- For other uses, see Amastris (disambiguation).
Amestris (Greek: Άμηστρις, Amēstris, perhaps the same as Άμαστρις, Amāstris, from Old Persian Amāstrī-, "strong woman") was the wife of Xerxes I of Persia, mother of king Artaxerxes I of Persia. She was known to have been poorly regarded by ancient Greek historians.
Amestris was the daughter of Otanes, one of the seven nobleman who killed the magus impersonator of the Persian king Bardiya in 522 BC. After this, Darius I the Great of Persia started his reign. According to the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, Otanes was honoured with royal marriages. Darius I married Otanes' daughter Phaedymia while Otanes married a sister of Darius, who gave birth to Amestris.
When Darius died in 486 BC, Amestris was married to the crown prince, Xerxes. Herodotus describes Amestris as a cruel despot:
- I am informed that Amestris, the wife of Xerxes, when she had grown old, made return for her own life to the god who is said to be beneath the earth by burying twice seven children of Persians who were men of renown.
- Herodotus, Histories 7.114.
The origin of this story is unclear, since known records and accounts indicate that human sacrifices were not permitted within the Persian religion. Also since most accounts of the time are from Greek sources, and due to the involvement of Greece as an opponent of Persia, it is possible that not all accounts are accurate.
Given the similarity of names, and the parallel identification of Ahasuerus with her husband Xerxes I, it is possible that Amestris is the Biblical Esther. Wilson, who identified Ahasuerus with Xerxes I and Esther with Amestris, suggested that both "Amestris" and "Esther" derived from Akkadian words Ammi-Ishtar or Ummi-Ishtar. Hoschander alternatively suggested Ishtar-udda-sha ("Ishtar is her light") as the origin with the possibility of -udda-sha being connected with the similarly sounding Hebrew name Hadassah. The Bible and Talmud both expound that Esther and Hadassah are the same person.
- "Amestris" in Encyclopedia Iranica
- Smith, William (1867). "Amestris (I)". In William Smith. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology 1. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. p. 137.
- Herodotus, Histories vii. 61, 114, ix. 108—113
- Ctesias, Persica c. 20. 30. ed. Lion
- Plutarch, Alcibiades p. 123, c.
- NeXtBible Study Dictionary, entry Ahasbai