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A State of MixtureChristians, Zoroastrians, and Iranian Political Culture in Late Antiquity$
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Richard E. Payne

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780520286191

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520286191.001.0001

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The Christian Symbolics of Power in a Zoroastrian Empire

The Christian Symbolics of Power in a Zoroastrian Empire

(p.164) 5. The Christian Symbolics of Power in a Zoroastrian Empire
A State of Mixture

Richard E. Payne

University of California Press

This chapter first traces Husraw II's innovative use of Christian symbols to represent his rule. It then turns to the acts through which the king of kings and his court communicated the supremacy of an imperial Zoroastrianism undiminished by the admixture of Christian saints and crosses and the empire's ideological apparatus. The same king of kings who cultivated a personal relationship with Christ and his saints also wished to be known for policing with the sword the boundary between the Good Religion and an inferior religion, Christianity. The apparent paradox of a ruler simultaneously elevating and suppressing Christianity is the main topic of the chapter. It argues that both actions worked to stabilize relations between the elites of the different religions in ways that allowed Husraw II to realize his expansionist ambitions. A hierarchical conception of humans and their religions provided the basis for cross-cultural symbolic experimentation and its counterpart, cross-cultural collaboration in an imperial political project.

Keywords:   Husraw II, Christians, Christian symbols, Zoroastrianism, Christianity, Good Religion

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