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Founding Gods, Inventing NationsConquest and Culture Myths from Antiquity to Islam$
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William F. McCants

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691151489

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691151489.001.0001

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Who Was First? Protography and Discovery Catalogs

Who Was First? Protography and Discovery Catalogs

(p.57) Three Who Was First? Protography and Discovery Catalogs
Founding Gods, Inventing Nations

William F. McCants

Princeton University Press

This chapter focuses on protographical literature written by those who articulated the culture of the conquerors. The Greeks of Alexander's era saw themselves as the peers and heirs of the Near Eastern civilizations they were about to conquer. They accepted foreign contributions to their culture but were also confident in their own achievements, presaging the skill with which Greek rulers in the Near East would adopt the native traditions of those they conquered while expanding the influence Greek learning. In contrast, Ibn Qutayba and Pliny, wrote after the conquests and thus had to differentiate the conquerors' culture from that of the conquered following decades or centuries of foreign influence. Unlike the Greek authors, the two men are modest about the cultural achievements of the conquerors (Roman and Arab), reflecting the conquerors' genuine lack of a native learned high culture comparable to those they conquered. This lack of sophistication also caused both men to worry about the cultural influence of their imperial predecessors (Greek for Pliny, Iranian for Ibn Qutayba) on the new empires.

Keywords:   protography, civilization, Ibn Qutayba, Pliny, conquerors, conquests

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