A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology

Smith, William

A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology. William Smith, LLD, ed. 1890

(Δηϊόκης), the founder of the Median empire, according to Herodotus, who states that, after the Assyrians had held the empire of Upper Asia 520 years, various nations revolted from them, and first of all the Medes. Soon after this, Deioces, the son of Phraortes, a wise man among the Medes, desiring the tyranny, became an arbitrator for his own village; and the fame of his justice attracted to him suitors from all quarters, till at last the Medes chose him for their king. He immediately assumed great royal state, and made the Medes provide him with a bodyguard and build him a fortress. He then built the city of Agbatana (Ecbatana), in the centre of which he resided, hidden from the public view and transacting all business through messengers, in order, says Herodotus, to prevent the plots which his former equals might have been drawn into by jealousy. The few who were admitted to his presence were required to observe the strictest decorum. His administration of justice was very severe, and he kept a body of spies and informers throughout the whole country. After a reign of thirty-five years, during which he ruled the six tribes of the Medes without attempting any foreign conquest, Deioces died, and was succeeded by his son, Phraortes. (Hdt. 1.95_102.)

There are considerable difficulties in settling the chronology of the Median empire. Herodotus gives the reigns as follows: Deioces53years.(1.102.)Phraortes2222(ibid.)Cyaxares4040(1.106.)*Astyages3535(1.130.) -----  Total,150  * Including the 28 years of the Scythian rule, σὺν τοῖσι Σκύθαι ἦρξαν.

Now, since the accession of Cyrus was in B. C. 560-559, the accession of Deioces would fall in B. C. 710-709, which is confirmed by Diodorus (2.32), who says that, "according to Herodotus, Cyaxares [meaning Deioces] was chosen king in the second year of the 17th Olympiad." (B. C. 711-710.) It also agrees with what may be inferred from Scripture, and is expressly stated by Josephus (J. AJ 10.2), that the Medes revolted after the destruction of the army of Sennacherib, and the death of that king. (B. C. 711.) Moreover, the Lydian dynasty of the Mermnadae is computed by Herodotus to have lasted 170 years, down to the taking of Sardis in B. C. 546. It therefore began in B. C. 716. Now, it may be inferred, with great probability, from the statements of Herodotus, that the Heracleidae, who preceded the Mermnadae in Lydia, were Assyrian governors. If so, here is another reason for believing that the great Assyrian empire was broken up in consequence of the destruction of its army under Sennacherib. The small difference by which the last date (B. C. 716) exceeds what it ought to be according to this view, might be expected from the difficulty of fixing these dates within two or three years; and, moreover, the date of the capture of Sardis is disputed, some bringing it as low as B. C. 542.

A difficulty still remains. Herodotus mentions an interregnum, and it seems from his language to have been not a short one, between the revolt of the Medes and the accession of Deioces; and he is supposed to give the sum total of the Median rule as 156 years. With reference to the former point, it may be supposed that the 53 years assigned to Deioces include the interregnum, a supposition extremely probable from the length of the period, especially as the character which Deioces had gained before his accession makes it most unlikely that he was a very young man; and, on the other hand, the Scriptural chronology forbids our carrying up the revolt of the Medes higher than B. C. 712 at the very utmost. As to the supposed period of 156 years, the truth is, that Herodotus says nothing about such a period. He says (1.130), that the Medes had ruled over Asia above the river Halys 128 years, πάρεξ ἢ ὅσον οἱ Σκύθαι ἦρχον, which does not mean, that the 28 years of the Scythian rule are to be ad ded to the 128 years, but that they are to be deducted from it. The question then arises, from what period are the 128 years to be dated? The most probable solution seems to be that of Kalinsky and Clinton, who supposed that the date to which the 128 years would lead us back, namely (5 60/59+ 128 =) 68 8/7f B. C. was that of the accession of Deioces, and that the 22 years which remain out of the 53 ascribed to him by Herodotus (B. C. 7 10/09 - 680 8/7) formed the period of the interregnum.

The account of Ctesias, which is preserved by Diodorus, is altogether different from that of Herodotus. Alter relating the revolt of Arbaces [ARBACES], he gives the following series of Median reigns (2.32-34): 1.Arbaces28 years.2.Mandauces50 years.3.Sosarmus30 years.4.Artycas50 years.5.Arbianes22 years.6.Artaeus40 years7.Artynes22 years8.Astibaras40 years9.Aspadas, whom he identifies with Astyages[35]*  -----  317* This number, which is omitted by Diodorus, is supplied from Herodotus.

This would place the revolt of the Medes in B. C. (559+317=) 876.

Now this account disagrees with that of Herodotus in all the names, and in the events ascribed to each reign, except the last; but the two lists agree in the numbers assigned to the last three reigns.

In the list of Eusebius, the fifth king, Arbianes, is omitted, and then follow Deioces, Phraortes, Cyaxares, Asdahages (Astyages), as in Herodotus, but with different numbers, whence Clinton conjectures that the 22 years assigned to Arbianes were really those of the interregnum before Deioces. No successful attempt has yet been made to reconcile Herodotus, Ctesias, and Eusebius. Diodorus supposed the interregnum of Herodotus to extend over several ages, and Eusebius adopts the same

idea in his tables, when he reckons a long period without kings between Arbaces and Deioces. (Compare SARDANAPALUS, and Clinton, F. H. i. App. 100.3.)