عکس برگرفته از سایت موزه بریتانیا

When we became enemies

The Persians had the misfortune to be the others, the enemies – in short, against whom the first European civilisation defined itself

All western political theory is implicitly defined against the ghost of Persia – from condemnations of “tyrants” in the Atlantic republican tradition to Marx’s caricature of “oriental despotism”. In winning their nationhood, the Greeks consigned the Persians to a miserable place in the world’s memory.

The most vivid portrait of a Persian ruler isn’t even in this exhibition. It appears in a mosaic found in Pompeii, now in the Naples Archaeological Museum, based on a lost painting of Alexander the Great in battle. Through a tangle of horses, men and spears, Alexander charges. Darius stands helpless in his chariot, his face startled and appalled, like a frightened rabbit. So much for Persia!

This is how history is made – by writers and artists recycling stories and images down the centuries. This mosaic decorated the House of the Faun in Pompeii centuries after the fall of Darius; millennia after that, the victories of Alexander are still box office.

I was left flat – not by the superb show but by the Persian Empire itself. The British Museum wants us to believe Persia was traduced by the Greeks. It wants to show us an alternative Persia from the evil empire vilified by Hellenic historians. Yet everything confirms this Greek “myth” of a supremely rich, powerful, bureaucratically faceless empire. The real difference between the Greek version and the version we get here is that the Greeks made the Persians glamorous in their villainy.

The contrast between Greeks and Persians is unavoidable when you contemplate the most imposing monuments here. I find it hard to enjoy reproductions. Nevertheless, some judgments are possible. The celebrated frieze of various peoples paying tribute is imposing. But the figures have a static quality. No one runs, nothing overlaps. Even the wonderful carving of two immense lions, or the black stone mastiff from Tehran – an original – succeed through mass rather than movement.

تیتر و تاکیدها از من است. برگرفته از مقاله چالش آمیزی در گاردین از جاناتان جونز به مناسبت نمایشگاه آثار پیش اسلامی و عمدتا هخامنشی ایران در موزه بریتانیا. ترجمه هایی ظاهرا از این مقاله صورت گرفته. یکی که من دیدم ناخوب و ناامیدکننده بود. روح مقاله که در کنایه ها و اشاره های آن است در این ترجمه بازاری یا بگو اداری گم شده و به متنی ضدایرانی تبدیل شده است. اما این متن بیشتر به تاریخ ستیز و سازش ایران و یونان اشاره دارد تا تایید آن. فتامل! و به هر حال به آن شوری که در ترجمه آمده نیست. راستش را بخواهید این متن از آن دست نوشته های روزنامه نگارانه است که در چارچوب سبک های نوشتاری این جا فهمیده می شود. نوعی بازیگوشی زبانی و بیانی در آن هست که خیلی انگلیسی است و ترجمه آن بویژه ترجمه بد آن کاملا سوء تفاهم برانگیز است.

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