Language acquired great importance in ancient diplomacy. The success or failure of a diplomatic mission depended greatly upon the ambassador’s skills of persuasion, a product of the efficacy of his words and their suitability to his audience. The ambassador had to be able to choose the most appropriate words to reach the objectives of his mission. The measure of his competence was his capacity to recognize the position of his listener, without undervaluing ideas, preconceptions, and potential reactions. Nevertheless, in certain cases, an ambassador’s ethnographic knowledge of the context where he had to operate determined the successful outcome of a mission. Such knowledge manifested itself in the use of culturally specific gestures as a parallel language and the recourse to symbolic objects intended to visualize the message he wanted to convey. With this in mind, the subject of my study is the diplomatic mission of Cambyses to the King of the long-lived Ethiopians (macrobioi), an episode recounted in detail by Herodotus. Eager to subdue the Ethiopians, a people about whom many legends circulated, the Persian king sought to add to his limited information by sending ambassadors who used the pretext of bringing gifts to act as virtual spies. From the perspective of the historian of Halicarnassus, the mission is particularly interesting because it provides the opportunity to analyze the encounter between two disparate civilizations, linking two geographical and ideological spaces destined by their own natures not to encounter each other. The gifts brought by the ambassadors were not univocally interpreted or decoded. Diplomatic communication without a cultural mediator failed and the King of the Persians suffered grave repercussions because, demonstrating a profound contempt for cultural difference, he attempted to impose his own rules in a despotic manner.
|Numero di pagine||13|
|Stato di pubblicazione||Published - 2010|