ABRADATAS, a fictional king of Susa in Xenophon’s fictional, didactic life of Cyrus (Cyropaedia, books 5-7). He and his wife, Panthea, provide a running romantic theme in the work. Originally a subject of the Assyrians, Abradatas was separated from his wife when Cyrus captured her in one of his raids. The Persian prince was then still a vassal to his (fictional) uncle, Cyaxares II. Cyrus treated Panthea nobly, and she persuaded her husband to enter the Persian’s service. He apparently became a tributary king in Susa. Xenophon has him die heroically in battle with Croesus’s army (during the conquest of Lydia, May, 547 B.C.); and Panthea commits suicide by his grave.
The traditional, but unsystematic etymology of “Abradatas” is *Ahura-dāta, “Created by Ahura” (e.g., Justi, Namenbuch, p. 3). Cf. Avestan ahuraδāta as an epithet of the God Varathraghna (“Victoriousness,” AirWb., cols. 1421-22). If that derivation were valid, and if the name had reached Xenophon from a non-Zoroastrian source (an unlikely supposition for the late 5th century), it would have held some interest for the history of the term ahura (q.v.). In fact, the form point to a late old Persian pronunciation of *aparadāta “the younger” (Av. aparazāta). Cf. the term uvadāta “lineage,” restored in Darius’ Bīstūn inscription, IV.90-91 (see W. Hinz, Neue Wege im Altpersischen, Wiesbaden, 1973, p. 139). It would have been entirely fitting for Xenophon to know the old Persian form for “younger, cadet” (Greek. neōteros); he may well have heard it used as an epithet or nickname during Cyrus (the Younger)’s expedition in 401 B.C.
(C. J. Brunner)
Originally Published: December 15, 1983
Last Updated: July 19, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 3, p. 228