April 04: Persepolis in Flames

2016/04/04 § Leave a comment

During this month in 330 BC Alexander the Great burned the Palace at Persepolis to the ground.

Alexander had reached the spectacular Persian capital of the Achaemenids a few months earlier.  After thoroughly ransacking the famed sixth-century palace,he finally torched the place.  According to tradition, the act was (at least in part) retribution for the Persians’ earlier destruction of the Acropolis back in 480 BC.  Alexander’s was more than just payback: it was deep revenge, bent on wiping the slate clean of Persian rule and utterly demolishing the Empire’s key architectural symbol.  Diodorus Siculus remembered the event in his own annals: “As Persepolis had surpassed all other cities in prosperity, so she now exceeded them in misfortune.”

Now, Clio also knows how to hold a grudge, but she also knows how to exercise perspective.  Instead of burning down the palace, Alexander should have written a thank-you note to the descendents of Xerxes, for that earlier Persian attack cleared the way for one of the great rebuilding projects of all time.  From the ashes, Pericles reconstructed the buildings of the Acropolis; at its center rose the Parthenon, one of the great buildings of the world, ever.  Which just goes to show you–although we don’t overall buy into the Futurists (that whole anti-history thing is kind of a deal breaker for Clio), we sort of acknowledge that, once in a while, there is such a thing as a “beneficial demolition.”

But not here, nor this site 1,000 miles away, where a similar cultural cleansing has recently obliterated the artifacts of a great civilization.

Advertisements

Tagged: , , ,

Clio loves comments! Please leave a reply.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

What’s this?

You are currently reading April 04: Persepolis in Flames at Clio’s Calendar: Daily Musings on Architectural History.

meta

%d bloggers like this: