Cyaxares (Ancient Greek: Κυαξάρης; Old Persian: 𐎢𐎺𐎧𐏁𐎫𐎼 Uvaxštra;[3][4] Persian: هووخشتره‎, translit. Hovakhshatra; Avestan: Huxšaθra "Good Ruler"; Akkadian: Umakištar[5]; Old Phrygian: ksuwaksaros[6]; r. 625–585 BC) was the third and most capable king of Media, according to Herodotus, with a far greater military reputation than his father Phraortes or grandfather Deioces. He was the first to divide his troops into separate sections of spearmen, archers, and horsemen.[7]

By uniting most of the Iranian tribes of ancient Iran and conquering neighbouring territories, Cyaxares transformed the Median Empire into a regional power.[8] He facilitated the fall of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, and according to Herodotus repelled the Scythians from Media.[9]

King of Media
Qyzqapan tomb relief
Likely relief of Cyaxeres (right), Qyzqapan tomb, Sulaymaniyah. Iraqi Kurdistan.[1]
Reign625–585 BC
BornEcbatana (present-day Hamadan)
Syromedia (present-day Qyzqapan), according to Igor Diakonov[2]
SpouseDaughter (or granddaughter) of Nabopolassar
Amytis (or granddaughter)
DynastyMedian Dynasty
ReligionAncient Iranian religion

The rise of Cyaxares

Cyaxares portrait
Likely portrait of Cyaxares.
Median empire map
Cyaxares' Median Empire at the time of its maximum expansion.

Cyaxares was born in the Median capital of Ecbatana. His father Phraortes was killed in a battle against the Assyrians, led by Ashurbanipal, the king of Assyria. After Phraortes' demise, the Scythians overran Media. Cyaxares, seeking revenge, killed the Scythian leaders[10] and proclaimed himself King of Medes. After throwing off the Scythians, he prepared for war against Assyria.[11] Cyaxares reorganized the Median army, then allied himself with King Nabopolassar of Babylonia, a mutual enemy of Assyria. This alliance was formalized through the marriage of Cyaxares' daughter, Amytis, to Nabopolassar's son, Nebuchadnezzar II. These allies overthrew the Assyrian Empire and destroyed Nineveh in 612 BC.

War against Lydia

Qyzqapan tomb relief Cyaxeres
Qyzqapan tomb, likely relief of Cyaxeres (detail).[1]
Herodotus reported the wars of Cyaxares in The Histories

After the victory in Assyria, the Medes conquered Northern Mesopotamia, Armenia and the parts of Asia Minor east of the Halys River, which was the border established with Lydia after a decisive battle between Lydia and Media, the Battle of Halys ended with an eclipse on May 28, 585 BC.

The conflict between Lydia and the Medes was reported by Herodotus as follows:

"A horde of the nomad Scythians at feud with the rest withdrew and sought refuge in the land of the Medes: and at this time the ruler of the Medes was Cyaxares the son of Phraortes, the son of Deïokes, who at first dealt well with these Scythians, being suppliants for his protection; and esteeming them very highly he delivered boys to them to learn their speech and the art of shooting with the bow. Then time went by, and the Scythians used to go out continually to the chase and always brought back something; till once it happened that they took nothing, and when they returned with empty hands Cyaxares (being, as he showed on this occasion, not of an eminently good disposition) dealt with them very harshly and used insult towards them. And they, when they had received this treatment from Cyaxares, considering that they had suffered indignity, planned to kill and to cut up one of the boys who were being instructed among them, and having dressed his flesh as they had been wont to dress the wild animals, to bear it to Cyaxares and give it to him, pretending that it was game taken in hunting; and when they had given it, their design was to make their way as quickly as possible to Alyattes the son of Sadyattes at Sardis. This then was done; and Cyaxares with the guests who ate at his table tasted of that meat, and the Scythians having so done became suppliants for the protection of Alyattes.
After this, since Alyattes would not give up the Scythians when Cyaxares demanded them, there had arisen war between the Lydians and the Medes lasting five years; in which years the Medes often discomfited the Lydians and the Lydians often discomfited the Medes (and among others they fought also a battle by night): and as they still carried on the war with equally balanced fortune, in the sixth year a battle took place in which it happened, when the fight had begun, that suddenly the day became night. And this change of the day Thales the Milesian had foretold to the Ionians laying down as a limit this very year in which the change took place. The Lydians however and the Medes, when they saw that it had become night instead of day, ceased from their fighting and were much more eager both of them that peace should be made between them. And they who brought about the peace between them were Syennesis the Kilikian and Labynetos the Babylonian: these were they who urged also the taking of the oath by them, and they brought about an interchange of marriages; for they decided that Alyattes should give his daughter Aryenis to Astyages the son of Cyaxares, since without the compulsion of a strong tie agreements are apt not to hold strongly together." (The Histories, 1.73-74, trans. Macaulay)

Cyaxares died shortly after the battle and was succeeded by his son, Astyages, who was the maternal grandfather of Cyrus the Great through his daughter Mandane of Media.

Zoroastrianism Tomb Sulaymaniyah province 28
Tomb of Cyaxares, Qyzqapan, Sulaymaniyah. Iraqi Kurdistan


Qyzqapan is a tomb located in the Iraqi mountains in Sulaymaniyah. The Russian historian Igor Diakonov believes that it is probably a royal tomb and that if it is royal it is the tomb of Cyaxares.[2]


In later accounts of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, this was remembered as Nebuchadrezzar's present for his wife Amytis Cyaxares's daughter, to help with her homesickness for the mountainous country of her birth.[12]

After Darius I seized the Iranshahr, rebellions erupted claiming Uvaxštra's legacy. After these were defeated, the shah noted two in the Behistun Inscription: "Another was Phraortes [Fravartiš], the Mede [Mâda]; he lied, saying: 'I am Khshathrita, of the dynasty of Cyaxares.' He made Media to revolt. Another was Tritantaechmes [Ciçataxma], the Sagartian [Asagartiya]; he lied, saying: 'I am king in Sagartia, of the dynasty of Cyaxares.' He made Sagartia to revolt."

See also


  1. ^ a b Gershevitch, I.; Fisher, William Bayne; Avery, Peter; Boyle, John Andrew; Frye, Richard Nelson; Yarshater, Ehsan; Jackson, Peter; Melville, Charles Peter; Lockhart, Laurence; Hambly, Gavin (1985). The Cambridge History of Iran. Cambridge University Press. p. 139. ISBN 9780521200912.
  2. ^ a b Gershevitch, Ilya (1984). The Cambridge history of Iran: The Median and Achaemenian periods.
  3. ^ Akbarzadeh, D.; A. Yahyanezhad (2006). The Behistun Inscriptions (Old Persian Texts) (in Persian). Khaneye-Farhikhtagan-e Honarhaye Sonati. p. 87. ISBN 964-8499-05-5.
  4. ^ Kent, Ronald Grubb (1384 AP). Old Persian: Grammar, Text, Glossary (in Persian). translated into Persian by S. Oryan. p. 406. ISBN 964-421-045-X. Check date values in: |year= (help)
  5. ^
  6. ^ Diakonoff 1993, pp. 478-479.
  7. ^ Herodotus (425 BC). The Histories (2008 ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 48. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  8. ^
  9. ^ Cyaxares (
  10. ^ Grousset, Rene (1970). The Empire of the Steppes. Rutgers University Press. pp. 8–9. ISBN 0-8135-1304-9.
  11. ^ Gershevitch, Ilya (1984). The Cambridge history of Iran: The Median and Achaemenian periods.
  12. ^ Dalley, Stephanie (2013). The Mystery of the Hanging Garden of Babylon: an elusive World Wonder traced. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-966226-5.


External links

Preceded by
King of Medes Succeeded by
580s BC

This article concerns the period 589 BC – 580 BC.

Alyattes of Lydia

Alyattes (reigned c.591–c.560 BC), sometimes described as Alyattes II, was the fourth king of the Mermnad dynasty in Lydia, the son of Sadyattes and grandson of Ardys. He was succeeded by his son Croesus. A battle between his forces and those of Cyaxares, king of Media, was interrupted by the solar eclipse on 28 May 584 BC. After this, a truce was agreed and Alyattes married his daughter Aryenis to Astyages, the son of Cyaxares. The alliance preserved Lydia for another generation, during which it enjoyed its most brilliant period. Alyattes continued to wage a war against Miletus for many years but eventually he heeded the Delphic Oracle and rebuilt a temple, dedicated to Athena, which his soldiers had destroyed. He then made peace with Miletus.Dates for the Mermnad kings are uncertain and are based on a computation by J. B. Bury and Russell Meiggs (1975) who estimated c.687–c.652 BC for the reign of Gyges. Herodotus gave reign lengths for Gyges' successors, but there is uncertainty about these as the total exceeds the timespan between 652 (probable death of Gyges, fighting the Cimmerians) and 547/546 (fall of Sardis to Cyrus the Great). Bury and Meiggs concluded that Ardys and Sadyattes reigned through an unspecified period in the second half of the 7th century BC, but they did not propose dates for Alyattes except their assertion that Croesus succeeded him in 560 BC. The timespan 560–546 BC for the reign of Croesus is almost certainly accurate.

Amytis of Media

Amuhia or Amytis of Media (c. 630–565 BC) was the daughter or granddaughter of the Median king Cyaxares, and the wife of Nebuchadnezzar II.


Arpachshad, alternatively spelled Arphaxad or Arphacsad, is one of the postdiluvian men in the Shem-Terah genealogy. According to the Book of Genesis he was one of the five sons of Shem (the son of Noah). He is the twelfth name of the Genesis genealogy that traces Abraham's ancestry from Adam to Terah. Beginning with Adam, nine antediluvian names are given that predate Noah and the Flood, and nine postdiluvian, beginning with Noah's eldest son Shem and ending with Terah.Arpachshad's brothers were Elam, Asshur, Lud and Aram. Arpachshad's son is called Shelah, except in the Septuagint, where his son is Cainan, Shelah being Arpachshad's grandson. Cainan is also identified as Arpachshad's son in Luke 3:36 and Jubilees 8:1. The Book of Jubilees additionally identifies Arpachshad's wife as Rasu'aya, the daughter of Susan, who was the son (or daughter in some versions) of Shem's older son Elam. (Arpachshad's mother is named in this source as Sedeqetelebab; for competing traditions on the name of Shem's wife see wives aboard the Ark.)

Some ancient Jewish sources, particularly Jubilees, point to Arpachshad as the immediate progenitor of Ura and Kesed, who allegedly founded the city of Ur Kesdim (Ur of the Chaldees) on the west bank of the Euphrates (Jub. 9:4; 11:1-7) — the same bank where Ur, identified by Leonard Woolley in 1927 as Ur of the Chaldees, is located.Until Woolley's identification of Ur, Arpachshad was understood by many Jewish and Muslim scholars to be an area in northern Mesopotamia, Urfa of the Yazidis. This led to the identification of Arpachshad with Urfa-Kasid (due to similarities in the names ארפ־כשד‬ and כשדים‬) - a land associated with the Khaldis, whom Josephus confused with the Chaldeans. Donald B. Redford asserted that Arpachshad is to be identified with Babylon.Another Arpaxad is referenced in the deuterocanonical Book of Judith as a king of the Medes, and if this supposed Median king is contemporary with the conquest of the Assyrians, he could be identified with Phraortes (c. 665 - 633 BC). If he is contemporary with Nebuchadnezzar II (named as king of the Assyrians in Judith), he might be identified with Cyaxares (r. 625–585 BC).

Art Imlech

Art Imlech, ("having an edge or border" or "bordering on a lake or marsh") son of Elim Olfínechta, was, according to medieval Irish legend and historical tradition, a High King of Ireland, who took power after killing his predecessor, and his father's killer, Gíallchad. He is said to have dug seven forts in a reign that lasted twelve or twenty-two years, before he was killed in battle by Gíallchad's son Nuadu Finn Fáil. The Lebor Gabála Érenn synchronises his reign with those of Phraortes (665–633 BC) and Cyaxares (625–585) of the Medes. The chronology of Geoffrey Keating's Foras Feasa ar Éirinn dates his reign to 777–755 BC, that of the Annals of the Four Masters to 1014–1002 BC.


Aryenis of Lydia was, according to Herodotus, the daughter of King Alyattes of Lydia and the sister of King Croesus of Lydia.


Astyages (spelled by Herodotus as Ἀστυάγης Astyages; by Ctesias as Astyigas; by Diodorus as Aspadas; Babylonian: Ištumegu) was the last king of the Median Empire, r. 585–550 BCE, the son of Cyaxares; he was dethroned in 550 BCE by Cyrus the Great. His name derives from the Old Iranian Rishti Vaiga, which means "swinging the spear, lance-hurler." In the inscriptions of Nabonidus the name is written Ishtuvegu.

Battle of Arrapha

Battle of Arrapha took place in 616 BC between the Assyrian forces and the Babylonians.

Babylonian king Nabopolassar succeeded by driving the Assyrians back to the Little Zab, in doing so capturing many Assyrian prisoners, horses, and chariots.

The next year, Cyaxares, king of the Medes, defeated the Assyrians and conquered Arrapha.

Battle of the Eclipse

The Battle of the Eclipse or Battle of Halys was fought between the Medes and the Lydians in the early 6th century BC. The result was a draw which led to both parties negotiating a peace treaty and ending a six-year war.

Herodotus writes that in the sixth year of the war, the Lydians under King Alyattes and the Medes under Cyaxares were engaged in an indecisive battle when suddenly day turned into night, leading to both parties halting the fighting and negotiating a peace agreement. Herodotus also mentions that the loss of daylight had been predicted by Thales of Miletus. He does not, however, mention the location of the battle.

Afterwards, on the refusal of Alyattes to give up his suppliants when Cyaxares sent to demand them of him, war broke out between the Lydians and the Medes, and continued for five years, with various success. In the course of it the Medes gained many victories over the Lydians, and the Lydians also gained many victories over the Medes. Among their other battles there was one night engagement. As, however, the balance had not inclined in favour of either nation, another combat took place in the sixth year, in the course of which, just as the battle was growing warm, day was on a sudden changed into night. This event had been foretold by Thales, the Milesian, who forewarned the Ionians of it, fixing for it the very year in which it actually took place. The Medes and Lydians, when they observed the change, ceased fighting, and were alike anxious to have terms of peace agreed on.

As part of the terms of the peace agreement, Alyattes's daughter Aryenis was married to Cyaxares's son Astyages, and the Halys River (now known as the Kızılırmak River) was declared to be the border of the two warring nations.

Cicero mentions that Thales was the first man to successfully predict a solar eclipse during the reign of Astyages. He was the son and successor of Cyaxares and his reign began at the end of the war after Cyaxares' death.

Pliny the Elder mentions as well that Thales had predicted a solar eclipse during the reign of Alyattes.If one reads the description by Herodotus of the event as a solar eclipse, then based on modern astronomical calculations it can be identified with the solar eclipse of May 28, 585 BC (known as Eclipse of Thales), hence yielding the exact date of the battle. For the location of the battle, some scholars assume the Halys River (today Kızılırmak River) as it was located in the border region between both kingdoms. As Isaac Asimov notes, this would be the earliest recorded eclipse the date of which was accurately determined in advance of its occurrence.However, such a reading is for a variety of reasons rather problematic and hence disputed by various scholars. For example, the known astronomical knowledge available of that time was not sufficient for Thales to predict the eclipse. Also, the eclipse would have occurred shortly before sunset at any plausible site of the battle, and it was very uncommon for battles to take place at that time of day. Furthermore, based on the list of Medean kings and their regnal lengths reported elsewhere by Herodotus, Cyaxares died 10 years before the eclipse.

Cyaxares II

Cyaxares II was said to be a king of the Medes whose reign is described by the Greek historian Xenophon. Some theories have equated this figure with the "Darius the Mede" named in the Book of Daniel. He is not mentioned in the histories of Herodotus or Ctesias, and many scholars doubt that he actually existed. The question of his existence impacts on whether the kingdom of the Medes merged peacefully with that of the Persians in about 537 BC, as narrated by Xenophon (8.6.22, 8.7.1), or was subjugated in the rebellion of the Persians against Cyrus' grandfather in 559 BC, a date derived from Herodotus (1.214) and almost universally accepted by current scholarship.

Fall of Tarbisu

After the death of Assurbanipal in 627 BC, the Neo-Assyrian empire entered a period of instability caused by fighting between Sin-shar-ishkun and his brother Assur-etil-ilani. In 626 BC, Nabopolassar, the Babylonian ruler revolted against the Assyrians. After a few years of war, the Babylonians expelled the Assyrian forces from their territory. However, Nabopolassar could not bring the fight to the heartland of the Assyrian empire. The situation changed drastically in 616 BC, when the Medes attacked the Assyrian empire.

The fall of Tarbisu occurred when the Median army, led by Cyaxares the great, attacked and conquered the city. In the aftermath, the Medes went further and decisively defeated the Assyrians at the battle of Assur.


Madius (Ancient Greek: Μάδιος), Madyes, or Madya was the Scythian king after his father Partatua. He "invaded and subjugated Media (c. 628)", but the "Medes soon rebelled, however; their king Cyaxares massacred the Scythian leaders, and the remainder of the Scythians turned back via the Caucasus to southern Russia."


The Medes (, Old Persian Māda-, Ancient Greek: Μῆδοι, Hebrew: מָדַי‬ Madai) were an ancient Iranian people who spoke the Median language and who inhabited an area known as Media between western and northern Iran. Under the Neo-Assyrian Empire, late 9th to early 7th centuries BC, the region of Media was bounded by the Zagros Mountains to its west, to its south by the Garrin Mountain in Lorestan Province, to its northwest by the Qaflankuh Mountains in Zanjan Province, and to its east by the Dasht-e Kavir desert. Its neighbors were the kingdoms of Gizilbunda and Mannea in the northwest, and Ellipi and Elam in the south.In the 7th century BC, Media's tribes came together to form the Median Kingdom, which remained a Neo-Assyrian vassal. Between 616 and 609 BC, King Cyaxares (624–585 BC), allied with King Nabopolassar of the Neo-Babylonian Empire against the Neo-Assyrian Empire, after which the Median Empire stretched across the Iranian Plateau as far as Anatolia. Its precise geographical extent remains unknown.A few archaeological sites (discovered in the "Median triangle" in western Iran) and textual sources (from contemporary Assyrians and also ancient Greeks in later centuries) provide a brief documentation of the history and culture of the Median state. Apart from a few personal names, the language of the Medes is unknown. The Medes had an ancient Iranian religion (a form of pre-Zoroastrian Mazdaism or Mithra worshipping) with a priesthood named as "Magi". Later during the reigns of the last Median kings, the reforms of Zoroaster spread into western Iran.

Media (region)

Media (Old Persian: Māda, Middle Persian: Mād) is a region of north-western Iran, best known for having been the political and cultural base of the Medes. During the Achaemenid period, it comprised present-day Azarbaijan, Iranian Kurdistan and western Tabaristan. As a satrapy under Achaemenid rule, it would eventually encompass a wider region, stretching to southern Dagestan in the north. However, after the wars of Alexander the Great, the northern parts were separated due to the Partition of Babylon and became known as Atropatene, while the remaining region became known as Lesser Media.

Median language

The Median language (also Medean or Medic) was the language of the Medes. It is an Old Iranian language and classified as belonging to the Northwestern Iranian subfamily, which includes many other languages such as Azari, Gilaki, Mazandarani, Zaza–Gorani, Kurdish (Kurmanji, Sorani, Palewani), and Baluchi.


Nabopolassar (; cuneiform: 𒀭𒀝𒌉𒍑𒌶 dAG.IBILA.URU3 Akkadian: Nabû-apla-uṣur; c. 658 BC – 605 BC) was a Chaldean king of Babylonia and a central figure in the fall of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. The death of Assyrian king Ashurbanipal around 627 BC resulted in political instability. In 626 BC, a native dynasty arose under Nabopolassar. He made Babylon his capital and ruled over Babylonia for a period of about twenty years (626–605 BC). He is credited with founding the Neo-Babylonian Empire. By 616 BC, Nabopolassar had united the entire area under his rule.Nabopolassar formed an alliance with Cyaxares of the Medes to confront the Assyrians and their Egyptian allies. By 615 BC he had seized Nippur. He then led his forces to assist the Medes besieging the city of Ashur, but the Babylonian army did not reach the battlefield until after the city had fallen.

Nuadu Finn Fáil

Nuadu Finn Fáil (Nuadu the Fair of Fál - a poetic name for Ireland), son of Gíallchad, was, according to medieval Irish legend and historical tradition, a High King of Ireland, who took power after he killed his predecessor, and his father's killer, Art Imlech. The Lebor Gabála Érenn says he ruled for either sixty or forty years (Geoffrey Keating says twenty, the Four Masters forty) before being killed by Art's son Bres Rí. The Lebor Gabála synchronises his reign with that of Cyaxares of the Medes (625–585 BC). The chronology of Keating's Foras Feasa ar Éirinn dates his reign to 755–735 BC, that of the Annals of the Four Masters to 1002–962 BC.

His son was Áedan Glas, whose son was Siomón Brecc mac Aedan. In turn, Siomón's son was Muiredach Bolgrach.

Rusa III

Rusa III was king of Urartu. He was called "Son of Erimena," meaning that he was probably a brother of Rusa II. Little is known about his reign; his name was inscribed on a massive granary at Armavir and on a series of bronze shields from the temple of Khaldi found at Rusahinili, now held in the British Museum. According to the Armenian historian Moses of Chorene, Rusa's father Erimena can probably be identified with Paruyr Skayordi, who helped the Median king Cyaxares to conquer Assyria, for which Cyaxares recognized him as the king of Armenia, although the Medes ultimately reneged on this; significantly later, during the reign of King Astyages, the Medes conquered and annexed Armenia.

Rusa was the father of Sarduri IV.

Siege of Harran

After the death of Assubanipal, in 627 BC, the Assyrian Empire entered a period of instability caused by the revolt of Sin-shar-ishkun against his brother Ashur-etil-ilani. This was the moment when the Babylonian ruler, Nabopolassar led a revolt against Assyrian rule. After a few years of war, the Babylonians expelled the Assyrian forces from their territory. The situation became highly dangerous for Assyria with the offensive of Cyaxares, king of the Medes, in 616 BC. The Median forces swiftly conquered Tarbisu and decisively defeated the Assyrian army at the battle of Assur. Then, they joined the Babylonian army and launched a combined offensive on Nineveh in 612 BC.

After the battle of Nineveh, where the Assyrian king Sin-Shar-Ishkun died, Ashur-uballit II became king and went to Harran with his remaining troops. But the Medes and the Babylonians besieged Harran in 610 BC and took the city in 609 BC, forcing Assur-Uballit II to flee again with the remnants of his army. During this same year, Egyptian and Assyrian forces left the Egyptian city of Carchemish and attacked the Medes and the Babylonians garrisoned in Harran, but this offensive failed and this ended the Assyrian Empire.

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