History of the Universe eBook. 398 pages, 300 illustrations only $2.99
ASTYAGES, the last king of the Median empire. In the
inscriptions of Nabonidus the name is written Ishtuvegu (cylinder
from Abu Habba V R 64, col. 1, 32; Annals, published by Pinches,
Tr. Soc. Bibl. Arch. vii. col. 2, 2). According to Herodotus, he
was the son of Cyaxares and reigned thirty-five years (584-550
B.C.); his wife was Aryenis, the daughter of Alyattes of Lydia
(Herod, i. 74). About his reign we know little, as the narrative of
Herodotus, which makes Cyrus the grandson of Astyages by his
daughter Mandane, is merely a legend; the figure of Harpagus,
who as general of the Median army betrays the king to Cyrus,
alone seems to contain an historical element, as Harpagus and his
family afterwards obtained a high position in the Persian empire.
From the inscriptions of Nabonidus we learn that Cyrus, king of
Anshan (Susiana), began war against him in 553 B.C.; in 550,
when Astyages marched against Cyrus, his troops rebelled, and
he was taken prisoner. Then Cyrus occupied and plundered
Ecbatana. The captive king was treated fairly by Cyrus (Herod,
i. 130), and according to Ctesias (Pers. 5, cf. Justin i. 6) made
satrap of Hyrcania, where he was afterwards slain by Oebares
against the will of Cyrus, who gave him a splendid funeral.
Alexander Polyhistor and Abydenus in their excerpts from
Berossus, which Eusebius (Chron. i. pp. 29 and 37) and Syncellus
(p. 396) have preserved, give the name Astyages to the Median
king who reigned in the time of the fall of Nineveh (606 B.C.),
and became father-in-law of Nebuchadrezzar. This is evidently
a mistake; the name ought to be Cyaxares (in the fragments of
the Jewish history of Alexander Polyhistor, in Euseb. Praep.
Ev. ix. 39, the name is converted into Astibaras, who, according
to the unhistorical list of Ctesias, was the father of Astyages), and
there is no reason to invent an earlier king Astyages I., as some
modern authors have done. The Armenian historians render the
name Astyages by Ashdahak, i.e. Azhi Dahaka (Zohak), the
mythical king of the Iranian epics, who has nothing whatever to
do with the historical king of the Medes.
A few typographical errors have been corrected. They
appear in the text like this, and the
explanation will appear when the mouse pointer is moved over the marked
passage. Sections in Greek will yield a transliteration
when the pointer is moved over them, and words using diacritic characters in the
Latin Extended Additional block, which may not display in some fonts or browsers, will
display an unaccented version.
Links to other EB articles: Links to articles residing in other EB volumes will
be made available when the respective volumes are introduced online.
"A well-rounded treatment of a vast body of facts" only $2.99