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Spargapises[pronunciation?] (Birth unknown[1]-530 B.C.E.) was a Massagetae general and son of the rebellious Massagetae queen Tomyris. Most of what history recounts of him is based on Herodotus's The Histories. Spargapises is part of the Massagetae forces that battled against Cyrus the Great. Little is known of his life aside from his contact with Cyrus during Cyrus's campaign to Jaxartes.[1] Spargapises is eventually captured by the Persians and is granted freedom and a pardon by Cyrus the Great after a short period of incarceration. He would however eventually commit suicide after having learned of his blunder.[2]


Cyrus the Great (Cyrus II of Persia) and Croesus offered the Massagetae a treaty of peace via the marriage of Cyrus to the Massagetae queen Tomyris. Tomyris turned down the offer, and sent a strongly-worded letter to Cyrus warning him against any advancement. However, in an attempt to bring peace and order to the northern territories of the growing Persian empire, Cyrus made an advance towards Jaxartes with the Persian army in circa 530 B.C.E. Following the advice of Croseus, Cyrus left behind a small group of Persians and set up a banquet, intending for the Massagetians to attack and slaughter this small pocket of Persian resistance and gorge themselves on the food and wine. Among the Massagetians was Spargapises who ate and drank himself to inebriation and satiation.[2][3]

"Cyrus Defeats Spargapises", from The Story of Cyrus, Adapted from designs by Michiel Coxie (1499–1592), Woven at the workshop of Albert Auwercx (1629–1709)

Cyrus and Croesus returned and attacked the Massagetian force, defeating them and capturing Spargapises. When Spargapises realized his army's blunder and his own mistake, he begged Cyrus for freedom. Cyrus responded by ordering that he should be set free. Once free, Spargapises committed suicide by falling on his own sword in despair at his humiliation and defeat.[1][2] Spargapises's behavior, including his intoxication, suicide, and lack of maturity when compared to that of Cyrus the Great, has led some scholars to term him adulescentulum filium.[1]



  1. ^ a b c d Deborah Levine Gera (1997). Warrior women: the anonymous Tractatus de mulieribus. BRILL. pp. 199–200. 
  2. ^ a b c Robert B. Strassler (2009). The Landmark Herodotus: The Histories. Random House Digital, Inc. pp. 113–4. 
  3. ^ Hutton Webster (1913). Readings in ancient history. D.C. Heath & Co. p. 19.