It has been a couple years since I’ve read the graphic novel Persepolis, and I am not sure whether or not they explain the title in the novel, but I realized that “Persepolis” isn’t actually said or directly referenced in the film, so some people walk away confused as to why the novel/film is titled that.
Persepolis (translated to “city of Persians”) was the ceremonial capital of the ancient Achaemenid Empire (an empire centered around Iran between 550-330 BC) and now a famous area of ruins in Fars Province, Iran. It was once a spiritual and social center, where a variety of religious ceremonies took place, and its close proximity to a river also allowed it to be an economic hub as well. Since the fall of the Empire, the city slowly decayed over time, but is now considered an area of architectural masterpieces, with my archeologists praising its statues and depictions of religious figures.
By titling her novel/film Persepolis, Marjane makes a reference to the old days of her country, drawing parallels between the life she lived with the society that existed in the same place millenniums before. When Marji is young, she expresses a strong desire to become a prophet, and even though she enjoys many modern fads, she seems to have a deep respect for the past. The title indirectly reflects this, and almost expresses Marji’s sadness and regret over the turmoil that her nation has suffered, even after it was established, more or less, so long before she was born.