The Persian Wars

Armen Davoudian

Into the palace in the pool I tossed my wishful coin. That day, our last together, my eyes were little scavengers, looming over your body in the pool as though it were already dead, your face afloat above the minted faces, the sour taste of metal in my mouth. . . . After each conquest, Alexander the Great ordered the enemy’s coinage

melted and recast in his own image. That’s how I put it now in my new language, where history is written in the simple past and laid to rest inside a book, like the soul inside the body, waiting for a stranger’s hand to pull the silver from its throat.

Armen Davoudian is the author of The Palace of Forty Pillars, forthcoming in early 2024. He grew up in Isfahan, Iran, and is a PhD candidate in English at Stanford University.
Originally published:
January 17, 2024



Life in the Algorithm

It has reshaped culture—but how? Two new books reckon with our digital predicament.
Anna Shechtman

The Night Watch

I first sought sanctuary during the Troubles. I'm still looking for it.
Darran Anderson

Why I Write

The legendary cultural critic on finding a life’s work
Greil Marcus


New perspectives, enduring writing. Join a conversation 200 years in the making. Subscribe to our print journal and receive four beautiful issues per year.