Laken’s Categorized Bibliography

My categorized bibliography is below, but I wanted to provide a few notes on the categories/themes I mentioned that are related to history:

  • Historiography: This refers to the act of doing/writing history (which is actually from the Greek words ἱστορία and γράφω). Although there can be exceptions, it typically refers to using primary sources to produce a secondary source that covers the history of an event, place, person, etc. The sources I categorized as historiographies are books or articles that either focus on providing a thorough history of something/someone (like the Persian empire) or on answering a historical question (for example: What is the religion of the Achaemenid empire?).
  • Collective memory: As the name suggests, this is a popular point of focus in history that looks at how a group remembers something of people. This can include a person or people in this collective controlling or influencing how something is remembered, and typically what is remembered is true to the people remembering it but may not be true from a historian’s perspective. 

Primary Sources

Translations and Commentaries of Foundational Text

  • Aeschylus. 2009. Persae. Translated by A.F. Garvie. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.
    • This version of Persians provides a more updated version of the play with an introduction and commentary full of information about the content of the tragedy, its reception by scholars over the years, the various productions, and differing opinions on its political/historical significance. The commentary for the exchange between Xerxes and the chorus is particularly useful for my research, although I don’t fully agree with Garvie’s interpretations of the text. 
  • Aeschylus. 1996. Persians. Translated by Edith Hall. Warminster, England: Aris & Phillips. 
    • This edition of Persians includes the original text, a translation, and commentary on the tragedy. Edith Hall’s work is very relevant to my thesis, as she tends to focus on Greek depictions of non-Greeks/Persians in particular. In the commentary, she pays specific attention to how Aeschylus’ vision of Xerxes and the other Persian characters is reflective of Athenian collective memory of the Graeco-Persian Wars. This is a point I plan to focus on further as it is very much in line with my own interpretation of the tragedy. 

Contemporary Greek Sources

  • Herodotus. The Landmark Herodotus: The Histories. Translated by Andrea L. Purvis. Edited by Robert B. Strassler. First Anchor Books edition. Landmark Series. New York: Anchor Books, 2009.
    • I’m including the Histories as a means of not omitting a very significant work in the Greek imagination of Persia, but I do not see this as a legitimate piece of history, nor do I see Herodotus as a historian by modern standards. However, as Waters (another scholar I reference later in the bibliography) points out, Herodotus’ work is as much an important piece of literature as it is an important work for historical context.
  • Thucydides. 1996. The Landmark Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide to the Peloponnesian War. Translated by Richard Crawley. Edited by Robert B. Strassler. New York: Free Press.
    • Like Herodotus, I plan to use Thucydides to reconstruct Greek conceptions of Persia and then put that in conversation with Persians and historical works from the Achaemenid empire. Although his work is much less focused on Persia, Thucydides still discusses the role of the empire in the Peloponnesian War and the post-Persian Wars Greek world. 

Contemporary Achaemenid/Persian Sources 

  • Kuhrt, Amélie. 2007. The Persian Empire: A Corpus of Sources from the Achaemenid Period. vol. 1 and 2. London: Routledge.
    • This book includes translations of most of the known primary sources on the Achaemenid empire, and it is often seen as the most complete compilation of sources. Because of their easy accessibility, this makes these two volumes the most important sources for gaining insight into Persia on its own terms for my project. These sources are mostly royal inscriptions and archaeology, but there are also translations of administrative documents from across the empire.

Secondary Sources


  • Dandamaev, M. A. 1989. The Culture and Social Institutions of Ancient Iran. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 
    • This book provides the reader with a study of ancient Iran that is separate from many of the Persian empire studies based on Herodotus or other Greek and Roman texts. I plan to read this and other historiography centered around Persia in conversation with the tragedy and Greek texts to hopefully gain an understanding of both Persia to the Greeks and the Persian empire on its own terms with its own sources. 
  • Nigosian, S. A. 1975. “The Religions in Achaemenid Persia.” Studies in Religion 4, no. 4: 378–86.
    • This article provides a useful overview of the debates surrounding the religion(s) of Achaemenid Persia/Iran and includes primary evidence from Old Persian inscriptions and Greek texts to take a stance in this discussion. Despite the use of Greek sources, it is more for comparison to the inscriptions, and the author does not take Herodotus’ words as fact. Instead, Nigosian focuses on the multiple religions that co-existed within Achaemenid Persia and how these changed over the course of various kings’ reigns. 
  • Stoneman, Richard. 2015. Xerxes: A Persian Life. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
    • This book focuses on many aspects of Xerxes’ rule and life outside of his attempted conquest of Greece, including discussions of imperial religious practices, architectural projects, and military expeditions. The author claims to provide a Persian rather than a Greek perspective, but I will need to read further and see which sources are used and how.  
  • Waters, Matthew W. 2014. Ancient Persia: A Concise History of the Achaemenid Empire, 550-330 BCE. Cambridge: University Press.
    • This is another useful source for studying Persian history, both before and after the Persian Wars. In addition to historiography that covers the rules of Darius and Xerxes, Waters provides chapters with primary sources and translations of royal Achaemenid inscriptions that give further information on ancient Persia separate from the Greek and Roman authors. In the introduction to the text, Waters also makes a point that has stuck with me: Despite the immense significance of the Persian Wars in Greek imagination, it is only a very small part of the history of the Achaemenid empire. Xerxes’ failure to invade Greece was not the end of his reign nor the end of the empire, despite how Aeschylus depicts him. I plan to think through how this event impacted Greece and Persia in quite different ways more in my project.

Aeschylus and Persians  

  • Favorini, Attilio. 2003. “History, Collective Memory, and Aeschylus’ ‘The Persians.’” In Theatre Journal 55, no. 1. 99–111.
    • This is a useful article for thinking through the relationship between historiography, contemporary reactions to the tragedy, and scholarly debates surrounding the production of Persians. Collective memory is also a major interest of mine when it comes to thinking through history, and I believe that it must be included in the conversation around this tragedy.
  • Harrison, Thomas. 2000. The Emptiness of Asia: Aeschylus’ “Persians” and the History of the Fifth Century. London, United Kingdom: Bloomsbury Publishing.
    • This book aims to provide the reader with an analysis of Persians that considers both its literary and historical significance, which is very important for me as I research this topic. Harrison also makes a point about using Persians to provide insight into the social, cultural, and political state of Athens during the production of this tragedy rather than a factual historical document, which I certainly agree with in my own research. 
  • Podlecki, Anthony J. 1996. The Political Background of Aeschylean Tragedy. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press. 
    • This book is a series of analyses of Aeschylus’ works and their connection to 5th-century Athenian political and social life. The chapter on Persians goes into detail on the history of the play’s production and its patronage by prominent Athenian politician and Salamis military general Themistocles. It is a good resource when thinking about propaganda and the Persian Wars in Athenian politics. 

Gender and Emotions 

  • Alexiou, Margaret. 2002. The Ritual Lament in Greek Tradition. Greek Studies: Interdisciplinary Approaches. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
    • This book focuses on the role of lament across the Greek world, including both mythological and historical case studies. I plan to use this book to gain some background knowledge on Greek lamentation and hopefully find comparative examples in Achaemenid sources. If this is not possible, I still wish to use this source to analyze how the lamentations of Xerxes and the chorus either do or do not fit within the Greek standard.
  • Allard, Jean-Noel., Pascal Montlahuc, and Marian Rothstein. 2018. “The Gendered Construction of Emotions in the Greek and Roman Worlds,” in Clio. Women, Gender, History, no. 47:  23-44. 
    • o   Like the Alexiou source, this article provides general information on the relationship between gender and emotions in the ancient Greek and Roman world. However, the authors of this article propose an interesting concept that I want to take further in my own research: a gendered regime of emotions. Essentially, they argue that emotions themselves are not gendered in the Greek/Roman world, but the expression of these emotions is gendered. For instance, Xerxes’ grieving would not be seen as non-masculine, but the spectacle of his excessive grieving would. 
  • Munteanu, Dana LaCourse. 2011. Emotion, Genre and Gender in Classical Antiquity. London: Bristol Classical Press.
    • This collection of essays focuses on different aspects of emotion and gender in the ancient world in both art and literature, but there are a few chapters that are particularly relevant to my topic, such as “Veiling Grief on the Tragic Stage” and “Cowardice and Gender in the Iliad and Greek Tragedy.” Although this is from a literary perspective more than a historical one, it will still provide additional context for gender and emotions in tragedy and epic, which I can then connect to the social life of Greece myself. 
  • Suter, Ann. 2008. Lament: Studies in the Ancient Mediterranean and Beyond. New York: Oxford University Press.
    • This book is a collection of essays on lament in different formats and areas of the ancient world, but I am particularly interested in the chapters on “Reading the Laments of Iliad 24” and “Male Lament in Greek Tragedy.” These chapters provide a study of the intersection between grief and gender, so this will be valuable as I analyze Xerxes’ laments in Persians in comparison to other works.

Persia in Greek Imagination 

  • Bridges, Emma. 2014. Imagining Xerxes: Ancient Perspectives on a Persian King. Bloomsbury Studies in Classical Reception. New York: Bloomsbury Academic. 
    • This book is a collection of essays on Xerxes from primarily Greek and Roman perspectives, which provides further insight into how images of Xerxes transformed from a mythological figure who was feared during the Persian Wars to an object for ridicule or hate after. One chapter closely related to my thesis is “Staging Xerxes: Aeschylus and Beyond,” which focuses on Xerxes as both a tragic and historic figure.
  • Gruen, Erich S. 2011. “Persia in the Greek Perception: Aeschylus and Herodotus.” In Rethinking the Other in Antiquity, 9–52. Princeton University Press.
    • This chapter, and also this book as a whole, is another valuable resource for studying how ancient authors and “historians” represented non-Greek peoples. Because of my topic, I’m more interested in the segments on Aeschylus, but I also think it would be detrimental to my research not to consider the significance of Herodotus’ work during the 5th century and beyond (especially since it is often the starting point for thinking about Persia, for both modern scholars and ancient authors). 
  • Hall, Edith. 1991. Inventing the Barbarian: Greek Self-Definition through Tragedy. Oxford Classical Monographs. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press.
    • As I mentioned earlier, Hall is a scholar who will constantly reappear when studying representations of non-Greeks in Greek works, so this book is an important secondary source I do not want to neglect. I’m particularly interested in the idea of looking at how the depiction of Persian or other non-Greek characters can be reflective of Greek collective identity (Athenian in many cases).
  • Morgan, Janett. 2016. “Facing the Gorgon: Reactions to the Achaemenid Empire in Classical Athens.” In Greek Perspectives on the Achaemenid Empire, 125–88. Persia Through the Looking Glass. Edinburgh University Press.
    • This whole book is useful when thinking about Greek interpretations of Persia in literature, art, and material culture, while this chapter in particular focuses on Athens immediately before and following the Persian Wars. However, this author emphasizes the connection between representations of Persia and Athenian politics more than I plan to do in my own research.

History and Theory 

  • Pelling, C. B. R. 1997. Greek Tragedy and the Historian. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press.
    • This book provides readers with multiple chapters on different tragedies and their place within history, in addition to speculation on how these tragedies would have been received by the contemporary audience. It asks questions about how historians can effectively study cultural and literary works like tragedy, which is another important point of focus for my work. 

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