House of Suren

House of Suren or Surenas[1][2] (Parthian: 𐭎𐭅𐭓𐭉𐭍 Surēn, Middle Persian: 𐭮𐭥𐭫𐭩𐭭) are one of two[c] Parthian noble families explicitly mentioned by name in sources dateable to the Arsacid period.[3]


The head of Suren family had the privilege to crown the first Parthian king in the 3rd century BC, which founded a tradition that was continued by his descendants.[4][3][a] Following the 3rd century AD defeat of the Arsacids and the subsequent rise of the Sassanids, the Surenas then switched sides and began to serve the Persians,[5][6] at whose court they were identified as one of the so-called "Parthian clans." The last attested scion of the family was a military commander active in northern China during the 9th century.[7]

It is "probable"[5] that the Surenas were landowners in Sakastan, that is, in the region between Arachosia and Drangiana in present-day southeast Iran. The Surenas appear to have governed Sistan (which derives its name from 'Sakastan' and was once a much larger region than the present day province) as their personal fiefdom.[5]

"Ernst Herzfeld maintained that the dynasty of [the Indo-Parthian emperor] Gondophares represented the House of Suren."[8] Other notable members of the family include the 1st century BC cavalry commander Surena, Gregory the Illuminator,[9][10][11] and a 6th-century AD governor (satrap) of Armenia who attempted to establish Zoroastrianism in that country.[12]

Mehr Narseh, the grand vizier of four Sasanian kings, was from the House of Suren.[13]


  1. ^ Bivar 1983, p. 41.
  2. ^ Herzfeld 1929, p. 70.
  3. ^ a b Lukonin 1983, p. 704.
  4. ^ Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis, Sarah Stewart (2007). THE AGE OF THE PARTHIANS. I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd. p. 4. ISBN 978-1-84511-406-0.
  5. ^ a b c Lendering 2006.
  6. ^ Frye 1983, p. 130.
  7. ^ Perikanian 1983, p. 683.
  8. ^ Bivar 2003 cf. Bivar 1983, p. 51.
  9. ^ Terian, Patriotism And Piety In Armenian Christianity: The Early Panegyrics On Saint Gregory, p. 106
  10. ^ Lang, David Marshall (1980). Armenia, cradle of civilization. Allen & Unwin. p. 155. ISBN 9780049560093.
  11. ^ Russell, James R. (2004). Armenian and Iranian Studies. Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University. p. 358. ISBN 9780935411195.
  12. ^ Frye 1983, p. 159.
  13. ^ Pourshariati (2008), pp. 60


  • Bivar, A. D. H. (1983), "The Political History of Iran under the Arsacids", in Yarshater, Ehsan, Cambridge History of Iran, 3.1, London: Cambridge UP, pp. 21–100
  • Bivar, A. D. H. (2003), "Gondophares", Encyclopaedia Iranica, 11.2, Costa Mesa: Mazda
  • Frye, R. N. (1983), "The Political History of Iran under the Sassanians", in Yarshater, Ehsan, Cambridge History of Iran, 3.1, London: Cambridge UP, pp. 116–181
  • Herzfeld, Ernst Emil, ed. (1929), "Das Haus Sūrēn von Sakastan-->", Archæologische Mitteilungen aus Iran, I, Berlin: Dietrich Reimer, pp. 70–80
  • Justi, Ferdinand (1895), "Sūrēn", Iranisches Namenbuch, Leipzig/Marburg: Elwert, pp. 316–317.
  • Lang, David M. (1983), "Iran, Armenia and Georgia", in Yarshater, Ehsan, Cambridge History of Iran, 3.1, London: Cambridge UP, pp. 505–537
  • Lendering, Jona (2006), Surena, Amsterdam:
  • Lukonin, V. G. (1983), "Political, Social and Administrative Institutions", in Yarshater, Ehsan, Cambridge History of Iran, 3.2, London: Cambridge UP, pp. 681–747
  • Plutarch, "Marcus Crassus", in Langhorne, John; Langhorne, William, eds. (1934), Plutarch's Lives, London: J. Crissy
  • Rawlinson, George (1901), The Seven Great Monarchies Of The Ancient Eastern World, 6, London: Dodd, Mead & Company
  • Perikanian, A. (1983), "Iranian Society and Law", in Yarshater, Ehsan, Cambridge History of Iran, 3.2, London: Cambridge UP, pp. 627–681
  • Schippmann, K. (1987), "Arsacid ii: The Arsacid Dynasty", Encyclopaedia Iranica, 2, New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul, pp. 525–536
Abdagases I

Abdagases I was an Indo-Parthian king, who ruled Gandhara and possibly roughly over the Indus region from c. 46 to 60. He was a nephew and successor of Gondophares, who had laid foundations to the Indo-Parthians after revolting against his Arsacid overlords in c. 19. Abdagases was succeeded by Ortaghnes or Pacores.

Anak the Parthian

Anak the Parthian, also known as Anak Pahlavi (flourished 3rd century, died 252), was a Parthian noble who lived during the time of Arsacid Armenia.

Artavasdes V

Artavasdes IV (flourished 3rd century) was a Sassanid ruler of the Kingdom of Armenia from 252 until 287. According to ancient historians and Armenian tradition, Artavasdes IV was installed as King by the Persian King of the Sassanid Empire, Shapur I. His predecessor, Khosrov II of Armenia was murdered by Anak the Parthian, an agent of the House of Suren.


Aspbed or Aspbad (“commander of the cavalry”, from Old Iranian *aspa-pati-), was a title of Iranian origin used by the Parthian and Sasanian empires.

Babol County

Babol County (Persian: شهرستان بابل‎) is a county in Mazandaran Province in Iran. The capital of the county is Babol. At the 2012 census, the county's population was 495,472, in 149,363 families. The county is subdivided into Seven districts: the Central District, Bandpey-ye Gharbi District, Bandpey-ye Sharqi District, Lalehabad District, Gatab District, Babol Kenar District and Amirkola District. The county has seven cities: Babol, Amirkola, Galugah, Gatab, Khush Rudpey, Marzikola and Zargarmahalleh.

The most famous of Babol's historical buildings are Imamzadeh Ghasem (a holy shrine built at 15 AD), Ganjineh-ye-Babol, Mohammad Hassan Khan bridge, tower of the Royal Palace and the Jameh Mosque.

Some notable families originating from Mazandaran, specifically Babol County are :

Pahlavi Dynasty

House of Karen

House of Moradi (branch of the House of Suren)

House of Sheren

House of BatoulThe largest tribe from the Mazandaran region and Babol are the Balf.


Chihor-Vishnasp Suren, also known as Chihr-Gushnasp and Suren, was an Iranian military officer from the Suren family, who served as the governor (marzban) of Persian Armenia from 564 until his murder on 23 February 572 by the Armenian rebel Vardan III Mamikonian.


Gondophares I was the founder of the Indo-Parthian Kingdom and its most prominent king, ruling from 19 to 46. A member of the House of Suren, he belonged to a line of local princes who had governed the Parthian province of Drangiana since its disruption by the Indo-Scythians in c. 129 BC. During his reign, his kingdom became independent from Parthian authority and was transformed into an empire, which encompassed Drangiana, Arachosia, and Gandhara. He is generally known from the dubious Acts of Thomas, the Takht-i-Bahi inscription, and coin-mints in silver and copper.

He was succeeded in Drangiana and Arachosia by Ortaghnes, and in Gandhara by his nephew Abdagases I.

Gregory the Illuminator

Saint Gregory the Illuminator (classical Armenian: Գրիգոր Լուսաւորիչ, reformed: Գրիգոր Լուսավորիչ; Grigor Lusavorich) (c. 257 – c. 331) is the patron saint and first official head of the Armenian Apostolic Church. He was a religious leader who is credited with converting Armenia from paganism to Christianity in 301. Armenia thus became the first nation to adopt Christianity as its official religion.

Indo-Parthian Kingdom

The Indo-Parthian Kingdom, also known as the Suren Kingdom, was a Parthian kingdom, founded by the Gondopharid branch of the House of Suren, ruling from 19 to c. 240. At their zenith, they ruled an area covering parts of eastern Iran, various parts of Afghanistan and the northwest regions of the Indian subcontinent (parts of modern Pakistan and northwestern India).

The kingdom was founded in 19 when the Surenid governor of Drangiana (Sakastan) Gondophares declared independence from the Parthian Empire. He would later make expeditions into the west, conquering territory from the Indo-Scythians and Indo-Greeks, thus transforming his kingdom into an empire. The domains of the Indo-Parthians were greatly reduced following the invasions of the Kushans in the second half of the 1st. century. They managed to retain control of Sakastan, until its conquest by the Sasanian Empire in c. 240.

The Indo-Parthians are noted for the construction of the Buddhist monastery Takht-i-Bahi (UNESCO World Heritage Site).

Mahoe Suri

Māhōē Sūrī, known in Islamic sources as Māhūy Sūrī, was an Iranian aristocrat, who served as the marzbān (general of a frontier province, "margrave") of Merv during the reign of the last Sasanian king Yazdegerd III (r. 632–651).

Mihr Hormozd

Mihr Hormozd (Persian: مهرهرمزد‎) was an Iranian nobleman from the House of Suren. He was the son of Mardanshah, the padhuspan of Nemroz, who was later executed by the orders of the Sasanian king Khosrau II (r. 590-628). In 628, Khosrau was overthrown by his son Kavadh II (r. 628), and was taken to prison, where he was shortly executed by Mihr Hormozd who sought to avenge his father's death. However, after the execution, Kavadh had Mihr Hormizd killed.

Mihr Narseh

Mihr Narseh (Middle Persian: 𐭬𐭲𐭥𐭭𐭥𐭮𐭧𐭩‎ mtrnrshy), was a powerful Iranian nobleman from the House of Suren, who served as minister (wuzurg framadār) of the Sasanian Empire during the reigns of the Sasanian kings Yazdegerd I (r. 399-420), Bahram V (420–438), Yazdegerd II (r. 438–457) and Peroz I (r. 457–484).

Mithridates II of Parthia

Mithridates II (Parthian: 𐭌𐭄𐭓𐭃𐭕 Mihrdāt) was king of Parthian Empire from 124 to 88 BC. He was already known as "the Great" in antiquity. He is the first Parthian ruler to regularly use the title of "King of Kings", thus stressing the Parthian association with the Achaemenid Empire. Considered one of the most prominent monarchs of the ancient East, his reign marked the rise of the Parthians as a superpower. He spent most of reign consolidating his rule in the Near East, successfully re-conquering Babylonia, and turning the kingdoms of Armenia, Adiabene, Characene, Gordyene, and Osrhoene into vassal states. He also captured Dura-Europos in Syria, and restored Parthian authority in Sakastan, which was given as a fief to the House of Suren. During the last years of his reign, however, his empire fell into disarray, with the Parthian nobility having enough authority to challenge the Parthian king periodically, including a rival-monarch named Gotarzes I (r. 90 – 80 BC), who claimed the throne. Following Mithridates II's death in 88 BC, Gotarzes ruled Babylonia, while Orodes I (r. 90 – 80 BC) ruled the eastern territories of the empire separately.

Sakastan (Sasanian province)

Sakastan (also known as Sagestān, Sagistan, Seyanish, Segistan, Sistan, and Sijistan) was a Sasanian province in Late Antiquity, that lay within the kust of Nemroz. The province bordered Kirman in the west, Spahan in the north west, Kushanshahr in the north east, and Turan in the south east. The governor of the province held the title of marzban. The governor also held the title of "Sakanshah" (king of the Saka) until the title was abolished in ca. 459/60.

Seven Great Houses of Iran

The Seven Great Houses of Iran, also known as the Seven (Great) Houses, or Seven Parthian clans, were seven feudal aristocracies of Parthian origin, who were allied with the Sasanian court.

Suren Pahlav

Suren Pahlav was an Iranian nobleman from the Suren family. He may have been the wuzurg framadār (vizier or prime minister) of the Sasanian shah Bahram V, and thus probably also the successor of his kinsman Mihr Narseh. Nothing more is known about him.


Rustaham Suren, better simply known as Surena or Suren (died 53 BC) was a Parthian spahbed ("general" or "commander") during the 1st century BC. He was the leader of the House of Suren and was best known for defeating the Romans in the Battle of Carrhae. Under his command Parthians decisively defeated a numerically superior Roman invasion force under the command of Marcus Licinius Crassus. It is commonly seen as one of the earliest and most important battles between the Roman and Parthian empires and one of the most crushing defeats in Roman history.

"Surena" remains popular as a name in Iran. "Surena" is the Greek and Latin form of Sûrên or Sūrēn. As "Suren", the name remains common in Armenia. Suren means "the heroic one, Avestan sūra (strong, exalted)."

Surin (Nestorian patriarch)

Surin was an Iranian aristocrat from the Suren family, who briefly served as the Patriarch of the Church of the East in 753. Although he was not recognized as a legitimate patriarch by his contemporaries, he is included in the traditional list of patriarchs of the Church of the East.


Zurwandad or Zurvandad, was a Sasanian nobleman from the House of Suren who served as a herbad. He was the eldest son of the powerful grand vizier Mihr Narseh, and had two brothers named Kardar and Mahgushnasp. His name means "given by Zurvan". However, bearing that name does not imply that a person was a Zurvanist. However, Zurwandad's father was a Zurvanist, meaning that Zurwandad himself was also probably a Zurvanist. During the reign of king Peroz I, Zurvanism was declared illegal and was shunned from the Zoroastrian society. Zurwandad may be the same person mentioned in the Vendidad who had disputed Ahura Mazda as the supreme god of Zoroastrianism. Nothing more is known about Zurwandad.

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