The present article deals with an iconographic detail carved in four Sasanian rock reliefs of the 3rd century CE, in which the emperor Valerian is portrayed with the Persian king of kings Šāhpuhr I (240-272 CE). After his third campaign against the Romans, Šāhpuhr was able to capture Valerian during the battle of Edessa (260 CE), deported him and the remains of his defeated army. As it is well known, the reliefs located at Naqš-e Rostam and in the two sites of Bīšāhpuhr and Dārābgird in the region of Fārs (the ancient Περσίς of the Greeks) portrayed Šāhpuhr’s visual triumph. The unfortunate Roman emperor is represented standing next to or in front of Šāhpuhr’s horse, mostly with his wrist firmly grasped by the arm of the king of kings. The same iconic pattern is found on a famous cameo preserved in Paris. Šāhpuhr’s gesture must be directly and linguistically connected with a passage of his Res gestae, the long inscription found on the walls of the so-called Kacbe-ye Zardošt at Naqš-e Rostam, close to the ancient Persepolis. Here Šāhpuhr I proclaims that he «took prisoner with his own hands» the Roman emperor. Given that «to take prisoner» in the Middle Persian text sounds literally «with our own hand we took him prisoner» and since the term «prisoner» in Middle Persian is a compound of dast “hand” and grav from griftan “to grasp”, it is quite evident that Valerian’s grasped hand in the rock reliefs is simply an iconic projection of an etymology which, of course, is completely lost in the Greek version (ἡμεῖς ἐν ἰδίαις χερσὶν ἐκρατήσαμεν).

Etimologia ed iconografia: la cattura di Valeriano e Šāhpuhr / Mancini, Marco. - In: ATTI DELLA ACCADEMIA NAZIONALE DEI LINCEI. RENDICONTI. CLASSE DI SCIENZE MORALI, STORICHE E FILOLOGICHE. - ISSN 0391-8181. - 32:serie 9; fasc. 1-2(2021), pp. 5-50.

Etimologia ed iconografia: la cattura di Valeriano e Šāhpuhr

Marco Mancini
2021

Abstract

The present article deals with an iconographic detail carved in four Sasanian rock reliefs of the 3rd century CE, in which the emperor Valerian is portrayed with the Persian king of kings Šāhpuhr I (240-272 CE). After his third campaign against the Romans, Šāhpuhr was able to capture Valerian during the battle of Edessa (260 CE), deported him and the remains of his defeated army. As it is well known, the reliefs located at Naqš-e Rostam and in the two sites of Bīšāhpuhr and Dārābgird in the region of Fārs (the ancient Περσίς of the Greeks) portrayed Šāhpuhr’s visual triumph. The unfortunate Roman emperor is represented standing next to or in front of Šāhpuhr’s horse, mostly with his wrist firmly grasped by the arm of the king of kings. The same iconic pattern is found on a famous cameo preserved in Paris. Šāhpuhr’s gesture must be directly and linguistically connected with a passage of his Res gestae, the long inscription found on the walls of the so-called Kacbe-ye Zardošt at Naqš-e Rostam, close to the ancient Persepolis. Here Šāhpuhr I proclaims that he «took prisoner with his own hands» the Roman emperor. Given that «to take prisoner» in the Middle Persian text sounds literally «with our own hand we took him prisoner» and since the term «prisoner» in Middle Persian is a compound of dast “hand” and grav from griftan “to grasp”, it is quite evident that Valerian’s grasped hand in the rock reliefs is simply an iconic projection of an etymology which, of course, is completely lost in the Greek version (ἡμεῖς ἐν ἰδίαις χερσὶν ἐκρατήσαμεν).
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11573/1587491
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