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Religion, Empire, and TortureThe Case of Achaemenian Persia, with a Postscript on Abu Ghraib$
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Bruce Lincoln

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780226481968

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226481913.001.0001

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God's Chosen

God's Chosen

(p.33) 3 God's Chosen
Religion, Empire, and Torture
University of Chicago Press

This chapter evaluates the relation of deity and virtue on political power's claim for itself. Achaemenian kingship managed to include in its sustaining ideology both dynastic and charismatic elements. Cyrus organized the Persians to overthrow the Medes. Cyrus' conquest of Babylon is explored. The chapter shows how Cyrus and Cambyses enlisted the gods of the people they conquered to help forestall the possibility of native unrest and to legitimate their rule. After creating the world, the Wise Lord appears to have had nothing to do, save the work of locating worthy candidates, installing them as king, securing their safety, and ensuring their victory over adversaries. Darius seems to suggest that the Wise Lord recognized him as the very antithesis of the Lie. Accordingly, God raised him to kingship and charged him with a restorative mission.

Keywords:   deity, virtue, political power, Achaemenian kingship, Cyrus, Babylon, Cambyses, Wise Lord, Darius

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