Did Darius Hijack the Persian Throne? Destroying Rebellion and Securing the Future – Part II
With the death of King Cambyses II, the Persian Empire was in a state of war and confusion over who was the rightful heir. Even though the populace agreed that Gaumata was the rightful heir to the throne, Darius, royal bodyguard, saw it differently and was strong enough to place himself upon the throne of Persia. But before Darius the Great could sit quietly and at ease upon his throne, he said:
these are the provinces that became rebellious from me: Persia, Elam, Media, Assyria, Egypt, Parthia, Margiana, Sattagydia, Scythia.
Illustration of Darius with his Parasol Bearers. 1904. ( Public Domain )
The Fate of the Rebels
Sketch showing details of Darius I the Great's Behistun Inscription revealing the fate of those who rebelled against Darius’ rule. ( Public Domain )
The first leader and province focused on was Persia, and the man that led that rebellion was named Yahyazdata. According to Darius’ Behistun Inscription, Yahyazdata came from Yautiya, which was a district in Persia. Yahyazdata had also claimed he was Bardiya.
Fravartish, (or Phraortes), made the claim that he was the king of Media and proclaimed that he was from the line of Khshathrita, who was possibly a Cimmerian/Scythian rebel during the time of King Esarhaddon of Assyria. While Darius was away putting down the revolt in Babylonia, Fravartish was accepted not only by Media as king, but also by Armenia, Parthia, and Hyrcania as well. Even though Fravartish had success, he would lose the war after two defeats in battle and was captured by Darius’s forces. Fravartish’s fate was a horrible one, which Darius mentions, in gruesome detail:
Fravartish was captured and brought to me. I cut off his nose and ears and tongue, and put out his eyes. In my gates he was kept bound; all the people saw him. After that, I impaled him on a pole at Ecbatana.
Apadana Hall, fifth-century BC carving of Persian archers and Median soldiers in traditional costume (Medians are wearing rounded hats and boots) ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )
Frada, self-proclaimed king of Margiana, revolted against Darius only to be defeated by Dadarshi, who was the Bactrian satrap and was loyal to Darius. It is said that once Frada was defeated, Margiana suffered a great massacre. The numbers are thought to be exaggerated, as it is said that 55,243 rebels were killed and 6,972 were captured, including Frada. He was on the Behistun Inscription among the nine men featured, and was executed according to the Babylonian documents dealing with the Inscription.
Monument to Darius the Great at Behistun. ( CC BY-SA 2.0 )
Cicantakhma or Chithratakhma the Sagartia, was another man who rebelled and claimed he was a descendant of the Median king Cyaxares. Not much is known about this man, other than he was a rebellious ruler of the Sagartia, which was located in the modern region of Kurdestan, and its central city was Arbel. What little is known is that Cicantakma was successful in uniting and conquering the Sagartia province, but when word had gotten out to Darius, he sent his General Bakhraaspad who crushed the rebellion.
Thus Cicantakma was conquered, captured, mutilated, and finally impaled at Arbela, while the leaders who were associated with Cicantakhma’s rebellion were hanged.
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Top Image: Relief on the Apadana Staircase on the eastern wall [of the Apadana Palace] from the ruins at Persepolis, “the Persian City”, ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire. Deriv ( CC BY 2.0 )
By Cam Rea