How Art Made the World episode 3

Darius Invents the
Political Logo

Alexander's Face The First
Political Lie


Andrew Fitzpatrick:
Gold at Stonehenge
EpisodesCambridge InterviewsGalleryScholarsResourcesThe SeriesInteractive
More Human Than HumanThe Day Pictures Were BornThe Art of PersuasionOnce Upon a TimeTo Death and Back
Darius and the First Political Logo

Around 500 BC, Darius the Great, the King of the Persians, had taken control of a kingdom so large that he needed to find a new way to impose his power across this vast territory. He found the solution in the international language of images -- Art. Decorating the staircase that lead to his great hall in the capital city of Persepolis (located in present-day Iran), Darius carved inspiring images of conquered peoples of the empire happily honoring their king with tribute, while interestingly omitting all scenes of war and retribution.

The challenge was to communicate to people who couldn't read and spoke a dozen different languages.

But there were still millions of subjects in the empire that never came to the palace, but needed to understand his message: "I am justice and have been asked by God to promote happiness." The challenge was to communicate this to people who for the most part couldn't read, and spoke a dozen different languages. So Darius came up with the first political logo - an image of himself carrying a bow that could be easily reproduced. The bowman would have been an image familiar to all members of the empire -- a symbol of not only military prowess, but of wisdom and leadership. So powerful and easily understood by the masses, Darius's successors continued to use his logo, and build upon his achievements, for centuries after his death.

Video Video Video Darius the Bowman Gallery Gallery Gallery Persian Political Art Gallery Web Links Gallery Further Reading