Tomyris ( // ; from Eastern Iranian: Tahm-Rayiš "Brave" ; or Scythian: *Tᵃumurī̆ or *Θᵃumurī̆. ) also called Thomyris, Tomris, Tomiride, or Queen Tomiri, reigned over the Massagetae, an Iranian people from Scythian pastoral-nomadic confederation of Central Asia east of the Caspian Sea, in parts of modern-day Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, western Uzbekistan, and southern Kazakhstan. Tomyris led her armies to defend against an attack by Cyrus the Great of the Achaemenid Empire, and, according to Herodotus, defeated and killed him in 530 BC.
The names of Tomyris, and her son Spargapises, who was the head of her army, are of Iranian origins.Since the historians who first wrote of her were Greek, the Hellenic form of her name is used most frequently. The Greek writers wrote her name Τόμυρις.
Many Greek historians recorded that she "defeated and killed" Cyrus the Great, founder of the Achaemenid Empire, during his invasion and attempted conquest of her country. Herodotus, who lived from approximately 484 to 425 BC, is the earliest of the classical writers to give an account of her career, writing almost one hundred years later. Her history was well known and became legendary. Strabo, Polyaenus, Cassiodorus, and Jordanes also wrote of her, in De origine actibusque Getarum ("The origin and deeds of the Goths/Getae").
According to the accounts of Greek historians, Cyrus was victorious in his initial assault on the Massagetae. His advisers suggested laying a trap for the pursuing Scythians: the Persians left behind them an apparently abandoned camp, containing a rich supply of wine. The pastoral Scythians were not used to drinking wine—"their favored intoxicants were Hasheesh with fermented mare's milk"—and they drank themselves into a stupor (with the alcohol deliberately left behind by Cyrus). The Persians attacked while their opponents were incapacitated, defeating the Massagetae forces, and capturing Tomyris' son, Spargapises, the general of her army. Of the one third of the Massagetae forces that fought, there were more captured than killed. According to Herodotus, Spargapises coaxed Cyrus into removing his bonds, thus allowing him to commit suicide while in Persian captivity.
Tomyris sent a message to Cyrus denouncing his treachery, and with all her forces, challenged him to a second battle. In the fight that ensued, the Massagetae got the upper hand, and the Persians were defeated with high casualties. According to Herodotus, Cyrus was killed and Tomyris had his corpse beheaded and then crucified,and shoved his head into a wineskin filled with human blood. She was reportedly quoted as saying, "I warned you that I would quench your thirst for blood, and so I shall" (Hdt 1.214) Xenophon, on the other hand, says that Cyrus died peacefully in his bed, and a number of other sources report different causes of death.
Tomyris became a fairly popular reference in European art and literature during the Renaissance. In art the usual subject was her receiving the head of Cyrus, or putting it into the blood-filled container. This became part of the Power of Women group of women subjects who triumphed in various ways over men.
Eustache Deschamps added Tomyris to his poetry as one of the nine Female Worthies in the late 14th century.
In Shakespeare's earliest play King Henry VI (Part I), the Countess of Auvergne while awaiting Lord Talbot's arrival speaks these lines (Act II, Sc.iii):
The plot is laid: if all things fall out right,
I shall as famous be by this exploit
As Scythian Tomyris by Cyrus' death.
Shakespeare's reference to Tomyris as 'Queen of the Scythians', rather than the usual Greek designation 'Queen of the Massagetae', points to two possible likely sources, Marcus Junianus Justinus' "Abridged Trogus Pompeius"in Latin, or Arthur Golding's translation (1564).
The history of Tomyris has been incorporated into the tradition of Western art; Rubens,Allegrini, Luca Ferrari, Mattia Preti, Gustave Moreau and the sculptor Severo Calzetta da Ravenna are among the many artists who have portrayed events in the life of Tahm-Rayiš and her defeat of Cyrus and his armies. She is one of the subjects grouped under the Power of Women topos by art historians.
In 1707 the opera Thomyris, Queen of Scythia was first staged in London.
The name "Tomyris" also has been adopted into zoological taxonomy, for the Tomyris species group of Central American moths and the Tamyris genus of skipper butterflies.
590 Tomyris is the name given to one of the minor planets.
Xenophon of Athens was an Athenian-born military leader, philosopher, and historian. At the age of 30, Xenophon was elected a commander of one of the biggest Greek mercenary armies, the Ten Thousand, that marched on and came close to capturing Babylon in 401 BC. As the military historian Theodore Ayrault Dodge wrote, "the centuries since have devised nothing to surpass the genius of this warrior". Xenophon established precedents for many logistical operations, and was among the first to use flanking maneuvers and feints. Xenophon's Anabasis recounts adventures of Xenophon and the Ten Thousand in service of Cyrus the Younger, Cyrus's failed campaign to claim the Persian throne from Artaxerxes II of Persia, and the return of Greek mercenaries after Cyrus's death in the Battle of Cunaxa. Anabasis is a unique first-hand, humble, and self-reflective account of military leader's experience in antiquity. On the topic of campaigns in Asia Minor and in Babylon, Xenophon wrote Cyropaedia outlining both military and political methods used by Cyrus the Great to conquer the late Assyrian Empire in 539 BC. Anabasis and Cyropaedia inspired Greeks and Alexander the Great to conquer Babylon and the Achaemenid Empire in 331 BC.
The Scythians, also known as Scyth, Saka, Sakae, Iskuzai, or Askuzai, were an ancient nomadic people of Eurasia, inhabiting the region Scythia. Classical Scythians dominated the Pontic steppe from approximately the 7th century BC until the 3rd century BC. They can also be referred to as Pontic Scythians, European Scythians or Western Scythians. They were part of the wider Scythian cultures, stretching across the Eurasian Steppe. In the broader sense Scythians has also been used to designate all early Eurasian nomads, although the validity of such terminology is controversial. According to Di Cosmo, other terms such as "Early nomadic" would be preferable. Eastern members of the Scythian cultures are often specifically designated as Sakas.
Artemisia I of Caria was a queen of the ancient Greek city-state of Halicarnassus and of the nearby islands of Kos, Nisyros and Kalymnos, within the Achaemenid satrapy of Caria, in about 480 BC. She was of Carian-Greek ethnicity by her father Lygdamis I, and half-Cretan by her mother. She fought as an ally of Xerxes I, King of Persia against the independent Greek city states during the second Persian invasion of Greece. She personally commanded her contribution of five ships at the naval battle of Artemisium and in the naval Battle of Salamis in 480 BC. She is mostly known through the writings of Herodotus, himself a native of Halicarnassus, who praises her courage and the respect in which Xerxes held her.
The Histories of Herodotus is considered the founding work of history in Western literature. Written in 430 BC in the Ionic dialect of classical Greek, The Histories serves as a record of the ancient traditions, politics, geography, and clashes of various cultures that were known in Greece, Western Asia and Northern Africa at that time. Although not a fully impartial record, it remains one of the West's most important sources regarding these affairs. Moreover, it established the genre and study of history in the Western world.
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.
Indo-Scythians were a group of nomadic Iranian peoples of Saka and Scythian origin who migrated southward into western and northern South Asia from the middle of the 2nd century BC to the 4th century AD.
The Cyropaedia, sometimes spelled Cyropedia, is a partly fictional biography of Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Achaemenid Empire, the first Persian Empire. It was written around 370 BC by Xenophon, the Athenian-born soldier, historian, and student of Socrates. The Latinized title Cyropaedia derives from Greek Kúrou paideía, meaning "The Education of Cyrus". Aspects of it would become a model for medieval writers of the genre known as mirrors for princes. In turn it was a strong influence upon the most well-known but atypical of these, Machiavelli's The Prince, which was an important influence in the rejection of medieval political thinking, and the development of modern politics. However, unlike most "mirrors of princes", whether or not the Cyropaedia was really intended to describe an ideal ruler is a subject of debate.
The Getae or Gets were several Thracian tribes that once inhabited the regions to either side of the Lower Danube, in what is today northern Bulgaria and southern Romania. Both the singular form Get and plural Getae may be derived from a Greek exonym: the area was the hinterland of Greek colonies on the Black Sea coast, bringing the Getae into contact with the ancient Greeks from an early date. Although it is believed that the Getae were related to their westward neighbours, the Dacians, several scholars, especially in the Romanian historiography, posit that the Getae and the Dacians were the same people.
Mandana of Media was a princess of Media and, later, the Queen consort of Cambyses I of Anshan and mother of Cyrus the Great, ruler of Persia's Achaemenid Empire.
The Massagetae, or Massageteans, were an ancient Eastern Iranian nomadic tribal confederation, who inhabited the steppes of Central Asia, north-east of the Caspian Sea in modern Turkmenistan, western Uzbekistan, and southern Kazakhstan. They belonged to the Saka people, and were part of the wider Scythian cultures,
The Issedones (Ἰσσηδόνες) were an ancient people of Central Asia at the end of the trade route leading north-east from Scythia, described in the lost Arimaspeia of Aristeas, by Herodotus in his History (IV.16-25) and by Ptolemy in his Geography. Like the Massagetae to the south, the Issedones are described by Herodotus as similar to, yet distinct from, the Scythians.
Astyages was the last king of the Median Empire, r. 585–550 BC, 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.
The Cadusii were an ancient Iranian people living in north-western Iran.
Scythia was a region of Central Eurasia in classical antiquity, occupied by the Eastern Iranian Scythians, encompassing Central Asia and parts of Eastern Europe east of the Vistula River, with the eastern edges of the region vaguely defined by the Greeks. The Ancient Greeks gave the name Scythia to all the lands north-east of Europe and the northern coast of the Black Sea. During the Iron Age, the region saw the flourishing of Scythian cultures.
The role of women in ancient warfare differed from culture to culture. While warriors have historically always been overwhelmingly male, there have been various historical accounts of females participating in battle.
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, 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.
The Fall of Babylon denotes the end of the Neo-Babylonian Empire after it was conquered by the Achaemenid Empire in 539 BCE.
The Achaemenid Empire, also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient Iranian empire based in Western Asia founded by Cyrus the Great. Ranging at its greatest extent from the Balkans and Eastern Europe proper in the west to the Indus Valley in the east, it was larger than any previous empire in history, spanning 5.5 million square kilometers. It is notable for its successful model of a centralised, bureaucratic administration, for its multicultural policy, for building infrastructure such as road systems and a postal system, the use of an official language across its territories, and the development of civil services and a large professional army. The empire's successes inspired similar systems in later empires. The Achaemenid Empire is also considered as the world's first superpower.
Spargapises(Scythian: Spargapaisa, Ancient Greek: Σπαργαπίσης) was a Massagetae general and son of the Massagetae queen Tomyris. Most of what history recounts of him is based on Herodotus's The Histories. Spargapises is part of the Massagetae forces that battled against Cyrus the Great. Little is known of his life aside from his contact with Cyrus during Cyrus's campaign to Jaxartes. Spargapises is eventually captured by the Persians and is granted freedom and a pardon by Cyrus the Great after a short period of incarceration. He would however eventually commit suicide after having learned of his blunder.
Tomiris is a 2019 Kazakhstani feature film directed by Akan Sataev, which tells the story about the queen of the Massagetae Tomyris and the king of Persia Cyrus the Great. The premiere of the film took place in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan on September 25, 2019.
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