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Headword: Χοσρόης
Adler number: chi,418
Translated headword: Chosroes, Khosrau, Khosraw
Vetting Status: high
The Persians' king. "They praise him and they wonder at his merit -- not [only] the Persians, but even some of the Romans -- since (they say) he was a lover of literature and came to mastery of our philosophy, when the Greek writings had been translated for him into the Persian language by someone. And therefore they say that he gulped down all of the Stageirite[1] even more eagerly than the Paeanian did the son of Oloros,[2] and was totally obsessed with the teachings of Plato the son of Ariston[3] and nor could the Timaeus[4] elude him, even though it is very much embellished with geometrical speculation and investigates the movements of nature, and neither could the Phaedo[5] or the Gorgias[6] [elude him], nor indeed did any other of the sophisticated and more difficult dialogues, like the Parmenides.[7] But I," Agathias says, "would never have believed that he had such an excellent education and this consummate attainment. For how would it have been possible for that purity of ancient words, free and suited and completely fit to the nature of things to have been preserved in a unrefined and discordant language? How could a man who was exalted[8] from childhood by royal pomp and a great deal of flattery, who had a very barbaric[9] lifestyle, who was always on the lookout for wars and conspiracies, how could a man who was set on such a course of life [be supposed] to derive enjoyment from and be trained in these teachings? Therefore, if one should praise him, although he was a king and a Persian, concerned with so many peoples and matters, because he nevertheless desired to enjoy literature somehow or other and to be exalted in his reputation for these things,[10] then even I myself would praise the man and consider him greater than the other barbarians. But as many as go too far in calling him 'wise' and all but superior to those who ever practiced philosophy anywhere, [saying] that he knew the principles and causes of every art and discipline ... those men would be caught straying far from the truth and following only the rumour of the masses."
Greek Original:
Χοσρόης: ὁ Περσῶν βασιλεύς. ὑμνοῦσιν αὐτὸν καὶ ἄγανται πέρα τῆς ἀξίας μὴ ὅτι οἱ Πέρσαι, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἔνιοι τῶν Ῥωμαίων, ὡς λόγων ἐραστὴν καὶ φιλοσοφίας τῆς παρ' ἡμῖν ἐς ἄκρον ἐλθόντα, μεταβεβλημένων αὐτῷ ὑπό του ἐς τὴν Περσίδα φωνὴν τῶν Ἑλληνικῶν συγγραμμάτων. καὶ τοίνυν φασίν, ὅτι δὴ ὅλον τὸν Σταγειρίτην καταπιὼν εἴη μᾶλλον ἢ ὁ ῥήτωρ ὁ Παιανιεὺς τὸν Ὀλώρου, τῶν τε Πλάτωνος τοῦ Ἀρίστωνος ἀναπέπλησται δογμάτων, καὶ οὔτε ὁ Τίμαιος αὐτὸν ἀποδράσειεν ἄν, εἰ καὶ σφόδρα γραμμικῇ θεωρίᾳ πεποίκιλται, καὶ τὰς τῆς φύσεως ἀνιχνεύει κινήσεις, οὔτε ὁ Φαίδων οὔτε ὁ Γοργίας, οὐμενοῦν οὐδὲ ἄλλος τις τῶν γλαφυρῶν καὶ ἀγκυλωτέρων διαλόγων, ὁποῖος ὁ Παρμενίδης. ἐγὼ δέ, φησὶν Ἀγαθίας, οὕτως αὐτὸν ἄριστα ἔχειν παιδείας, καὶ ταῦτα τῆς ἀκροτάτης, οὐκ ἄν ποτε οἰηθείην. πῶς μὲν γὰρ οἷόν τε ἦν τὸ ἀκραιφνὲς ἐκεῖνο τῶν παλαιῶν ὀνομάτων, ἐλευθέριον καὶ πρός γε τῇ τῶν πραγμάτων φύσει πρόσφορόν τε καὶ ἐπικαιρότατον, ἀγρίᾳ τινὶ γλώττῃ καὶ ἀμουσοτάτῃ ἀποσωθῆναι; πῶς δὲ ἀνὴρ βασιλείῳ τύφῳ ἐκ παίδων καὶ κολακείᾳ πολλῇ γεγαννυμένος δίαιτάν τε λαχὼν ἐς ὅτι βαρυτάτην καὶ πρὸς πολέμους ἀεὶ καὶ παρατάξεις ὁρῶσαν, πῶς δὴ οὖν ὧδε βιοὺς ἔμελλε μέγα τι καὶ λόγου ἄξιον ἐν τοῖσδε ἀπόνασθαι τοῖς διδάγμασι καὶ ἐνασκηθῆναι; εἰ μὲν οὖν ἐπαινοίη τις αὐτόν, ὅτι δὴ βασιλεύς γε ὢν καὶ Πέρσης, ἐθνῶν τε τοσούτων καὶ πράξεων μέλον αὐτῷ: ὁ δὲ ἐφίετο γοῦν ὅμως ἀμηγέπη ἀπογεύεσθαι λόγων, καὶ τῇ περὶ ταῦτα γάννυσθαι δόξῃ: ξυνεπαινέσαιμι ἂν καὶ ἔγωγε τὸν ἄνδρα καὶ μείζονα θείην τῶν ἄλλων βαρβάρων. ὅσοι δὲ λίαν αὐτὸν σοφὸν ἀποκαλοῦσι καὶ μονονουχὶ τοὺς ὅποι ποτὲ πεφιλοσοφηκότας ὑπερβαλλόμενον, ὡς καὶ ἁπάσης τέχνης τε καὶ ἐπιστήμης τὰς ἀρχὰς καὶ αἰτίας διαγινώσκειν, ἐκεῖνοι ἂν μάλιστα φωραθεῖεν οὐ τῶν ἀληθῶν ἐστοχασμένοι, μόνῃ δὲ τῇ τῶν πολλῶν ἑπόμενοι φήμῃ.
Chosroes I (Persian Anushirvan), the twentieth Sassanid king of Persia who ruled 531-579. The bulk of this entry, after the initial gloss, quotes Agathias, Histories 2.28.
[1] Aristotle, who was from Stageira (alpha 3129).
[2] That is, Demosthenes (delta 454, delta 455) and Thucydides (theta 414). The influence of Thucydides' style on Demosthenes is readily apparent.
[3] For Plato see pi 1707.
[4] Plato's dialogues generally take their names from the man whom Socrates interrogates. Timaeus was a mathematician and philosopher of the Pythagorean school: see tau 601. The dialogue contains discussions of the order and laws of the physical universe and on the ultimate unknowability of the gods.
[5] Phaedo was a pupil of Socrates: see phi 154. The dialogue recounts the last hours of Socrates' life and his beliefs about the transmigration of souls.
[6] Gorgias of Leontinoi was a rhetor, often called a "sophist": see gamma 388. The dialogue sees Socrates arguing that the power of rhetoric creates belief without supporting knowledge.
[7] Parmenides was a disciple of one of the Ionian schools: see pi 675. The dialogue sees Socrates and Parmenides debating the existence of Platonic Forms.
[8] The text of Agathias has γεγανωμένος ; the Suda substitutes γεγαννυμένος .
[9] The text of Agathias has βαρβαρικωτάτην ("barbaric"); the Suda substitutes βαρυτάτην ("serious").
[10] Quoted also at mu 533.
Keywords: biography; dialects, grammar, and etymology; ethics; geography; historiography; history; mathematics; military affairs; philosophy; politics; rhetoric; science and technology
Translated by: Jennifer Benedict on 3 April 2008@05:00:21.
Vetted by:
Catharine Roth (tweaked translation, added keyword, set status) on 3 April 2008@11:41:35.
David Whitehead (more keywords; tweaked note numbers and other cosmetics) on 4 April 2008@03:09:05.
Catharine Roth (tweaked translation, added cross-reference) on 14 May 2009@11:54:42.
David Whitehead (another keyword; tweaking) on 12 November 2013@08:35:23.
Catharine Roth (coding) on 19 February 2015@00:47:12.


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