Cambyses was a renowned man in ancient Persia who was also called Cambyses the Elder. Many historians also call him Atradates, which was originally taken from the name Elamite. Impressive narratives have been written about Cambyses as a good man. He was born in Anshan, Iran, to Cyrus I, and he succeeded his father as a vassal of Astyages, the King of Media.
His name is associated with the people of Iran who resided in the northwest part of India. With a respected family, Cambyses reigned from 580 BC to 559 BC.
As the crowned King of Persia, he spearheaded a noble leadership that even neighboring countries would emulate. You can discover how he developed his influence on his succeeding lineage.
Who Was Cambyses?
Historians all agree that King Cambyses was born from the family of the Achaemenid dynasty. According to reports, Cambyses was a great-grandson of King Achaemenes. Born and raised from a family of kings, he was also the grandson of Teispes. You should further consider his uncle Ariaramnes to know his royal lineage better, as well as his cousin Arsames.
He received a lot of commendations from the great historian Herodotus, who once called him “a man of good family and quiet habits.” Herodotus corrected the title king for Cambyses because, according to him, Cambyses was a Persian man of good family background and not a king.
Meanwhile, Xenophon, an Athenian scholar, called Cambyses a king of Persians. Xenophon added that the kingship of Cambyses was only limited by the ruling elders of the kingdom. Interestingly, there was no objection to the statement of Cyrus the Great that his father was an Anshan king, as well as to Xenophon’s claim that Cambyses was a Persian king.
It was because these titles were used in that land in an alternative manner.
Cambyses became popular through his priceless virtue, and he reigned in a remarkable term during the lordship of Astyages, the King of Media. Cambyses wife, Princess Mandane of Media, was no other than the daughter of Astyages. The beautiful marriage of Cambyses and Mandane produced Cyrus the Great.
Their marriage was filled with love and beauty, and their union was celebrated in the annals of the history of Persia. Historians regard the unique relationship of Cambyses with his wife, Princess Mandane, as an example of an ideal marriage. Cambyses son, or the famous Cyrus the Great, gave him five grandchildren named Cambyses II, Roxane, Atossa, Bardiya, and Artystone.
Princess Mandane of Media was matched with Cambyses when she was looking for a husband. She was also called Shahbanu of Media. You might notice that those people in the past used many names, such as the Queen Consort of Cambyses I of Anshan for Princess Mandane.
She was even called the ruler of the Achaemenid Empire. Her name was taken from the old Iranian name Mandanā, meaning delightful and cheerful.
Princess Mandane was the daughter of the King of Media named Astyages. You might have heard of the famous dream concerning King Astyages, Princess Mandane, and her future son. Herodotus claimed that Astyages personally picked Cambyses for his daughter, Mandane because he thought of him as a benevolent and sincere man for the princess.
According to Herodotus, the strange dream appeared to Astyages right after the birth of the princess. In his dream, his daughter frequently urinated, which caused heavy flooding in Asia. He was disturbed by the thoughts of his dream, so he consulted his magicians, who interpreted his dream as a caution that someday, his very own grandchild from Mandane would overthrow his kingship.
The king naturally planned to thwart anything that would block his way to success. To do this, he arranged the wedding of Mandane to Cambyses I of Anshan, the vassal prince considered to be so gentle that he was not a threat to the reign of the Median king.
However, Astyages had another more terrifying dream.
The Second Dream
In his second dream, Mandane was pregnant, then a vine sprang out of her womb and destroyed the world. Because the king was frightened, he commissioned Harpagus, his loyal official, to kill the child.
The poor official was scared to kill a prince, so he concealed the child, Cyrus II, at the home of Mitradates. Truth be told, the fearful dream of Astyages happened when Cyrus challenged his grandfather.
Cyrus’ action led to a war between him and his grandfather. Although he lost, deposing the king was a realization of his nightmare years before. You must know that it was a bitter truth only Harpagus knew.
Astyages was then overthrown, and it paved the way to the birth of the Persian Empire. It was a lofty task for Cyrus the Great, but his grandfather’s dream was instrumental to the young man’s rise to power.
Cyrus the Great
Cambyses had his only son, Cyrus the Great, or also known as Cyrus the Elder. He was the famous founder of the Achaemenid Empire or the first Persian Empire.
Cyrus the Great was able to create the largest territory led by a single ruler in the world’s history. His prestige lasted for approximately 30 years.
Cyrus the Great began his rule by winning the Median Empire, the stronghold of his grandfather, Astyages. This was followed by his conquering of the Lydian Empire, as well as his campaign in Central Asia.
His power was so strong that he brought every nation under his control without fail. He did not try to conquer Egypt. He was alleged to have returned to his capital city, where he died in 530 BC.
Cyrus the Great has made an admirable name in history for his respect for the customs, religion, and culture of the nations that he conquered. His leadership focused on the centralization of the administration of his government with concern for the welfare of his people. He appointed satraps in each country, who administered the laws of the king. He also promoted human rights and the political stability of his countries.
Do you know where the name Cambyses comes from?
Modern historians have discussed the etymology of Persian names, particularly those of members of royal families. According to Arnold J. Toynbee, Cambyses could be from the name Kambujiya, and Cyrus could be similar to Kurush.
These names could have been taken from two Eurasian nomads who had migrated to India and Iran in the past. Historians believe that these people reached Volkerwanderung between the 8th and 7th centuries BC.
Toynbee also revealed that the elder House of Achaemenes was highly interested in the conquest of the world. Their mission of overpowering the world was realized by the Kurush and Kambujiya nomad groups.
To honor the contributions of these people, they named their princes after Cyrus I or Kurosh and Kuru or Cambyses. This family flourished in the 6th century BC, as proven by the number of rulers born in their bloodline.
The life of Cambyses may have been outstanding, but it was unfortunately short. Nicholas of Damascus reported that Cambyses was injured during the Battle of the Persian Border. Cambyses then died in that battle against Astyages, his father-in-law, in 551 BC. You might recall that Cambyses and his father, Cyrus I, were vassals of Astyages.
Cambyses I, also known as the king of Anshan of Iran, was given an honorable funeral after the war. The death of Cambyses the First opened the door for his son, Cyrus the Great, to rule the house of Cambyses and rally for the victory of his country. His life was celebrated for completing his father’s plan of dominating foreign lands through the promotion of policy collaboration with foreign leaders.
His tomb is represented by a wall of approximately 15 yards (45 feet) in height and 8.2 yards (24.6 feet) in length. It is located in the Pasargadae World Heritage Site in Iran.
Historians say that a Zoroaster building in the past is similar to that structure. The tomb is unfinished. At present, you can see only its wall as the sole remaining part to survive. It is close to Tall-e Takht. Some archeologists support the idea that the stone slabs in the tomb belong to Cambyses’ tomb.
Born from a family of kings, Cambyses the First was provided with a royal title.
Let’s talk more about his legacy here:
- He was considered a king of Persia, and others would call him King Cambyses.
- Nonetheless, Herodotus, a famous historian, corrected this notion. According to his expert analysis, Cambyses was not a king but a vassal to King Astyages.
- His union with Queen Mandane produced the apparent heir to the throne, Cyrus the Great.
- His training and desire to change their lives pushed him to be on the throne of the Persian Empire.
- However, you must know that his reign didn’t come without a price. Cambyses had to fight in the Battle of the Persian Border, during which he died.
Cambyses has left his exceptional legacy to his wife and his only child, Cyrus the Great.