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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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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 30 November 2021

The Dark Side of Paradise

The Dark Side of Paradise

(p.83) 6 The Dark Side of Paradise
Religion, Empire, and Torture
University of Chicago Press

This chapter addresses the gaps that opened up between ideals and performance, or, more pointedly, how its ideals brought the empire into contradiction. The Avestan cognate of paridaida denotes a walled enclosure, but the structure to which it refers is the opposite of the Achaemenian paradise. In both the Achaemenian and the Zoroastrian paradise, walls separate the world outside, which is constituted as the existential norm, from an internal space that stands in marked contrast to it. Mithridates was charged with having exaggerated his role in Cyrus' death and with slandering the king, whose veracity he thereby implicitly impugned. The ordeal of Mithridates stands as a prime example of Oriental despotism. The ordeal of the troughs illustrates how extraordinarily ingenious, inventive, and self-confident an imperial apparatus can be in advancing so ridiculous and repulsive an argument.

Keywords:   empire, paridaida, Achaemenian paradise, Zoroastrian paradise, Mithridates, Cyrus, Oriental despotism

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