Mazares

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Achaemenid nobleman, 520-480 BCE. Achaemenid nobleman 520-480 BCE.jpg
Achaemenid nobleman, 520-480 BCE.

Mazares (Ancient Greek : Μαζάρης) was a Median general who defected to Cyrus the Great when the latter overthrew his grandfather, Astyages and formed the Persian Empire. Mazares is mentioned by Herodotus as a Median general in the service of Cyrus the Great who died while putting down a revolt in Asia Minor.

Medes ancient Iranian civilization

The Medes 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.

Cyrus the Great King and founder of the Achaemenid Empire

Cyrus II of Persia, commonly known as Cyrus the Great, and also called Cyrus the Elder by the Greeks, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire, the first Persian Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Western Asia and much of Central Asia. From the Mediterranean Sea and Hellespont in the west to the Indus River in the east, Cyrus the Great created the largest empire the world had yet seen. Under his successors, the empire eventually stretched at its maximum extent from parts of the Balkans and Eastern Europe proper in the west, to the Indus Valley in the east. His regal titles in full were The Great King, King of Persia, King of Anshan, King of Media, King of Babylon, King of Sumer and Akkad, and King of the Four Corners of the World. The Nabonidus Chronicle notes the change in his title from simply "King of Anshan", a city, to "King of Persia". Assyriologist François Vallat wrote that "When Astyages marched against Cyrus, Cyrus is called ‘King of Anshan’, but when Cyrus crosses the Tigris on his way to Lydia, he is ‘King of Persia’. The coup therefore took place between these two events."

Astyages king of Media

Astyages 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.

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Repression of the Lydian revolt

After Cyrus' conquest of Lydia in 539 BC, a Lydian official named Pactyas, whom Cyrus had honored by making him a treasury official in his own government, raised an army of Lydians and Ionian Greeks. He revolted against Tabalus, Cyrus' Satrap at Sardis in Lydia, besieging the Persian forces in the royal enclosure and stealing from the famed Lydian Horde (the riches of King Crœsus) to finance his revolt.

Lydia Iron Age kingdom of western Asia Minor

Lydia was an Iron Age kingdom of western Asia Minor located generally east of ancient Ionia in the modern western Turkish provinces of Uşak, Manisa and inland İzmir. Its population spoke an Anatolian language known as Lydian. Its capital was Sardis.

Ionia region in Turkey

Ionia was an ancient region on the central part of the western coast of Anatolia in present-day Turkey, the region nearest İzmir, which was historically Smyrna. It consisted of the northernmost territories of the Ionian League of Greek settlements. Never a unified state, it was named after the Ionian tribe who, in the Archaic Period, settled mainly the shores and islands of the Aegean Sea. Ionian states were identified by tradition and by their use of Eastern Greek.

The Greeks or Hellenes are an ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus, southern Albania, Italy, Turkey, Egypt and, to a lesser extent, other countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world.

Cyrus, upon hearing of the revolt, was enraged and made plans to punish the Lydians by burning Sardis to the ground. King Crœsus, who had been made an advisor to Cyrus' court after his defeat, entreated Cyrus to leave his former capital unharmed. According to Herodotus, Crœsus' recommendation was to disarm the population and enact trade laws that would turn the minds of the people to habits of luxury and pleasure:

Sardis Ancient city at the location of modern Sart, Turkey

Sardis or Sardes was an ancient city at the location of modern Sart, near the Salihli in Turkey's Manisa Province. Sardis was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Lydia, one of the important cities of the Persian Empire, the seat of a Seleucid Satrap, the seat of a proconsul under the Roman Empire, and the metropolis of the province Lydia in later Roman and Byzantine times. As one of the seven churches of Asia, it was addressed by John, the author of the Book of Revelation in the New Testament, in terms which seem to imply that its church members did not finish what they started, that they were about image and not substance. Its importance was due first to its military strength, secondly to its situation on an important highway leading from the interior to the Aegean coast, and thirdly to its commanding the wide and fertile plain of the Hermus.

"By doing this," Crœsus advised, "the people will, in a short time, become so enervated and so effeminate that you will have nothing to fear from them."

Cyrus, who was to become known for the mercy he showed to the peoples he conquered, agreed and sent his commander Mazares to put down the insurrection according to Crœsus' wishes, with instructions to return Pactyas alive for punishment. But Pactyas fled when Marzares' forces approached the city and found refuge in Ionian Greece.

The Apadana Palace, northern stairway, 5th century BC Achaemenid bas-relief shows a Mede soldier behind a Persian soldier, in Persepolis, Iran Persepolis Apadana noerdliche Treppe Detail.jpg
The Apadana Palace, northern stairway, 5th century BC Achaemenid bas-relief shows a Mede soldier behind a Persian soldier, in Persepolis, Iran

Mazares gave chase, conquering the Ionian Greek city-states of Priene and Magnesia, capturing Pactyas after several attempts and sending him back to Cyrus for punishment. Mazares then continued the conquest of Asia Minor, but died of unknown causes while on campaign:

Priene ancient Greek city of Ionia

Priene was an ancient Greek city of Ionia at the base of an escarpment of Mycale, about 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) north of the then course of the Maeander River, 67 kilometres (42 mi) from ancient Anthea, 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) from ancient Aneon and 25 kilometres (16 mi) from ancient Miletus. It was built on the sea coast, overlooking the ocean on steep slopes and terraces extending from sea level to a height of 380 metres (1,250 ft) above sea level at the top of the escarpment. Today, after several centuries of changes in the landscape, it is an inland site. It is located at a short distance west of the modern village Güllübahçe Turun in the Söke district of Aydın Province, Turkey.

Magnesia on the Maeander city

Magnesia or Magnesia on the Maeander was an ancient Greek city in Ionia, considerable in size, at an important location commercially and strategically in the triangle of Priene, Ephesus and Tralles. The city was named Magnesia, after the Magnetes from Thessaly who settled the area along with some Cretans. It was later called "on the Meander" to distinguish it from the nearby Lydian city Magnesia ad Sipylum.

Pactyes being then delivered up by the Chians, Mazares presently led his army against those who had helped to besiege Tabalus, and he enslaved the people of Priene, and overran the plain of the Maeandrus, giving it up to his army to pillage, and Magnesia likewise. Immediately after this he died of a sickness.

Herodotus 1.161 [1]

Succession

Cyrus then sent his leading general, Harpagus, to take his place. Harpagus completed Mazares' conquests of Asia Minor, Lycia, Cilicia and Phoenicia, using the hitherto unknown technique of building earthworks to breach the walls of besieged cities:

Harpagus, also known as Harpagos or Hypargus, was a Median general from the 6th century BC, credited by Herodotus as having put Cyrus the Great on the throne through his defection during the battle of Pasargadae.

Lycia Geopolitical region in Anatolia

Lycia was a geopolitical region in Anatolia in what are now the provinces of Antalya and Muğla on the southern coast of Turkey, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, and Burdur Province inland. Known to history since the records of ancient Egypt and the Hittite Empire in the Late Bronze Age, it was populated by speakers of the Luwian language group. Written records began to be inscribed in stone in the Lycian language after Lycia's involuntary incorporation into the Achaemenid Empire in the Iron Age. At that time (546 BC) the Luwian speakers were decimated, and Lycia received an influx of Persian speakers. Ancient sources seem to indicate that an older name of the region was Alope.

Cilicia ancient region of Anatolia

In antiquity, Cilicia was the south coastal region of Asia Minor and existed as a political entity from Hittite times into the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia during the late Byzantine Empire. Extending inland from the southeastern coast of modern Turkey, Cilicia is due north and northeast of the island of Cyprus and corresponds to the modern region of Çukurova in Turkey.

After his death Harpagus came down to succeed him in his command, a Median like Mazares; this is that Harpagus who was entertained by Astyages the Median king at that unnatural feast, and who helped win the kingship for Cyrus. When he came to Ionia, he took the cities by building mounds; he would drive the men within their walls and then build mounds against the walls and so take the cities.

Herodotus 1.162 [2]

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Tabalus Satrap of Sardis

Tabalus the Persian was the first satrap of Sardis. Cyrus the Great of Persia put him in place after conquering Lydia, c.546 BC. Herodotus mentions him in his histories :

Presently, entrusting Sardis to a Persian called Tabalus, and charging Pactyes, a Lydian, to take charge of the gold of Croesus and the Lydians, he himself marched away to Agbatana, taking with him Croesus, and at first making no account of the Ionians. For he had Babylon on his hands and the Bactrian nation and the Sacae and Egyptians; he was minded to lead an army himself against these and to send another commander against the Ionians.

Pactyes

Pactyes was the Lydian put in charge of civil administration and gathering Croesus's gold when Lydia was conquered by Cyrus the Great of Persia around 546 BC:

Presently, entrusting Sardis to a Persian called Tabalus, and charging Pactyes, a Lydian, to take charge of the gold of Croesus and the Lydians, he himself marched away to Agbatana, taking with him Croesus, and at first making no account of the Ionians. For he had Babylon on his hands and the Bactrian nation and the Sacae and Egyptians; he was minded to lead an army himself against these and to send another commander against the Ionians.

References

  1. LacusCurtius • Herodotus — Book I: Chapters 141‑177.
  2. LacusCurtius • Herodotus — Book I: Chapters 141‑177.