300 Movie: Separating Fact from Fiction
Dr. Kaveh Farrokh
Grossing over 70 million dollars in its first week of release, the
movie "300" is set to crash into the list of highest grossing
Hollywood blockbusters. Its strong opening is a clear indicator
of its success with the North American and by implication, European
audiences. Although this picture is based on a graphic novel by
Frank Miller and directed by Zack Snyder ("Dawn of the Dead"),
it is already being portrayed as a "historical" movie,
and will be perceived as such by many (less discerning) viewers.
More significant however, are the conclusions that are being derived
from this picture.
of the movie (as well as the actors) are honest in stating that
they did not consult primary historical sources. The writer of the
comic book appears to have relied on the writings of Greek historian
Herodotus, whose works, though valuable, inevitably contain an element
of bias, as do any historical works from any culture.
My article will
not discuss the cinematography (a job best left to the film critics),
nor is it a criticism of the cast and crew. There has been no agenda
on the part of the original novelist, movie director, cast and crew
to promote an anti-Iranian agenda. The movie however (no matter
how sincerely it was intended as entertainment), is nevertheless
purveying messages; messages most certainly unintended by Miller
or the film producers.
commentary is specifically directed against the very human biases
and distortions that currently pervade against ancient Iran and
Iranians; the very same views that "300" has (inadvertently)
trivial, I feel my background gives me a unique perspective. Born
of Iranian parents in Greece, I am a student of both ancient Greece
and its "East Roman" successor, Byzantium, alongside my
main research interest, ancient Iran. My Greek friends often cite
me as a blend of ancient Iran (or what the west terms as "Persia")
and "Hellas" (Greece). It is often overlooked that an
Iranian can admire ancient Greece just as a Greek can do likewise
with Persia. A Greek friend stated this to me in an e-mail on Monday,
March 12, 2007:
the movie 300
and I was totally disappointed
demonized the Persians, everything that was depicted in the movie
about the Persians was untrue. The movie demonized also the Greeks
and through some words of Leonidas Greek philosophers and Athenian
civilization were downrated
I wonder why I should watch demons
and Spartans with a false image
there was no showing of glorious
brave and smart people from both sides. I have learned that what
Spartans did in Thermopyles was magnificent, that they did not match
any enemy but what they did there was really magnificent because
it was achieved against a very brave, worthy and glorious enemy.
very few understand it."
In the course
of their historical intercourse, Greece and Persia have created
breathtaking works in domains such as the arts, architecture, sciences,
music and of course, democracy and human rights. It is interesting
that many modern Greeks acknowledge and appreciate ancient Iran
as a civilization as worthy as their own, yet the same is not necessarily
true in northwest Europe and North America.
will focus on eight items for discussion:
(1) The Notion of Democracy and Human Rights
(2) What really led to War
(3) The Military Conflict: Separating
Fact from Fiction
(4) The Error of Xerxes: The Burning
(5) The "West" battling against
the "Mysticism" of "the East"
(6) The Portrayal of Iranians and Greeks
(7) A Note on the Iranian Women in
(8) "Good" versus "Evil"
= = = = = =
= = = = = = = = = = =
(1) The Notion
of Democracy and Human Rights.
me about the movie was its portrayal of the Greco-Persian Wars in
binary terms: the democratic, good, rational "Us" versus
the tyrannical, evil and irrational, "other" of the ever-nebulous
(if not exotic) "Persia". Central to this dichotomy is
the following message:
men stood between victory and the collapse of Western civilization.
If the barbarian hordes
overran these defenders, Greek democracy
and civilization would fall prey to alien forces whose cruelty was
[Christopher Hudson, "The Greatest Warriors Ever", Daily
Mail, London, England, March 9, 2007]
Note the key
words "collapse of Western civilization", "barbarian
hordes", "democracy and civilization"
and "alien forces whose cruelty was a byword". These key
words are reminiscent of political sloganeering, targeting the "other"
with slanderous propaganda. These simplistic (and patronizing) statements
are a clear indication that the general media and much of the audience
is seeing "300" as much more than just a movie of a "graphic
novel". This has been astutely observed by Tomas Engle, a student
at a West Virginia College, who has noted with some concern that
many people are viewing the movie to "inform themselves
from popular media outlets (such as The Daily Mail) are yet another
vivid demonstration of the gross prevailing ignorance as to the
actual origins of the notions of human rights, democracy and freedom,
as well as the complex factors that led to the Greco-Persian wars.
of democracy and human rights are not as simple as we are led to
believe. As we will see below, these notions share both Greek and
Greeks (the Athenians and their Ionian kin in particular), created
the notion of "Demos" (the people) and "Kratus"
(government). This government by the people is what excites the
imagination of the contemporary "western world". However,
few acknowledge the role of "the East" in helping place
modern democracy as we know it today, within the context of racial,
religious and cultural equality, or (more succinctly), human rights.
of the Achaemenid Empire, Cyrus the Great, was the world's first
world emperor to openly declare and guarantee the sanctity of human
rights and individual freedom.
Cyrus the Great as reconstructed by Tim
Newark, 2000, p.21
(Ancient Armies, Concord Publications, painter Angus McBride)
Cyrus was a
follower of the teachings of Zoroaster (Zarathustra), the founder
of one of the world's oldest monotheistic religions.
Portrait of Zarathustra as depicted in
a Mithraic Temple in Dura Europus (in modern Syria) in the 3rd Century
that good and evil resides in all members of humanity, regardless
of racial origin, ethnic membership or religious affiliation. Each person is given the choice between good and evil - it is up
to us to choose between them. It is that goodness, and a firm belief
in its divinity, that is the key to human liberty, according to
Zoroaster. As a consequence, every individual is entitled to liberty
of thought, action and speech. This is enshrined in Zoroaster's
guidelines: Good Thoughts (Pendar Nik), Good Deeds (Kerdar Nik)
and Good Speech (Goftar Nik).
As a result,
freedom of thought, action and speech are laden with the awesome
responsibility of wielding these for the good of all mankind. Zoroaster taught that there is no such thing as a "bad race"
or "bad religion". The only divide is that between
good and bad people, both within one's own community and those outside
of one's community. Zoroastrians often referred to ancient Iran
as "the land of the Free/Freedom" (Zamin Azadegan).
the concept of an all-powerful single god known as Ahura-Mazda (the
Supreme Angel), who stood for all that is good. However, the acceptance
of Ahura-Mazda was a personal choice. There were to be no forced
conversions and the gods of all nationalities were fully respected:
Cyrus prostrated himself in front of the statue of Babylonian god
Marduk after his conquest of Babylon. As noted by Graf, Hirsch,
Gleason, & Krefter "Belief in a heavenly afterlife for
good people and torment for evildoers may have been partly responsible
for the moral treatment that Achaemenid Kings accorded subject nations
The Greek warrior-historian
Xenophon, spoke highly of Cyrus in his Cyropaedia. Cyrus is described
as being void of deceit, arrogance, guile or selfishness. Cyrus
is the first "one world hero" in history, namely the ruler
who sought to unite all the peoples into one empire while according
full respect to all languages, creeds and religious practices. Alexander
the Great, who greatly admired Cyrus, adopted his mantle of the
"world hero" after his conquests of Persia in 333-323
of government has been forever immortalized by the Cyrus Cylinder.
This is a clay cylinder of a decree that was issued by Cyrus the
Great in 538 BC shortly after his conquest of Babylon.
The Cyrus Cylinder. This is the first human
rights charter in history. A facsimile of the Cyrus Cylinder is
present at the United Nations building in New York City
main premises in the decrees of the Cyrus Cylinder were:
(1) the institution of racial, linguistic and religious equality
(2) all exiled peoples were to be allowed
to return home
(3) all destroyed temples were to be
When Cyrus defeated
King Nabonidus of Babylon, he officially declared the freedom of
the Jews from their Babylonian captivity. This was the first
time in history that a world power had guaranteed the survival of
the Jewish people, religion, customs and culture. Cyrus allowed
the Jews to rebuild their Temple and provided them with funds to
do so. The empire continued that support as indicated by a decree
by Darius the Great in 519-518 BC by allowing the Jews to complete
the reconstruction of the Jerusalem Temple (Ezra, 4:1). Cyrus' magnanimity
is reflected in the Old Testament where he is cited as Yahweh's
anointed (See Book of Ezra 1). Koresh (Hebrew for Cyrus), was hailed
as a Messiah by the Jews. Isaiah cites Cyrus as "He is my Shepherd,
and he shall fulfill all my purpose" (Isaiah, 44.28; 45.1).
The Biblical characters Ezra, Daniel, Esther and Mordecai played
historically important roles in the Persian court. The tomb of Esther
and Mordechai still stands to this day in Hamadan, the site of the
ancient city of Ecbatana, a city that has hosted Jews for over 2500
years. The Persian king Xerxes himself was married to a Jewish queen
A more humane 1962 Hollywood picture of
ancient Iran: Xerxes (played by Richard Egan) and his Jewish queen
Esther (played by Joan Collins)
Tomb of Esther and Mordechai in Hamedan,
Davis Hanson (Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford
University, Professor emeritus at California University) summarizes
the issue of "Freedom versus Tyranny" very succinctly:
critics think that 300 reduces and simplifies the meaning of Thermopylae
into freedom versus tyranny, they should reread carefully ancient
accounts and then blame Herodotus, Plutarch, and Diodorus - who
long ago boasted that Greek freedom was on trial against Persian
in almost all wars, one side is defending its freedom.
The Greeks were not the first human beings to defend their freedom
is not something Eastern
when these 'freedom-defender' Greeks
were united under Alexander, they did the same thing
Persia, Egypt and India and created their own empire
their Roman successors
For full text
(2) What Really
led to War: The Untold Story
As noted above,
Western popular opinion and academic historiography portrays the
Greco-Persian wars as being an epic contest between liberty, as
represented by Greece, and "Persian Tyranny". Professor
Richard Nelson Frye, however cautions us that such historical narratives
an example of imposing modern concepts on the
distorting our understanding
Nelson Frye, 1984, p.93
it is true that the Ionian revolt on the west Anatolian coast and
the support of the Athenians for their Hellenic ethnic kin against
the Persian Empire was a major factor that led Darius the Great
(549-486 BC), the father of Xerxes, to invade Greece in 490 BC.
But this is only a part of the story. Very few western historians
have discussed the role of economic rivalry as a factor in the Greco-Persian
By this time,
the Greeks had established a powerful maritime economic empire in
the Mediterranean Sea. The Greeks established colonies in southern
Italy as well as contemporary southern France; an example of this
legacy is seen in the name of the city of "Nice" (pronounced
/nees/) in southern, France - "Nice" is derived from the
Greek Nicea (modern Nice). Greek trading posts had also been established
in the Caucasus, in the Modern Republic of Georgia.
Empire became a marine empire as soon as it reached the Aegean Sea.
Darius the Great built the world's first formal "Imperial Navy",
many of its ships manned by Phoenician, Egyptian and (Hellenic)
Ionians. More importantly, the Persian Empire began to "muscle
in" on the economic sphere of the Greeks in the Mediterranean
and the Black Sea (see Cook, The Greeks in Ionia and the East, 1962,
98-120; 132-133; Farrokh, Shadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia
at War, 2007, Chapter 4). Italian researchers such as Nik Spatari
have confirmed that Darius had sent naval scouts as far as Southern
Italy to gain information on possible trade contacts with the western
Mediterranean (Farrokh, Shadows in the Desert, 2007, Chapter 4).
Reconstruction of Achaemenid ships in 1971.
economic strength in the Mediterranean was certainly of great concern
to the Greeks and their prosperity. The Greco-Persian wars were
as much about economics, as they were about systems of government.
For further references consult the bibliography.
(3) The Military
Conflict: Separating Fact from Fiction
There are very
few historians who doubt the tenacity and military skill of the
Greek defenders who faced the invading army of Xerxes. The 300 movie
displayed the equipment of the Spartans relatively well, considering
that the producers were intent on reproducing the images of a comic
book, leaving little room for consultation with modern scholarship.
If the portrayal of the Greek side was adequate, that of "the
Persians" was pure fantasy. This being said, there are already
a large number of viewers who have taken these images in a very
"literal" and historical context - the human mind is indeed
a very impressionable organ.
here is a very quick and overall analysis of the actual military
factors that were in place during Xerxes' invasion of Greece in
480 BC - however we will digress into the post-Alexandrian eras,
notably the evolution of the Persian knights during the Parthian
(238 BC- 224 AD) and Sassanian (224-651 AD) eras. I will closely
scrutinize the veracity of whether Xerxes actually wielded 1,700,000
troops during his invasion of Greece. By no means is this discussion
adequate, however it is hoped that the reader's curiosity will be
sufficiently evoked as to encourage further research and readings.
and swords were longer than their Achaemenid counterparts. This
meant that in hand to hand combat, the Spartans held the advantage
and were able to "outrange" their opponents with their
swords and spears, which were primarily used for thrusting (see
Farrokh, Shadows in the Desert, 2007, Chapters 4-5). The swords
of "the Persians" in the movie are of no historical relevance
- many of the Iranian swords of that era were short and dagger-like.
These were known as the "Akenakes".
Scythian (left) and Mede (right)
(Tall-capped Scythian to the left) and a Mede (round cap to the
right) appearing before the Achaemenid kings at the Imperial palace
of Persepolis. Note the short size of the Akenakes daggers, which
proved inadequate in hand to hand combat against Greek warriors.
For a thorough
examination of the Akenakes daggers, as well as all Iranian military
gear from the Bronze Age to the 19th century, consult Manouchehr
Moshtagh Khorasani's comprehensive book on the subject:
Arms and Armor from Iran: The Bronze Age
to end of the Qajar Period
were far better armored than their opponents, although it is not
clear if all the Spartans wore heavy armor at Thermopylae. Greek
helmets, body armor and greaves provided excellent protection against
blade weapons in hand to hand combat, whereas the vast majority
of the Achaemenids lacked significant armor protection. Scale armor
was available, but not to the majority of troops. When engaged in
hand to hand combat, Achaemenid troops were exposed to deadly spear
thrusts as well as hacking/thrusts against their faces, limbs and
torso (see Farrokh, Shadows in the Desert, 2007, Chapters 4-5).
The movie portrayal of Achaemenid armor, was pure fiction and has
no resemblance to that issued among Achaemenid troops.
The Martial Arts Tradition of Greece
The 300 movie
did capture the camaraderie, zeal and "esprit de corps"
of the Spartans very well, and represented the contemporary military
culture of ancient Sparta in a fairly realistic manner.
Greece (as a whole) was the heir to an excellent martial arts tradition.
According to legend, the newborn child in Sparta would be washed
by his mother in wine to ensure that the child was strong and fit
(the weaker baby would reputedly die from the bathing). The father
would then bring the baby to advisors who would ultimately decide
if the newborn child was fit to be raised as a Spartan. If the baby
"failed" the test, he would cast off a cliff or gulley
at Mount Taygetos, known as the "Kaiada".
As shown in
the movie, the boys of Sparta began training from the age of 7.
Formal military service would begin at the age of twenty. Examination
of Greek vases clearly shows Greek warriors engaged in very "modern"
training methods: kicking, boxing, wrestling, Pankration, using
Greek warriors engaged in martial arts
"kick boxing" training - note "coach" to the
drills were at least as brutal as combat situations. Sparta was
very much a warrior society; it was the Athenians and their ethnic
cousins in Ionia (modern western Turkey), then under Persian rule,
who were at the forefront of the Hellenic Democratic tradition.
The Greek Phalanx System
The Greeks in
general had developed the phalanx system, where soldiers fought
as one unit in a single formation. Central to this system was the
use of overlapping shields which formed an impenetrable barrier
against javelins, spears and arrows. The Macedonians of northern
Greece, perfected the phalanx and adopted the 12 foot long pike
or "sarissa" used with devastating effect by Alexander
the Great during his invasion of Persia.
The Chiqi vase which shows a Greek Phalanx
The Greeks often
engaged in close quarter combat and had been doing so for centuries
before the Achaemenid invasions. Suffice it to say that when it
came to hand to hand combat, the Spartans held the advantage. Thanks
to their training, the Spartans were so disciplined that they were
able to collectively maneuver the phalanx at a single command. With
their shields locked together, the phalanx was able to march and
put forward all of their spears simultaneously. There was no breaking
of formation in acts of battlefield individualism - all warriors
were expected to adhere strictly and steadfastly to the phalanx.
The spears protruded in deadly fashion towards the onrushing enemy,
with deadly results. The Greeks testify to the bravery of the lightly
armored Iranians who tried to break the spears of the Spartans with
their bare hands in an endeavor to get close to the warriors within
The Evolution of cavalry
of "Persian cavalry" was totally wrong in the movie with
respect to weapons, equestrian gear and uniforms. Superficially,
these resembled more the Arab horsemen seen during the Arabo-Islamic
conquests over a thousand years after the Battle of Thermopylae
and bore little resemblance to either the Iranian cavalry of the
Achaemenid era (559-333 BC), or the armored knights of the later
Parthian and Sassanian eras of Persia (238 BC - 651 AD). Below is
a reconstruction of Iranian heavy cavalry of the Achaemenid period.
Mede Cavalryman of the later Achaemenid
formidable armor, Achaemenid cavalry had yet to solve the problem
of rider stability, especially against well-trained, heavily armored,
lance/spear wielding infantry fighting in phalanxes (see Farrokh,
Shadows in the Desert, 2007, Chapters 4-5). This is mainly because
the Iranians had not yet invented saddle technology advanced enough
to keep the rider stable enough as he fought on horseback. As a
result, Iranian cavalry during the Achaemenid period was vulnerable
to unseating by Greek heavy infantry, a fact that was duly observed
by Xenophon in the early 400s BC.
Iranian cavalry continued to evolve, even after the Alexandrian
conquests of the Persian Empire. It was the cavalry which had posed
the greatest challenge to the Greeks during their conquests of Persia,
and the Greeks were duly impressed by them. Xenophon warned about
the dangers of the Iranian cavalry, a prophecy which was to prove
true with the rise of the Parthians and the Sassanians. It was these
new Persian knights who finally defeated the Seleucid successors
of Alexander and who scored dramatic victories against Marcus Lucinius
Crassus at Carrhae (53 BC), and against Roman Emperors Severus Alexander
(Ctesiphone in 233 AD), Gordian III (Mesiche in 244 AD), Phillip
the Arab (Barbalissos in 253 AD), Valerian (Carrhae-Edessa in 260
AD), and Julian (inside Persia in 363 AD). By the 5th century AD,
the Turks had arrived from the North of China into Central Asia
and Europe, and were influencing the Iranians and the Romans: the
Turks were probably the first to invent stirrups.
Very few are
aware of the positive references to the military skill of the later
Persian knights. One example is Libianus who, referring to the Sassanian
knights, notes that Roman troops "prefer to suffer any fate
rather than look a Persian in the face" [Libianus, XVIII
, pp.205-211; Consult also Farrokh, Sassanian Elite cavalry, 2005,
The Pushtighban Heavy Knights of the Royal
Guard (left) and Jyanavspar-Peshmerga (right) engaged against Roman
troops during the failed invasion of Emperor Julian in 363 AD (Farrokh, Sassanian Elite Cavalry, 2005, Plate D; Paintings by Angus
Much of the
armor of these knights appears very "European"; the warriors
wear mail, plate armor, riveted Spangenhelm helmets, broadswords,
maces and battle-axes. Yet these warriors predate their European
counterparts by centuries (see Farrokh, Sassanian Elite Cavalry,
Though the Spartans
(and indeed the Greeks as a whole) are rightfully remembered as
magnificent warriors whose exploits and heroism resonate across
time, Persia too gave birth to magnificent military tradition: the
Partho-Sassanian elite cavalry, known as the "Savaran."
Is it not interesting that nobody has even heard of the Savaran?
As noted by Greek-Canadian historian, George Tsonis: "Unfortunately
we probably will never see movies of Roman defeats in "the
east" at the hands of Persian knights
such movies would
most probably bomb at the box office."
This bias is
not confined to the entertainment media. The academic community
(mainly in northwest European and English-speaking world) has until
recently continued to champion ancient Greece and diminish, sideline
and even ignore the Savaran. This bias can be seen in the comments
of world renowned military historian, Professor John Keegan, who
in reference to the Persian influence on western European cavalry
states in no uncertain terms that: "True, the Persians
fielded squadrons of armored horsemen and even armored horses at
an earlier date [than the western Europeans]
the origin of heavy cavalry warfare to them is risky."
[Richard Keegan, A History of Warfare, 1993, p.286]
Professor John Keegan
is essentially rejected by a large number of historians such as
Herrmann, Michalak, Inostrancev, Nickel and Newark (see discussion
by Farrokh, Shadows in the Desert, 2007, Chapters 9-22, 24). Professor
Keegan represents a more selective interpretation of the history
of cavalry, one that has sought to diminish the role of Persia in
particular. As noted by another Greek colleague, "Stamatis":
is no need for academics to denigrate Persia just to preserve the
glory of ancient Greece. Both Greece and Persia are glorious in
their contributions to world civilization. Comments such as these
are more a product of academic dogma rather than true scholarship.
One sees such scholarship in ancient Greece, Persia, Egypt, China
and the golden age of Islamic learning where non-Arabs such as the
Iranians made mighty contributions
The Immortal Units
interesting was the portrayal of the Immortal units of the Achaemenids.
Superficially, they resembled Hollywood-style "ninjas",
dressed in black. Black and dark clothing were not featured among
any of the standard Achaemenid troops. The superficially "Oriental"
looking iron face masks were never used by the elite troops, and
as noted above, Iranian units (in general) were more lightly armed
and armored than their Greek counterparts. The paintings below provide
a more accurate reconstruction of the uniforms, weapons and armor
of the Achaemenid troops.
Achemenid Persian officers as they would
have appeared during Xerxes' invasion of Greece.
These were reconstructed
by historians, researchers as well as professional army officers
in 1971. Suffice it so say, that the movie portrayal and historical
veracity are widely divergent. Note the colors on the uniforms as
well as the equipment (and virtually no armor). But at least the
creators of the 300 picture admit that they are basing their "Persians"
on cartoon-like demon characters.
The Size of Xerxes' Invasion Force
the fact that Xerxes' army was huge and that the Greeks were outnumbered.
The question is "by how much"? The trailer of the movie
[the Spartans] were 300 men against a Million".
The main source
of these accounts for modern European scholarship is Herodotus,
who actually cites 1,700,000 invaders (Herodotus, VII, 60). Herodotus,
who wrote after the Greco-Persian wars of Darius and Xerxes had
ended, and before the age of Alexander.
Herodotus (484-425 BC)
a total of 46 nations mustered by Xerxes in his invasion of Greece
(see Farrokh, Shadows in the Desert, 2007, Chapter 5). The vast
numbers of troops were actually a liability as co-ordination and
communication and logistical support must have been complex, particularly
in contrast to the much smaller and compact, and linguistically
uniform, Greek force.
it is unfair to pin these quantitative citations solely on Herodotus.
The Greek tragedy by Aeschylos, The Persians, describes the Greeks
facing Xerxes' armies as facing "a great flood of humans
wave of the sea that cannot be contained by the most solid dikes
(The Persians, lines 87-90)
" and "
a rash ruler
of populous Asia [Xerxes] pushes a human herd to the conquest of
the entire world" (The Persians, 73-75).
It was from
the mid-19th to the early 20th centuries when a number of European
scholars began to question the fantastic numbers cited by Herodotus.
European researchers such as Gobineau and Delbrueck began to seriously
doubt the numerical claims made by Classical sources. The table
below cites some of the researchers of the period who provided the
following estimates as to the actual size of Xerxes' invading armies:
Citation and Year
Estimated number of Xerxes Troops
As cited in William Kelly Prentice, Thermopylae
and Artemisium, Transactions and Proceedings of the
American Philological Association, Vol. 51, 1920 p. 5-18
100,000 plus an equal number of non-combat
Der Feldzug des Xerxes in Klio, Beiheft
12, Leipzig, 1914, p. 88
Comte de Gobineau
Histoire des Perses [History of the Persians],
Volume II, 1869 p. 191
Herodotus, The Seventh, Eighth and Ninth
Books, London, 1908, Vol. II, p. 164
"The Fleet of Xerxes", The Journal
of Hellenic Studies, 28, 1908, p. 208
Die Perserkriege und die Burgunderkriege,
Berlin, 1887, p. 164
Robert von Fischer
"Das Zahlenproblem in Perserkriege
480-479" Klio, N. F., vol. VII, p. 289
scholarship appears to accept the figure of 100,000-200,000 invading
troops, a figure consistent with the population base of the Achaemenid
Persian Empire at the time (Farrokh, Shadows in
2007, Chapter 5). Even if the Persian Empire had had the population
base to produce 1,700,000 troops, it would have faced a gargantuan
task in organizing and deploying these without the benefit of modern
computers and communications technology. Even if such an army could
be organized to set off on the mammoth journey from Asia to Greece,
ancient logistics and supply would not have been able to sustain
such fantastic numbers of troops in so ambitious a campaign. These
capabilities date from far more recent modern times, from the time
of the American Civil War (1861-1865) and the advent of the railway
the Greek numbers were close to 6000, when counting all of the Spartans
and Greek kinsmen. Still, even if we take the lowest estimate of
40,000 Achaemenid Persian troops, the Greeks would have been vastly
outnumbered, especially during King Leonidas' last stand.
Few have addressed the engineering feats that Xerxes' engineers
accomplished in building the world's first true bridge between Asia
and Europe. For an introduction of the Engineering feats that led
to the invasion of Europe from Asia Minor (modern Turkey), you may
wish to consult the History Channel program:
an Empire: The Persians"
an Empire - The Persians
The show is
also available in 5 parts on youtube - part 4 narrates the engineering
aspect of Xerxes' invasion of Greece:
Persians Part 1
Persians Part 2
Persians Part 3
Persians Part 4
Persians Part 5
A Final Note: The Battle of Salamis
There are other
inaccuracies in the movie as well, especially with regards to the
Greek perspective. First, the Spartans were not exactly "democratic"
in the Athenian sense; theirs was a hierarchical and militaristic
society. To argue that the Spartans were "fighting for Democracy"
is somewhat simplistic. It is correct however that the Spartans
fought for the glory of Greece, which included Democracy. That does
not necessarily mean that the Spartans specifically stood for Democracy
as the Athenians and Ionians did.
300 Spartans were not alone in their last stand - they were accompanied
to the death by at least 300 Thessapian Hoplites, who fought shoulder
to shoulder beside them. The fact is that Xerxes finally won at
Thermopylae and pushed through into Greece. The Battle that actually
saved Greece from total conquest occurred at sea: the Battle of
Salamis, after the forcing of Thermopylae. Xerxes could not maintain
or expand his European land conquests if he could not control the
seas. The Greeks under the bold leadership of Admiral Themistocles
lured Xerxes' fleet into a trap in the straits between Salamis itself
Typical of the
drama of Greek politics, Themistocles, the man who had rescued Greece
from the jaws of defeat, was later condemned as a traitor to Greece
and forced to flee Athens! Even more ironic is the fact that Themistocles
was given shelter by Artaxerxes I, the successor of Xerxes I! In
my opinion, it would be fascinating to have a historically balanced
movie that would portray the lives of Themistocles, Xerxes, Artemisia,
(4) The Error
of Xerxes: the Burning of Athens
blunder committed by Xerxes in his invasion of Greece were his very
un-Persian actions in ordering the city of Athens to be torched,
including the Acropolis.
The Acropolis in Athens
destroyed many towns, villages, farms and temples. These actions
stiffened the Greek determination to resist and expel the invader
from their soil. As I have previously noted, the statues of sacred
Greek gods were confiscated and brought to Persia - an action that
only fueled the intensity of the Greek desire to seek vengeance.
This culminated in the invasion and conquest of Persia by Alexander
the Great in the 330s BC.
realized the error of his actions, but it was too late. His offers
to rebuild Athens after the battles were firmly rejected by the
Greeks. Most significant however was the fact that Xerxes had broken
the tradition of tolerance and respect that had been shown by Cyrus
the Great towards captured cities. How would history have been different
had Xerxes behaved in Athens as Cyrus had in Babylon? One thing
is certain: the West has never forgiven Xerxes' invasion of Classical
(5) The "West"
battling against the "Mysticism" of "the East"
end of the movie, there is a statement to the effect that the war
is against "the Mysticism and Tyranny" of Persia.
How does one wage war on "Mysticism"? As a student
of history for 20 years, I honestly was not aware that Xerxes' invasion
was about bringing (or forcing) "Mysticism" upon Europe,
at least in the historical sense. The directors and producers of
the 300 movie do not appear to have given much thought to the consequences
of this proverbial Hollywood "one-liner", however it does
contain a powerful latent message: "the East" stands for
"Mysticism". In that case, what does "the West"
stand for? I would surmise the antithesis of Mysticism - namely, Reason and Learning".
Few would question
the fact that the Greeks pioneered much of what we cherish today
with respect to logic and philosophy: Greeks (like all great peoples
of history) are integral to world civilization. But any type of
assumption that ALL of learning has been historically confined to
Greece is very much a recent interpretation (from the late 17th
century) - and if I may be so bold, it is also an "Orientalist"
the scope of this discussion, it may surprise some readers to know
that a number of the greatest Greek minds of the Classical era,
Pythagoras, Plato, Thales, and Democritus, traveled to the Persian
Empire to take advantage of the centers in learning in Persis, Babylon
and Egypt, notably in the fields of astronomy, mathematics, physical
sciences, geometry and theosophy (see Farrokh, Shadows in the Desert,
2007, Chapter 4).
L. Pythagoras (582 - 500 BC)
R. Plato (4th century BC)
L. Thales (624 - 546 BC)
R. Democritus (460 - 370 BC)
like many other of the learned and civilized peoples of antiquity,
also had their share of superstitions as well. Very few are aware
that the study of Astronomy was actually prohibited in ancient Athens
in the 5th Century BC; any such studies were labeled as blasphemy.
Anaxagoras of Clazomenae (Ionia, modern Western Turkey) was actually
expelled from Athens because of the hypotheses he proposed about
the sun. The Achaemenid Persians certainly had their superstitions.
One vivid example is that of Xerxes "punishing" the Aegean
Sea by having the waves lashed - the king was angry that the sea
had been so turbulent during his invasion of Greece.
of learning very much resembles the evolution of human rights in
history: it is organic and is ultimately achieved by the synthesis
and sharing of ideas between nations, cultures and peoples, whether
they are engaged in trade, cultural relations or war.
references consult the reference list of discussion item (1).
(6) The Portrayal
of Iranians and Greeks
me most vividly in this movie was the following question:
Where are the Greek actors in this movie? After all, is this movie
not narrating a story about ancient Greece?
forward answer would be that the movie producers were depicting
the characters of a graphic novel, which may explain their casting
decisions. There still remains the question however of why not at
least consider utilizing Greek actors to portray Greek historical
is intent on conveying a certain "image" of the Classics.
Perhaps there is a desire to "Nordify" ancient Greece
just as there is a desire to "Orientalize" the ancient
Iranians. At least the portrait of King Leonidas in the movie was
consistent with the depictions of ancient Greeks as seen in the
vases of Classical Greece. For a previous discussion of the depiction
of Greeks and Iranians in Hollywood by the author, kindly consult:
Alexander Movie: How are Greeks and Iranians Portrayed?
When it comes
to the portrayal of the Iranians and the Greeks, I find the following
observation by Dr. Ahmad Sadri (College Professor of Islamic World
Studies, Lake Forest College) rather astute:
Persians - I am not talking about the disposable extras covered
up to their eyes in male burqas - are predominantly black and by
implication of mannerism and affect, homosexual. Allowing the widest
berth for the genre and medium one still marvels at Snyder's audacity
in demonizing the "Asiatic hordes" while morphing the
Spartan warrior into the typical white American survivalist. Snyder's
Spartans are white guys fighting a sea of racially inferior blacks,
yellows and browns. "
As I walked
out of the theater during the closing credits, I heard the following
comment by one of the viewers in the audience:
movie chose really excellent Eye-ranian [Iranian] actors - they
showed them so accurately - just what you would expect them to be
It is very interesting
that in this movie (and its comic book original) insists on portraying
the "Persians" (especially the elites) as black Africans.
In the movie trailer, King Leonidas is shown kicking the "Persian
messenger" into a bottomless pit and shouting "This is
Trailer for 300
messenger" is black. Other Persians in the film are also black,
including a "Persian" general executed by Xerxes and a
"Persian" emissary sent to communicate with Leonidas -
the latter role being played by talented actor Tyrone Benskin (Marked
Man, 1996; Sci-Fighters, 1996, etc.):
the recent movie, Alexander (starring Colin Farrell), featured (with
few exceptions) Arabic speaking North Africans instead of Iranians
in the role of "the Persians", whereas the 300 book and
movie portrays Iranians as Africans. As we shall see later below,
there are indications that Hollywood (in general) believes that
such portrayals, however inaccurate, "sell better" in
North America and Northwest Europe.
There are NO
Greek or Roman references to black "Persians" and Greco-Roman
sources also CLEARLY distinguish between the Arabs of antiquity
and "the Persians." Greek vase art from the Classical
period show "the Persians" as remarkably similar to the
Greeks - their differences are in wardrobe and equipment:
In this discussion,
I will make use of the term "Iranian" as opposed to "Persian"
as the former is more inclusive and includes Kurds, Azeris, Persians
and other peoples of Iranic origin. The term "Persian"
was used by the Greeks to designate all Iranian peoples of the time,
when in fact, the Medes and the Scythians (Saka) were also partners
in empire alongside the Persians.
There is a dearth
of primary sources to help archeologists, anthropologists and historians
reconstruct the ancient Iranians contemporary to Xerxes' invasion
of Greece. Note the clear distinction that is made between African
(Ethiopian) and Caucasian (Iranian) troops by Greek vase-arts:
African levy in Achaemenid service (left)
and Iranian troops (right) as portrayed in Greek art. The Greeks
clearly distinguished between the Iranians (portrayed as Caucasians)
and Africans in their artistic works (Nick Sekunda, The Persian
Army, Osprey Publishing, 1992, p.16-17).
As a Classical
historian, Sekunda has reconstructed King Xerxes, Iranian warriors
as well as their African contingents:
Ethiopian marine (left), Iranian warrior
(center) and Iranian spearbearer (Nick Sekunda, The Persian
Army, Osprey Publications, 1992, Plate C; Paintings by Simon Chew). Note how these re-constructions differ from how Iranians have
been portrayed in the "Alexander" and "300"
shown in the center and right would not look unusual in today's
Iran. Later Roman sources also provide a very clear and detailed
pictorial view of the Iranians contemporary to the 3rd - 7th centuries
AD. Note the Roman drawing of the three Iranians in Persian dress
from Ravenna, Italy:
Roman depiction of Iranian nobles depicted
here as the three wise men. It is clear that the Romans were objective
in their portrayal of their enemies, the Parthians and the Sassanians.
and linguistic legacy of the Indo-European or "Aryan"
arrivals on the Iranian plateau since at least the 2nd millennium
BC continues to resonate in modern Iran, and in Iranian speaking
Kurds in the Near East as well as the Caucasus and Central Asia.
Please note that I use the word "Aryan" with considerable
caution here, as we are referring to the Old Iranian from "Airya"
and/or "Eire" which loosely means "Lord"
or "freeman" - the closest European equivalent is the
Irish word "Eire".
makes Iran unique on the world stage of history is the fact that
Iran is the world's oldest multi-ethnic and multi-language nation
in history. Before the Indo-European arrivals, Iran was already
host to a vibrant Elamite civilization to the southwest as well
as Manneans and Hurrians to the northwest and west. These peoples
fused their culture with the incoming Iranian speaking Indo-Europeans
- Iran has been a evolving tapestry of peoples ever since. In any
of Iran's cities one can find an array of faces and languages -
from Turkish in the northwest to Arabic in south. There are Iranians
of African descent as well, these being partly descended from Ethiopians
who were settled along Iran's Persian Gulf coast during the Achaemenid
have conducted a number of detailed genetic studies on Iran, the
Caucasus as well as the Near East. One example is a recent study
by Professor Martin Richards and 26 other researchers who conducted
a thorough genetic analysis of Turks, Arabs, and Iranians. The latter
focused mainly on Iranian-speaking Kurds (mainly descendants of
the Medes) and the mainly Turkish speaking Azerbaijanis of Iran
(themselves descendants of the Media Atropatene - one of the ancient
homes of the aforementioned Zoroastrian religion). There was also
a large sample of Ossetians in the study; Ossetians speak variations
of the Old Iranian Avestan language (the basis of many of the old
Zoroastrian hymns). Armenians were also studied.
the results show a very high incidence of U5 lineages - genes
common among modern Europeans as a whole. The results are
aptly summarized as such:
Armenian and Azeri types are derived from European and northern
Caucasian types (p.1263)
The U5 cluster
although rare elsewhere in the Near east, are especially concentrated
in the Kurds, Armenians and Azeris
a hint of partial European
ancestry for these populations - not entirely unexpected on historical
and linguistic grounds (p.1264)"
[Richards et al., (2000). Tracing European founder lineages in the
Near Eastern mtDNA pool. American Journal of Human Genetics, 67,
There were no
genetic links between the Iranian groups cited and the Arabs of
that study. Interestingly, a number of Turks from western Turkey
in the Richard study showed incidences of the European gene markers,
indicating mixtures with Greek and other European populations in
the course of Turkish history. Suffice it so say that Caucasians
with so-called "European" appearances are nothing unusual
in today's Iran - they are part and parcel of today's multi-ethnic
Photograph taken in 1971 by Ali Massoudi
of a girl from Rasht in Gilan province, Northern Iran (Source:
R. Tarverdi (Editor) & A. Massoudi (Art editor), The land of
Kings, Tehran: Rahnama Publications, 1971, p.116).
to be very little international motivation to understand the multifaceted
nature of the Iranians themselves as well as their history and culture.
A survey by Jack Shaheen (author of "The TV Arab", 1984)
in the early 1980s found that over 80 percent of North Americans
wrongly believe Iranians to be Arabs and to speak Arabic. This may
explain in part the persistence of the "Hollywood Persian"
image in the entertainment industry.
Is there a
Case of Institutionalized Discrimination against Iranians in Hollywood?
There are disturbing
indications that a subtle form of racism has at times been applied
in Hollywood against actors and extras of Iranian origin. A vivid
example of this was demonstrated over 15 years ago during the filming
of the action movie "The Hitman", starring Chuck Norris,
released in 1991.
A portion of
the filming took place in North Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada
in 1989-1990. The directors and Norris put ads in the local papers
asking for Iranians to audition as extras for the movie. What happened
next is as comical as it is tragic.
Many of the
"Iranians" who showed up on the set proved to be a major
disappointment to Norris. This is because, far from fitting into
the popularized "Hollywood Persian" stereotype, the potential
Iranian extras displayed a variety of phenotypes. The group included
Iranians from the northern regions (Gilan, Mazandaran, Semnan, Talesh),
the northwest (Azerbaijan) and the west (Lurs and Kurds) as well
people from Isfahan and Tehran. Many of these could appear as "regular
Americans" on the street or in your local shopping mall. The
directors and Norris were very disappointed at this and were visibly
upset. Here is an excerpt by one of the auditioning Iranian extras
on the set (his identity withheld at his request):
directors came to the set and were upset to see us. Among us were
Mashhadis of Turcomen background [with Central Asian/Far eastern
appearance], Baluchis and more blondish types from the north and
Norris and the directors said 'what are these Caucasians
doing on the set? I said I want 'Iranian extras' not Caucasians
like to see real Iranians
then explained that the "Caucasian" extras were natives
of Iran from the north, Tehran and the northwest, but to no avail.
Norris and the directors insisted on expelling the (so-called) "Caucasians"
from the set. Similar reports have been reported by the aforementioned
Jack Saheen with respect to Arab actors of Lebanese origin. Hollywood
certainly is not free of human bias, seriously compromising any
educational value of some of its "historical" releases.
This leads us to the fantastic depiction of Xerxes himself:
Xerxes in 300
If the portrayal
"the Persians" is fictional, that of Xerxes has set new
parameters for creativity. For a thorough analysis of the actual
appearance of Xerxes, kindly consult Daniel Pourkesali's article:
300: A Tale of Pure Fantasy
As noted astutely
by Daniel Pourkesali, the movie's portrayal of Xerxes is based faithfully
on the graphic novel, but widely divergent with historical depictions
of Xerxes. Below is his portrait as he appears in Persepolis. Below
is also another reconstruction by Professor Sekunda of Xerxes as
he would have appeared in Greece.
L. Court Eunuch (left), King Xerxes (center)
and Royal Spearbearer (right) (Nick Sekunda, The Persian Army,
Osprey Publications, 1992, Plate B; Paintings by Simon Chew).
An Iranian portrait of Xerxes at Persepolis
Below is a Classical
Greek depiction of Xerxes when he was still a prince in the court
of his father, Darius the Great:
Greek depiction of Darius the Great (seated
on throne in top row at center) debating with his advisors as to
whether he should invade Greece in 490 BC. Prince Xerxes is seen
on the top row, second from the right.
Brothers portrayal of Xerxes and the way he would have historically
appeared are literally as different as day and night. Professor
Ephraim Lytle, a Hellenistic historian at the University of Toronto
in Canada, has aptly summarized the picture's portrayal of Xerxes
and "the Persians":
Persians are a historical monsters and freaks. Xerxes is eight feet
tall, clad chiefly in body piercings and garishly made up, but not
disfigured. No need - it is strongly implied Xerxes is homosexual
which, in the moral universe of 300, qualifies him for special freakhood."
[Professor Ephraim Lytle, "Sparta? No. This is Madness",
The Toronto Sun, March 11, 2007]
(7) A Note
on the Iranian Women in Antiquity
I received the
following e-mail from "Pedram" which aptly summarizes
this segment of our discussion: "Have you seen the movie? I
have heard that it was so insulting to Persian women
The 300 movie
certainly portrayed Iranian women as shallow, mindless "harem
girl-objects". This is even testified to in the trailer:
of Iranian women in this movie is not only grossly inaccurate in
historical terms, but also degrading, insulting to women in general.
Again, this seems to be derived from a massive sense of ignorance
regarding the role of Iranian women in history.
The women of
ancient Iran were priestesses (i.e. Temple of Anahita), warriors,
leaders and guardians of learning. While a detailed discussion is
beyond the scope of this article, a few highlights will hopefully
serve to arouse the interest of the readers.
are very clear in referring to women among the ranks of the Iranian
cavalry in the Sassanian era: "in the Persian army
are said to have been found women also, dressed and armed like men
23, 595, 7-596, 9) in reference to forces of Shapur I]
King Shapur receives the surrender of Emperor
Valerian at Barbalissos. Female Iranian cavalry officer (left),
nobleman of the Suren clan (with tall "beaked" hat), Emperor
Valerian (kneeling), Roman Senator (man with toga) and King Shapur
I (right) (Farrokh, Elite Sassanian Cavalry, 2005, Plate A;
Paintings by Angus McBride).
organized resistance against the Arabian invaders of the Ummayad
and later Abbassid caliphates after the fall of Sassanian Iran (or
Persia) in the 7th century AD. Key figures include Apranik, the
daughter of General Piran, as well as Azadeh, guerilla resistance
leader of Gilan-Mazandaran in northern Iran, and Banu, the wife
of the anti-Abassid rebel Babak Khurramdin who led a decades long
anti-Caliphate movement from Iranian Azerbaijan (see Farrokh, Shadows
in the Desert, 2007, Chapters 4-5).
continued to play leadership roles well after the fall of Sassanian
Iran (or Persia) to the Islamic invaders of Arabia in the 7th century
AD. One example is the governess of Rayy, birthplace of the medical
savant Rhazes (near modern Tehran):
Governess of Rayy (Farrokh, Elite Sassanian
cavalry, 2005, p.60)
of women with men in enshrined in the Zoroastrian religion itself.
One the Zoroastrian fables refers to a conversation between Zoroaster
and his daughter Freyne highlighting the fact that it is up to women
to choose their mates for courtship and marriage.
A short and
final point has to do with the portrayal of "the Persians"
as "evil". In one of the earlier scenes, King Leonidas
holds a dying boy who, in reference to the invading host, states
softly that the Persians "
came from the blackness
It is very clear that "the Persians" are literally portrayed
Immortals in 300
The retort to
this is that the movie is only faithfully reproducing the characters
of a harmless comic book. But is it?
How would members
of other ethnic communities worldwide feel if their ancestors were
being portrayed as monsters, troglodytes, degenerates, and demons?
These same producers would probably think twice if they were to
portray other nationalities in the manner that they have done with
the "Persians". If my logic (flawed as it may be) is not
mistaken, portraying Iranians as monsters, troglodytes, degenerates,
and demons is "artistic entertainment", but other nationalities
are exempt from this "art form" as this would be "tasteless
and politically incorrect" and would be regarded as a "hate
of specific ethnic groups with negative attributes in the name of
entertainment dollars is dangerously misinformed and irresponsible.
As noted earlier in this commentary, viewers and media outlets (especially
in the English-speaking world) are already interpreting much of
the movie in a "historical" light. The Greco-Persian wars
evoke very intense emotions in northwest European culture, in some
ways even more so than in modern-day Greece and Italy. The movie
300 has successfully capitalized on those very emotions in the quest
It is at this
juncture of the discussion, where we must remind ourselves of one
of Zoroaster's chief teachings: Zoroaster taught that good and
evil resides in all members of humanity, regardless of racial origin,
ethnic membership or religious affiliation. Each person is given
the choice between good and evil - it is up to us to choose between
recommend these valuable historical books by Dr. Kaveh Farrokh:
= = = = = =
= = = = = = =
the issues at length, it is hoped that the reader will appreciate
the multifaceted and organic nature of human history. Nations, peoples
and cultures have had a symbiotic relationship with one another
through trade, cultural exchanges and war. It is these very processes
that have shaped our identities and who we perceive ourselves to
be today. As the size of our world diminishes daily due to the breathtaking
leaps in technology and communications, it is all the more important
to make the endeavor to understand history, not in terms of "east"
versus "west", but with the appreciation of human civilization
being a collective.
= = = = = =
= = = = = = =
Dr. Kaveh Farrokh
is the author of "Sassanian Cavalry" (Osprey Publishing,
2005). He has lectured at the University of British Columbia as
well as Stanford University and has appeared on the History Channel
as an expert on ancient Iran. Dr. Farrokh is currently a member
of the Iran Linguistics Society, the Persian Gulf preservation Society
as well as the WAIS (World Association of International Studies)
at Stanford University. His new book, "Shadows in the Desert:
Persia at War" by Osprey Publishing is to be released in late
April 2007. Books by Kaveh Farrokh are available to order from here.
recommend these valuable historical books:
Shadows In The Desert
of Democracy and Human Rights/What Really Led to War
Abbott, J. (1902). Cyrus the Great. New York and London: Harper
Boyce, M. (1987). Zoroastrianism: A shadowy but Powerful Presence
in the Judaeo-Christian World. London: Dr. Williams's Trust.
Curtis, J. (2000). Ancient Persia. London: British Museum.
Delebeque, E., & Bizos, M. (1971-1978). Cyrope´die. Texte
e´tabli et traduit par Marcel Bizos. Paris : Les Belles Lettres.
Farrokh, K. (2007). Shadows in the Desert: Persia at War. London:
Osprey Publishing Ltd.
Frye, R.N. (1962). The Heritage of Persia. London: Weidenfeld &
Frye, R.N. (1984). History of Ancient Iran. Munich: C.H. Beck.
Moorey, P.R.S. (1975). Ancient Iran. Oxford: Ashmolean Museum.
Oxtoby, W.G. (1973). Ancient Iran and Zoroastrianism in Festschriften
: An Index. Waterloo, Ontario: Council on the Study of Religion,
Executive Office, Waterloo Lutheran University; Shiraz, Iran: Asia
Institute of Pahlavi University.
Spatari. N. (2003).Calabria, L'enigma Delle Arti Asittite: Nella
Calabria Ultramediterranea. Italy: MUSABA.
Wiesehofer, J. (1996). Ancient Persia: from 550 BC to 650 AD. London
and New York: IB Tauris.
Wars and the Battle of Salamis
Cartledge, P. (2004). The Spartans. Random House
Cook, J.M. (1962). The Greeks in Ionia and the East. London: Thames
Farrokh, K. (2005). Elite Sassanian Cavalry. London: Osprey Publishing
Farrokh, K. (2007). Shadows in the Desert: Persia at War. London:
Osprey Publishing Ltd.
Head, D. (1992). The Achaemenid Persian Army. Stockport: Montvert
Holland, T. (2006). Persian Fire: The First World Empire and the
Battle for the West. Doubleday Publishing.
Khorasani, M.M. (2006).Arms and Armor from Iran: The Bronze Age
to end of the Qajar Period. Legat Verlag.
Sekunda, N. (1992). The Persian Army. London: Osprey Publishing
[i] Wallinga, H.T. (2005). Xerxes'
Greek Adventure: The Naval Perspective. Leiden Brill Academic Publishers.
The Portrayal of Iranians and Greeks
Ewen, S. & Ewen, E. (2006). Typecasting: On the Arts and Sciences
of Human Inequality. New York: Seven Stories Press.
Parenti, M. (1992). Make-Believe Media: The Politics of Entertainment.
New York: St. Martin's Press.
Shaheen, J. (1984). The TV Arab. Bowling green, Ohio: Bowling Green
State University Popular Press.
McChesney, R.W. (1997). Corporate Media and the Threat to Democracy.
New York: Seven Stories Press.
See also on-line posting by Darius Kadivar:
Sword and Sandals: Films about Ancient Persia
Interested readers may consult the following sources for further
Brosius, M. (1998). Women in Ancient Persia: 559-333 BC. Oxford:
Davis-Kimball, J. (2002). Warrior Women: An Archaeologist's Search
for History's Hidden Heroines. Clayton, Victoria: Warner Books.
Farrokh, K. (2005). Elite Sassanian Cavalry. London: Osprey Publishing
Farrokh, K. (2007). Shadows in the Desert: Persia at War. London:
Osprey Publishing Ltd.
Winchester, B.P.P. (1930). The heroines of ancient Persia: Stories
Retold from the Shahnama of Firdausi. Cambridge: Cambridge University
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