As the eponymous ancestor of the clan, Achaemenes is very often held to be legendary. Achaemenes is generally known as the leader of one of the clans, known to the Greeks as the Pasargadae (although this identification may been due to a confusion with the Persian Imperial capital city Pasargadae begun by Cyrus the Great around 546 BC), that was one of the some ten to fifteen Persian tribes. Persian royal inscriptions such as the Behistun Inscription place him five generations before Darius the Great. Therefore, according to the Inscriptions, Achaemenes may have lived around 700 BC. The inscriptions do label him as a "king", which may mean that he was the first official king of the Persians.
Apart from Persian royal inscriptions, there are very limited historical sources on Achaemenes; therefore very little, if anything at all, is known for certain about him. It has been proposed that Achaemenes may merely have been a "mythical ancestor of the Persian royal house". The "Babylonian" Cyrus Cylinder, ascribed to Cyrus the Great, does not mention Achaemenes in an otherwise-detailed genealogy. Some historians hold that perhaps Achaemenes was a retrograde creation of Darius the Great, made in order to legitimize his connection with Cyrus the Great, after Darius rose to the position of Shah (i.e. King) of Persia in 522 BC (by killing the usurper Gaumata, the so-called "False Smerdis", who had proclaimed himself King upon the death of Darius' predecessor, Cambyses II; according to Darius, Gaumata was an impostor pretending to be Cambyses II's younger, deceased brother Bardiya). Darius certainly had much to gain in having an ancestor shared by Cyrus and himself, and may have felt the need for a stronger connection than that provided by his subsequent marriage to Cyrus' daughter Atossa. An inscription from Pasargadae, also ascribed to Cyrus, does mention Cyrus' descent from Achaemenes; however, historian Bruce Lincoln has suggested that these inscriptions of Cyrus in Pasargadae were engraved during the reign of Darius in c. 510.
In any case, the Persian royal dynasty from Darius onward revered Achaemenes and credited him as the founder of their dynasty. Very little, however, was remembered about his life or actions. Assuming he existed, Achaemenes was most likely a 7th-century BC warrior-chieftain, or the probable first king, who led the Persians, or a tribe of Persians, as a vassal of the Median Empire. An Assyrian inscription from the time of King Sennacherib in 691 BC, mentions that the Assyrian king almost repelled an attack by Parsuamash and Anzan, with the Medians and others on the city of Halule. Historians contend that if he existed, Achaemenes had to be one of the commanders, leading his Persians with the independent troops of Anshan, during the indecisive Battle of Halule in 691 BC.
Ancient Greek writers provide some legendary information about Achaemenes: they call his tribe the Pasargadae, and say that he was "raised by an eagle". Plato, when writing about the Persians, identified Achaemenes with Perses, ancestor of the Persians in Greek mythology. According to Plato, Achaemenes/Perses was the son of the Ethiopian queen Andromeda and the Greek hero Perseus, and a grandson of Zeus. Later writers believed that Achaemenes and Perses were different people, and that Perses was an ancestor of the king.
Persian and Greek sources state that Achaemenes was succeeded by his son Teispes, who would lead the Persians to conquer and settle in the Elamite city of Anshan in southern Iran. Teispes' great-grandson Cyrus conquered the Medes and established the Persian Empire. Teispes is referred to as a son of Achaemenes in the Old Persian texts at Behistun.
- Akbarzadeh, D.; A. Yahyanezhad (2006). The Behistun Inscriptions (Old Persian Texts) (in Persian). Khaneye-Farhikhtagan-e Honarhaye Sonati. p. 56. ISBN 964-8499-05-5.
- Schmitt Achaemenid dynasty (i. The clan and dynasty.)
- Aminisam, M.H., Pictorial History of IRAN, Ancient Persia Before Islam 15,000 B.C. --- 652 A.D., AuthorHouse Press, Bloomington, Indiana, (2006) p. 114. ISBN 1-4259-6722-1
- Schlerath p. 36, no. 9. See also Iranica in the Achaemenid Period p. 17.
- Behistun Inscribtion, c. 4
- Jamie Stokes (2009). Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Africa and the Middle East, Volume 1. Infobase Publishing. pp. 2–3. ISBN 978-0-8160-7158-6.
- Livius Picture Archive: Pasargadae
- Bruce Lincoln. Religion, empire, and torture: the case of Achaemenian Persia, 2007, University of Chicago Press, Page 4-5
- David Sacks, Oswyn Murray, Lisa R. Brody (2005). Encyclopedia of the ancient Greek world. Infobase Publishing. pp. 256 (at the bottom left portion).
- DB, column I, lines 5 and 6, from Kent Kent, Ronald Grubb (1384 AP). Old Persian: Grammar, Text, Glossary (in Persian). translated into Persian by S. Oryan. pp. 394 and 492. ISBN 964-421-045-X.
- Schmitt, Rüdiger. "Achaemenid dynasty". Encyclopaedia Iranica. vol. 3. Routledge & Kegan Paul.
- Dandamayev, M. "Achaemenes". Encyclopaedia Iranica. vol. 3. Routledge & Kegan Paul.
- Schlerath, Bernfried (1973). Die Indogermanen. Inst. f. Vergl. Sprachwiss. ISBN 3-85124-516-4.
- Tavernier, Jan (2007). Iranica in the Achaemenid Period (ca. 550-330 B.C.): Linguistic Study of Old Iranian Proper Names and Loanwords, Attested in Non-Iranian Texts. Peeters Publishers. ISBN 90-429-1833-0.
AchaemenesBorn: 8th century BC Died: 7th century BC
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