Thursday, March 23, 2017

President Trump invokes Cyrus the Great

THE WHITE HOUSE has published a statement wishing a happy Persian New Year (Nowruz) to those who are celebrating it: Statement by President Donald J. Trump on Nowruz. Cyrus the Great is mentioned:
Cyrus the Great, a leader of the ancient Persian Empire, famously said that “[f]reedom, dignity, and wealth together constitute the greatest happiness of humanity. If you bequeath all three to your people, their love for you will never die.”
The quotation is from p. 119 of Larry Hedrick's book, Xenophon's Cyrus the Great: The Arts of Leadership and War, which appears to be a very free paraphrase of Xenophon's Cyropaedia. I have poked around a fair bit in online translations of the original work and I can find nothing like this quotation or even this episode. If you know what passage inspired Hedrick's quote (I assume there's one that did somewhere), please drop me a note and let me know.

Meanwhile, over at The Forward, Sam Kestenbaum has some ideas about what the reference to Cyrus may have meant in the context of the White House statement: Did Trump Just Compare Himself To King Cyrus?

This is far from the first time that Cyrus has been invoked in a political context. I have commented on the rather overblown picture of him as a pioneer of human rights here and links. For other past posts on Cyrus the Great, see here and many links, as well as here and here.