Persia 18: Agariste, Mother of Cyrus the Great

- According to the writings of Persian court physician Ctesias, the mother of Cyrus was Argoste, a humble shepherdess of goats. However, this name Argoste is clearly a Persian variant of Agariste (Nitocris), “very best”, the daughter of Cleisthenes the Elder (Astyges/Taharqa). In Greek the root ag/aeg can also mean “goat”, as in the names Agelaus, Agid, Aegeus and Aegyptus.

- Therefore, Cyrus not only married one Agariste, but was the son of the other Agariste. It is also then evident that Cyrus had the same mother as Nebuchadrezzar/Bardiya, that being the God’s Wife of Amun Nitocris/Amenirdis II. The father of Nebuchadrezzar was Menkheperre/Sennacherib/Nabopolassar, however Cyrus was the son of Mentuemhet/Ahasuerus.

- Herodotus also makes Cyrus the Great the son of the daughter of Astyges, although he calls the mother of Cyrus by the name Mandane.

- To gain further insight into the life of Cyrus the Great as an Egyptian prince, we will need to first go back and re-examine the Adoption Stela of his mother Nitocris/Amenirdis II. This monument records how Nitocris was adopted as the successor of the God’s Wife Shepenwepet daughter of Piye.

- Piye/Sargon II was still alive and very much Great King at the time of this event, therefore Nitocris would have been his granddaughter, that is, the daughter of his own daughter Shepenwepet II/Mehtemwesket. Shepenwepet, as the reigning and “celibate” God’s Wife of Amun, was not credited (at least directly) with any children. Although Nitocris was undoubtedly her actual, biological daughter, she had to nevertheless be formally adopted as her “eldest daughter”. The father of Nitocris is acknowledged to be Taharqa son of Piye, but could just as likely have been Piye himself. We must suspect this considering the general infertility of Taharqa his royal female contemporaries.

- The main objectives of the “adoption” of Nitocris were to establish a kind of female dynasty for his daughter Shepenwepet and to achieve a balance of power between his two leading sons, Menkheperre/Smendes and Taharqa/Astyges. Although Menkheperre was the heir apparent to the Great Throne, the putative daughter of Taharqa was being installed as the next God’s Wife. Probably Menkheperre would have been the most displeased at this arrangement, and he was not explicitly required on the stela to support it.

- The adoption of Nitocris brought about the continuation of a “Scarlet Thread of Messianic Queenship”, if you will. She represents a female lineage that descended directly from Queen Tiye of the 18th Dynasty, and as follows:

Tiye/Maatkare/Karamat A, mother of --

Mutnodjme, mother of --

Nesitanebetashru/Karamat B, mother of --

Nefertari-Merymut/Karamat D, mother of --

Merit-Amon/Karomla, mother of --

Maatkare/Tiy-Merenese/Henutawy/Shepenwepet/Iset-Ta-Hemdjeret/Tentamun (“Helen of Troy”), mother of --

Mutnodjmet/Mehtemwesket/Henutawy B/Shepenwepet II/Iset-Ta-Hemdjeret II/Udjarenes/Tentamun B, mother of --

Maatkare-Mutemhet/Nitocris/Shepenwepet III/Iset-Ta-Hemdjeret III/ Udjarenes II/Neskhons/Nesikhonsu

Note: The third Iset Ta-Hemdjeret was explicitly shown being inducted as God’s Wife of Amun and with her grandmother the first Iset Ta-Hemdjeret observing.

- The sharing of names/epithets/titles between mothers and daughters, as well as the progression of a princess to queen and then to queen mother, often makes it difficult to tell mothers apart from their daughters, however with a little effort it will still be possible.

- Despite the proliferation of names, there are only three mummies associated with the last three sets of women: Maatkare-Mutemhet, Mutnodjmet, Henutawy (A). Three ladies named Maatkare, Henutawy, and Mutnodjmet even appear together in an informal Karnak scene, although it isn’t certain which princesses by these names were intended, or if they were three representations of the same lady. (See, Dodson and Hilton, The Complete Royal Families of Egypt, p 201.)