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Arbaces, the founder of the Median empire

Arbaces, the founder of the Median empire, according to the account of Ctesias (ap. Diod. ii. 24, &c., 32). He is said to have taken Nineveh in conjunction with Belesis, the Babylonian, and to have destroyed the old Assyrian empire under the reign of Sardanapalus, B. C. 876. Ctesias assigns 28 years to the reign of Arbaces, B. C. 876-848, and makes his dynasty consist of eight kings. This account differs from that of Herodotus, who makes Deioces the first king of Media, and assigns only four kings to his dynasty. Ctesias' account of the overthrow of the Assyrian empire by Arbaces is followed by Velleius Paterculus (i. 6), Justin (i. 3), and Strabo. (xvi.)


Cyaxares (Kuaxares), was, according to Herodotus, the third king of Media, the son of Phraortes, and the grandson of Deioces. He was the most warlike of the Median kings, and introduced great military reforms, by arranging his subjects into proper divisions of spearmen and archers and cavalry. He succeeded his father, Phraortes, who was defeated and killed while besieging the Assyrian capital, Ninus (Nineveh), in B. C. 634. He collected all the forces of his empire to avenge his father's death, defeated the Assyrians in battle, and laid siege to Ninus. But while he was before the city, a large body of Scythians invaded the northern parts of Media, and Cyaxares marched to meet them, was defeated, and became subject to the Scythians, who held the dominion of all Asia (or, as Herodotus elsewhere says, more correctly, of Upper Asia) for twenty-eight years (B. C. 634-607), during which time they plundered the Medes without mercy. At length Cyaxares and the Medes massacred the greater number of the Scythians, having first made them intoxicated, and the Median dominion was restored. There is a considerable difficulty in reconciling this account with that which Herodotus elsewhere gives (i. 73, 74), of the war between Cyaxares and Alyattes, king of Lydia. This war was provoked by Alyattes having sheltered some Scythians, who had fled to him after having killed one of the sons of Cyaxares, and served him up to his father as a Thyestean banquet. The war lasted five years, and was put an end to in the sixth year, in consequence of the terror inspired by a solar eclipse, which happened just when the Lydian and Median armies had joined battle, and which Thales had predicted. This eclipse is placed by some writers as high as B. C. 625, by others as low as 585. But of all the eclipses between these two dates, several are absolutely excluded by circumstances of time, place, and extent, and on the whole it seems most probable that the eclipse intended was that of September 30, B. C. 610 (Baily, in the Philosophical Transactions for 1811; Oltmann in the Schrift. der Brel. Acad. 1812-13; Hales, Analysis of Chronology; Ideler, Handbuch der Chronologie; Fischer, Griechische Zeilttafeln). This date, however, involves the difficulty of making Cyaxares, as king of the Medes, carry on a war of five years with Lydia, while the Scythians were masters of his country. But it is pretty evident from the account of Herodotus that Cyaxares still reigned, though as a tributary to the Scythians, and that the dominion of the Scythians over Media rather consisted in constant predatory incursions from positions which they had taken in the northern part of the country, than in any permanent occupation thereof. It was probably, then, from B. C. 615 to B. C. 610 that the war between the Lydians and the Medians lasted, till, both parties being terrified by the eclipse, the two kings accepted the mediation of Syennesis, king of Cilicia, and Labynetus, king of Babylon (probably Nebuchadnezzar or his father), and the peace made between them was cemented by the marriage of Astyages, the son of Cyaxares, to Aryennis, the daughter of Alyattes. The Scythians were expelled from Media in B. C. 607, and Cyaxares again turned his arms against Assyria, and, in the following year, with the aid of the king of Babylon (probably the father of Nebuchadnezzar), he took and destroyed Ninus. The consequence of this war, according to Herodotus, was, that the Medes made the Assyrians their subjects, except the district of Babylon. He means, as we learn from other writers, that the king of Babylon, who had before been in a state of doubtful subjection to Assyria, obtained complete independence as the reward for his share in the destruction of Nineveh. The league between Cyaxares and the king of Babylon is said by Polyhistor and Abydenus (ap. Euseb. Chron. Arm., and Syncell.) to have been cemented by the betrothal of Amyhis or Amytis, the daughter of Cyaxares, to Nabuchodrossar or Nabuchodonosor (Nebuchadnezzar), son of the king of Babylon. They have, however, by mistake put the name of Asdahages (Astyages) for that of Cyaxares. Cyaxares died after a reign of forty years (B. C. 94), and was succeeded by his son Astyages (Herod. i. 73, 74, 103-106, iv. 11, 12, vii. 20). The Cyaxares of Diodorus (ii. 32) is Deioces. Respecting the supposed Cyaxares II. of Xenophon, see Cyrus.

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Nov 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Astyages & Aryenis

Astyages (Astuages). king of Media, (called by Ctesias Astuigas, and by Diodorus Aspadas), was the son and successor of Cyaxares. The accounts of this king given by Herodotus, Ctesias, and Xenophon, differ in several important particulars. We learn from Herodotus (i. 74), that in the compact made between Cyaxares and Alyattes in B. C. 610, it was agreed that Astyages should marry Aryenis, the daughter of Alyattes. According to the chronology of Herodotus, he succeeded his father in B. C. 595, and reigned 35 years (i. 130). His government was harsh (i. 123.). Alarmed by a dream, he gave his daughter Mandane in marriage to Cambyses, a Persian of good family (i. 107). Another dream induced him to send Harpagus to destroy the offspring of this marriage. The child, the future conqueror of the Medes, was given to a herdsman to expose, but he brought it up as his own. Years afterwards, circumstances occurred which brought the young Cyrus under the notice of Astyages, who, on inquiry, discovered his parentage. He inflicted a cruel punishment on Harpagus, who waited his time for revenge. When Cyrus had grown up to man's estate, Harpgus induced him to instigate the Persians to revolt, and, having been appointed general of the Median forces, he deserted with the greater part of them to Cyrus. Astyages was taken prisoner, and Cyrus mounted the throne. He treated the captive monarch with mildness, but kept him in confinement till his death. Ctesias agrees with Herodotus in making Astyages the last king of the Medes, but says, that Cyrus was in no way related to him till he married his daughter Amytis. When Astyages was attacked by Cyrus, he fled to Ecbatana, and was concealed in the palace by Amytis and her husband Spitamas, but discovered himself to his pursuers, to prevent his daughter and her husband and children from being put to the torture to induce them to reveal where he was hidden. He was loaded with chains by Oebaras, but soon afterwards was liberated by Cyrus, who treated him with great respect, and made him governor of the Barcanii, a Parthian people on the borders of Hyrcania. Spitamas was subsequently put to death by the orders of Cyrus, who married Amytis. Some time after, Amytis and Cyrus being desirous of seeing Astyages, a eunuch named Petisaces was sent to escort him from his satrapy, but, at the instigation of Ocbaras, left him to perish in a desert region. The crime was revealed by means of a dream, and Amytis took a cruel revenge on Petisaces. The body of Astyages was found, and buried with all due honours. We are told that, in the course of his reign, Astyages had waged war with the Bactrians with doubtful success (Ctes. ap. Phot. Cod. 72.). Xenophon, like Herodotus, makes Cyrus the grandson of Astyages, but says, that Astyages was succeeded by his son Cyaxares II., on whose death Cyrus succeeded to the vacant throne (Cyrop. i, 5.2). This account seems to tally better with the notices contained in the book of Daniel (v. 31, vi. 1, ix. 1). Dareius the Mede, mentioned there and by Josephus (x. 11.4), is apparently the same with Cyaxares II. (Compare the account in the Cyropaedeia of the joint expedition of Cyaxares and Cyrus against the Assyrians). In that case, Ahasuerus, the father of Dareius, will be identical with Astyages. The existence of Cyaxares II. seems also to be recognized by Aeschylus, Pers. 766. But the question is by no means free from difficulty.

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Oct 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


First king of Media, father of Phaortes, his rise to power, building of a palace at Agbatana, and conquest of Persia


King of Media, son of Deioces and father of Cyaxares



Datis (Elamite Datiya, Old Persian Datica): Median general, commander of the Persian troops in the battle of Marathon in 490 BCE.
  There are only a few ancient texts about the Mede Datis, who must have been one of the most important generals in the Achaemenid empire in the first quarter of the fifth century BCE. The most important information can be found in the Histories by the Greek researcher Herodotus of Halicarnassus (c.480-c.439).
  In 499 BCE, the Greeks in Asia Minor, better known as the Ionian Greeks or Ionians, revolted against the Achaemenid empire. The pro-Persian leaders were taken captive, Persian garrisons were forced to surrender and in the summer of 498, Sardes, the capital of the satrapy Lydia, was destroyed. The Persian king Darius sent armies to suppress the revolt; the last Ionian stronghold, Miletus, had to surrender in November 494.
  Herodotus describes the events in the fifth and sixth books of the Histories. He does not mention the name Datis, but we know that he was present: in 495, he captured Rhodes, the town and island that guard the entrance of the Aegean Sea. This can be deduced from an inscription which was found on Rhodes. Unfortunately, this inscription is comparatively young and it may be that the presence of Datis is an invention by a Rhodian patriot who wanted to prove that his ancestors had been loyal to the Greek rebellion - something that Herodotus does not tell.
  If the Rhodian inscription is a forgery, it is a very good one, because we know from the Persepolis fortification tablets that Datis was indeed involved in the suppression of the Ionian revolt. In February 494, he received special rations to make a tour of duty:
Seven rations of wine to Datiya. He carries a sealed document by the king. He came from Sardes by the pirradazis and went to the king at Persepolis. Month eleven, year twenty-seven. Written by Hidali.
[PFTs Q 1809]

  (The pirradazis was the system of horse changing on the so-called Royal Road from Sardes to the capitals of the Achaemenid empire.) This proves that Damis has indeed been in the west. It is therefore likely that he commanded a naval action against Rhodes in 495. This makes it also likely that Datis was the commander of the Persian armada during the naval battle off Lade on October 20, 494, which marked the beginning of the siege of Miletus.
  In 490 BCE, king Darius sent an expedition to the west. Six hundred ships assembled in Cilicia and set out to bring troops across the sea. The commanders of this expedition were Datis and Artaphernes. Herodotus presents the expedition as a punitive action against Eretria and Athens, who had helped the Ionians. But he is almost certainly wrong, because the army was too small to attack Athens. In reality, the aims of the expedition of Datis and Artaphernes were to add the Aegean islands to the empire, and, in doing so, to create a buffer zone between Ionia and the Greek mainland. The same project had been proposed by the Greek politician Aristagoras of Miletus to the father of Artaphernes, who had in vain attacked Naxos (c.499 BCE). The Persian aims were, therefore, to conquer Naxos and the other islands, and to occupy Euboea (with its capital Eretria). They also tried to bring back the former ruler of Athens, Hippias, to his home town.
  They were successful. First, they added Naxos to the Achaemenid empire, the largest island in the Aegean sea, situated in its center. The Greek cult center Delos was seized immediately afterwards. A few days later, on September 1, Datis and Artaphernes took Eretria. (Its inhabitants were deported to Elam.)
  On 5 September, they landed at Marathon, some twenty-five kilometers from Athens. Although an Athenian army came to block the road to the south, it did not dare to attack the Persians, who were able to plunder the country for five days. Since the Athenians refused to offer battle, Datis and Artaphernes decided to leave early in the morning of 10 September. When they were boarding, the Athenians unexpectedly attacked and inflicted heavy losses on the Persian troops.
  Herodotus' account of the battle of Marathon is our most important source. (A summary and a comment can be found over here.) He wants us to believe that Marathon was an important victory, but this is incorrect. It was a rearguard action, and we know for certain that Artaphernes remained in the king's favor; it is likely that Datis had the same experience. After all, from now on, the Aegean Sea was under Persian control, preventing new Greek attacks on Persian dominions.
  Not all Greeks were convinced by Herodotus' story. There is one Greek text, written c.100 CE, which gives us the Persian side of the story - Marathon had been a minor setback (Dio Chrysostom, Oration 11.148-149). Unfortunately, we do not know whether the author gives us reliable information from an ancient Persian source, or invents this story.
  The Greek historian Ctesias of Cnidus, who is not know for his reliability, states that Datis died during the battle of Marathon. The Athenians refused to return his body when the Persians asked for it. There is no way to verify or refute this statement.
  Datis had two sons, Harmamithres and Tithaeus, who commanded the cavalry during the Greek expedition of king Xerxes in 480 BCE.

Jona Lendering, ed.
This text is cited July 2003 from the Livius Ancient History Website URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks.

Datis, a Mede, who, together with Artaphernes, had the command of the forces which were sent by Dareius Hystaspis against Eretria and Athens, and which were finally defeated at Marathon in B. C. 490 (Herod. vi. 94, &c.). When the armament was on its way to Greece through the Aegean sea, the Delians fled in alarm from their island to Tenos; but Datis re-assured them, professing that his own feelings, as well as the commands of the king, would lead him to spare and respect the birthplace of "the two gods". The obvious explanation of this conduct, as arising from a notion of the correspondence of Apollo and Artemis with the sun and moon, is rejected by Muller in favour of a far less probable hypothesis (Herod. vi. 97; Muller, Dor ii 5. 6, 6.10; Thirlwall's Greece; Spanheim, ad Callim. Hymn. in Del. 255). The religious reverence of Datis is further illustrated by the anecdote of his restoring the statue of Apollo which some Phoenicians in his army had stolen from Delium in Boeotia (Herod. vi. 118; Paus. x. 28; Suid. s. v. Hdatis). His two sons, Armamithres and Tithaeus, commanded the cavalry of Xerxes in his expedition against Greece (Herod. vii. 88). He admired the Greek language, and tried hard to speak it; failing in which, he thereby at any rate unwittingly enriched it with a new word -Datismos. (Suid. l. c.; Arist. Pax, 289; Schol. ad loc.)

Related to the place


Heracon, (Herakon), an officer in the service of Alexander, who, together with Cleander and Sitalces, succeeded to the command of the army in Media, which had previously been under the orders of Parmenion, when the latter was put to death by order of Alexander, B. C. 330. In common with many others of the Macedonian governors, he permitted himself many excesses during the absence of Alexander in the remote provinces of the East: among others he plundered a temple at Susa, noted for its wealth, on which charge he was put to death by Alexander after his return from India, B. C. 325. (Arrian, Anab. vi. 27.8, 12; Curt. x. 1.)


Hippostratus, a general under Antigonus, who was appointed by him to command the army which he left in Media, after the defeat and death of Eumenes, B. C. 216. He was soon after attacked by Meleager, and others of the revolted adherents of Pithon, but repulsed them, and suppressed the insurrection. We know not at what period he was succeeded by Nicanor, whom we find commanding in Media not long afterwards. (Diod. xix. 46, 47, 92.)

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