Date of this Version

December 2005

Document Type

Research Report

Publication Details

Ferguson, R. James (2005) Rome and Parthia: Power politics and diplomacy across cultural frontiers. Bond University : School of Humanities and Social Sciences : Centre for East-West Cultural and Economic Studies, December 2005, 38 pp.

Research paper series : Centre for East-West Cultural & Economic Studies ; No. 12.

© Copyright R. James Ferguson and the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Bond University, 2005


[extract] Historically the gateways to appreciate Persian and Parthian culture were limited until the modern period: these 'foreign' cultures were read through Greek, Roman, Christian or Byzantine viewpoints. However, this did not exclude the practical development of patterns of protocol and diplomacy that allowed these empires to communicate, if not really understand each other. Later on, Medieval Persia and the emerging modern state of Iran would be once again seen through the lens of European geopolitical needs and the Great Game played out between Russian and English interests. This occurred even as Iran carried forward a modified Hellenistic learning and its own unique Persian culture to influence both the Islamic and European worlds. Ironically, the lessons of power projection in the context of racial stereotyping across differing cultural regions was not always retained by Roman leaders, even after centuries of bitter experience and decades of pragmatic accommodation. In the 21st century there are even fewer excuses for failing to understand cultural frontiers as sources of threat and misinterpretation when engaging in distant wars aimed as securing some kind of global 'peace'.