Archelaus in Macedon, together with Euripides. Lampasacus became a safe haven for those who were branded impious and subjected to persecution in Athens. It was there that Anaxagoaras established his school with Archelaus his pupil and successor. Socrates’ influences included Anaxagoras and Diogenes, and he was a pupil of Archelaus. In Plato’s dialogue “Menexenus” Socrates praises Aspasia’s talent in teaching rhetoric. He only went to the theater when Euripides had a play performing and what Euripides attempted to convey through tragic plays and belles-lettres, Socrates conveyed by philosophic argumentation.

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No, the Persian frontiers did not extend there. They were REPULSED, remember?
I'm pretty sure the Macedonians and Thracians were Medised Greeks. What I do remember from Herodotus for certain, however, is that before the Persians burned Athens to the ground and were repulsed the Greeks were Medising all along Xerxes' way to Athens.

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I don't know what you are referring to as "Medism" in this context. The Medes were enemies of the Persians, and in accounts of the "Smerdis" affair the polytheistic "Median Magi" are the opponents of the Achaemenid regime and its Zoroastrian religion.
No the Median Magi and the Medised Greeks are different I take it. The latter implies loyalty to Persia. Afnan makes it out to be Persian spiritualism. I think it makes sense.

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You could not possibly be more mistaken. Our votes determine who the electors are, and it is the role of the electors which is "merely symbolic", as they pre-announce who they will cast ballots for, so that it does not matter at all who they individually happen to be.
When did you vote for an elector? The way I see it our votes are symbolic because, ultimately, the electors don't have to elect the candidate who they pledged to elect.

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Uh... that's exactly what you are doing when you name tyranny by an unelected small class of unaccountable "elders" raised to be ego-driven as a "democracy".
What's the big difference between how an "elder" becomes an elector and how an "elector" here becomes an elector?

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Nothing that Afghanistan has ever practiced as far back as we have any record resembles "democracy" in the slightest.
Call it quasi-democracy, whatever. They were still doing it when the Greeks weren't and before the English, and Americans had anything that comes close to resembling a quasi-democracy.

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Afghanistan has ALWAYS suffered from internal wars of tribe against tribe, because of its tyrannical system. This has made it a tempting target for invasion, although invaders have often found it very slippery ground.
So what you're saying is Afghanistan's enemies like a destablized Afghanistan?

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No. He describes an elective monarchy, although in practice the choice of successor was determined by inheritance or violence and the vote purely a formality; and once in power, the monarch was absolute and unchecked.
Elective monarchy? That's sounds like semantics to me. Nevertheless, the Persians were obviously electing their "monarchs" before the Greeks were electing their archons. And they weren't totally unchecked were they? The clergy were the lawmakers right?
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Old 05-29-2011, 06:36 AM   #26 (permalink)
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Re: The Curriculum of Elementary and High Schools in the West

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When did you vote for an elector? The way I see it our votes are symbolic because, ultimately, the electors don't have to elect the candidate who they pledged to elect.
Allow me to rephrase my question here. What I meant was when did you choose an elector?
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Old 05-29-2011, 10:03 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Re: The Curriculum of Elementary and High Schools in the West

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Dang. You should really probably read Ruhi Muhsen Afnan...
Well, I'll look him up, but I have to say that I never what I'm going to get from your sources, sometimes good information and sometimes stretchers and thorough misinterpretations. I know of Anaxagoras, whose philosophy was thoroughly atheistic, and am stunned to see his concepts considered "similar to Ahura Mazda"; the imaginative reconstruction of "Persians" in the play by Aeschylus shows no particular knowledge of their religion, the line "The temples of all our gods are in danger" especially indicating that he did not know they were monotheistic; Socrates as I keep having to tell you was a strong opponent of the notion that Ideals such as The Good arise from any willful personal being, etc.

Here is a rather more sober and realistic account of early Zoroastrianism; decades old but well informed. On early Greek knowledge of Zoroastrianism, he mentions Hermippus (who is said by Pliny to have read "2 million" lines of the prophet's teachings, a much larger corpus than the surviving Avesta) and Theopompus (extracted by Plutarch), but both of these, unsurprisingly, are from the generations after Alexander.
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I'm pretty sure the Macedonians and Thracians were Medised Greeks. What I do remember from Herodotus for certain, however, is that before the Persians burned Athens to the ground and were repulsed the Greeks were Medising all along Xerxes' way to Athens.
And when the Israelis invaded Lebanon in 1978 all the way to Beirut the people threw flowers at the soldiers and expressed their love for Israel, a sentiment which rather changed when the Israelis left. The Ukrainians expressed similar enthusiasm for Germans when the Nazis moved east, and for the Soviets when the military movement went westward. Temporarily expedient political expressions have nothing to do with religious ideology.
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No the Median Magi and the Medised Greeks are different I take it. The latter implies loyalty to Persia. Afnan makes it out to be Persian spiritualism. I think it makes sense.
I don't.
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When did you vote for an elector?
In November of 2008. "Obama" was on the ballot, but the vote actually went toward a slate of electors pledged to cast the state of Michigan's ballots for Obama; the names were public and I could have looked them up, but nobody bothers because they don't do anything else. The identity of the chosen electors was entirely determined by my votes and the votes of my neighbors; if enough of us had ticked "McCain" instead, the McCain electors would have had the job of casting the formal ballots.
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The way I see it our votes are symbolic because, ultimately, the electors don't have to elect the candidate who they pledged to elect.
That varies from state to state; the reason not all states actually require it dates back to a debacle in 1868, when Horace Greeley lost so badly that he had a heart attack and died listening to the November returns. Some Democratic electors scattered their votes (didn't matter; Grant electors outnumbered them) but some were compelled to formally vote for a dead man.

However, the slates of electors in each state are chosen by the candidates, from people they trust to do as they promised. If I didn't trust Obama to choose electors who would actually vote for Obama, why would I be wanting Obama to become President, entrusting him to choose a Cabinet and thousands of lesser officials to implement his policies?
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What's the big difference between how an "elder" becomes an elector and how an "elector" here becomes an elector?
An "elder" gets his job by being born into a leading family and by outliving his cousins-- or, often enough, by killing his cousins. Nobody else has anything to say about it, and this class of people is raised to be arrogant and self-willed.
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Call it quasi-democracy, whatever.
NO!!! I call it "despotism" as did the Greeks. The lack of any right to have any say about major issues was what frightened the Greeks about the Persian system and led to their fierce resistance. You have things totally backwards. Greek authors note that subjects of Persia did not even have the economic freedom to buy and sell in open markets: farmers sold their crops and customers brought their bread from whoever the government granted the local grain concession; this sounds like the old Soviet Union, except that I would bet it was more corrupt, with the grain-factor giving the minister who granted him the monopoly some cut of the profits, and everyone taking it as a given that this is just how things go.
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So what you're saying is Afghanistan's enemies like a destablized Afghanistan?
There is no such thing as "destabilizing" Afghanistan. It has no internal stability, and never did.
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Elective monarchy? That's sounds like semantics to me.
There have been genuine examples of this kind of system: in early modern Poland all the "nobles" (which included some rather small land-holders; as many as a quarter of the population may have been entitled to call themselves "nobles" in some periods) elected the king, who then held office for life; there were often genuinely debated elections with multiple candidates; the eldest son of the old king might be a sentimental favorite, but it was often preferred to draft an outsider, a second son or cousin from a foreign royal family who might provide a useful military alliance.

In Persia, the "election" seems to have been mostly a formality. The eldest son usually took it without contest; and when the succession was disputed, the victor was "elected" after the issue was really settled by clash of arms. We do not know whether the class of "elders" was as narrow as in Afghanistan, or as wide as in Poland.
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Nevertheless, the Persians were obviously electing their "monarchs" before the Greeks were electing their archons.
Untrue. Solon was elected archon of Athens in 594 BC; before him only the eupatrids ("well born") voted, and we do not know how long that had been the system; after him the franchise was extended to all "freeborn Athenian sons of freeborn Athenians" (immigrants and freed slaves did not get the vote, nor their children, but after another generation they were admitted to full citizenship; women, of course, didn't get to vote). At this time Persia was still a subject province of the Medes, and the system apparently was that the throne was bequeathed by the old king's will: Teispes, an early Achaemenid, decided to give both of his sons a piece of the realm ("Anshan" was the bigger piece, but was reunited with "Persia" when the Anshan direct line died out).
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And they weren't totally unchecked were they? The clergy were the lawmakers right?
NO NO NO. The king was God's Representative on Earth, and "justice" and "righteousness" were whatever he said it was. Cambyses was the most infamous, forcibly "marrying" his sister by raping her, and killing his brother, among other atrocities.
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Old 05-30-2011, 05:14 AM   #28 (permalink)
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Re: The Curriculum of Elementary and High Schools in the West

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That varies from state to state; the reason not all states actually require it dates back to a debacle in 1868, when Horace Greeley lost so badly that he had a heart attack and died listening to the November returns. Some Democratic electors scattered their votes (didn't matter; Grant electors outnumbered them) but some were compelled to formally vote for a dead man.

However, the slates of electors in each state are chosen by the candidates, from people they trust to do as they promised. If I didn't trust Obama to choose electors who would actually vote for Obama, why would I be wanting Obama to become President, entrusting him to choose a Cabinet and thousands of lesser officials to implement his policies?
Are you telling me that when I vote for an elector that there is no chance that that elector is going to change his pledge? Because if you are I'm with you.

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NO!!! I call it "despotism" as did the Greeks. The lack of any right to have any say about major issues was what frightened the Greeks about the Persian system and led to their fierce resistance. You have things totally backwards. Greek authors note that subjects of Persia did not even have the economic freedom to buy and sell in open markets: farmers sold their crops and customers brought their bread from whoever the government granted the local grain concession; this sounds like the old Soviet Union, except that I would bet it was more corrupt, with the grain-factor giving the minister who granted him the monopoly some cut of the profits, and everyone taking it as a given that this is just how things go.
Which was it despotism or an elective "monarchy? Why were the Greeks become so fierce about this when the rest of the known world didn't? The Persian was expanding not shrinking up until it was checked by the Greeks. Major issues like what? The satraps were granted regional autonomy to conquered peoples. Did the Greeks treat conquered people any better? And, seriously, the minister who granted him the monopoly some cut of the profits? That makes me think of how legislation is drafted here comes down to the highest bidder.

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There have been genuine examples of this kind of system: in early modern Poland all the "nobles" (which included some rather small land-holders; as many as a quarter of the population may have been entitled to call themselves "nobles" in some periods) elected the king, who then held office for life; there were often genuinely debated elections with multiple candidates; the eldest son of the old king might be a sentimental favorite, but it was often preferred to draft an outsider, a second son or cousin from a foreign royal family who might provide a useful military alliance.
But these Polish elections, were they an influence of their Sarmation ancestry?

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Untrue. Solon was elected archon of Athens in 594 BC; before him only the eupatrids ("well born") voted, and we do not know how long that had been the system; after him the franchise was extended to all "freeborn Athenian sons of freeborn Athenians" (immigrants and freed slaves did not get the vote, nor their children, but after another generation they were admitted to full citizenship; women, of course, didn't get to vote). At this time Persia was still a subject province of the Medes, and the system apparently was that the throne was bequeathed by the old king's will: Teispes, an early Achaemenid, decided to give both of his sons a piece of the realm ("Anshan" was the bigger piece, but was reunited with "Persia" when the Anshan direct line died out).
The eupatrids sound more like an oligarchy than a democracy to me. What is the source for the Eupatrids? How did the Greeks know so much about Teispes and so on and not about the Magi?

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NO NO NO. The king was God's Representative on Earth, and "justice" and "righteousness" were whatever he said it was. Cambyses was the most infamous, forcibly "marrying" his sister by raping her, and killing his brother, among other atrocities.
I think it was more about the fact that they attributed their good fortune to God and they felt it was their duty to do good things for the world. Cambyses was an isolated case, and his account is told by the Greeks. Like the Greeks were so innocent.
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Old 06-01-2011, 01:54 AM   #29 (permalink)
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Re: The Curriculum of Elementary and High Schools in the West

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Are you telling me that when I vote for an elector that there is no chance that that elector is going to change his pledge?
Depends on what state you live in: I think more states allow electors to change their mind than forbid it (because of that old conundrum about what if the candidate dies suddenly). But you are missing the point completely. When I ticked "Obama" on the ballot, it is true that technically I was not "voting Obama for President" which the electors legally do; but I was voting for Obama to be the one who DECIDED WHO ALL THE ELECTORS WOULD BE (and if Obama picked an elector who could not be trusted to vote Obama for President, well that was his mistake; but really, that doesn't come up much). This system of multiple-indirections is not a good one, I will grant you (there is a tedious history behind it), but to compare this with "elders" who were not chosen by anyone, owing their positions strictly to parentage and longevity, is way wide of the mark.
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Which was it despotism or an elective "monarchy?
Both. First of all, once the monarch was in power, he could do anything-- anything at all-- and no-one could stop him except by armed revolt. Secondly, the "election" was never genuine, as far as we can tell: whenever there were actually multiple candidates, the issue was settled by preponderance of armed force (as in the "election" that Xenophon personally took part in) and no-one dared defy the victor in battle. Thirdly, we don't know the membership of this "Council of Elders" but I think it safe to assume they weren't chosen by anybody, only by parentage and longevity.
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Why were the Greeks become so fierce about this when the rest of the known world didn't?
The rest of the world was totally accustomed to absolute monarchy. The Greeks, and only the Greeks, had developed and come to value a tradition of individual liberties.
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The satraps were granted regional autonomy to conquered peoples.
The satraps were either family members of the Persian royal family, or castrated slaves. They had no autonomy whatsoever.

This said, there is one respect in which Persia was different in the direction of greater "liberty" than previous regimes, and that was religious freedom. The Assyrians and Babylonians delighted in ransacking the temples of conquered peoples, taking anything of monetary value, and deliberately desecrating anything of merely "sacred" value in order to insult and demonstrate the powerlessness of the "gods" their enemies had put trust in. Cyrus not only refrained from this kind of conduct (one of the criticisms of Cambyses was that in Egypt he did loot shrines and deliberately insult the religious sentiments of the people), he reversed what the Babylonians did, sending captured temple treasures back home and allowing the old shrines to be rebuilt (the Jews are explicitly grateful to him for this, but were not the only beneficiaries). Persia allowed local religious customs to govern the mores of the people, and Judea was not the only place where religion came to take the place of any secular law for most purposes.

A big part of what you are not understanding in your complaint that Zoroastrianism is not very widely known is that Zoroastrians have never TRIED to make themselves widely known. It is not a "missionary" religion, and never has been. Christianity writes into its scriptures (final verses of the gospel of Matthew) a command to "Go out and make disciples of all nations"; the Avesta has nothing like this. The great Buddhist king Ashoka sent out pairs of missionaries who reached from Egypt to Vietnam; Cyrus, by contrast, made a point of not caring whether any non-Persians accepted or even heard about Zoroastrian teachings. And when the "Parsees" fled to India, the story goes that they were taken in by a king in India who disliked Muslims (hence regarding Zoroastrians as "enemies of my enemy") particularly for their attempts to turn other people into Muslims, and made the Parsees promise not to try to convert anybody, a condition they readily accepted.
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But these Polish elections, were they an influence of their Sarmation ancestry?
This is my personal conjecture, which I have posted to some long-range linguistics boards; it is not from anybody else. The origins of the Polish people are somewhat mysterious: they seem to "spring up out of the earth" in medieval times. Before the Hunnish invasions, the area where Poland now is had a vibrant economy (the "Przeworsk" culture) marked by a network of log-roads reaching all the way to the northern sources of amber and furs, extensive glass-works producing wares of high quality, and considerable metallurgical foundries exploiting the coal and iron ore resources; then it all vanishes abruptly, and it is centuries before there is a thick population there again, now Polish although before then the "Przeworsk" peoples were, I believe, many Vandic-speaking ("Vandic" is a now-extinct branch of Indo-European, only fragmentarily preserved). The desparate and violent long migration of the Vandals has given them a bad reputation, but their very cohesive organization and military skills indicate that they were far from "barbarian"; I believed they suffered a disastrous reverse when the Huns moved into the Carpathian redoubt ("Hungary" and neighboring territory) and pushed out the Sarmatians who had been living there, who largely vanish from the history at this point with few further references-- but I think those Sarmatians were not all massacred, but instead pushed north, into what had been "Vandalia" but now became "Poland".

A problem with my theory, as has been pointed out to me, is that the preserved names of Sarmatian individuals are mostly identifiable as Iranian (although the tribal names are Slavic), a residue of the previous overlordship of the "Royal Scyths"; granted, these names are all chieftains, who may have preserved Iranian names that weren't used by the general populace. But modern Polish has no traces of Iranian in it at all, as far as I can find; so it is a problem, if Poles are claimed to be of Sarmatian descent, how the Iranian vocabulary could have disappeared so completely (for example, England wasn't ruled by the Danes for very long, but if there are not as many Danish words in English as there are from the Norman French, there are still some).
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The eupatrids sound more like an oligarchy than a democracy to me.
Utterly identical to the "elders": they were the senior members of the leading families. Why is that "democracy" in Afghanistan, but not in Greece? Persia was moving into a system of limited voting rights only for the favored few, just when Greece was moving past that to a broader-based system.
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How did the Greeks know so much about Teispes and so on and not about the Magi?
They knew nothing at all about Teispes except the name. He was described as the leader of a tribe of Parsagadae, supposedly the origin of the name "Persian"; actually, Pathragada was not a tribe, but a royal residence, built by Cyrus the Great generations later than Teispes (abandoned in favor of Persepolis forty miles west, under Darius), whose name was unrelated to "Persian" (two consonants got switched to create the accidental resemblance). This is just the usual: little bits of information, somewhat garbled-- what do you expect?
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I think it was more about the fact that they attributed their good fortune to God and they felt it was their duty to do good things for the world.
Whether the king felt either gratitude to God, or any sense of duty, was entirely up to him. As far as anybody else was concerned, the king WAS "God" or might as well have been.
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Cambyses was an isolated case
An extreme case, but far from "isolated".
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Old 06-05-2011, 06:54 AM   #30 (permalink)
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Re: The Curriculum of Elementary and High Schools in the West

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Depends on what state you live in: I think more states allow electors to change their mind than forbid it (because of that old conundrum about what if the candidate dies suddenly). But you are missing the point completely. When I ticked "Obama" on the ballot, it is true that technically I was not "voting Obama for President" which the electors legally do; but I was voting for Obama to be the one who DECIDED WHO ALL THE ELECTORS WOULD BE (and if Obama picked an elector who could not be trusted to vote Obama for President, well that was his mistake; but really, that doesn't come up much). This system of multiple-indirections is not a good one, I will grant you (there is a tedious history behind it), but to compare this with "elders" who were not chosen by anyone, owing their positions strictly to parentage and longevity, is way wide of the mark.
I'm not missing you're point at all. I'm not saying it's not democracy, but it's like the only way it differs from Ancient Persian "elective monarchy" or the Loya Jirga, as far as the election processes is concerned, is that here the electors are selected by the candidates. And regardless of whether the presidential candidate trusts the elector, as long as the elector as the freedom to vote against his pledge, and there is a chance my vote won't go to the candidate I voted for, then there is seriously something wrong with this democratic system in principle.

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Both. First of all, once the monarch was in power, he could do anything-- anything at all-- and no-one could stop him except by armed revolt. Secondly, the "election" was never genuine, as far as we can tell: whenever there were actually multiple candidates, the issue was settled by preponderance of armed force (as in the "election" that Xenophon personally took part in) and no-one dared defy the victor in battle. Thirdly, we don't know the membership of this "Council of Elders" but I think it safe to assume they weren't chosen by anybody, only by parentage and longevity.
But they represented different ethnic groups (clans) just like the electors represent different ethnic groups (states), right? So it's not like their was a one party system, there were several parties involved, no?

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The rest of the world was totally accustomed to absolute monarchy. The Greeks, and only the Greeks, had developed and come to value a tradition of individual liberties.
But it would appear that Eupatrid system or the more established periods of democracy in Ancient Greece were short lived, almost like the institution was a foreign institution. Whereas "elective monarchy" among the Iranian people had to have been a better deal than the monarchy the Greeks have had between these democratic phases in their history. After Athenian democracy, democracy didn't arise in Greece until 1774. In other words there's a 2000 year gap between anything that resembles democracy and democracy as we know it.

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The satraps were either family members of the Persian royal family, or castrated slaves. They had no autonomy whatsoever.
What did they have?

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This said, there is one respect in which Persia was different in the direction of greater "liberty" than previous regimes, and that was religious freedom. The Assyrians and Babylonians delighted in ransacking the temples of conquered peoples, taking anything of monetary value, and deliberately desecrating anything of merely "sacred" value in order to insult and demonstrate the powerlessness of the "gods" their enemies had put trust in. Cyrus not only refrained from this kind of conduct (one of the criticisms of Cambyses was that in Egypt he did loot shrines and deliberately insult the religious sentiments of the people), he reversed what the Babylonians did, sending captured temple treasures back home and allowing the old shrines to be rebuilt (the Jews are explicitly grateful to him for this, but were not the only beneficiaries). Persia allowed local religious customs to govern the mores of the people, and Judea was not the only place where religion came to take the place of any secular law for most purposes.
I very aware of Cyrus and his promotion of "Freedom of Religion." You would think that teachers would make a note of it when they're talking about "The Right to Freedom of Religion" in the Constitution in American History Classes, but I don't even recall anyone making a point of that during Social Studies in Elementary.

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A big part of what you are not understanding in your complaint that Zoroastrianism is not very widely known is that Zoroastrians have never TRIED to make themselves widely known. It is not a "missionary" religion, and never has been. Christianity writes into its scriptures (final verses of the gospel of Matthew) a command to "Go out and make disciples of all nations"; the Avesta has nothing like this. The great Buddhist king Ashoka sent out pairs of missionaries who reached from Egypt to Vietnam; Cyrus, by contrast, made a point of not caring whether any non-Persians accepted or even heard about Zoroastrian teachings. And when the "Parsees" fled to India, the story goes that they were taken in by a king in India who disliked Muslims (hence regarding Zoroastrians as "enemies of my enemy") particularly for their attempts to turn other people into Muslims, and made the Parsees promise not to try to convert anybody, a condition they readily accepted.
I understand this too. From what I understand is that this is why Zoroastrianism is considered a philosophy, because the Zoroastrians do not proselytize, and really Judiasm too is considered a philosophy because the Jews don't proselytize. But it is also my understanding that Zoroaster himself accepted converts and that they didn't have to be only Aryan. But you would figure that Zoroastrianism has impacted the West so much that his name would at least come up in a history classroom, or maybe an English classroom. But it doesn't at all. Wiped out!

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This is my personal conjecture, which I have posted to some long-range linguistics boards; it is not from anybody else. The origins of the Polish people are somewhat mysterious: they seem to "spring up out of the earth" in medieval times. Before the Hunnish invasions, the area where Poland now is had a vibrant economy (the "Przeworsk" culture) marked by a network of log-roads reaching all the way to the northern sources of amber and furs, extensive glass-works producing wares of high quality, and considerable metallurgical foundries exploiting the coal and iron ore resources; then it all vanishes abruptly, and it is centuries before there is a thick population there again, now Polish although before then the "Przeworsk" peoples were, I believe, many Vandic-speaking ("Vandic" is a now-extinct branch of Indo-European, only fragmentarily preserved). The desparate and violent long migration of the Vandals has given them a bad reputation, but their very cohesive organization and military skills indicate that they were far from "barbarian"; I believed they suffered a disastrous reverse when the Huns moved into the Carpathian redoubt ("Hungary" and neighboring territory) and pushed out the Sarmatians who had been living there, who largely vanish from the history at this point with few further references-- but I think those Sarmatians were not all massacred, but instead pushed north, into what had been "Vandalia" but now became "Poland".

A problem with my theory, as has been pointed out to me, is that the preserved names of Sarmatian individuals are mostly identifiable as Iranian (although the tribal names are Slavic), a residue of the previous overlordship of the "Royal Scyths"; granted, these names are all chieftains, who may have preserved Iranian names that weren't used by the general populace. But modern Polish has no traces of Iranian in it at all, as far as I can find; so it is a problem, if Poles are claimed to be of Sarmatian descent, how the Iranian vocabulary could have disappeared so completely (for example, England wasn't ruled by the Danes for very long, but if there are not as many Danish words in English as there are from the Norman French, there are still some).
Are you sure there are no Iranian loans in Polish or the Slavic languages? I'm sure there are. What about words like Slv. Russia "white" : Iran. ruz "day", Slv. mehr "peace" : Iran mehr "warmth," Slv. check "king?" Iran. shah "king" Slv. smergl Slv. Smargel: Iran. Semorgh "Three headed bird" But maybe they go back to PIE. What about the Szlachta who looked to their Sarmation heritage?

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An extreme case, but far from "isolated".
Are you saying there are no instances of prominent Greeks who raped their sisters and killed there brothers?
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