Hollywood has just released one of the
latest of its epic blockbusters: Alexander the Great. Directed by distinguished
director Oliver Stone, the movie endeavours to recreate the events of the
Hellenic conquests and the downfall of the first Persian Achaemenid Empire. It
is important to note however, that simply because a movie is high budget, casts
high profile Hollywood actors and is directed by top ranking directors, does not
make it flawless.
Beyond the entertainment value of Oliver Stone's
latest project, a number of serious errors do exist in the movie, many which may
appear trivial. These "trivial" errors will nevertheless be of consequence to
both Iranians and Greeks.
Ironically, it has been my Greek friends and
colleagues who bought the flaws of Oliver Stone's "Alexander" picture to my
attention. There are a total of five overall errors that will be listed and
(1) The Battle
Oliver Stone has relied on Professor Robin Lane Fox,
one of the world's foremost experts in the area of Alexander and Hellenic
Studies. His book is a standard reference text in the area of Alexandrian
R.L. Fox. Alexander the Great. London: Penguin, 1986 and
1994. ISBN: 0140088784
Despite excellent reviews of his book by
critics and scholars, Dr. Fox does not understand the military of ancient
Persia. A typographical shot of the battle of Gaugamela, shows the Greeks
advancing in ordered and disciplined ranks. In contrast, the armies of Darius
III are shown as little better than an amorphous mob. This is a false image of
the Achaemenid army. The Achaemenids used drums and musical instruments to
direct the marching tactics of their troops in battle. Second, the Achaemeneans
used the decimal system, which was in fact, unknown to the Greeks of the period.
Persian units were formed in legions of 10, 100 or 1000 or 10,000. A typical
term was "Hezar-Patesh" (roughly equivalent to "leader of a thousand men").
In addition, the Persians had developed a sophisticated system of
heraldry and their troops wore standard uniforms. The Greeks were certainly
excellent fighters and were thoroughly organized, but this does not mean that
the Persians were not. At the time, the Greeks were militarily superior with
respect to armaments, tactics and military training.
imbalance changed with the coming of the Parthian and Sassanian cavalry. The
Iranian Savaran (elite Cavalry) successfully halted and defeated many of the
later Greek-Hoplite inspired Roman armies. Many Romans attempted to imitate
Alexander and failed against Persia. These include Marcus Lucinius Crassus at
Carrhae, Marc Antony at Tabriz (where he failed twice), Gordian III at Mesiche,
Phillip the Arab near modern Syria, Valerian at Barbablissos, and Julian the
Apostate in Mesopotamia. I personally doubt that Hollywood will recreate these
spectacular Roman defeats as these will challenge contemporary western notions
of the Alexandrian legacy. In addition, many Iranians today are unaware of the
proud legacy of the Parthian and Sassanian Savaran.
elementary grasp of Iranian militaria should not inspire much confidence with
respect to accurate portrayals of Iranians in general. You may wish to
read the following books by Professors Sekunda and Head who are experts on the
uniforms, dress and equipment of the ancient Greeks and Achaemenid Persians.
D. Head. The Achaemenid Persian Army. England: Montvert
Publications, 1992. ISBN: 1874101000
There are many errors with the
uniforms portrayed as "Persian". As you will see in these books, the colors and
materials of Achaemenid Persians were invariably bright with a mix of shades of
purple, Saffron, red dyes, shades of blue and green, mixed with darker browns
(almost Burgundy) and black. These fashions and regalia were resuscitated during
the Sassanian dynasty (226-651 AD). Only the Persian archers (and a few guards)
are shown with some accuracy; the same cannot be said with respect to the other
"Persians" of the movie set.
More puzzling is the "Arabesque" way in
which ancient Persians are portrayed in this battle. I was shocked to see
Arabian camel riders used to portray one of the vanguards of Darius III's attack
on Alexander at the battle scene. Arabs were simply auxiliary units in the
Achaemenean army at the time, and were not a major factor. Camel troops were
never a major battle order in the armies of Persia. I also noticed that an
infantry troop of the Achaemenid advance guard was speaking in Arabic. Persian
is not related to Arabic; it is an Indo-European language akin to the languages
of Europe and India.
This may be the usual Hollywood habit however of
portraying Iranians as Arabs, a topic we will re-visit later in this commentary.
(2) Confusing Persia with
It is very interesting that Professor Fox does not refer to
the Achaemenid capitals in Susa, Maracanda (Samarqand), Media or Persopolis. The
destruction of Persopolis by Alexander is a major event - instead the movie
shows Alexander entering the city of Babylon, implying that this was the
administrative capital of Persia. Babylon was simply another satrapy of the
empire; not its capital. Babylon had already been incorporated into the Persian
Empire in 539 BC by Cyrus the Great (559-530 BC). Why is Persopolis and
its destruction not mentioned? There was also the destruction of the three major
Zoroastrian texts by Alexander - also not referred to in the movie.
possible reason for this may be found in Professor Fox's.interview with the
distinguished journal "Archeology Today" (Riding with Alexander) (enter link
below into your internet browser):
Note the statement below, and how indicative it is of
Professor Fox's lack of understanding of Classical Achaemenid Persia:
all understood that the separate "parts" of Oliver's drama must be "color-coded"
and ... which could not totally depart from audiences' expectations of Greek or
Note the statement "Greek or Babylonian imagery".
This statement implies that Persia had no real arts worth mentioning, and that
Persia is simply an extension of Babylon or at best interchangeable.
noted previously, Babylon was not a major power at the time of Alexander.
Persian arts and architecture were an eclectic synthesis of indigenous (e.g
Median, Elamite), Lydian, and Mesopotamian styles, including Babylonian. The
city-palace of Persopolis is very distinct and cannot be crudely termed as
Babylonian. It is, to put it mildly, shocking, that the treatment of Persian
studies is addressed at such a shallow level by Professor Fox.
important point must be made, especially with respect to the reason why
Alexander was so violent in his conquest of Persia. The Greeks were simply
taking revenge for the earlier invasion of their country by Darius the Great and
his son Xerxes. The Greeks paid a heavy price for their battles at Marathon (490
BC), Thermopylae (17th September, 490 BC), Athens (27th September, 490 BC),
Salamis (29th September, 490 BC), and Plataea (479 BC). It is significant that
when Xerxes burned Athens, he ordered the sacred statues of the Greek gods to be
removed and brought to Persia. The Greeks revered their gods and this Persian
act was a national insult to them. Most contemporary Iranians are not aware of
these facts. This certainly is not an excuse for what happened at Alexander's
time, but it does help put these events in perspective.
Iranians demonize Alexander, the man did come to develop a great deal of respect
for Persia. The more Alexander stayed in Persia, the more "Persian" he became,
in manners and in dress. Alexander paid his respects at the tomb of Cyrus the
Great and indeed saw himself as the heir of Cyrus. The Greeks so admired Cyrus
the Great, that they saw his manner of government as a model. You may wish to
read the Greek "Cyropedia". If Aristotle made racist statements about the
Persians (and this is shown in the movie), it must also be made clear that many
Greeks also praised the Persians (see Xenophon or Plutarch in his discussion of
the Parthian general Surena). A very positive aspect of the Alexander movie is
that Alexander praises the "east" for its architecture and civilization. It is
possible that Alexander was poisoned by some of his officers for becoming too
(3) The Blondism of
A very serious concern of the Alexander movie is the
promotion of the idea of the "Nordicism" of ancient Greece. Put simply, this is
the thesis that ancient Greeks were not only predominantly blonde, but "Nordic",
in the manner of present-day Scandinavians and Northern Germans. Nordicists
have long argued, since the late 1700s, that the people of ancient and modern
Greece are unrelated. Nordicism argues that the "ancient" Greeks were the "true"
Greeks in contrast to the non-Nordic people of Greece today. This view is
exemplified by the Austrian Hellenicist, Professor Fallmerayer, in the 1830s,
who noted that "not a drop of pure Greek blood runs in the veins of modern
Greeks..." To this day, Fallmerayer is recalled with bitterness and derision in
Greece. It is worth noting that Fallmerayer never set foot in Greece in his
entire lifetime. For further discussion on these issues you may wish to
Felipe Fernandez-Armesto's "Guide to Peoples of Europe", especially
pages 207-216. Published in London by Times Books in 1994. ISBN:
Fallmerayer's analysis of Greece is not entirely correct.
While true that the Ottoman Turks ruled Greece for 400 years and that previous
Byzantine rulers (e.g. Emperor Nikopherous) had to import colonists from present
day south Italy to help repopulate parts of Greece ravaged by wars, many of
these "Italian" colonists were themselves ancient Greek, settled in regions such
as Calabria and Southern France since the times of Darius the Great and earlier.
In any event, there has always been a strong and predominant Greek element in
areas such as the Peloponnesos.
As for the lack of mainstream Nordiscism
in modern Greece, this has to do with the history of ancient Greece itself.
Mainland Greece was already settled with indigenous Mediterranean peoples, such
as the ancient Minoans, before the arrival of the Classical Greeks. Ancient
Greece, like today, was a mixture of Mediterranean and "blonde"
This leads to a very crucial question:
why have no Greek actors been selected to portray classical Greeks such as
Alexander, Hephaestion, Ptolemy I, Olympias, King Phillip II, Cassander or
Antiginous? For a review of the cast, click on the following links (enter links
below into your internet browser):
If one were to use Classical Greek works of art (vases
and statues specifically) as a standard for prototypical Greek physical
appearance, one can then easily find a plethora of modern Greek actors and
actresses today who can portray ancient Greeks. It is interesting as to why
Oliver Stone did not select Hollywood actors of Greek descent or from mainland
Oliver Stone goes further however. Colin Farrell, a dark haired Irish
actor, who plays Alexander, is portrayed literally, as a bleached blonde. The
notion of Alexander being Flaxen-haired or blonde is itself a matter of
considerable doubt if not strong dispute. As noted by my friend George Tsonis, a
Greek-Canadian and a scholar of Greek, Roman and Persian history, the Greek word
for Alexander's complexion is "Xanthenein" (fair). This description simply marks
Alexander's complexion as being fairer than the other Greeks of his time. Yes,
he was relatively fair, but not necessarily flaxen-blonde in the Nordicist
sense. From the Tufts University Lexicon "Xanthenein" is roughly translated as
fair or a yellowish-brown color. A related term, "Xanthizo", can also be to
"make yellow" or "brown". No wonder there is confusion!
most western scholars rely on for their references, does not actually describe
Alexander's hair color, only his complexion. This is a quote from Aelian on the
hair; below is the Anglisized Greek from Cyrillic and the English translation
"Alexandron de ton Filippou apragmonos oraion legousi
genesthai' tin men gar komin anasesyrthai afto, xanthin de
"Alexander the son of Philip is reported to have possessed a
natural beauty: his hair was wavy and fair"
To see the debates raging about Alexander's true appearance see the
following discussion panel (enter link below into your internet
A very non-Nordic portrayal of Alexander is evident in the
Pompei Mosaic. It is agreed by a majority of scholars that the painting is a
faithful rendition of an original Hellenistic painting of the 3rd century BC. As
you will witness in the painting below, this Hellenic-Roman version of Alexander
is very different from the contemporary Hollywood fantasy interpretation (see
As you see in the photo, this is a very different Alexander than what
many western scholars and Hollywood would have us believe.
appears to refutes the notion of Alexander being blonde. Nevertheless, a number
of western scholars remain determined to push forward an image of Alexander that
may be false. There are scholars who are actually convinced that the Pompei
mosaic is proof of Alexander's Nordic blondeness! Even in allowing for poor
reproductions, the mosaic clearly shows a 'brown' haired person with a
Mediterranean or modern Iranian profile. Many Greek and Iranian people today
have auburn-brown hair, which can appear to be somewhat "blonde" in
The point from the Greek perspective however, is not simply
whether Alexander was blonde or not. After all, the Dorian Greeks were blonde as
a rule, just as the original Persians and Mede settlers of ancient Iran were as
well. The issue is that of using the notion of blondeness to project a
specifically non-Greek Nordic west European image. Irrespective of whether
Alexander was blonde or not, he represented the culture of ancient Greece, which
is not necessarily the same as that of modern Western Europe.
Greece and Rome, as we will note again further below, were Mediterranean
empires, very different from the inhabitants of interior and northern Europe.
The peoples of western and eastern Europe were very different from the Classical
Greeks in culture, language and temperament. To obtain an introduction to the
history of the northern Europeans, you may wish to read:
D. Rankin. Celts
and the Classical World. London: Routledge, 1996. ISBN: 0-415-15090-6
A. Ferrill. The Fall of the Roman Empire: The Military Explanation.
Thames & Hudson, 1986. ISBN: 0500274959
The "Europeans" adopted a
great deal of their civilization and identity from the Greeks and the Romans.
Even the name "Europe" is derived from the ancient Greek term "Oropia". It may
not be an exaggeration to state the following: with their adoption of
Greco-Roman culture, west European scholars in particular, have essentially
affected a "Nordic makeover" of the ancient Greeks and Romans. As Western
culture has adopted the mantle of ancient Greece, it has also adopted Alexander
as its own son; to the point that Alexander and ancient Greece are viewed as
identical with ancient Western Europe and Scandinavia.
Nordicising of favourite historical figures does not end with Alexander. Jesus
Christ, is frequently portrayed as a slightly built, tall blonde Nordic man.
Jesus or Jeshua, was a Jew from West Asia who spoke Aramaic. It is now
acknowledged by a number of researchers that much of what we accept as the
"appearance" of Jesus is not altogether accurate. Jesus would most likely have
resembled a modern Fertile Crescent Arab or Jew from places such as Jerusalem,
Amman, Hebron, Damascus or Basra. Scientists have recently reconstructed the
image of Christ as he would have most likely appeared in his lifetime in ancient
Palestine and Judea (see photo below):
The reconstruction that you witnessed in the attachment is very different
from the icons we are used to seeing in the churches and Christian arts of
Northwestern Europe. How many images have you seen in North American or Western
European churches that show the Aramaic Christ? It would seen that, like
Alexander, the "real image" of Jesus has shifted in accordance with politics,
ideology, dogma and popular culture over the centuries. Interestingly, many
cultures across the world today interpret Jesus' physical appearance in
accordance with their own anthropomorphic image (enter link below into your
It appears that Hollywood has successfully associated a
certain physical appearance with modernity, progress, success and rationalism.
By implication, that which is not of that "certain look" is in danger of being
associated with all that is the antithesis of that. With this logic, historical
reality is bent to fit a manufactured reality: a fantasy.
(4) Greek or Macedonian?
contains a number of concerns to Greeks in particular, such as Macedonia being
"different" from the rest of Greece, a very contested issue in the Balkans these
days. Although not generally reported, the government of Greece, which had
originally supported the Alexander picture, withdrew its funding and support for
Oliver Stone's project (enter link below into your internet
There was to have been co-operation between Stone and the
Greek government, but this was apparently changed when the details of the script
became known (see also (4) below).
To be honest, I was left confused as
to whether the Macedonians were Greek or not. This may be an attempt to placate
those who view Macedonia as "different" from Greece, not unlike those who try to
argue that Kurds and Azerbaijanis are not Iranians. The Greeks, like the
Iranians today, are now confronted with having to defend their historical
heritage against those who have territorial claims against their nation. The
Oliver Stone picture, in my opinion, does not clearly define Macedonians as
In addition to these concerns, many Greeks are offended by the
bisexual portrayal of Alexander. It is also rumoured that many Greek
associations may have plans to sue Oliver Stone.
Again, ancient Greek
terminology and its translations by western scholars may have played a role in
the "bisexual" interpretation of Alexander. We have already seen how the term
"Xanthenein" has been stretched to paint a "Scandinavian" Alexander.
(5) The Portrayal of Roxanna and
the Perpetuation of the "Hollywood Persian"
My wife Parnian and I, as
Iranians, found the portrayal of Roxanna insulting. This portrayal has been
defined by the aforementioned Professor Fox, whose has already been noted for
his shallow understanding of Persian arts and architecture. Professor Fox's
portrayal of Roxanna also indicates that he has very little knowledge of Iran's
The portrayal of ancient Iranians is outright
comical, if not insulting. The inaccurate Hollywood portrayal of Iranians
is exemplified by the selection of Rosario Dawson ( http://www.lostfocus.de/archives/rosario_dawson.jpg ), a very talented, beautiful and intelligent black actress,
to star as Roxanna, an ancient Iranian queen from Soghdia-Bactria. Roxanna was
not black, anymore than Alexander was Scandinavian. Having Rosario Dawson
portrayed as Roxanna makes as much sense as having Lucy Liu, an Asian-American,
portraying Queen Victoria of Great Britain.
The term Roxanna is derived
from Old Iranian "Rokh-shwan" or "face (Ruksh) - fair skinned-shiny (shwan)".
Roxanna was related to a North Iranian tribe known later as the Sarmatians, the
remnants who survive in the Caucasus and Russia as the Ossetians (ancient Alans
Roman sources such as Pliny repeatedly describe ancient
North Iranian peoples such as the Alans and Seres as "...flaxen (blonde) haired
blue eyed nomads..." (see Wilcox, p.19). Rosario Dawson does not fit the
description of an ancient Iranian woman, especially from Northern Iranian stock.
The Ossetians of today, descendants of ancient Northern Iranians, predominantly
resemble northern Iranians and Europeans and speak an archaic Iranian language
(like the Avesta of the Zoroastrians). Blondism is very common among these
descendants of ancient North Iranians in cities such as Beslan and Vladikafkaz.
It can be argued that Roxanna was a brunette, however, she was of Northern
Iranian stock, which would still make her very different from actress Rosario
There are plenty of talented actresses of Iranian descent in
North America alone that would well fit the historical Roxanna. Oliver Stone
could have just as easily selected an Iranian actress, however he relied on the
historical "expertise" of Professor Fox. The question that can be addressed to
Professor Fox is this: what makes Rosario Dawson so representative of Iranian
women and Roxanna in particular? Is the Professor aware of the anthropology and
history of ancient Iran as it was at 333 BC?
More puzzling is the design
of Roxanna's costume in the movie. Note the photo showing the marriage of
Alexander to Roxanna. Roxanna appears to wear a Burka-like veil constructed of
strips of metallic mesh in which the face is partly hidden. See the photo (enter
link below into your internet browser):
The headgear is partly correct if we base the costume on the
Saka Paradraya Iranian speaking tribes of the present-day Ukraine (8-4th
centuries BC). The decorations on the headgear are simply wrong and Iranian
queens did not wear face masks of any type. For a discussion of the Saka
Paradrya, known in the west as Scythians, consult:
E.V. Cernenko. The
Scythians 700-300 BC. London: OspreyPublishing, 1989. ISBN: 0850454786 See
colour plate G.
Once you have consulted Professor's Cernenko's book, it
will be evident how flawed the costume design is, not to mention the colors.
None of the reconstructions by Professor Gorelik, which Cernenko has consulted,
show any type of face masks for ancient Iranian women. Ancient Iranian women,
who were found in military, religious and political leadership roles, simply did
not wear such attire during courtship, marriage or everyday duties.
is not clear why Professor Fox has chosen a Burka-like face mask for Roxanna at
Alexander's wedding. Variants of this face mask are present in Afghanistan
today, mainly the result of former Taliban rule and very conservative Pashtoon
tribal society, which very strongly identifies itself with the culture of
Even more interesting is the "Arabian Nights" portrayal
of an Achaemenid harem. Harems certainly existed in Persia and the later Roman
and Byzantine courts, however the specifically "Arabian" appearance accdored to
the Achaemenids is simply consistent with the Hollywood tradition of portraying
Iranians as Arabs.
Interestingly, the movie portrays the "Persians" with
Arabian styles of music and dance. This portrayal is not based on factual
information; it is a Hollywood portrayal. From the scant evidence that exists,
we do know that one of the Persian styles of dance strongly resembled the dances
of the Kurds of today; a style also seen in western Turkey, Greece and the
Balkans today. As for music, we have no notes or scales from that period, and
"Arab music" as we know it today simply did not exist at that time; it is a much
later creation. Arabian music can trace its beginnings to the Bedouin tribes of
Arabia - it later borrowing heavily of Sassanian and Greek scales (after
the 7th century AD).
These errors are enough to question the historical
accuracy of the Alexander picture. It seems that when it comes to Iranians and
their identity, history is easily "re-written" for the benefit of popular
entertainment. As Professor Fox has duly noted in an interview with Archeology
Today (http://www.archaeology.org/online/interviews/fox.html), the movie "could not totally depart from audiences'
expectations". The "audience" undoubtedly has "expectations" as to what Iranians
"should" look like.
Given Professor Fox's rudimentary knowledge of
Persia's anthropology, you may wish to refer to:
J.P. Mallory. In Search
of the Indo-Europeans: Language, Archeology and Myth. London: Thames &
Hudson, 1989. ISBN: 0-500-27616-1 Read pages: 9-23, 48-56, 78,
For color reconstructions of ancient Iranians see:
Wilcox. Rome's Enemies (3): Parthians and Sassanid Persians. London:
OspreyPublishing, 1986. ISBN: 0850456886
T. Newark. The Barbarians.
London: Concord Publications Company, 1998. ISBN: 9623616341 See Page 7
(the Saka - ancestors of today's Lurs and Seistanis) and 30 (ancestors of the
Iran today is very much a genetic tapestry that includes
blondism in Northern and Western Iran (e.g. Parsabad, or Talysh), as well as
among Iranian peoples such as Lurs, Azeris, Mazandaranis, Kurds and
Boyer-Ahmadis. Iran is also home to Arabians in Khuzistan and the Persian Gulf
coast, Asiatic Turcomens in the Northeast, as well as the Baluchis near
Pakistan, who have a strong Dravidian admixture. You may wish to read the very
thorough and precise compendium of Iranian peoples today by:
(Editor). The Archaeology of Western Iran: Settlement and Society from
Prehistory to the Islamic Conquest (Smithsonian Series in Archaeological
Inquiry). Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1987. ISBN:
W. B. Fisher (Editor). The Cambridge History of Iran: Volume
1, The Land of Iran. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. ISBN:
These books (especially the Cambridge History of Iran series)
will provide a more informed and less misleading analysis of Iran's
anthropological history than that offered by Professor Fox.
As seen in
this commentary, Hollywood portrayals of Iranians are in stark contrast to
reality. Until the Arabian arrivals in the 7th century AD, the majority of
Iranians would have looked no different from the Greeks or Romans. Greek and
Roman references to classical Iranians do not refer to them as different in the
"physical" sense; differences lay mainly in manner of government, philosophy and
to a lesser extent, mythology. The Azadan nobility of the Parthian and Sassanian
Savaran (elite cavalry), more than 500 years later than Alexander, are described
by Peter Wilcox as "...very similar to the Celts...strikingly similar to Northwest
Europeans..." (p.6). There are still many short stories in Southern Italy today
which accurately portray the temperament and appearance of the Persians as they
would have appeared in antiquity.
Despite the powerful historical revisionism of a number of mainly
northwest European historians such as Edward Gibbon (1737-1794) or the
aforementioned Fallmerayer, the Greco-Roman world and Persia have profoundly
influenced each other in areas such as architecture, the arts and crafts, the
sciences and medicine, mythology, military and engineering technologies. While
true that one can find a number of anti-Persian references in Greco-Roman
sources, these were in the context of wars that broke out between these powers.
A perfect example of this is how the movie explicitly shows Aristotle deriding
the Persians as inferior to the Greeks. Modern Greeks place this in context and
see Aristotle as expressing the political climate of his day. Iranians are very
well liked and respected in Greece and are seen as the heirs of a great
civilization. Alexander himself came to greatly appreciate the Iranians and
their culture. It is a shame that the movie did not show Alexander as paying
homage to the tomb of Cyrus the Great.
As noted previously, Greco-Roman
historians who were prepared to acknowledge and highly praise the Persians (e.g.
Xenophon, Plutarch, etc.). Today's popular culture, education systems and movie
entertainment industries in particular, seem to be providing a very selective
and distorted view of Persia with respect to antiquity. Many are simply not
aware (or wish not be aware) of Persia's importance and status in antiquity let
alone her major contributions to world civilization.
Romans and Persians had much more in common with each other than with the
relatively unsophisticated Celtic and Germanic peoples who were roaming the
Northern European forests. For an incisive discussion of these little discussed
N. Spatari. Calabria, L'enigma Delle Arti
Asittite: Nella Calabria Ultramediterranea. Italy: MUSABA, 2003. ISBN:
8887935300 As far as I know, this book has still not be translated from
Italian to English. Still an excellent read, especially with the illustrations.
P. Kriwaczek. In Search of Zarathustra: The First prophet and the
Ideas that Changed the World. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2002. ISBN:
I look forward to the day when we will see blockbuster movies
of Shapur I (241-272) who defeated three Roman emperors in his lifetime and
destroyed a third of Rome's armies. Even more dramatic would be to see movies
made of the life and times of figures such as Zarathustra, Aryaman, Shahrbaraz,
Mani, Mazdak, Babak, Abu Ali Sina or Omar Khayyam.