Ctesias in the Achaemenid Persia?

Title: Ctesias in the Achaemenid Persia?
Author: Pruša, Libor
Source document: Graeco-Latina Brunensia. 2021, vol. 26, iss. 2, pp. 211-224
  • ISSN
    1803-7402 (print)
    2336-4424 (online)
Type: Article

Notice: These citations are automatically created and might not follow citation rules properly.

This paper focuses on the life and works of Ctesias of Cnidus, a Greek physician living at the Achaemenid court during the reign of Artaxerxes II. Ctesias was the author of the important work on Persian history, customs, and court life called Persica. He spent many years in the Achaemenid Empire and summarized his experience and studies in his seminal work. Persica was a very influential discourse on Persia in antiquity even though Ctesias had a notoriously poor reputation. The core of the problem is the veracity of Ctesias' account, his claims of the usage of Persian sources, and his life in the Achaemenid Empire in general. Our main goal is to find possible answers to the stories circulating about his life in the Achaemenid Empire. Later authors criticized Ctesias for telling lies and promoting himself in the books. We will discuss how legitimate their approach is and whether the reputation of Ctesias is deserved. The problem will be studied in three chapters. In the first part of the article, we will take a closer look at the life of Ctesias. We will study the possible reasons for his departure to Persia, how he later managed to work for the King, what occupation and position he held at the court, which places in the Achaemenid Empire he visited and why he left the court. In the second part, we will focus on the sources of his works. Their nature and content varied greatly and influenced his writings differently. In the last part, we will focus on Ctesias' possible knowledge of one or more of the languages spoken at the court. Foreign words also appear in his works and the list of them will be a part of the article.
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