Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Free Content License They Used 1800 Years Ago

In my Pahlavi (also called Middle Persian) classes we've started reading a new text called "The Book of Wars (or Works) of Ardeshir-e Bābakān" which belongs to some 1800 years ago. Here's my rough translation of its first paragraph:

In the name, power, and help of the Creator Ohrmazd, the Glorious, the Great, wishing health and long life for all good-doers especially those who have this (text) (re)written.

Imagine if we had something like that last phrase in the GNU FDL (or other licenses)!

A note about the text for the curious:
Although the book is very interesting from a historical or linguistic perspective, it's not the most honest kind of history. To the contrary, it is part of a grand struggle by the Sassanid Empire, not only to legitimize their government, but also to remove their predecessors the Ashkanians (the Parthians) from the face of history. Interestingly, the government they were trying to remove from history is, to this very date, the longest ruling government in the history of Iran, having ruled more than 460 years. You will be surprised to know that they succeeded in this quest to a very large extent. The Ashkanian Empire is hardly ever mentioned in later texts. This fact, along with the fact that Sassanids destroyed almost everything their predecessors had built, makes it very difficult for us to get to know about what was probably the coolest government we've had in our history: a federal (and to a large extent democrat) empire.

Update: I did a little bit more research and found out that my assumption that the book is written 1800 years ago may not be correct. Apparently, for all that we know, it is written some times during the reign of Sassanids, which make it any time between 1800 and 1400 years ago. Still I guess it is old enough!