People - Ancient Near East: Mandane
Ancient Near East
Mandane of Media in Wikipedia
Mandana of Media (b. ca. 584 BCE) was a princess of Media and, later, the Queen consort of Cambyses I of Anshan and mother of Cyrus the Great, ruler of the Persia's Achaemenid Dynasty.
Mandana in Herodotus' histories
According to Herodotus, Mandana was born to Astyages, King of Media and son of Cyaxares the Great, and Princess Aryenis of Lydia, daughter of Alyattes II, the father of Croesus of Lydia. Christian Settipani, however, says she was his daughter by another mother.
Shortly after her birth, Herodotus reports that Astyages had a strange dream where his daughter urinated so much that Asia would flood. He consulted the magi who interpreted the dream as a warning that Mandana's son would overthrow his rule.
To forestall that outcome, Astyages betrothed Mandana to the vassal Achaemenid prince, Cambyses I of Anshan, "a man of good family and quiet habits", whom Astyages considered no threat to the Median throne.
Astyages had a second dream when Mandana became pregnant where a vine grew from her womb and overtook the world. Terrified, he sent his most loyal court retainer, Harpagus, to kill the child. However, Harpagus was loath to spill royal blood and hid the child, Cyrus II (Cyrus the Great), with a shepherd named Mitradates.
Years later, Cyrus would defy his grandfather, Astyages, leading to war between them; a war that Cyrus would have lost, but for Harpagus' defection on the battlefield of Pasargadae, leading to the overthrow of Astyages, as the dream had forecast.
Mandana in Xenophon's Cyropedia
Xenophon also gives reference to Mandana in his Cyropœdia (The Education of Cyrus). In this story, Mandana and her son travel to Astyages court, when Cyrus is in his early teens. Cyrus charms his grandfather, who includes the boy in royal hunts, while Mandana returns to her husband in Anshan. It is when Cyrus concocts a story that his father, Cambyses I, is ill and returns to visit him that Astyages comes after him and the battle is joined.
Some modern scholars[who?] think that Herodotus' stories about the dynastic links between Cyrus the Great and the kingdoms he later conquered (Media, Lydia and Babylonia) are propaganda to legitimize his invasion and they lack historical reality. In particular, it would have been to Cyrus' advantage to claim kinship to Media, as that would have made his usurpation of the empire more acceptable to the Median people.
This doubt is furthered by that fact that, for Mandana to have been the daughter of Aryenis of Lydia, she would have had to been born after the Battle of the Eclipse in 585 BC, when Aryenis was given to Astyages as part of a treaty between Media and Lydia. That would mean that Mandana was well below the age of marriage when she was given to Cambyses I. That is not unheard of in royal alliances, so it is possible, but it would also indicate that she was just at the age of puberty when Cyrus was born and that Cyrus himself was a relatively young man when he died.
At this point, there are not enough historical references to confirm either theory.
There are references to Mandana's death as 559 BC. However, as this is considered the date of her husband's death (Cambyses I), it is unknown if that is the actual date of her death or when she changed status from Queen Consort to Queen Mother.
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