Ancient Iran: Cosmology, Mythology, History presents Iran's pre-Islamic history within the context of both its complex cosmology and rich mythology. The audiobook uses the concept of farr to show how authority, finding guidance in the cosmic realm, organized the lives of Iran's hero-saints in the mythic realm. It also discusses how historical monarchs organized their hierarchical societies according to the dictates of Ahura Mazda.
The audiobook is divided into three parts. The first part examines cosmology, concentrating on Ahura Mazda and the Ahuric order that emanates from him. The next section addresses mythology and describes how the rulership of hero-saints promoted the farr, culminating in the unique creed of Zoroaster. The final section tells the history of pre-Islamic Iran. It begins with a study of life on the plateau, moves on to the stages of empire and concludes with the rule of the Parthians and Sassanids.
Additionally, through a new interpretation of Firdowsi's Shahname, the volume shows how the prophet Zoroaster reorganized Mazdian cosmology to fit the ethical, philosophical, and sociological dynamics of Achaemenid and Sassanid Iran.
What listeners say about Ancient IranAverage Customer Ratings
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What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?
To make the theological (he called it cosmology) narration and explanation clearer and simpler. To give reference for all the rulers history, which was given as facts without supporting evidence. Less confusing new names that kept being introduced, without making emphasis on who are the main characters to concentrate on. Also, the narrator was not familiar with how to pronounce the names as we are used to call them in other history books (may be he was using Iranian way of pronunciation, but it was difficult to follow).
What will your next listen be?
Another book on ancient history, but from Great Courses library.
What didn’t you like about Mark Delgado’s performance?
Too quick in reading especially with many new names (some are trivial characters) and pronouncing their names in a different way than other history books do.
What character would you cut from Ancient Iran?
To shorten the theology (cosmology) and to emphasise who are the main characters in the story.
- Anonymous User
Good recap of Ancient Iran's theology and history
I found the second half of the book quite informative, especially the description of the rule and history of Achaemenid and Sasanian kings in the context of the Iranian society of the time as well as the theological context of Mazdaism, Zoroastrianism, and Manichaeism.
Regarding the earlier chapters and Ancient Iran's cosmology, theology, and the mythology of the Kayanian Dynasty, I think it may be tougher to go through if you are not a native Iranian or Persian speaker, and/or have little pre-existing knowledge of the exotic sounding names and stories of Iranian mythology. Specifically the chapters that review the Ancient Iranian religion (which the book calls Mazdaism) and the mythology described in Ferdowsi's Shahnameh, all felt more like a quick recap rather than the more in depth analyses of the later historical chapters.
Overall if you have some general knowledge of Ancient Iranian theology, the Shahnameh, and the history of the Achaemenid, Seleucid, Parthian, and Sasanian dynasties, and you would like to further consolidate and expand upon your understanding, I would recommend this book as a good starting point.