CADUSII (Lat.; Gk. Kadoúsioi), an Iranian tribe settled between the Caspian and the Black seas according to Stephan of Byzantium and on the southwestern shore of the Caspian and south of the Araxes (Aras) between the Albani in the north and the Mardi in the east according to Strabo (11.6.1; 7.1), i.e., in the mountainous northern part of Media around the Parachoatras Range (cf. Ptolemy, 6.2.2: an enumeration of place names; and 5). It is mentioned together with the Gelae (Pliny, Natural History 6.46, erroneously refers to the “Gaeli, whom the Greeks called Cadusii”), Amardi, Vitii, Anariacae, and others (Strabo, 11.7.1; 8.8) and is characterized as a numerous, migratory, and predatory people (ibid., 11.13.3); Strabo notes also (ibid., 11.13.4) that Marcus Antonius, on his expedition against the Parthians, found the Cadusii to be excellent javelin throwers and foot soldiers, thus agreeing with Xenophon (Cyropaedia 5.2.25), who calls them most warlike. The hypothesis that they were a non-Iranian, maybe even a Turkish or Tartar people, seems to have been spun out of an identification with the Anariacae, who are mentioned by Strabo and others along with the Cadusii, and based on an etymology of that tribe’s name as “un-Aryan.”
The Cadusii are nowhere mentioned in Old Iranian sources, so that we do not know the original form of their name or to which satrapy they belonged (probably Media, at times maybe Hyrcania). There is also no evidence available from elsewhere in the ancient Near East, as König’s identification with the Qa-du-ma-a-a (in fact, the equivalent of Old Pers. Mačiya-; see Schmidt) is materially and linguistically incorrect (cf. Eilers, p. 201 n. 2).
The Cadusii are said to have been conquered by the legendary Assyrian king Ninus (Ctesias, apud Diodorus, 2.2.3, in Jacoby, Fragmente, frag. no. 1, par. 2.3). Obviously they were able to keep their independence during the time of Median rule and are even said to have defeated the Medes under king Artaeus, when a Persian named Parsondas (the brother-in-law of their leader) had forced them into war with the Medes, from whom he himself had previously fled (Ctesias, apud Diodorus, 2.33.1-5, in Jacoby, Fragmente, frag. no. 5 par. 33.1-5). The Cadusii had thus never been subject to the Median kings, and it was only Cyrus to whom they are said to have submitted voluntarily (ibid., par. 33.6; cf. Xenophon, Cyropaedia 5.3.22ff.; 4.15-23; 7.5.51; 8.3.18; Nicolaus Damascenus, in Jacoby, Fragmente, frag. no. 66). When he was dying this king made his younger son Tanaoxares satrap of the Medes, Armenians, and Cadusii, according to Xenophon (Cyropaedia 8.7.11).
The Cadusii seem to have had continual troubles with the Achaemenid central government: We know of a revolt about 405 b.c., around the end of Darius II’s reign, which lasted until Cyrus’ rebellion (though at Cunaxa, in 401, they fought on the king’s side under a certain Artagerses; cf. Plutarch, Artoxerxes 9.1), and of several others. In particular there is evidence of an expedition against the Cadusii by Artaxerxes II during the great satrapal revolts around 380 b.c.; this expedition was a complete fiasco, and only diplomatic negotiations by the satrap Tiribazus made a retreat possible, with the king himself marching on foot (Diodorus, 15.8.5; 10.1; Plutarch, Artoxerxes 24-25; etc.).
Darius III is said to have been made satrap of Armenia after having defeated a rebellious Cadusian in one-on-one combat during an expedition against that tribe in the first years of Artaxerxes III’s reign (Diodorus, 17.6.1). The Cadusian contingent fought together with Medes and other Northerners (Arrian, Anabasis 3.8.4; 11.3; 19.3f.; Diodorus, 17.59.5; Curtius Rufus, 4.12.12) in the army of Darius III advancing toward the Macedonians near Arbela/Gaugamela, though the exact composition of that army is given differently in the sources.
For the classical sources any current edition may be consulted (Teubner, Loeb, Oxford). Studies: F. W. König, Älteste Geschichte der Meder und Perser, Leipzig, 1934, p. 51.
G. Meier, “Kadousioi,” in Pauly-Wissowa, Suppl. VII, 1940, cols. 316-17.
A. T. Olmstead, History of the Persian Empire, Chicago, 1948, p. 401 and elsewhere.
E. F. Schmidt, Persepolis III, Chicago, 1970, p. 109.
R. Syme, “The Cadusii in History and Fiction,” Journal of Hellenic Studies 108, 1988, pp. 137-50.
W. Eilers, Orientalistische Literaturzeitung 38, 1935, cols. 201-13.
Originally Published: December 15, 1990
Last Updated: December 15, 1990
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