Persia 01: The Seven of Darius

This is the first installment of the Persian Period study (Part IV of the on-line book).

- Part III of the on-line book ended with the Empire in the hands of "Darius the Mede" and "Cyrus the Persian", the two leading sons of Hystaspes (Ahasuerus/Jeshua). Hystaspes was better known in Egypt as Mentuemhet/Nes-Ptah (de facto ruler of Egypt in the final years of so-called native rule). His sons Darius and Cyrus II had the Egyptian names Osorkon V and Nes-Ptah II, respectively.

- The sequence of events leading up to the co-rule of Darius and Cyrus II can be reconstructed as follows (see Chapter 41 and Chart 33 of the book):

1) Cambyses II/Teuman killed Bardiya/Nebuchadrezzar.
2) Cambyses II next organized a coalition to overthrow Smerdis/Assurbanipal, but was himself captured and killed by Assurbanipal.
3) Cyrus II captured his (maternal) grandfather Astyges/Taharqa and became king in his place.
4) Darius carried out the plan to kill Smerdis/Assurbanipal and became co-ruler with his brother Cyrus II.

- Cyrus II “the Persian” claimed direct succession from Cambyses II (Tanuatamon).

- Darius “the Mede” claimed that his kingship came both through his father Ahasuerus (Hystaspes) and Arsames, a.k.a., Tanuatamon/Cambyses II.

Note: Arsa-mes was a transliteration of the Egyptian designation of Tanuatamon as the “son of Arsa”, Arsa being Shabaka/Takelot III/Tiglath-pileser III.

Note: Cambyses II/Tanuatamon was obviously a dominant kingly figure both among Median and Persian tribes. He was also considered a king of Elamites under the related name of Teuman.

- There is considerable confusion in the history of Herodotus regarding the transition to Persian supremacy. Herodotus appears to call Nabu-sharru-user/Nebuchadrezzar the “true Smerdis” and Assurbanipal the “false Smerdis”, that is, a twin or double who turned usurper.

- The kings of this period may very well have been using look-a-likes, and even high-ranking surrogates, however the real target of Tanuatamon was not a lesser stand-in but his long-time royal arch-rival Assurbanipal.

- According to Herodotus, this “false Smerdis” had taken over the harem of the “true Smerdis”, that is, the harem of Nebuchadrezzar (his former ally in persecuting both Taharqa and Tanuatamon). Assurbanipal was of course no pretender in terms of actual power or royal status. Darius and his co-conspirators challenged the so-called imposter at their extreme peril according to Herodotus.

- The fake Smerdis was like the legitimate Smerdis in almost every respect, except that his ears were said to have been cut off in his earlier career, because of an offense to Cyrus (I). After being assassinated by the Darius faction, the head of this king was said to have also been cut off and paraded.

- Unfortunately the mummy of Assurbanipal (Egyptian Smendes II/Ramses X) is missing, so it is not possible to evaluate the remains for consistency with Herodotus’ account. The mummy of Tanuatamon (Egyptian Amenhotep/Ramses VII) is also missing. Quite possibly, the body of Assurbanipal was desecrated in revenge for his treatment of Tanuatamon.

Ref: Herodotus, The Histories, Book 3, Chapters 61-79

- In his successful bid for the throne, Darius was supported (says Herodotus) by six magnates:

1) Ardumanis son of Vahuaka
2) Vidarna/Hydarnes son of Bagabigna
3) Otanes/Utana son of Thukra/Pharnaspes
4) Gobryas/Gobares son of Marduniya
5) Bagabuxsa son of Datuvahya
6) Vidafarnah/Intaphernes son of Vayaspara

- The first name Ardumanis is quite plainly a transliteration of Urdamane, the Assyrian king name of Tanuatamon (Teuman/Cambyses II).

- The second name Vidarna and the variant Hydarnes are evidently also epithets of Tanuatamon/Urdamane, who was called Turnus by the Latins/Romans.

- The third of the group, Otanes/Utana, was considered the most important and the original initiator of the “conspiracy” to remove the Medio-Persian “usurper” Smerdis. However, as noted above, this so-called conspiracy was launched by Cambyses II and only finished off later by Darius. Otanes/Utana was then simply yet another epithet of Tan-u-at-amon, and is in fact very similar in form.

- The father of Otanes is named as Thukra (“redhead”).

- Thukra is a play on the name Taharqa (Psamtik I), who was the predecessor (i.e., “father”) of Tanuatamon (Psamtik II) in both the Nubian and Saite thrones. The legal father of Tanuatamon was Shabaka/Takelot III/Arsa. His true father was however Kashta/Iuput II/Hori. Perhaps the names Vahauka and Bagabigna refer to one or both of these other fathers of Tanuatamon/Cambyses. Vahauka bears at least some phonic semblance to Shabaka.

- The predominance of Cambyses II and the need for Darius to connect himself to the legacy of Cambyses II is evident in this list. Three of the six names are associated with him.

- The fourth name, Gobryas son of Marduniya, corresponds to Pharaoh Hophra/Apries of Egypt, also known as Pyrrus (king in Greece/Sicily) and Gubaru (governor in Babylon). A son of Gobryus by the sister of Darius was called Mardonius (a leading general under Xerxes), logically named after his “grandfather Marduniya”.

- The fifth name, Bagabuxsa son of Datuvahya has been associated (by Pierre Bryant in his opus, ‘From Cyrus to Alexander’) with the great general of Darius called Megabyzus. A son of Megabyzus was evidently called Datis/Mithradates after his grandfather.

- The Egyptian identity of Megabyzus would have been as Pharaoh/general Amasis (Biblical Ishmael son of Nethaniah), also widely known by his throne name Khnem-ibre. Politically speaking, pharaoh Amasis was the “son”/successor of Apries/Hophrah. As such, Megabyzus is referred to as the son of Zopyrus (a.ka. Gobryas/Pyrrus/Apries).

- Apries was perhaps considered the immediate successor of Pharaoh Siamun (Nebuchadrezzer) in Egypt, although possibly not a true son. The Medio-Persian names of Marduniya and Mithradates may actually refer (along with Bardiya) to Siamon/Nebuchadrezzar, who was associated closely with both the Simon/Thoth-Mithra type and the exiled Moses/Marduk-Re type.

- The sixth name, Intaphernes, may represent the king Nabonidas (Inta ~ Nida), second successor of Nebuchadrezzer in Babylon. Nabonidas would have ruled Babylon in the early reigns of Darius and Cyrus II.

- Darius does not mention the co-rule of his brother Cyrus II in any known record, but Cyrus (Egyptian Nes-Ptah II) is apparently included by Herodotus as one of Darius’ supporters under the name Aspathines. Aspathines is depicted "bearing royal arms" in the tomb of Darius (Bryant, p 108), and said to have been wounded in the attack on Smerdis (Herodotus, Book 3, Chapters 70-78). If so, he would symbolically represent a seventh co-conspirator.