ACHAEMENES (Greek Achaiménēs), Old Persian proper name Haxāmaniš, traditionally derived from haxā- “friend” and manah “thinking power” (but see Achaemenid Dynasty).

1. The eponymous founder of the Persian royal house, the Achaemenids. According to the Behistun inscription of Darius I (I.6 and A.8) and Herodotus (7.11; cf. also 3.75), Achaemenes was the father of Teispes, ancestor of Cyrus II and Darius I. If Achaemenes was a historical personage, he should have lived at the end of the 8th and the first quarter of the 7th century B.C. But Cyrus II does not mention Achaemenes at all in his detailed genealogy, given in the Babylonian cylinder. It is true that in his inscriptions from Pasargadae Cyrus II calls himself an Achaemenid. But at present it can not be decided for certain whether these texts were written during the reign of Cyrus II himself or, after his death, by an order of Darius I.

It is quite possible that Achaemenes was only the mythical ancestor of the Persian royal house. Plato (Alcibiades 1) makes him the son of Perseus (another version considers him to be the son of Aegeus), son of Zeus. According to Nicolaus of Damascus, he was a hero from whom the Achaemenidae descended (see Jacoby, Fragmente I/2, p. 361). According to Aelianus (De hist. anim. 12.21), he was bred by an eagle.


G. G. Cameron, History of Early Iran, New York, 1936, p. 179.

Kent, Old Persian, pp. 116, 119, 134, 212.

2. Son of Darius I by Atossa and full brother of Xerxes. After the suppression of the first rebellion of Egypt in January, 484 B.C., Xerxes appointed him satrap of the country. During the expedition of Xerxes against Greece he commanded the Egyptian fleet at Salamis. In 459 B.C. he was defeated and slain at the battle of Papremis by Inarus, the leader of the second rebellion of Egypt. In mockery his corpse was sent by Inarus to the king Artaxerxes I, nephew of Achaemenes. Ctesias wrongly calls him Achaimenides.


Herodotus 3.12; 7.7.97, 236. Ctesias Persica, 14-15.63.

A. T. Olmstead, History of the Persian Empire, Chicago, 1948, pp. 235, 303.

3. Prince of the Achaemenid dynasty and landowner in the Nippur area in Babylonia in the second half of the 5th century B.C. It is possible that he was a grandson of no. 2.


M. A. Dandamayev, “The Domain-lands of Achaemenes in Babylonia,” Altorientalische Forschungen 1, Berlin, 1974, pp. 123-27 (with references to the cuneiform texts).

(M. A. Dandamayev)

Originally Published: December 15, 1983

Last Updated: July 21, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 4, p. 414

Cite this entry:

M. A. Dandamayev, “ACHAEMENES,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/4, p. 414; an updated version is available online at (accessed on 2 February 2014).