The Iranian Concept Aša and Greek Views of the Persians


  • Andrew G. Nichols


The Greeks have always demonstrated a fascination for Persian adherenceto truth and justice. Although Greek authors regularly describeddistant and exotic peoples as having a just and pious nature, their accountson Persian adherence to these values are not merely followinga topos. Rather, these accounts refl ect genuine Persian practices andbeliefs that can be traced to a single Iranian concept: aša, the cosmicprinciple of order, truth, and justice. This paper offers an overview ofall Greek texts that refl ect the many facets of aša and a discussion ofthe various ways in which Persian reverence for aša was described andadapted for a Greek audience. The paper also looks at how Zoroastriansthemselves described aša when writing in Greek.

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