The Literary Salon

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Location: Toronto, now Ottawa, Ont, Canada

Friday, September 09, 2005

British ignorance/bigotry?

Persian relief
Though I am not of Iranian descent, I was appalled by this review of the ancient Persian exhibition at the British museum. The author's tone is one of ambivalence (almost like some of Harold Bloom's recent assessments), but he clearly gives no credit to the Persians, instead privileging the ancient Greek stuff (I don't want to sound post-colonial or anything like that, but he does sound very "eurocentric"). For the record, the ancient Persians were among the greatest of empires. Did you know, dear Briton, that the Persians were responsible for math, science, technology and, yes, human rights? I believe it was Darius I who wrote the very first charter of rights and freedoms in the world, which stated that women were equals with men, long before the sagacious Greeks even considered it.
Also, most art and discoveries that are now termed "Islamic" or "Arabic" are actually Persian: Algebra, the Arabesque arches and even battery cells are Persian inventions.
Yes, of course the Persians were influence by the Babylonians, but who wasn't? Your precious Greeks, however, would have been nothing were it not for the Egyptians and Phoenicians, from the latter of whom they borrowed their alphabet!
Your ignorance sickens me

ADDENDUM:

Let us not forget Xenophon's famous (or once famous) manual on what a good king should be. What was it called? Cyropedia, named for Cyrus the Great. Looks like Cyrus wasn't so bad after all.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree completely with you on Europeans having a totally Eurocentric view on what is and is not virtuous, beautiful, etc. This reminds me of a story where an Englishman came to Kuqait, and disrespected the local Arab population because, as he put it, they were uncivilized.

The Englishman was put in his place after a thurough tongue lashing by another Middle Easterner who pointed out that when the Middle East first had its great civilizations, the English were just learning how make a fire, and emerging from their caves.

Tedt

10:15 AM  

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