World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Satrap

Article Id: WHEBN0000080003
Reproduction Date:

Title: Satrap  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: 320s BC, 390s BC, 310s BC, 400s BC (decade), 330s BC
Collection: Ancient Persia, Gubernatorial Titles, Persian History, Positions of Subnational Authority, Satraps, Types of Country Subdivisions
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Satrap

Some of Achaemenid empire satraps

Satraps were the governors of the provinces of the ancient Median and Achaemenid (Persian) Empires and in several of their successors, such as the Sasanian Empire and the Hellenistic empires.

The word satrap is also often used metaphorically in modern literature to refer to world leaders or governors who are heavily influenced by larger world superpowers or hegemonies and act as their surrogates.[1]

Contents

  • Etymology 1
  • Medo-Persian satraps 2
  • Hellenistic satraps 3
  • Parthian and Sassanian satraps 4
  • Western satraps 5
  • Satraps today 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • Further reading 9
  • External links 10

Etymology

The word "satrap" originates ultimately (via Ancient Greek and Latin) from Old Persian xšaçapāvan ("protector of the province"), Sanskrit kshatrapam (क्षत्रपम्) or kshtrapa, from xšaça ("realm" or "province") and pāvan ("protector"). In Greek, the word was rendered as satrápēs (σατράπης)—which later borrowed into Latin as satrapes—from a Western Iranian cognate xšaθrapā(van). In modern Persian the descendant of xšaθrapāvan is shahrbān (شهربان), but the components have undergone semantic shift so the word now means "town keeper" (shahr [شهر] meaning "town" + bān [بان] meaning "keeper").

Medo-Persian satraps

The first large scale use of satrapies, or provinces, originates from the conception of the first Median era from at least 648 BCE.

Up to the time of the conquest of Behistun inscription)

The satrap was in charge of the land that he owned as an administrator, and found himself surrounded by an all-but-royal court; he collected the taxes, controlled the local officials and the subject tribes and cities, and was the supreme judge of the province before whose "chair" (Nehemiah 3:7) every civil and criminal case could be brought. He was responsible for the safety of the roads (cf. Xenophon), and had to put down brigands and rebels.

He was assisted by a council of Persians, to which also provincials were admitted; and was controlled by a royal secretary and by emissaries of the king, especially the "eye of the king" who made an annual inspection and exercised permanent control.

There were further checks on the power of each satrap: besides his secretarial scribe, his chief financial official (Old Persian ganzabara) and the general in charge of the regular army of his province and of the fortresses were independent of him and reported directly to the shah, periodically, in person. But the satrap was allowed to have troops in his own service.

  • The great satrapies (provinces) were often divided into smaller districts, the governors of which were also called satraps and (by Greco-Roman authors) also hyparchs (actually Hyparkhos in Greek, 'vice-regents'). The distribution of the great satrapies was changed repeatedly, and often two of them were given to the same man.
  • As the provinces were the result of consecutive conquests (the homeland had a special status, exempt from provincial tribute), both primary and sub-satrapies were often defined by former states and/or ethno-religious identity. One of the keys to the Achaemenid success (as with most enduring great empires) was their open attitude to the culture and religion of the conquered people, so the Persian culture was the one most affected as the Great King endeavoured to melt elements from all his subjects into a new imperial style, especially at his capital Persepolis.
  • Whenever central authority in the empire weakened, the satrap often enjoyed practical independence, especially as it became customary to appoint him also as general-in-chief of the army district, contrary to the original rule. "When his office became hereditary, the threat to the central authority could not be ignored" (Olmstead). Rebellions of satraps became frequent from the middle of the 5th century BCE. Darius I struggled with widespread rebellions in the satrapies, and under Artaxerxes II occasionally the greater part of Asia Minor and Syria was in open rebellion (Revolt of the Satraps).

The last great rebellions were put down by Artaxerxes III.

Hellenistic satraps

The satrapic administration and title were retained—even for Greco-Macedonian incumbents—by Alexander the Great, who conquered the Achaemenid Empire, and by his successors, the Diadochi (and their dynasties) who carved it up, especially in the Seleucid Empire, where the satrap generally was designated as strategos; but their provinces were much smaller than under the Persians. They would ultimately be replaced by conquering empires, especially the Parthians.

Parthian and Sassanian satraps

In the Parthian Empire, the king's power rested on the support of noble families who ruled large estates, and supplied soldiers and tribute to the king. City-states within the empire enjoyed a degree of self-government, and paid tribute to the king. Administration of the Sassanid Empire was considerably more centralized than that of the Parthian Empire; the semi-independent kingdoms and self-governing city states of the Parthian Empire was replaced with a system of "royal cities" which served as the seats of centrally appointed governors called shahrabs as well as the location of military garrisons. Shahrabs ruled both the city and the surrounding rural districts. Exceptionally, the East Roman Empire also adopted the title "satrap" for the semi-autonomous princes that governed one of its Armenian provinces, the Satrapiae.

Western satraps

The Western Satraps or Kshatrapas (35-405 CE) were Saka rulers in the western and central part of the Sindh region of Pakistan, and the Saurashtra and Malwa regions of western India. They were contemporaneous with the Kushans who ruled the northern part of the subcontinent from the area of Peshawar and were possibly their overlords, and with the Satavahana (Andhra) who ruled in central India to their south and east and the Kushan state to their immediate west.

Satraps today

  • It is also used in modern times to refer (usually derogatorily) to the loyal subservient lieutenants or clients of some powerful figure (with equal imprecision also styled mogul, tycoon, or the like), in politics or business.
  • In the Portuguese and in the Spanish language the word sátrapa carries not only the aforementioned ancient historical meaning, but in modern usage it also applies to people who abuse power or authority. It can refer as well to those living in luxurious and ostentatious conditions or to individuals who act astutely and even disloyally.
  • The title is also used by the College of 'Pataphysics as Transcendent Satrap for certain of its members, among which were counted such peoples as Marcel Duchamp, Jean Baudrillard and the Marx brothers.
  • In the Serbian language, "satrap" is used to mock a person who displays servile tendencies to an authority figure.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Satrap - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary". Merriam-webster.com. Retrieved 2012-01-26. 
  • Ashley, James R. (2004) [First published 1998]. "Appendix H: Kings and Satraps". The Macedonian Empire: The Era of Warfare Under Philip II and Alexander the Great, 359–323 B.C. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. pp. 385–391.  

Further reading

  • A. T. Olmstead, History of the Persian Empire, 1948.
  • Pauly-Wissowa (comprehensive encyclopaedia on Antiquity; in German).
  • Robert Dick Wilson. The Book of Daniel: A Discussion of the Historical Questions, 1917. Available on home.earthlink.net.
  • Rüdiger Schmitt, "Der Titel 'Satrap'", in Studies Palmer ed. Meid (1976), 373–390.
  • .  
  • Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses, 1992.

External links

  • Livius.org: Satraps and satrapies
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 



Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Hawaii eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.