name given by Herodotus for the son of Hystaspes and brother of Darius I, and of various other Persians in Greek literature.


ARTAPHRENĒS, name given by Herodotus for the son of Hystaspes and brother of Darius I, and of various other Persians in Greek literature. It is most probably an adaptation by popular etymology (cf. Greek phrḗn “spirit, soul”) of Artaphernēs (attested e.g. in Aeschylus and some MSS. of Herodotus), corresponding to an Old Persian form *Artafarnah- (“endowed with the Glory of the Right,” cf. Avestan arəta- and aša-, and xᵛarənah-, AirWb., cols. 192, 239, 1870). The name is not attested in Old Persian texts, but in Elamite documents (Irdaparna or Irdapirna), Akkadian (Ar-ta-pir-naʾ), and Elephantine Aramaic (ʾrtprn), possibly also in Old Indian (as a loanword from Iranian) in the Mahābhārata (Ṛtaparṇa or Ṛtuparṇa). See M. Mayrhofer, Onomastica Persepolitana, Vienna, 1973, pp. 164-65 nos. 8.592 and 8.594; W. Wüst, Altpersische Studien, Munich, 1966, pp. 19-21.

The most celebrated bearer of this name was appointed satrap of Sardis by his brother Darius the Great soon after the Scythian campaign of ca. 513/12 B.C. (Herodotus 5.25). Shortly after the expulsion of the tyrant Hippias from Athens and the restoration of Cleisthenes, the Athenians sent an embassy to Sardis in order to conclude a Persian alliance against Sparta (506 B.C.). Artaphrenes demanded earth and water. The envoys complied but were blamed on coming back (Herodotus 5.73). Later Hippias requested Artaphrenes to restore him. The Persian satrap urged the Athenians to accept their former tyrant but they refused and the result was an open war between Athens and Persia (Herodotus 5.96). Artaphrenes shared the responsibility for the failure of the Naxos expedition. Naxian exiles came to Aristagoras, governor of Miletus in the absence of the tyrant Histiaeus, who was being detained by Darius at Susa. They urged Aristagoras to restore them to their island. Artaphrenes saw an opportunity to extend Persian influence to the Cyclade Islands and, with Darius’ approval, sent to Naxos a fleet led by the king’s cousin Megabates (500 B.C.). Aristagoras and Megabates quarreled and the expedition failed (Herodotus 5.30-35). At the beginning of the Ionian revolt (498 B.C.) Artaphrenes defended the Sardis acropolis against the Ionians who occupied the city (Herodotus 5.100). After Hymaees’ death, he became general of a Persian army (496 B.C.) and secured Clazomenae in Ionia and Cyme in Aeolis (Herodotus 5.123). Meanwhile, Histiaeus, the tyrant of Miletus, had persuaded Darius that he could play a decisive role in establishing the peace. But his treacherous intentions in the revolt was discovered by Artaphrenes, and he had to flee. He sent some letters to his Persian accomplices at Sardis, but the correspondence was disclosed and the traitors were put to death by Artaphrenes (Herodotus 6.1-4). Later, Histiaeus was captured. Artaphrenes impaled him and sent his embalmed head to Darius, who disapproved of his brother’s action (Herodotus 6.30). After the revolt, Artaphrenes urged the Ionians to contract mutual conventions and to settle their disputes according to right. He measured Ionia in parasangs and a tribute was fixed approximately equal to that before the war. This taxation was still unaltered in the time of Herodotus (6.42). Artaphrenes agreed to forget the rebellion and to restore the laws of the cities (Diodorus 10.25.2), and later supported Xerxes in the struggle for Darius’ succession (Justin 2.10.9).



A. T. Olmstead, History of the Persian Empire, Chicago, 1948, pp. 150ff.

P. T. Junge, Dareios I. König der Perser, Leipzig, 1944.

H. Bengtson, ed., The Greeks and the Persians, London, 1969.

E. Herzfeld, The Persian Empire, Wiesbaden, 1968.

Pauly-Wissowa, II/1, cols. 1306ff.

(P. Lecoq)

Originally Published: December 15, 1986

Last Updated: August 15, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. II, Fasc. 6, pp. 651-652