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Third were the grandees ( The particularistic tendencies of the higher aristocracy had bedeviled the Arsacid empire, but Ardašir and Šāpur curbed them.

These kings also refrained from creating a state church.

Both policies were challenged throughout the Sasanian period; and only Šāpur II, Kavād I, and Ḵosrow I succeeded in exercising absolute power.

During the reign of other kings, magnates re-asserted their influence through support of their own candidates for the throne or by deposing, even killing, autocratic kings.

Historically it is the most important inscriptional record next to that of Darius I at Bisotun; it records his Roman wars (Honnigmann and Maricq, 1953; Maricq, 1958; Kettenhoffen, 1982; Felix, 1985, pp. 80-123); and it provides a clear picture of the extent of his empire (cf.

Gignoux, 1971; Chaumont, 1975) by naming its provinces, describing religious foundations, and mentioning relatives and senior officials who lived at the court of Pāpak, Ardašir, and Šāpur.

His title, as elaborated by Shapur I (see below), became the standard designations of the Sasanian sovereigns.

The reverse of his imperial coins shows a fire holder placed on a platform throne, which is itself supported by a stepped altar (both directly copied from the representations on the Achaemenid tombs, see Pfeiler, 1973), and the legend “Fire of Ardašir” (Alram, 1986, p. Ardašir abandoned the Seleucid and Arsacid practice of dating by dynastic eras and returned to the Achaemenid usage of counting by regnal years.

Sasanian society was basically comprised of three classes (see CLASS SYSTEM ii.): the warriors, the commoners (“cultivators”), and the clergy (see Tafazzoli 2001). The overthrow of the Arsacid royal house in 224 CE and the establishment of the Sasanian dynasty was the outcome of the simultaneous decline of the Parthian state brought about by chronic civil strife, a devastating epidemic of smallpox, repeated wars with Roman forces (who sacked Ctesiphon in 165 and 198), and the gradual ascendancy of a Persian family with religious and political bases of support.The Arsacid empire was divided between two rival brothers: Vologeses VI (207-27), who ruled from Ctesiphon, and Ardavān (212-24), who held Media and Khuzistan (see ARTABANUS IV). With the death of Pāpak Šāpur succeeded him in Eṣṭaḵr but was accidentally killed at Persepolis. Well acquainted with historical reality, he adopted the newer, more flexible chain armor of the Roman type, while the Parthians still used the older lamellar and scale armor (Bivar, 1972, pp. On 30 Mehr (= 28 May) 224 Ardašir vanquished Ardavān at the battle of Hormzdagān (q.v.) and assumed the title “King of Kings of Iran.” He commemorated the event in his victory relief carved at the approach to his early capital, Ardašir Ḵorra (see FIRUZĀBĀÚD), as well as in three investiture reliefs showing him receiving the symbol of sovereignty from Ohrmazd (see ARDAŠIR I ii.).He constructed dams and bridges, forts and towns, and developed industries and trade.He had Greeks and Indian works on sciences and Greek scientific works translated into Middle Persian and even incorporated them into the Avesta (Boyce, 1968, pp. His tolerant religious policy encouraged Mani, the founder of Manicheism, to preach freely; he even attempted to convert the Great king.

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