David Frendo, Agathiasí View of the Intellectual Attainments of Khusrau I: A Reconsideration of the Evidence

The present paper sets out to examine a much quoted but little discussed episode in the history of Byzantine-Iranian cultural relations.† Such information as we possess comes from a single (more or less contemporary) source, the Histories of the sixth-century Byzantine historian Agathias of Myrina. †† Agathiasí account is contrived, confusing, and, at times, overtly polemical in both the manner and the tone of its presentation.† Nevertheless, once it has been subjected to critical analysis and discussion, his account will be seen to contain some uniquely valuable material and to afford us a rare glimpse into how cultural exchanges sometimes take place between largely hostile and mutually impenetrable civilizations.† It is also possible to discern, however faintly, the operation on both sides of more general internal and †external political forces.