Did you happen to see the movie
The Emperor’s Club

In it, Kevin Kline plays a classic’s professor that uses king
Shutruk-Nahhunte (circa 1158 BC) as an example of someone who did not
contribute to history and as a result is in no history books. He
challanges his students to think about what their contribution will be.
The fact that Shutruk-Nahhunte is not in any history book is a key plot
element later on in the movie.

I got to thinking about this, but not the way Kevin Kline envisioned, I
am sure. If Shutruk-Nahhunte is not in any history books, then how did
his character find out about him? Is the king part of a long line of
oral history, passed from one generation of classsics professors to the
next to be used as an example for students throughout the ages?

I had supposed that since the filmmakers needed a king that was not in
any history books, that they would simply make him up. However, I
supposed wrongly. Shutruk-Nahhunte was indeed a real king, just as
described in the movie, with the exception that he does appear in the
history books.

And all of this sort of negates what Kevin Kline’s character said. Even
if he is not in the books, the king is still remembered. How many others
that made greater contributions at that time are not remembered at all
in the books? I would say that to have your name know 3100 years later
is fame of a pretty lasting order, wouldn’t you?


4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by curren praba on May 10, 2005 at 11:32 pm

    Hey, I too saw this movie Emperor’s club and share your opinion. Shutruk Nahhunte was a great king who ruled Elam (Now Iran). It was just that he might not be listed in the American History books.
    For more on Shutruk Nahhunte visit


  2. Posted by champ on July 6, 2006 at 9:17 pm

    he does not appear in the history books for his contribution to his kingdom and the world as the other great leaders of the past are. hundert explains that soccrates, ceasar and others are in the history books for the contributions they have made. of course a king will be recorded in history, but his achievements and contributions are not as they were not significant, unlike ceasar’s and other great leaders of the past, this is the point that hundert and the emperor’s club is making


  3. Yes, but at the end of the movie, the plot revolves around the fact that a bunch of hired history experts, armed with a bunch of history references did not know him and could not find him.


  4. Posted by Eric on September 9, 2006 at 11:00 am

    Actually, Michael Bell just hired a graduate student that he paid a few hundred bucks to help him out. That he wasn’t worth remembering, even for a Graduate Student studying Ancient History, was the only plot device necessary. Also, Shutruk-Nahhunte wasn’t chosen by movie producers, the ruler was used in Ethan Canin’s short story “The Palace Thief”, on which the movie is based.


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