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Sunday, January 29, 2017
The decline and fall of Pourshariati?
A decade ago, Dr Parvaneh Pourshariati issued forth a revolutionary book on The Decline and Fall of the Sasanian Empire. She thought that the Sasanians felt themselves too insecure to declare a reborn Persian Empire, and so settled for an "Iranshahr" instead - a confederacy of all Aryans northwest of India. This thesis has not gone unchallenged. Lately, Michael R Jackson Bonner as part of his thesis has sent out a particularly biting critique.
Of course, scholars still haven't given up Gibbon's thesis on Rome's decline and fall ... so, we'll see what happens.
Let's bring up here another MRJB challenge. This is against Patricia Crone, on her interpretation of "Mazdakism" under shah Kobad I. Procopius and, more to the point, Agathius know nothing of Mazdak. Other Greek historians know of upheavals involving (para?-)Manichaeans but that's it. MRJB sees Mazdakites as more like a faction in court, mixed with some social ideas, all under the general rubric of Reform. Some moderns might think of the Young Turks; MRJB thinks of American neoconservatives. "Mazdakism", then, got blown up into a massive heresy later on, retroactively, by its rivals. MRJB blames Khusro for posing his camera just so behind that Mazdakite mole-hill. On that much, I agree with MRJB. But there's a bigger picture here.
What I keep reading in MRJB is what accomplished liars made their living in Persia. The Sasanian propaganda-machine was the most brazen I've ever seen, and I live in the United States of America so I've seen a lot. Personally when I see emperors lie, I think of that old Soviet punchline
The Sasanian shahs wanted you to think they were mighty kings of a united empire. But after Peroz lost to the Hephthalites - this was the Adrianople of the East- the shahs didn't have the troops to prove it. I doubt they had the might to enforce their will over the post-Parthian dynasts, either.
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