The Curriculum of Elementary and High Schools in the West

Discussion in 'Ancient History and Mythology' started by mojobadshah, May 13, 2011.

  1. mojobadshah

    mojobadshah Interfaith Forums

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    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?
     
  2. bob x

    bob x New Member

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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.
    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.
    I take it you are not a citizen? *I* got to vote.
    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.
     
  3. mojobadshah

    mojobadshah Interfaith Forums

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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. 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.

    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?

    I'm a citizen, but neither I nor you appoint the electors and our vote is merely a symbolic one.

    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?
     
  4. bob x

    bob x New Member

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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.
    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.
    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.
    That's a big "if".
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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".
    Nothing that Afghanistan has ever practiced as far back as we have any record resembles "democracy" in the slightest.
    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.
    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.
     
  5. mojobadshah

    mojobadshah Interfaith Forums

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    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    What's the big difference between how an "elder" becomes an elector and how an "elector" here becomes an elector?

    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.

    So what you're saying is Afghanistan's enemies like a destablized Afghanistan?

    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?
     
  6. mojobadshah

    mojobadshah Interfaith Forums

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    Allow me to rephrase my question here. What I meant was when did you choose an elector?
     
  7. bob x

    bob x New Member

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    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.
    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.
    I don't.
    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.
    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?
    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.
    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.
    There is no such thing as "destabilizing" Afghanistan. It has no internal stability, and never did.
    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.
    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).
    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.
     
  8. mojobadshah

    mojobadshah Interfaith Forums

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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? Because if you are I'm with you.

    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.

    But these Polish elections, were they an influence of their Sarmation ancestry?

    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?

    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.
     
  9. bob x

    bob x New Member

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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.
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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).
    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.
    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?
    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.
    An extreme case, but far from "isolated".
     
  10. mojobadshah

    mojobadshah Interfaith Forums

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    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.

    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?

    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.

    What did they have?

    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.

    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!

    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?

    Are you saying there are no instances of prominent Greeks who raped their sisters and killed there brothers?
     
  11. bob x

    bob x New Member

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    The candidate who gets to choose the electors is THE ONE THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE VOTE FOR. Nobody in Afghanistan ever voted, directly or indirectly, for a member of a "jirga" until the Americans imposed this previously-unheard-of concept on them. A system in which over 90% of the people have no say whatsoever in what happens to them, and are treated as property by an unelected, unaccountable, self-perpetuating small clique is not "democracy" in any way, shape, or form; your insistence that it is goes beyond annoying to the level of infuriating.
    I am not going to defend the "electoral college" relic, but again: your vote absolutely does "go to the candidate" in the sense of conferring on him the power to choose the electors for your state. Some funny things have happened with the electoral college: sometimes a "plurality" (nobody got over 50% of the popular vote) gets converted to a "majority" by the state-by-state weighting of the electors (as long as the candidate who got the most votes does win, this is arguably how it should be); once the second-place finisher won because of the state-by-state weighting (1884, Cleveland won New England states by wide margins but lost New York narrowly; so Harrison took it despite having fewer popular votes); sometimes the electoral college fails to resolve the issue requiring the House to settle it (1800 and 1824) and sometimes both popular and electoral vote totals have been disputed and the matter had to be thrashed out irregularly (1876 and 2000; I dispute the legitimacy of both outcomes, for what it matters). In no case whatsoever has your hypothetical of electors violating their pledges to change the result ever come close to happening (and if a candidate is so stupid as to choose electors who don't really want him, arguably such a candidate has thereby proven himself unworthy of the office anyway).
    Only the Persian ethnicity was represented.
    "PARTY"??? That's a totally alien concept. There was one and only one royal family; there might be multiple candidates from within that family, in which case there would be several ARMIES, and the battle between those armies would determine the outcome.
    I don't call multiple centuries a "short" period.
    The "elections" in Iran were never genuine, just ratifications of results achieved by armed force; and the monarchy was an absolute one, with no shred of pretence at constitutional restraints.
    The satraps had three jobs: regulating trade in important goods (through the grants of monopolies to favored traders); raising taxes for the central government (with a cut for himself, naturally); and recruiting and leading armed contingents (the reason his loyalty had to be absolute). What we might think of as core functions of a local government, such as providing "police" to apprehend malefactors and "courts" to resolve inheritance or property disputes etc., were just not in the satrap's job description. Local religious authorities filled that void.
    The novelty of allowing local communal freedom of religion under Cyrus was strongly emphasized in Professor Mendenhall's Biblical History that I took at University of Michigan. In elementary and high school, nothing about ancient history got any more than the briefest rush-through.

    There is no relevance here, though, to an individual freedom of religion; if you were born in Judea, you were subject to the Jewish laws as interpreted by the priests and the scribes that you did not get to choose. This "local theocracy" system had its merits compared to the Babylonian or Assyrian regimes-- or to the repressive Seleucid regime imposed by post-Alexander Greeks, for that matter. It was nothing like America, however.
    Of course, if Zoroaster had not sought out converts, there wouldn't have been any "Zoroastrians" at all. But it quickly became just the "local theology" for the Persian ethnicity, and not even for the other ethnicities under Persian rule. The influence of Zoroastrianism on the Persified Judaism which the New Testament takes for granted, and therefore on Christianity and ultimately Islam as well, is a significant topic for religious-history classes, but elementary and high schools tend to avoid religious topics like the plague (too easy to create offense, and then litigation). You are straining to make Zoroastrianism relevant to the political history as well-- but your views are just horribly wrong-headed in that regard. "English" class? English literature has lots of allusions to Biblical stories, and Greco-Roman myths, so those come up often; nobody in English literature ever mentions stories from the Avesta.
    Slavic for "white" is bel. Russian Rus "Russia" is from older Rossiya (still used poetically) from still older Rossolya (Ptolemy spells the name of the people north of Scythia as Roxolani, probably his attempt at Rossolyani). It was once thought to be from the name of the Viking tribe from which king Rurik derived; this was based on Finnish Rus "(despised) foreigner" which especially meant "Swede" when Sweden ruled Finland and switched to meaning especially "Russian" when Russia ruled Finland; but it seems that it meant "Russian" first and that no Swedes ever used the name "Rus" for themselves. This took a while for scholars to accept because the evidence was first published under Stalin and was taken to be an example of "Russian chauvinism" (emphasized that "Russia" didn't owe anything to anybody else), but I take it as established that the name is ancient and native in Russian. Unlike the Sarmatians (Poles and Czechs?), however, this branch of the Slavs was never under Scythian rule, so an Iranian etymology would be particularly unlikely.
    The Slavic word is mir (no trace of an "h") and means "community": can mean "village" (a small community) or "the whole world"; "peace" is a secondary meaning.
    This one I like. The usual Slavic word for "king" is knez but the self-name Czech is from an early chieftain (roughly contemporaneous to Charlemagne) who founded a long-lasting royal line; a connection to shah is by no means unreasonable.
    I can find the Iranian Simurgh but nothing about any Slavic "smergl" or "Smargel": source?
    The word is a German borrowing (from Geschlecht "ancestry"). The origins of the class were mysterious already in medieval times, and the "Sarmatian" theory was just one of several, often fantastic, attempts to trace them back to ancient times. It might be the correct theory (I myself think so), but a late and disputed tradition about it is not good evidence for that.

    Not that particular set of atrocities, as far as I know (among the Romans, Caligula married his sister-- consensually-- then sliced her open when she became pregnant; among Greeks, Romans, or anybody else, violent and murderous feuds between brothers is common enough but violence against sisters rather rarer); but neither do I know of another Persian with that particular history-- what I meant by saying Cambyses was "hardly isolated" is that Persian monarchs often did extreme things to demonstrate their absolute power (feeding a loyal retainer with the flesh of his son, to test him; "whatever the king wills, is good" is all he could say). Of course we can find lots of atrocities from Greeks too (Antiochus slicing off the hands and feet of seven boys, one after another, and frying them in a large pan; according to "3rd Maccabees" which might be just propaganda, but Antiochus did have a cruel reputation), but this is just an example of the "SO'S YOUR OLD MAN!" deflection on your part. I am not claiming that Persian kings were the only absolute monarchs, ever, or the only ones ever to show extreme cruelty; but answering "Haven't there been others?" is missing the point. The Persian kings WERE absolute, and WERE often cruel, because if they had that mind-set, there was nobody who could stop them; in your fantasizing about a Golden Age of Persian "democracy", you are light-years from facing up to this.
     
  12. mojobadshah

    mojobadshah Interfaith Forums

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    I'm not saying anyone did or didn't vote for these jirga members, but it is my understanding that the jirga members are the representatives of their ethnic groups (call them tribes, clans, or parties), and why would a representative of his own tribe vote without keeping the will of the tribe in mind?

    Not good enough.

    I don't care if the hypothetical hasn't come close to happening. The idea of it is just plain old disgusting.

    Maybe so, but if the Persian ethnic group was anything like the Pashtun ethnic group I doubt that's the way it worked. Are there not a number of tribes or parties within the Pashtun ethnic group?

    I do, in contrast to 2000 years. It would almost appear that democracy was an alien concept to the Greeks, themselves.

    Well Persia wasn't America, but if you're going to put it that way Ancient Greece wasn't anything like America either. Still, why don't historians mention Cyrus, how he was a Zoroastrian, and how he promoted "freedom of religion" yet they never forget to mention Alexander the Great who made no humane political achievements whatsoever?

    Moreover wasn't it the Zoroastrian principle that pleasure was a gift from God, a concept that is prevalent in the oral literature that dates back to Parthian times which was transmitted to the West and this is the idea of recognition in the other and not God alone is what emphasized the independent experience?

    Simargl - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    And what about S. Bog: Iran. Bagha is that not one too?

    Well, the reason I brought the possible connection between the Polish and the Sarmations up when you mentioned how the Polish nobility used to practice "elective monarchy" is because if this practice did originate with the Sarmations, and we know the Persians, and the Pashtuns practice "elective monarchy" then that could point to "elective monarchy" as having been a common practice among the ancient Iranians, right?
     
  13. bob x

    bob x New Member

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    More like the "owners" of their tribes.
    Why would he take anything except his narrow self-interests into consideration? It is not like any of the "little people" can do anything about it.
    I am not going to defend the electoral college. But you think having the oldest members of the families with the most money be the only ones to vote is "more democratic"?
    "Tribes" yes; "parties" no. A "party" is a group of people with no particular family relationship who share some ideas about how government should conduct itself. The concept is alien to Afghanistan.
    You have a particular animosity against the Greeks, but look: tyrannical, oppressive, corrupt governments have been the rule and not the exception in the history of all peoples everywhere.
    It was pointed out in my classes that even Athens gave no vote to women, slaves or even freedmen, immigrants or their first-generation children.
    They do.
    Nothing about this was transmitted to the West. I have no idea whether that was a Zoroastrian principle or not, because Zoroastrians have never made much effort to teach anybody else about their principles. The fact is, that prior to "Orientalist" scholarship starting in the 18th century, it is difficult to find any Western authors who know even the name "Zoroaster" let alone anything about his thought. This lack of influence on Western thought was a choice on the Zoroastrians' part. You seem to think that nobody in any other time or culture thought about "good" and "evil" at all unless Iranians taught them how; this is absurd, and why I call you a "chauvinist".
    Thanks, but this isn't among Poles or Czechs so I don't see any relevance to the Sarmatian hypothesis. The Russians never had any Scythian overlordship, so any diffusion of this bit of folk-lore would be sometime later.
    Along with the centum/s'atam shift, words like this go back to the common ancestor of Balto-Slavic and Indo-Iranian; that is why those two branches are considered a subgrouping within Indo-European.
    There are numerous things wrong here. The Sarmatians were ENEMIES of the Iranian-style monarchy: the "Royal Scyths" were their oppressors, whom they overthrew; and there is no description of the Scyths that indicates any elective principle among them; if the Sarmatians indeed adopted such a principle, it would have been in opposition to the previous practices. Indeed now that I think of it, a possible Slavic borrowing from Iranian is East European slang shkuz "slimeball; despicable person" (entering American English as scuzz) which might be derived from "Scyth" (if pronounced something like Shkut, compare "Scot"; Assyrian had Ashkuz with prothetic vowel, becoming Hebrew Ashkenaz "Ukraine; eastern Europe" through a scibal error, waw changing to nun by the addition of a single stroke).

    Persians never had genuine "elections" as I keep telling you. Darius appears to have invented the fiction of saying he was king because "all the elders want me to be" after he, in fact, took the throne by armed force; Xenophon indicates that such "elections" remained the practice, but tells us in detail how one of those "elections" actually came down (his patron, Cyrus the Young, was of good character and very popular; but that was of no importance, rather it mattered whether he could raise superior military force to defeat the rival candidate; his army performed well, but unfortunately Cyrus himself was killed).

    No election of a monarch among the Pashtuns is known before the 18th century. The Timurid dynasty of medieval times acquired power, of course, by brutal conquest (Timur the Lame was fond of building pyramids of skulls and sitting on top, reflecting that any place he could see from a pyramid of skulls was obviously his). We don't really know what things were like before.
     
  14. mojobadshah

    mojobadshah Interfaith Forums

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    I can see how that would be a problem if the tribal head got something out of the vote the rest of the tribe didn't.

    No. But isn't that kind of what happens anyhow?

    A "party" can be a group of people with no particular family relationship, but if they do is it not a party?

    Not against the Greeks, against the curriculum. And yeah I was going to bring up the fact that even here we have Presidents that have break the rules.

    Me too.

    I meant history teachers of elementary and high schools.

    BX, I'm telling you I'm not making this stuff up. It almost always comes from a published source. So either they're wrong or you're wrong. But you definitely sound well informed.

    Dick Davis says pleasure was a gift from God according to Zoroastrianism, Parthian literature such as the story of "Vis and Rameen, which is all about passionate love developed into the story of "Tristan and Isolde." Joseph Campbell talks about "Tristan and Isolde" and how this passionate or romantic love was all about the recognition in the other and emphasized the individual experience. Before that love was "conjugal" in the West.

    Don't you think its kind of weird how the Slavic and Iranian languages are grouped within the same subgroup and how there were Iranians most everywhere where the Slavic speakers popped up? Russia, Czechoslovakia, the Serbia and Croatia, Georgia, maybe Poland.

    See. I didn't even know all this. How could I have even considered whether it was fiction or not.

    Did this have anything to do with the fact that in the beginning Persia was a safe haven for Christianity, but when the Romans established Christianity, a religion that drew much from Zoroastrianism through the Persified Jews, as the state religion, and waged war on Persia the Persians turned against the Christians because the Christians were trying to convert the Zoroastrians?
     
  15. bob x

    bob x New Member

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    Like... absolute power of life and death over the rest of the tribe.
    People with lots of property, or have lived to acquire wide connections, are always going to have a lot of influence on what happens, no escaping that. But should there be NO provision whatsoever for other people to be heard? You seem to prefer naked despotism to any democracy that is imperfect.
    If the group is defined by ancestry, it is not a "party" or anything similar to a party.
    Well look, there are occasional authors here and there throughout Western history who mention Persia, but you have to hunt hard for them. You don't have to hunt at all for Western writers who refer to Greek ideas and stories, or to Hebrew ideas and stories, because they are all-pervasive. If you are going to discuss the history of Western thought, you must give a lot of space and time to the Greeks and the Hebrews, and in the political area to the Romans.
    They don't have time to give more than the broadest overview. The domestication of the chicken and pig by Southeast Asians was very important to the world's food supply; the invention of wind and string instruments in Anatolia was very important to the development of music; those things don't get covered either, because there is limited time.
    Your sources run the full range from well researched through propagandistically slanted to crazily ranting; you don't seem to have much discrimination. I have learned a lot in this discussion that I didn't know about before, but I have also learned not to take your word for anything unless you show me what kind of source you got it from.
    See now, I'd never heard of him before-- but I Google him and find that he is a dedicated and respectable researcher. I don't, however, find in the online-available extracts of his translation of "Vis and Rameen" what his argument is for connecting it to "Tristan and Isolde": the names don't look alike, and I don't know what the intermediates would be. The Wiki on "Tristan and Iseult" ("Tristan and Isolde" gives you a discussion of Wagner's opera, not the older texts) mentions the Persian theory but also Welsh, Irish, and Roman antecedents, calling the case for "Vis and Rameen" as the source purely "circumstantial". No disrespect to Dick Davis, but every scholar wants whatever it is that he is working to be vitally important to the history of the world!
    Why? Their homelands were neighboring, Indo-Iranians in the steppes from the north shore of the Black Sea to the east of the Caspian, Balto-Slavics northwest of there out to the Baltic Sea. The Celts, in France and adjoining territories, are in a subgroup with the Italics-- does that seem weird to you?
    There were no Iranians in Russia, ever. The ancient Rossolyani were beyond the reach of the Scyths; now in Ukraine (which any Ukrainian will proudly tell you is a different place from Russia), the "Royal Scyths" (Iranian-speaking) lorded it over the Sarmatian peasantry (Slavic-speaking) for a time-- but then the region was pretty much depopulated as it was stomped on successively by Goths, Huns, Avars, and Chechens; refilled largely with Turkic and Uralic tribes (Khazars, Magyars, Bulgars, and Pechenegs) who were chased west or largely stomped on by the Mongol invasion and then the Black Death; the present Ukrainians are a sub-branch of the Russians (although they don't like to be told that; their language is no further from Russian than Belarussian is, less than a thousand years of divergence, similar to the distance of Spanish and Portuguese) who filtered down there in medieval times.
    There were no Iranians in Czechoslovakia, Serbia, Croatia, or Poland, ever. There may be a handful of Iranian words in Czech ("Czech" itself, for example) and Polish (if "shkuz" is an insult originally directed at Iranians), but not in Serbo-Croat. Georgia is not Slavic territory at all: Georgian is not even Indo-European, but belongs to the small "Kartvelian" group containing also the neighboring Mingrelian, Lazi, and Khaketian but nothing else; the affinities of Kartvelian are mysterious: not nearly as close to Indo-European as the Ural-Altaic, Afro-Asiatic (Semitic etc.) or even Inuitic (Eskimo etc.), but maybe related about as distantly as Sumerian or Elamo-Dravidian.
    Persia gave haven to the Nestorians, who taught that there is a sharp distinction between "divine" and "human" aspects of Jesus Christ: on the one hand there is the divine, eternal Word of God, and on the other there was the human, carpenter's son from Nazareth, who became the mouthpiece and servant of the Word of God after his baptism; and these two should not be confused. Many Christians today who would consider themselves quite "mainstream" would call this a more comprehensible view than the Catholic/Orthodox "Trinity" doctrine (in which the divine and human natures of Jesus Christ are fused into one "person" somehow), but at the time the Nestorians were considered terrible heretics. The Persian prophet Manigh tried to fuse Nestorianism and Zoroastrianism into his own blend; both Nestorianism and Manichaeism were "missionary" religions which made converts as deep into Asia as Mongolia in their day. The Sassanian regime despised this kind of "conversion" activity, as you say (Manigh was put to death by being skinned alive and chopped into pieces, to deter any stories about him "coming back from the dead" if his followers should be tempted to tell such).
     
  16. mojobadshah

    mojobadshah Interfaith Forums

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    Except for a few things I agree with everything you said.

    I don't know. Where's you're definition coming from? I glanced through dictionary.com and didn't see anything about how party can't be defined by ancestry.

    No, I'm not buying it. We're talking about over 3 billion people, Christians and Muslims, who have been influenced by Zoroasterian philosophy and history and his name wasn't even mentioned once in elementary or high school in History or English. But there was plenty about Greek religious heritage, Caesar, the Crusades. Even the Greeks and Roman's ended up adopting elements of the Zoroastrian ideology through Christianity.

     
  17. bob x

    bob x New Member

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    I am talking about "political" parties, not "birthday" parties or "parties to a contract"; yes, of course the word "party" can be used in a lot of ways.
    If you're expecting religious history to be taught at lower than college level, it ain't never gonna happen in America. Secular schools avoid religious topics like the plague, because that only asks for trouble; the Hebrew prophets don't get mentioned either. Christian schools of course teach that every element of Christian thought is the way it is because God revealed it that way: they don't want to hear "this bit is from Persia; that is from Platonist philophers; the other an adaptation to Germanic paganism" etc. A history class will mention that "Muslims" invaded here and there, but will never give a clue what "Muslim" even means. And why do you expect anything about Persia in "English" class, when Persians are mentioned no more often than, say, Turks in English literature?
    So the web-site said, but as I told you, the extract made available online did not include any of his arguments for the position, so I have no way of assessing them.
    They were the original inhabitants of the Ukraine, during the period when the Iranian "Royal Scyths" ruled it; but they themselves were Slavic-speaking, akin to the Russians ("Rossolyans") further north. The claim that Sarmatians themselves were Iranian is based on the survival of Iranian personal names among their chieftains, but does not reflect the actual affinity of the people.
    Nice use of passive voice: "were supposed" BY WHOM? What is your source here? Ptolemy knows the Serbi as an easterly people, on the lower Rha (his name for the Volga); they only migrated to the Balkan Peninsula in the 8th century AD. Ptolemy was writing well after the fall of the Scythian realm, so there is no way of knowing whether the reach of the Royal Scyths extended that far; I don't know of any Iranian traces in the Serbo-Croatian language-- if you do, you need to point to a source.
    "Are said" by whom? I need to see your sources.
    Hardly.
    #1. The Zoroastrians never wanted to convert anybody. Why? That's hard to say (I agreed with you above that it can't have been that way from the start or it never would have gone anywhere at all).
    #2. It was a totally politicized religion at the time: the Sassanian monarch was Ahura Mazda's Representative on Earth, and you could not really convert to the religion without submitting to his sovereignty.
     
  18. kiwimac

    kiwimac God is NOT about Fear

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    Zoroastrianism is not mentioned largely because of a couple of facts.

    Western history springs largely from the brows of the Greeks who, as you are aware, were NOT fans of Persia.

    A lot of Westerners are much more aware of Zoroastrianism as the religion of the Parsees rather than those followers of the Good Religion who remained behind in Iran.

    Add into that mix the fact that Parsees insist you cannot convert to Zoroastrianism AND the ignorance that the Iranaian Mobeds will allow conversions PLUS the changes made to the Good Religion during the various epochs since Zoroaster and you have a recipe for people ignoring the faith or passing over it when they encounter it.
     
  19. mojobadshah

    mojobadshah Interfaith Forums

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    What about nations as in United Nations? Aren't tribes nations and aren't these member nations political parties?

    But I'm not expecting that at all. I know how it works. I went to a school based on an American curriculum. I want Zoroaster and Cyrus and the good things about Iranian culture, and not just the bad, to be approached within the given framework. Are we saying that the Airyana Vejah wasn't the Aryan homeland? Are we saying that Zoroaster wasn't a historical figure? Are we saying that Zoroastrianism isn't a philosophy? That ethics isn't important? That the Persians weren't Zoroastrians? Or is it just that this would undermine the Judeo-Christian-Muslim religious tradition, and that Alexander's short lived conquest was more important than Cyrus' advances in Human Rights?

    That's not how it was at my school, and I'm not sure I blame my teacher, because I highly doubt that the way you say it is is really how it goes in practice, anyhow. When it came to the Crusades my teacher discussed the Christians, Muslims, and how Abraham was their patriarch. I even remember discussing Buddha, his Hindu roots, and Socrates, Chinese philosophies. Did the Turks influence the entire Christian and Muslim world? And we already mentioned that the reason the Greek religious heritage, so why not a Zoroastrian mytho-history?

     
  20. bob x

    bob x New Member

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    What??? No, "nations" and "parties" are not the same. Democrats and Republicans are not "nations". The US and Canada are not "parties".
    Did your teachers spend time bad-mouthing Iranian culture??? All I got was that Persia was one of those ancient empires like Assyria and Babylonia that were big for a while and then gone. If you were Iraqi, I suppose you'd be arguing that there ought to have been blocks of time allocated to explaining the Assyrian and Babylonian influences on succeeding cultures.
    That's a difficult question, one for specialists, hardly suitable for elementary school.
    Ditto.
    Ethics is important enough, of course, that OTHER PEOPLE HAVE THOUGHT ABOUT THE SUBJECT WITHOUT EVER HEARD OF "ZOROASTER". I get tired of you thinking that people only got notions of right and wrong because Iranians showed them how: you are just being silly. I can't think of any ethical thinker in the West, not one, who was influenced by Zoroastrianism: Nietzche's Also Sprach Zarathustra uses the name in a purely arbitrary way; nothing that he says has anything to do with real Zoroastrianism.

    Alexander is of great historical importance because he successfully imposed Greek language and culture as the main medium of expression in a large region for an extended period of time, with the result that Greek stories and ideas remain pervasive in Western literature even thousands of years later. References to anything from Persia are exceedingly rare by comparison.

    And I am tired of your pretence that "human rights" had anything to do with the Persian imperial regime, which had no concept of individual rights whatsoever. The system whereby communities were largely controlled by their local religions (which no individual had a right to opt out of) is much more like the millet system of Ottoman Turkey, in which you were assigned at birth to some particular subsect of Islam, Christianity, or Judaism which determined what family laws (inheritance, marriage, divorce etc.) you were subject to, and even what criminal and contract law applied, if the victim or other party were of the same millet. This is still in place in much of the Middle East: on another board Muslimwoman wondered whether it will finally become legal to list "Bahai" as your religion on your ID in Egypt, and I asked why religion had to be on legal papers at all: she explained that it still controls family law.

    An Arab from Dubai (which hardly has a reputation as an arch-Islamist country) asked me what religion I was, and rather than go into my vaguely Buddhistic ideology, I told him "none" and he couldn't believe me: "But everybody has to have a religion! What were your parents?" and I told him my parents weren't really believers of any kind either, so he decided that I must be a Jew, and embarrassed to tell an Arab so, and he assured me that it was all right if I was a Jew; I told him no, I have no Jews in my ancestry as far back as I can trace, and that my great-grandparents were mostly Presbyterian, though that wasn't handed down. He didn't know what "Presbyterian" was, but was satisfied when told it was a kind of Christian. In the Middle East of course, you can't be a "Protestant" Christian, or a "Mormon", only a Roman Catholic or Greek Orthodox or Coptic or Armenian or Nestorian Christian; the list is fixed as of the time the Ottomans took over. This is why "Bahai" and "Ahmadiyya" are not options: not because they are rejected as heretical and persecuted in their lands of origin, since many rival Islamic sects that consider each other heretical are recognized religions; it is just because they are new.
    And that's it? They are two examples of the "Abrahamic" type of religion, and nothing about the content?
    Again: the stories in Homer etc. come up in Western literature ALL THE TIME, Firdousi's stories NEVER.
    You were claiming Iranian tribes as the source of those names. Sarmatians were the Slavic-speakers whom the Iranians oppressed. The "Serbi" are described by Ptolemy as living out on the Volga (they did not migrate to the Balkans until 8th century AD), further east than the power of the Royal Scyths probably ever extended, so these particular Slavs were never even ruled by Iranians as far as we know.
    What??? People in the Roman empire may have had many reasons for not liking the Sassanid king, and the Roman emperors themselves of course had no intention whasoever of submitting to the Sassanid king.
     

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