Achaemenes

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This article concerns Achaemenes, founder of the first Persian dynasty. For other uses of the name, see Achaemenes (satrap) and Achaemenes (character).

Achaemenes was the eponymous ancestor of the royal house of the first Persian Empire, the Achaemenid dynasty. He lived about 2,700 years ago. His name comes from the Old Persian Hakhāmanish, meaning "friendly in nature." The name's Hellenized form is Achaimenēs, which has become rendered in English as Achaemenes. Achaemenes did not rule all of Iran, but a small place in the northwestern part of the country near Lake Urmia, which Assyrian inscriptions call Parsumash, or land of the Parsu or Persians.

Achaemenes' royal descendents revered him and credited him as the founder of their dynasty, but very little was ever remembered about his specific achievements. Most likely he was a warrior chieftain who led the Persians, or a tribe of Persians, as a vassal of the Median Empire. An Assyrian inscription from the time of King Sennacherib mentions that the Assyrian king repelled a raid by the Parsu, which may have been led by Achaemenes. Ancient Greek writers provide some other legendary information: they call his tribe the Pasargadae and say that he was raised by an eagle. Plato, when writing about the Persians, oddly speculated that Achaemenes was the son of the Greek hero Perseus and a grandson of Zeus. He might have confused Achaemenes with Perses, son of Perseus by Andromeda and ancestor of the Persians in Greek mythology. Perses was probably a legendary ancestor of Achaemenes himself from the biewpoint of later writers.

Achaemenes was succeeded by his son Teispes, who would lead the Persians to conquer and settle in the city of Anshan. His great-grandson was Cyrus II, who conquered the Medes and established the Persian Empire.

Due to the lack of hard information on Achaemenes, it has been contended that epigraphic evidence for his existence and rule is highly suspect; in fact, he may have been a Persian legend or an invention of Darius the Great.


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