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Home » Gender Relations » Historically Significant Women of Iran and the Neighbouring Countries
 
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GENDER RELATIONS
Historically Significant Women of Iran and the Neighbouring Countries
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Last Updated: October, 2009
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Before 486-ca. 440, Queen Amestris of Achaemenid Persia

She was the wife of Xerxes I and mother of king Artaxerxes I . Amstris was the daughter of Otanes, one of the seven conspirators who killed the Persian rebel king Gaum᳡ (September 22, 522 BCE). After this, Darius the Great started his reign. According to the Greek researcher Herodotus (5th century BC), Otanes was honored with a diplomatic marriage. The new king married Otanes' daughter Phaedymia, and Otanes married a sister of Darius, who gave birth to Amestris. When Darius died in 486 BC, Amestris was married to the crown prince, Xerxes and must have been in her thirties. She had a bad reputation among ancient Greek historians.The historian, Therodotus, describes her as a cruel despot. Herodotus reported that she sacrificed children of Persians to the Gods of the underworld (Ahriman?). After the death of her husband, Xerxes I, she was politically influential during the reign of her son. During the sovereignty of Artaxerxes I (465-424), another son, Achaemenes, was killed by Egyptian rebels. The general Megabyzus, who offered terms to the rebels to shorten the war, defeated them and their Athenian allies. According to the historian Ctesias, Amestris was enraged because Megabyzus had not punished the murderers of her son. Initially, Artaxerxes did not allow her revenge, but after five years (around 449), he permitted her to crucify the Egyptian leader, Inarus, and kill several captives. She lived (before 486-ca. 440). According to an oriental fairy tale told by Herodotus, Amestris was a very jealous woman. When Xerxes returned from the Greco-Persian Wars, he fell in love with the wife of one of his sons Crown Prince Darius, Artaynte. In return for her favors, she demanded a special cloak that Amestris had made for Xerxes. When the queen saw her daughter-in-law parading in the royal dress, she knew what was going on, and she ordered Artaynte's mother to be mutilated. (Herodotus offers no convincing explanation.) Artayntes' father, Xerxes' brother Masistes, decided to revolt against his king and brother, but was not successful. She may have died as late as 440 B.C.

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Around 430s B.C Amestris of Achaemenid Persia

Daughter of Artaxerxes II.

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Around 430s B.C., Queen Damaspia of Achaemenid Persia

This Persian noblewoman was wife of king Artaxerxes I, and mother of Xerxes II, his legitimate heir. According to to the Greek historian Ctesias of Cnidus, king Artaxerxes and his wife died the same day (424 BC, perhaps during a military expedition), and their corpses were carried to Persia. Xerxes succeeded his father, but was murdered not much later (423 BC) by his half-brother Sogdianus.

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Around 420s B.C. Amestris of Achaemenid Persia

The oldest child of Darius II and sister to Artaxerxes II. She was married to Teritouchmes son of Hydarnes as part of an alliance between the Persians and the House of Hydranes. 

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424-405 B.C. Joint-Ruler Queen Parysatis of Achaemenid Persia

Daughter of Xerxes I (486-66), who was murdered by his chamberlain and succeeded by her brother, Xerxes II, who was assassinated after only 45 days by his half brother, Secydianus, but Parysatis and her husband and brother Darius II conspired against him and had him deposed after only 6 months. She was co-ruler during her husband's reign, and among other things secured the appointment of her son, Cyrus as Satrap of Lydia, Cappadocia and Phrygia (all in western Turkey) in 408 or 408. At the same time, he was appointed as commander in chief of Asia Minor, when he was only 15-17 years old. He succeeded to the throne in 404.

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Around 440s, Princess Amytis of Achaemenid Persia

Amytis was daughter of king Xerxes I and queen Amestris, and sister of king Artaxerxes I. She was given in marriage to the nobleman Megabyzus. Amytis and her mother are portrayed in Ctesias' account as the most powerful women during Artaxerxes's reign. Near 445 BC, her husband Megabyzus started a successful revolt in Syria against Artaxerxes I. Initially, Amytis stayed with the king during the war; however, she later participated, along with Amestris and the satrap Artarius, in the reconciliation negotiations between the rebel and the king. Notwithstanding this, Megabyzus again fell in disgrace and was expelled from the court and exiled to a town on the Persian Gulf. After five years in exile, Magabyzus was forgiven and allowed to return to the court, again thanks to the intercession of Amytis and Amestris. Amytis bore Megabyzus two sons: Zopyrus and Artyphius. After the death of his father and mother, Zopyrus fled to Athens, where, according to Ctesias, he "was well received owing to the services his mother had rendered to the Athenians. Greek sources portray Amytis as a licentious woman. According to Ctesias, during Xerxes' reign she was accused of adultery by Megabyzus. The same historian further affirms that, after her husband's death, she had a love affair with the Greek physician Apollonides of Cos, and that when the affair was discovered, Apollonides was tortured and put to death by queen mother Amestris. Dinon, another Greek historian, describes Amytis as the most beautiful and licentious woman of Asia. The most difficult challenge in using historians as Ctesias or Dinon as reliable sources is the fact that they tended to write amazing stories that would better appeal to their readers, often without much attention to historical rigor. The lack of primary sources makes it therefore impossible to have an accurate image of amytis.

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Around 380s B.C. Amestris of Achaemenid Persia

Daugther of Oxathres brother of Darius III, married to Craterus but was abandoned by him and later married Dionysius of Heraclea Pontus.



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Around 320s B.C., Princess Stateira (Barsine) of Achaemenid Persia

Stateira was the daughter of Darius III. She was captured by Alexander the Great after the battle of Issus in 333 BC, along with her sister Drypetis, her mother Stateira, and her grandmother Sisygambis. After their capture, the Persian women joined Alexander's baggage train for around two years. After Alexander's return from India he married Stateira. The Greek sources mention that following Alexander's death, his favourate wife Roxane from the kingdom of Bactria (modern Afghanistan) lured Stateira and her sister to her, and had the two princesses killed and thrown into a well, Roxane was pregnant and was determined that her son should be the undisputed heir of Alexander. 

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Around 320s B.C., Princess Parysatis of Achaemenid Persia

She was a daughter of Artaxerxes III Ochus. She was taken as a third wife by Alexander the Great, at Susa in 324 BC. She was probably murdered by Roxane, alongside her kinswoman Stateira, following the death of Alexander in 323 b.C. 

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Around 320s B.C., Princess Drypetis of Achaemenid Persia

Drypetis was the daughter of Darius III. She was captured by Alexander the Great after the battle of Issus in 333 BC, along with her sister Stateira, her mother Stateira, and her grandmother Sisygambis.

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Around 320s B.C., Princess Roxane of Bactria (modern Afghanistan)

Daughter of the Bactrian baron Oxyartes, was married to Alexander in 327 B.C. It is possible that she gave birth to a son in 326, who was either stillborn or who died in early infancy. At the time of Alexander's death in 323 she was some months' pregnant and she gave birth to another son after the king's death. This baby was named Alexander and was acclaimed as joint king, in partnership with Alexander's half-brother, Arrhidaeus. Roxane appears to have been responsible for the deaths of Alexander's other wives - Stateira the daughter of Darius, and Parysatis the daughter of Artaxerxes III Ochus. However, she didn't take an active part in the wars of the Diadochi, but was murdered with her son in around 310/309 B.C. 

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Ca.280 B.C. Queen Stratonice of Seleucid Dynasty, Iran

From Greek ancestery she was married to Alexander's heir Seleucus I founder of the Seleucid dynasty that ruled over Iran after Alexander's death. After her husband's death she married his heir Antiochus I who ruled from 281 to 261 B.C. 

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Ca. 270 B.C. Stratonike, Queen Consort of Seleucia 

She was an Antigonid princess (daughter of Demetrios Poliorketes) and was married to Seleucus that ruled over parts of Asia including Turkey and Iran. The king handed her over to his son (and co-king) Antiochos I, in a well attested love-match ca.288 B.C. Antiochos.I ruled as King of Upper Asia (including Parthia, Iran) with Stratonike as his consort until his father's assassination. Their first son Antiochos II was born 287/6 B.C. Stratonike lasted more than another decade, witnessing the succession of her own son Antiochos II, before her death.

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287/84-237/36 B.C. Laodike III, Queen Consort of Seleucia

Antiochos' first wife was an Achaid princess named Laodike married to king Mithradates II and their daughter, Laodike III, married Antiochos II. She was the main player in the Laodikean War named after her, which saw the invasion of Ptolemy III as far as Babylon, and the rebellion of most of upper Asia under Andragoras in Parthia (Iran) and Diodotos in Baktriana (Afghanistan). She separated from Antiochos II and after their divorce she became Lady of Propontis (Egypt). She was regent for Seleucus II Kallinikos and after he came of age she remained politically active until she was murdered.

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Ca. 246 B.C. Regent Dowager Queen Berenice of Syria

Daughter of Ptolemy II of Egypt her marriage in 252 B.C. to Antiochus II marked a temporary cessation in the wars between the Egyptian monarchs and the Seleucids. After the death of her husband she took over the regency and her army conquered Soloia in Cilicia, but Laodice, the king's divorced first wife, had Berenice and her infant son killed before her brother, Ptolemy III, could arrive. New war resulted.

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Ca. 240 B.C. Queen Zenobia of Palmyra, Syria.

She was the second wife of king Septimius Odaenathus of Palmyra, a vassal of Rome. Upon his death she became the ruler of the empire. In 269, she conquered Egypt expelling the Roman prefect of Egypt, Tenagino Probus, whom she beheaded when he attempted a recapture. She then proclaimed herself Queen of Egypt and was hailed as the new Cleopatra. She was an ally of the Iranians and fought against the Romans with help from the Iranians. Ruling until 274 when she was defeated and taken as hostage to Rome by the Roman Emperor Aurelian. Zenobia appeared in golden chains in Aurelian's military triumph parade in Rome. Her fate is unclear, some sources suggest a suicide others mention that the emperor was so impressed by her that he granted her clemency. Further, he granted her an elegant villa in Tibur (modern Tivoli, Italy). She married a Roman noble man and became a prominent philosopher, socialite, and Roman matron and prominent Romans are counted as her descendants.



Recommend: The Chronicle of Zenobia : The Rebel Queen
By professor Judith Weingarten - http://www.zenobia.tv

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Before 127 B.C. Regent Dowager Queen Ri-'nu of Parthia (Ashkanian)

Queen Ri-'nu lived in what is now modern Turkey following her husband's (Mithridates I) successful conquests of Syria and Turkey. Other versions of her name are Riinu or Rihinu, and she was regent for her son Phraates II.

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Arouund 138 B.C. Princess Rhodogune, the daughter of Mithridates I of Parthia

In 138 B.C. Princess Rhodogune married Seleucid king Demetrius II Nicator. After bearing several children with him, she was presumably abandoned in 131 B.C. when Demetrius, after numerous failed attempts to escape from Parthia, was dispatched back to Antioch during the invasion of Parthia by Demetrius' brother. During their marriage, she had been temporarily a hostage in the Parthian court after an ill-fated campaign. The historian, Polyaenus tells us that Rhodogune, informed of a revolt while preparing for a bath, vowed not to bathe or brush her hair until the revolt was neutralised. She immediately went to battle, riding out to the head of her army. She successfully directed the battle, and was depicted thereafter with long, disheveled hair because of her adherence to her vow. He is the sole source of the story.

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