Bagadates I

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Coin of Baydād (Bagadat). Early 3rd century BC. Obv: Head with short beard, mustache, and earring, wearing kyrbasia with flaps tied behind. Rev:inscriptions “zy ’hl[...]”, “bgdt” (Bagadat), “br”, “prtrk’y” (Frataraka) in Aramaic, Baydād enthroned left, holding scepter and lotus blossom. Overstruck on a Pella mint tetradrachm of Demetrios Poliorketes (337–283 BC).[1]
Bagadates ruled in Persis (red outline).

Bagadates I (Greek; from the Old Iranian Baga-dāta, "Given by [the] god"),[2] also Bagdates or Baydad (Middle Persian), was a frataraka or "Keeper of the Fire", and a governor or sub-dynast for the Seleucids, ruling as a priest-king at Istakhr in the former Achaemenid heartland, the territory of Persis (Fars), after Alexander the Great's conquests. He was the first indigenous Persian satrap to be appointed - or at least tolerated - by the Seleucids,[3] who held the higher administrative posts tightly within the Greco-Macedonian circle that was headed by the "Companions" and their heirs.[4]

On the reverse of his coins, Bagadates is depicted standing in front of a Zoroastrian fire-altar, or seated in majesty holding a staff of authority and possibly a pomegranate in his left hand (illustration, left). Bagadates seems to have asserted some level of independence about 280 BCE, exploiting the turmoil after the death of Seleucus I. "That the first oriental reaction to Macedonian rule should come from Persis, the homeland of the Achaemenids, is hardly surprising," Otto Mørkholm remarks.[5]

Bagadates I (minted 290-280 BCE) wears the satrapal headdress, the kyrbasia,[6] with standing earflaps and a neck-guard[7]

Traditionaly, the Fratarakas used to be considered as independent, anti-Seleucid rulers of Persis in the 3rd century BC.[8] It seems however that they were rather representatives of the Seleucids in the region of Fārs.[8] They ruled from the end of the 3rd century BC to the beginning of the 2nd century BC, and Vahbarz or Vādfradād obtained independence circa 150 BC, when Seleucid power waned in the areas of southwestern Persia and the Persian Gulf region.[8]

The position was continued by Bagadates' son, Oborzos,[9] who emphasized the continuity by repeating the coinage type established by his father. However, some time during the 3rd century BCE the Seleucids terminated the pseudo-independence of Persis; during the 220s BCE, the satrap there was a Greek named Alexander, a brother of Molon. Persis finally drifted away from Seleucid control after the battle of Magnesia in 190 BCE.

In a surviving inscription at Amyzon in Caria, another Bagadates was appointed neokoros of the Temple of Artemis there in 321; it is surmised that his family had been potent landowners in the region before the conquests of Alexander.[10] The son of this Bagadates, Ariaramnēs,[11] succeeded him as neokoros at Amyzon.


  1. ^ CNG: KINGS of PERSIS. Baydād (Bagadat). Early 3rd century BC. AR Tetradrachm (30mm, 17.06 g, 9h).
  2. ^ Since the Greek equivalent would be Theodore, it will be easily understood that there were numerous individuals bearing this name; the name of one who appears briefly in Josephus, Jewish War is discussed by Tal Ilan and Jonathan J. Price, "Seven Onomastic Problems in Josephus' 'Bellum Judaicum'", The Jewish Quarterly Review New Series 84.2/3 (October 1993: 189-2) p 196f.
  3. ^ (History of Iran) Jens Jacobson, "Seleucid Empire" 2004
  4. ^ F. W. Walbank, The Hellenistic World (Harvard University Press) 1981: "The Seleucids and the East", passim.
  5. ^ Mørkholm 1991:74.
  6. ^ Otto Mørkholm, Early Hellenistic Coinage: From the Accession of Alexander to the Peace of Apamea (Cambridge University Press) 1991:73f.
  7. ^ John Curtis, Nigel Tallis and Béatrice André-Salvini, Forgotten Empire: The World of Ancient Persia 2005:258-9, fig. 454, Silver tetradrachm of Bagadates.
  8. ^ a b c FRATARAKA – Encyclopaedia Iranica.
  9. ^ The historian Polyaenus records a stratagem of Oborzos against Hellene colonists in Persis, noted by Mørkholm , op.cit..
  10. ^ For instance, in Susan Sherwin-White and Amelie Kuhrt, From Samarkand to Sardis: A New Approach to the Seleucid Empire (London: Duckworth) 1993; see also P. Briant, "Les iraniens de l'Asie Mineure après la chute de l'empire achéménide", Dialogues de l'histoire ancienne 11 (1985:195).
  11. ^ His name recalls Ariaramnes of Persia, uncle of Cyrus the Great.

Bagadates I
Preceded by
King of Persis
??? - 3rd-century BC
Succeeded by
Ardaxsir I