Studi Graeco-Parthica: Political and Cultural Relations between Greeks and Parthians.

Author:Jager, Ulf
Position:Book review

Studi Graeco-Parthica: Political and Cultural Relations between Greeks and Parthians. By EDWARD DABROWA. Philippika, vol. 49. Wiesbaden: HARRASSOWITZ VERLAG, 2011. Pp. 196. [euro]48 (paper).

Professor Dr. Edward Dabrowa is a distinguished Polish ancient historian dealing with pre-Islamic Iranian history and its connections to the classical Mediterranean world at the Historical Institute of the Jagiellonian University of Krakow. He is himself a student of Professor Jozef Wladyslaw Wolski (1910-2008) and his school of ancient Iranian history.

In this collection of fifteen articles, previously published in academic journals, on the relations between Greeks and Parthians within the realm of the Parthian Empire, we have a rich selection of articles, which would otherwise remain scattered throughout a wide variety of journals. Special thanks are due Harrassowitz Verlag for publishing them in a single volume.

While it is pleasant to find Dabrowas articles in English, French, Italian, and German, one misses short abstracts in English for each essay, since not all international colleagues will be able to follow all these languages easily.

The variety of topics discussed by Dabrowa center on the difficulties and differences between the Parthians, originally of nomadic stock, and the Greeks who settled in the regions of the Parthian realm following the campaigns of Alexander the Great and even earlier. Of special interest is the article which deals with the connections of Parthians and Greeks in the Hellenized cities of the first century (pp. 27-37). This is an important problem, since it focuses on the cultural relations between an already settled Greek population and the ruling Parthian aristocracy. This aristocracy was of Iranian stock and stood by its nomadic roots until the end of its power, as has been demonstrated by Dabrowa's student Jan Marek Olbrycht of Krakow (Parthia et ulleriores gentes: Die polilischen Beziehungen zwischen dem arsakidischen Iran und den Nomaden der eurasischen Steppen. (3. Jh. v. Chr. bis 3. Jh. n. Chr) [Munich 1998]). Whenever the political situation in the Near East and especially in Syria and Iraq (Iran and Afghanistan could be added here) makes regular excavations possible once more, Dabrowa's deep look into these problems on the basis of the historical sources should be held in mind when analyzing their results.

That the connections between Parthians and Greeks weren't always peaceful once again becomes obvious when...

To continue reading