Mandane of Media
Mandane in Herodotus' histories
According to Herodotus, Mandana was born to Astyages, King of Media and son of Cyaxares the Great, and Princess Aryenis of Lydia, daughter of Alyattes II, the father of Croesus of Lydia.
Shortly after her birth, Herodotus reports that Astyages had a strange dream where his daughter urinated so much that Asia would flood. He consulted the magi who interpreted the dream as a warning that Mandana's son would overthrow his rule.
To forestall that outcome, Astyages betrothed Mandane to the vassal Achaemenid prince, Cambyses I of Anshan, "a man of good family and quiet habits", whom Astyages considered no threat to the Median throne.
Astyages had a second dream when Mandane became pregnant where a vine grew from her womb and overtook the world. Terrified, he sent his most loyal court retainer, Harpagus, to kill the child. However, Harpagus was loath to spill royal blood and hid the child, Cyrus II (Cyrus the Great), with a shepherd named Mitradates.
Years later, Cyrus would defy his grandfather, Astyages, leading to war between them; a war that Cyrus would have lost, but for Harpagus' defection on the battlefield of Pasargadae, leading to the overthrow of Astyages, as the dream had forecast.
Mandane in Xenophon's Cyropedia
Xenophon also gives reference to Mandane in his Cyropœdia (The Education of Cyrus). In this story, Mandane and her son travel to Astyages court, when Cyrus is in his early teens. Cyrus charms his grandfather, who includes the boy in royal hunts, while Mandane returns to her husband in Anshan. It is when Cyrus concocts a story that his father, Cambyses I, is ill and returns to visit him that Astyages comes after him and the battle is joined.
There are references to Mandana's death as 559 BC; however, as this year is considered the date of her husband's death (Cambyses I), it is unknown if that is the actual date of her death or when she changed status from Queen Consort to Queen Mother.
- J. Hedderwick & co (1809). Letters on ancient history. p. 80.