I have no idea, of course, if the two words are anything other than coincidentally related. But the word 'satrap' has come up twice in the space of about five hours--first in the very opening lines of Xenophon's Anabasis, which I took a quick look at in the library today, and then on Yoani Sanchez's blog, where it caught my eye as I scrolled down to her post on Thugs and Caudillos. Here's the relevant quote:
And so I am worried about Honduras. I fear what happened will pave the way for the emergence of another figure invested with full powers. Beware! In the broad range encompassing satraps, the worst combination is when the figure of the caudillo and the armed thug converge in a single person.
But it's a third element that finally motivates me. Because in Yoani's blog, she most recently cites the acclaimed Iranian graphic artist, Marjane Satrapi--she of Persepolis fame. Wait a minute, I suddenly think--Satrapi?
My understanding of the word 'satrap', minimal though it is, is that it refers to some sort of minor, dare I say provincial, power. I think of it as the guy who's sent out to keep peace, mainly by squelching dissent, in the hinterlands. It's a bit awkward in the English language--how would one say it, anyway? Sat-trap? Sah-trop? Suh-trop?
But now, based on Marjane, I'm going to guess that it's of Persian origins. Let's see how close I am, and maybe even how to pronounce it...
Yep. It's a governor of a province in Ancient Persia, which has translated over time, and through Greek, Latin and old French, to mean any minor official or bureaucrat. That's maybe too easy, except that I would never have gotten the Persian roots if I had not realized that Marjane's last name must reflect it.
Why would anyone label themselves as coming from a clan of minor officials or bureaucrats? Well, as it turns out, they probably didn't. 'Satrap' comes from khshathrapāvan, which means 'protector of the province'. Has a nice ring to it, one that anyone would like to have associated with himself or his family.
Oh, and however they say it in in Iran, in English, the predominant pronunciation is 'say-trap'.
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