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The Two Eyes of the Earth

Art and Ritual of Kingship between Rome and Sasanian Iran

Matthew P. Canepa (Author), Peter Brown (Series Editor)

Available worldwide

Hardcover, 456 pages
ISBN: 9780520257276
February 2010
$85.00, £71.00
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This pioneering study examines a pivotal period in the history of Europe and the Near East. Spanning the ancient and medieval worlds, it investigates the shared ideal of sacred kingship that emerged in the late Roman and Persian empires. This shared ideal, while often generating conflict during the four centuries of the empires' coexistence (224-642), also drove exchange, especially the means and methods Roman and Persian sovereigns used to project their notions of universal rule: elaborate systems of ritual and their cultures' visual, architectural, and urban environments. Matthew Canepa explores the artistic, ritual, and ideological interactions between Rome and the Iranian world under the Sasanian dynasty, the last great Persian dynasty before Islam. He analyzes how these two hostile systems of sacred universal sovereignty not only coexisted, but fostered cross-cultural exchange and communication despite their undying rivalry. Bridging the traditional divide between classical and Iranian history, this book brings to life the dazzling courts of two global powers that deeply affected the cultures of medieval Europe, Byzantium, Islam, South Asia, and China.
List of Illustrations
Sources and Abbreviations

1. Introduction
2. The Art and Ritual of Kingship Within and Between Rome and Sasanian Iran
3. The Lure of the Other and the Limits of the Past
4. Sapur I, King of Kings of Iran and Non-Iran
5. Rome’s Troubled Third Century and the Emergence of a New Equilibrium
6. Contested Images of Sacral Kingship and New Expressions of Triumph
7. Unceasing Embassies
8. City as Stage and Art as Statecraft
9. The Late Antique Kosmos of Power

Epilogue: The Legacy of the Two Eyes of the Earth

Matthew P. Canepa is Assistant Professor of Art History at the College of Charleston where he is a faculty member in the interdisciplinary programs in Archaeology and Asian Studies.
“This very good book is a welcome contribution to the study of the relationship between the Sasanian and Roman/Byzantine empires and is worthy of the prestigious series in which it appears.”—Bryn Mawr Classical Review (BMCR)
“This book is a true tour de force in the scholarship of the late ancient world. Canepa has bridged the traditional divide between Classical and Iranian studies to illuminate the long-running artistic dialogue between the late Roman and Sasanian Empires. Every chapter offers exciting new insights into the development of late antique art and rituals of power."—Joel Walker, author of The Legend of Mar Qardagh: Narrative and Christian Heroism in Late Antique Iraq

"The Two Eyes of the Earth is a masterly synthesis of a theme of the utmost importance for the political culture of the late antique world."—Peter Brown, author of Power and Persuasion

James H. Breasted Award, American Historical Association

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