Persia 36: The Persian Business of Names

Much was made of the attempt by Prince Cyrus to usurp the Great Throne from his older brother Arsaces/Artaxerxes II. Almost nothing was said (at least directly) about the other two brothers of Arsaces. They were generally referred to as Ostanes and Oxyathres. The Persian court physician Ctesias lists them as Artostes and Oxendras, respectively, in his history. However, by these names they are little more than just names. In order to reconstruct their actual contribution to the Persian dynasty we must resort to the proven typological method and to uncovering the pseudonyms that they hid behind.

It was claimed that the four brothers along with one daughter were the only surviving children of Darius II and Queen Parysatis out of a total of 13 offspring. The daughter named Amestris had been married to Teriteuchmes the son of a leading minister Hydarnes (of the line of Otanes/Daniel). However, Teriteuchmes was accused of a plot to get rid of Amestris in favor of a sister-wife named Roxanne. When the plot was supposedly uncovered Teriteuchmes and most of his close relatives were viciously put to death. Statiera the sister of Teriteuchmes was spared because she had married Arsaces (future Artaxserxes II). A son of Teriteuchmes was also spared, as well as one brother of Teriteuchmes named Tissaphernes.

When Arsaces/Artaxerxes II became Great King, he avenged Teriteuchmes by killing the servant (Bagapates) who had beheaded Teriteuchmes. This is some indication that the heir of the Hydarnes line may have been framed (and not just unbelievably stupid). The Queen Mother Parysatis was not pleased with the attempt to vindicate Teriteuchmes and responded by having the surviving son of Teriteuchmes killed and also by poisoning her daughter-in-law Queen Statiera the daughter of Hydarnes. Artaxerxes retaliated by banishing his mother from court and awarding Tissaphernes, the last surviving member of the House of Hydarnes, with the rule of Egypt.

In Egypt, Tissaphernes took the pharaonic name of Nefaarrud (Neferites). However, lest Tissaphernes become too “bold and beautiful” he was humbled with the throne name Baenre Mery-netjeru, that of the ill-fated former pharaoh Merenptah. In other words, his franchise in Egypt came with a built-in term limit of twelve years. He would not endure more than seven. It soon became clear to Artaxerxes II that in order to stay in power he was going to have to make a compromise not only with his mother, but with his remaining two younger brothers. And that compromise ultimately required him to sell out the faithful Tissaphernes.

The rule of Egypt was evidently intended for Abrocomas satrap of Syria. Prior to the invasion of Prince Cyrus he was in Syria preparing to march on Egypt with a sizable force. Instead he withdrew with his army into Babylon before the advancing forces of Cyrus. The role of Abrocomas in the actual battle against Cyrus is unclear. A.T. Olmstead thinks that he eventually joined up with Artaxerxes. Pierre Bryant states that he arrived five days after the battle in which Cyrus was killed. The name Abrocomas is a familiar one. Earlier in the Persian dynasty it was the name of a rival brother that Xerxes/Artaxerxes chose to sacrifice at Thermopylae. The Abrocomas contemporary with Artaxerxes II would have had reason to be wary and keep his distance, especially in battle. It was Tissaphernes that was primarily responsible for saving the throne of Artaxerxes, and as a result Abrocomos lost his claim to Egypt in favor of Tissaphernes.

Another leading general under Artaxerxes was named as Arbaces. This also is a curious name in that it was a former prince by that name that had rallied the opposition against Assurbanipal leading to his demise and the succession by Darius the Great. Artaxerxes II as successor to Darius II would have been typecast (among other things) as a neo-Assurbanipal. Recall that his father and predecessor Darius II was in the role of Esarhaddon/Orestes (predecessor of Assurbanipal). Therefore two of the leading generals supposedly under Artaxerxes II had names that indicated they were actually deadly threats to him.

No sooner had Prince Cyrus been defeated than the Persian satrap of Western Armenia named Tiribazus negotiated a secret deal with the retreating army of Prince Cyrus. The name Tiribazus is equivalent to Megabyzus (equated by Pierre Bryant with Bagabuxsa, “who serves the god”). Tira was an Armenian god associated with wisdom and writing, i.e., a local version of Thoth/Mithra. (Note: Tira was also found in Indo-European/Hurrian/Mitanni royal names of earlier times, and a likely source for the Biblical name Terah.) Tiribazus was within a few years time formally acknowledged as chiliarch/hazarapat, that is, second in rank to the Great King. He was also appointed by Artaxerxes II as satrap of Sardis, the former seat of Cyrus the Great in the west. The name Tiribazus itself indicates an ambition or expectation to become the next Persian Cyrus, in other words, the next occupant of the secondary/tanist throne.

The vaunted 10,000 of Cyrus (the Cyreans) were regrouped and led by the Spartan commander Thibron back into Asia Minor where they began plundering the dominions of Tissaphernes. The name Thibron is an evident play on both Tiribazus and Hebron, and an epithet of Judah (particularly the Judah-figure Thutmose IV). Hebron is also associated with the typecasting of David (Thutmose III) as Hebron was called the “City of David” (see links at end). The true identity of Tiribazus/Thibron can then be discerned as the fourth son of Darius II, also known as Oxyathres. (The name Tharyps of Molossia is probably also to be associated with Thibron/Tiribazus.) This prince was wasting no time in establishing himself as the successor of Prince Cyrus in the west, and was no doubt feeling some hostility toward Tissaphernes who had been awarded Egypt and the status of a pharaoh.

Indications are that Abrocomas was the Syrian name of Oxyathres/Tiribazus. In Hebrew/Babylonian Arba signifies “four”. (The name Arbaces may be a variant of Abrocomas and not represent a unique individual.) The fourth brother naturally assumed the role of Judah. And as part of that typecasting, he would have expected to be on good terms with his eldest brother Arsaces/Artaxerxes II, the family Reuben, but eventually surpass him in glory. The greatest threats for a fourth son were the second and third sons, because they were in the roles of “Simeon and Levi”, and the traditional killers of Judah and Issachar figures. Considering that there was no fifth brother of note, Oxyathres would have been looked upon as both the Judah and the Issachar (ala Rimush the son of Sargon the Great).

Note: Ur-Bau/Arba son of Sargon was however a “Reuben”, which might indicate that Artaxerxes was planning to secure Egypt himself (under the name Abrocomas).

The third son of Darius was also a leading player in the contest between Artaxerxes II and Prince Cyrus. He does not however figure under the name Ostanes but as Orontes (a.k.a. Oroandes). Prince Orontes had been paired with Prince Cyrus by a sacred oath. The two were stamped into the mold of “Simeon and Levi”. Nevertheless, Orontes broke this traditional bond twice in favor of Artaxerxes II. A death sentence was finally issued from Prince Cyrus and to be carried out by his companion Ariaeus. Nevertheless, with all three of his brothers against him, Cyrus had little hope of defeating Artaxerxes II, even with his mother’s favor, and he ultimately did fall. Yet, once his threat was removed, Artaxerxes II could not necessarily depend on the continued loyalty of the two remaining brothers.

The over-zealous Thibron was eventually recalled to Sparta, however his success in Asia Minor inspired Artaxerxes II to devise a new operation in the west, and one that Artaxerxes would personally lead under his Spartan alias/surrogate King Agesilaus. Artaxerxes called for a reconciliation of the leading Persian ministers and a grand coalition of these princes against Sparta. Tissaphernes agreed to put aside his differences with Pharnabazus son of Pharnaces, who represented (at least symbolically) the natural line of Cyrus the Great.

Note: The satrapy of Dascyleium (strategic Hellespontine Phrygia) in Asia Minor was awarded to the line of Cyrus the Great as a hereditary dominion and as consolation prize and incentive for their continued cooperation. Pharnabazus son of Pharnaces (Pericles II?) was eventually succeeded at Dascylium by a son named Artabazus.

Tissaphernes and Pharnabazus were joined by King Evagoras of Cyprus and General/Admiral Conon of Athens. However, despite the new Persian unity, Agesilaus easily routed Persian opposition in Asia Minor. Time and again the Persian forces gave ground to the Spartans allowing them to loot Asia Minor at will, which of course was entirely by design.

In this way Agesilaus fully established his reputation in Greece, but ultimately liberated nothing from Persia. At the end of the elaborate charade Tissaphernes was accused of treason and beheaded by Ariaeus, the former rabid henchman of the rebel Prince Cyrus! It was only after the demise of Tissaphernes that Artaxerxes appointed Tiribazus as satrap of Sardis.

Note: In the New Testament, the role of Tissaphernes was one (of many) assumed by the Apostle Paul/Phasaelus. (Note the play between Phasaelus and Tissaphernes.) The on-again off-again relationship of Tissaphernes and Pharnabazus was emulated by Paul and Barnabus in the Book of Acts. Olmstead (History of the Persian Empire, p 358) calls Tissaphernes “the ablest and most unscrupulous diplomat that Persia ever produced”. Paul like Tissaphernes was a master strategist. Paul had also been made ruler of Egypt (under the name Paulus), but was afterward accused of insurrection and taken into custody. He cleverly appealed to Caesar (the “Great King”) rather than risk being executed (like Tissaphernes) by royal subordinates. Paul, at that juncture in his career, still had other roles to fulfill. The enmity of Josephus (Arrius Varus) toward Saulus (Paul) is a reflection of the attack on Tissaphernes by Ariaeus. Josephus, like Ariaeus, had earned a reputation among the Greeks for being a rebel and fighting valiantly against the Great King. Like Ariaeus, Josephus conveniently switched sides and was returned to favor.

The death of Tissaphernes led to a vacancy in the throne of Egypt. A prince calling himself Pasher-en-Mut (a.k.a. Cyrus) tried to establish himself as pharaoh but was ousted by an equally mysterious figure named Hakor/Hakoris (or Achoris). But there’s not much to this mystery. The name Hakoris is obviously a variant on the name Evagoras, king of Cyprus. And both names derived from the Persian Oxyathres. Consistent with this, it was only after Hakoris took Egypt that Artaxerxes conceded the title of hazarapat to Tiribazus. Control of Cyprus was considered essential during this period to controlling Egypt, as it was much more difficult to mount an invasion of Egypt without using Cyprus as a staging ground. Once Hakoris/Evagoras was in possession of both Cyprus and Egypt, his position in the Persian hierarchy was nearly unassailable.

Note: Hakoris is similar in form to the Biblical Hacoliah "brother" of Nehemiah. Hakoris was also referred to in Egypt as Pakoris, which may suggest a further association of Oxyathres with Gobryas, another great general under Artaxerxes II. Hakoris also relates to the Greek Agrius, representing the centaur of Cheiron/Judah. The variants Argeaus and Timagorus are also princely name of Athens at this time. Also note the Egyptian admiral Tamos father of Glos (apparently related to the name Gongylus of Eretria in Italy!).

Note: In the history of Diodorus, Artaxerxes II heaped titles upon Tiribazus, and seem to be phrased in such as way as to emphasize the root “tim” and other relevant word plays. Tiribazus received “favor and honors” (kharites kai timai) and “highest honors” (hai nomizomenai megistai timai). He was “in the company of the king” (meta tou basileos), and “First Friend of the king” (megisthos genesthai philos). Orontes was instead described using the Greek word atimia, connoting “against Tim”. (See Pierre Bryant, From Cyrus to Alexander, pp 311, 317, 321-2) Probably Tiribazus was looked upon as a new Tisamenus/Tissamenes, a notable “second” during the early reign of Xerxes.

Fearing that Tiribazus/Oxyathres had become too powerful, Artaxerxes began to limit his presence in the western arena. With Tiribazus in control of Egypt, Cyprus, and Syria, it was time for him to relinquish rule in Greece and Asia Minor. He was removed in 491 as satrap of Sardis and replaced there with Autophradates, of which little is known. It is possible that this was an alias of Orontes, however the two figures later came into conflict. The name Phraates became a popular Parthian king-name, which gives Autophradates further interest. Autophradates, whoever he was, was ordered by Artaxerxes II to attack Evagorus in Cyprus with the support of one called Hecatomnus son of Pixodarus satrap of Caria. The mission was a failure, at least in its stated objective of humbling Evagoras. The real objective may have been simply to further diminish the Greek ranks.

The name Hecatomnus was likely a variant of Abrocomas. Pixodarus appears to have been a variant of Darius (II). Hecatomnus is a name that emphasizes the number seven instead of four, and also the station of the “twin/thomas”, that is, second in terms of kingly power. Like the earlier Xerxes, Oxyathres seems to have been cultivating a dual typecasting as a seventh son (in addition to a fourth son). This could have been accomplished by including other princes in the traditional patriarchal pecking order. For example, Teriteuchmes may have been considered a disgraced “Reuben”, Tissaphernes a clever “Simeon”, and Pharnabazus an indomitable “Levi”. That would have enabled Artaxerxes II to assume a secondary typecasting as a Judah figure and Oxyathres as a Benjamin. Orontes would have then claimed the coveted place of Zebulun (that of the earlier Cyrus the Great).

In 488 BC, Evagoras flexed his muscles with a show of solidarity with Hakoris of Egypt and Chabrias of Athens, which of course were the manifestations of one man, the Prime Minister Tiribazus. {The Greek name Chabrias appears to be a play on Hakoris/Pakoris/Gobryas.) In 487 BC, Artaxerxes II responded by summoning Pharnabazus to Persia and giving him his daughter Apame in marriage. Artaxerxes II had promised Tiribazus marriage to one of his daughters, but continued to put him off. This increasingly became a source of resentment, because Orontes had also been married to a daughter of Artaxerxes named Rodogune. Artaxerxes appeased Tiribazus by removing Autophradates (who apparently disappointed the Great King in Sardis as well as in the Cyprus exercise) and restoring Tiribazus as satrap of Sardis. In appreciation, Tiribazus with the help of the Spartan Antalcidas removed the Athenian presence in the Hellespont (as Sparta had done to cripple Athens in 404 BC) and imposed the “Peace of Antalcidas” (also called the “King’s Peace”) on the Greek World in 386 BC.

In 385 BC, with Greece pacified, a new military exercise was set in motion. Evagoras of Cyprus was to be engaged once again, and this time along with his ally Hakoris of Egypt. The chosen sides were every bit as contrived as in the previous war game there, yet because of the potential for treachery it had to be undertaken with deadly seriousness. Tiribazus was to team with Orontes in Cyprus. Abrocomas of Syria was teamed with Pharnabazus and Tuthraustes of Sparta. Evagoras was being supported by Hecatomnus and Chabrias of Athens traveled to help Hakoris defend Egypt!!

In the aftermath of this latest “disastrous” Cyprus and Egyptian expedition, Orontes leveled a charge of treason against his brother Tiribazus before the Great King. Tiribazus, apparently taken off-guard by this particular tactic, was seized and sent to Artaxerxes II. Upon a not so speedy trial Tiribazus was exonerated and Orontes stricken from the roster of the Great King’s friends. Although Tiribazus was officially returned to favor, he was effectively finished as a Persian contender to the Great Throne. Although he kept a part of Cyprus under the name Evagorus and was succeeded there by his son Nicocles, Egypt was lost to him after a Moses-like 13-year reign. Olmstead writes (p 402): “According to the Egyptian record, Achoris was ‘deposed because he forsook the Law and did not regard his brethren.” In Caria, his alter ego Hecatomnus was allowed almost complete autonomy and to groom his son Mausollus as successor to the satrapy.

On the other hand, the kingly career of Orontes, although officially branded as a rebel in Persia, was finally on the rise. While Tiribazus had languished in prison, Orontes replaced him as pharaoh of Egypt under the name Nakhtnebef (Greek Nectanebo). His chosen throne name was Kheperkare, that of Middle Kingdom pharaoh Senusret, murderer of his brother Wegaf (the Zebulun of his generation). In the Bible, Senusret was given the name of Kenan, a variant of the brother-killer Cain. Artaxerxes II did not mount an invasion of Egypt for seven years, and when he did it was again a farce. Always supportive Pharnabazus (accompanied by an Athenian commander Iphicrates) tried to take the Delta during the summer inundation. It was of course an ignominious debacle. Iphicrates bailed out of the campaign and was replaced by Timotheus son of Conon as the new recruiter of Greek mercenaries.

When Pharnabazus passed away (exasperated at last, no doubt), Artaxerxes appointed a satrap named Datames to begin new preparations against Egypt. Datames shamelessly adopted regal trappings. He was depicted with crown and on a throne below the icon of Ahuramazda. Even more astonishing, he was shown reverencing the Babylonian god Anu (Cain!). In Egypt, the self-proclaimed Cain figure Nectanebo boasted of killing the monster Apophis (Horus the Elder/”Judah”). We might suspect that Datames was an alter ego of Nectanebo/Orontes, however the name Datames itself argues otherwise. Previously, Datis had been the name chosen for/by the Crown Prince Xerxes before he succeeded his father Darius the Great. The use of the variant Datames again late in the reign of Artaxerxes II indicates that it should be associated with the Crown Prince Ochos (future Artaxerxes III). It will be discussed in a future segment that Artaxerxes had also killed one of his own younger brothers and so he perhaps was boasting of being the “true Cain” of his generation.

Datames began what is called the “Great Satraps Revolt” at the end of the reign of Artaxerxes II (Memnon). Pierre Bryant states that this period of apparent anarchy was never any serious threat to Artaxerxes II. We can go a step further and conclude that it was a contrived rebellion led by the Crown Prince himself. It served to fulfill the expectation that the rule of a “Memnon” should end in great tribulation, and that it should be said that “all the lands of the king are lost” as it was in the Amarna Period (end of the reign of Amenhotep III/Solomon). However, if any lands were lost, they were lost to the Crown Prince who stood to inherit them anyway! The threat from Asia Minor also repeated the Hittite menace of the Amarna Age.

If there was any actual threat or rebellion during this period it would have been led by Orontes, but the genuineness even of his activities must be doubted. In the final years of Nectanebo/Orontes in Egypt he was compelled to recognize as Crown Prince one named Teos or Tachos. When Nectanebo did step down, Agesilaus visited Egypt in order to establish the new king. In the New Testament, the close patronage of Agesilaus for Teos is paralleled by that of Silas for Timotheus/Timothy. This allows us to deduce that pharaoh Teos was one and the same as Timotheus son of Conon of Athens. It allows strongly suggests that Conon father of Timotheus was one and the same as Chabrias/Hakoris, the former king of Egypt. Teos was then the successor of Nectanebo/Orontes in Egypt, but not his true son.

Note: Conon is a Greek variant of the Hebrew Hanan/Conaniah/Johanan (Issachar/Osiris). Hakoris was both the Judah and Issachar of his generation. In a grievance addressed to leading magistrates of the Empire, the priests of the Jewish Temple at Elephantine in Egypt referred to him as Anani brother of Ostanes, i.e., Conon/Oxyathres brother of Orontes. Many years earlier (circa 400 BC), a priest named Johanan had murdered a rival named Jeshua and became High Priest of the Temple in Jerusalem. He eventually yielded to a younger prince (and putative son) named Jaddua who served as High Priest into the reign of Artaxerxes III (and quite possibly corresponded to the Persian Prince himself if he was not in fact one of the natural sons of Conon such as Timotheus/Teos/Nicocles/Mausollus).

The specialty of Teos was in devising clever strategies to raise funds, and he was advised in this capacity by Chabrias. The brief years he ruled in Egypt were devoted to exacting as much wealth from the temples and populace as possible. His alter ego Mausollus son of Hecatomnus in Asia Minor had the very same reputation. Once the country had been thoroughly bilked, Teos raised an army under the pretense of conquering Persia and left with the spoils. Meanwhile a coalition of Agesilaus, Datames, and Orontes was formed in the west. They appeared determined to join forces with Teos for the ultimate showdown with Artaxerxes II and Crown Prince Ochos.

This plan, like every one before it, was a total farce. Datames and Teos entered Mesopotamia, not as enemies of Artaxerxes II but laden with treasure. Egpyt was turned over to Nectanebo II and Orontes/Nectanebo “made his peace” with the Great King, because the second Nectanebo (Orontes II/Ostanes II) was the true son of the first! Agesilaus personally saw to the installation of Nectanebo II and then supposedly passed away on his way “home” to Sparta. The reign of Artaxerxes II had come to an end. Artaxerxes III, like the former Crown Prince Xerxes dumped the dummy name Datames and followed his father to the Great Throne with little further ado.

The resources of the world had flowed to Persia for over forty years and Artaxerxes II (Memnon) spent much of it pursuing Solomonic building programs. Like Solomon he also introduced “strange gods” thereby corrupting the pure faith of monotheistic Ahura Mazda. Artaxerxes II was especially devoted to the cult of Anahita (a form of Ishtar/Asherah), and also favored Mithra (equivalent to a “Baal” for the Persians). Like Amenhotep III and Ramses II, he took at least one his daughter’s as wife (one being formerly promised to Tiribazus). He had successfully played his two brothers off against each other while at least two of his own sons became old and strong enough to take the kingdom for themselves.

Useful Links:

Hebron and Judah/David
Chapter 28, Note 4

Medinet Habu, “The City of Hebron/David”

Reign of Artaxerxes II: