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Catalog Archive / Spring 2020

Ctesias’ Persica and Its Near Eastern Context

Wisconsin Studies in Classics
Laura McClure, Mark Stansbury-O’Donnell, and Matthew Roller, Series Editors

“As Matt Waters demonstrates in Ctesias’ ‘Persica’ and Its Near Eastern Context, there is a whole treasury of folk tales and legends to be found in Ctesias that resonate with stories known or partly known from earlier Near Eastern literary texts.”
American Historical Review

The Persica is an extensive history of Assyria and Persia from around 400 BCE. It was written by the Greek historian Ctesias, who served as a doctor to the Persian king Artaxerxes II. In this volume, Matt Waters offers a fresh interdisciplinary analysis of the text. He shows in detail how Ctesias’ history, though written in a Greek literary style, was infused with two millennia of Mesopotamian and Persian motifs, legends, and traditions. Waters’ revealing study contributes significantly to knowledge of ancient historiography, Persian dynastic traditions and culture, and the influence of Near Eastern texts and oral tradition on Greek literature.


Matt Waters Matt Waters is a professor of classics and ancient history at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire. He is the author of Ancient Persia: A Concise History of the Achaemenid Empire, 550–330 BCE.




“Brief yet illuminating account of the Persica.”
Journal of the American Oriental Society

“The cumulative case made by Waters for the need to examine Ctesias’ work against a Near Eastern background is highly persuasive.”

“A pleasure to read. Waters opens new paths in Ctesian studies, showing that the Persica is not merely the product of a Greek playing literary games, but may actually have its origins in genuine documents from the ancient Near East.”
—Jan Pieter Stronk, editor and translator of Ctesias’ Persian History, Part 1

“This welcome study examines how the Greek author Ctesias processed an ancient Near Eastern and Iranian body of thought into a Greek world of ideas.”
—Josef Wiesehöfer, Kiel University



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Also in the Series

The Athenian Adonia in Context

Tragic Rites
Narrative and Ritual in Sophoclean Drama
Adriana E. Brook

Couched in Death

Silenced Voices
The Poetics of Speech in Ovid
Bartolo A. Natoli

Ctesia's Persica and Its Near Eastern Contect: Cover showing a crumbling stone relief depicting two lines of soldiers facing each other. Above the stone wall are three pillars in front of a blue sky. Above and below the image are two orange blocks proclaiming the title text.

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New in Paperback!
January 2020
LC: 2016016555 PA
184 pp. 6 x 9
18 b/w illus., 1 map

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Paper $21.95 S
ISBN 9780299310943
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Casebound $64.95 S
ISBN 9780299310905
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