DARIUS i. The Name



i. The Name

Dārīus (or Dārēus) is the common Latin form of Greek Dareîos, itself a shortened rendering of Old Persian five-syllable Dārayavauš (spelled d-a-r-y-v-u-š), the throne name of Darius the Great and two other kings of the Achaemenid dynasty (see iii-v, below), which thus enjoyed considerable popularity among noblemen in later periods (see vi-viii, below). The original Old Persian form was also reflected in Elamite Da-ri-(y)a-ma-u-iš (cf. Hinz and Koch, pp. 289, 291), Babylonian Da-(a-)ri-ia-(a-)muš and so on, Aramaic dryhwš and archaizingdrywhwš, and perhaps the longer Greek form Dareiaîos (attested only in Ctesias, Jacoby, Fragmente IIIC, pp. 462, 464 frags. 13-14 pars. 24, 33-34; and Xenophon, Hellenica 2.1.8-9). On the other hand, the shorter forms Elamite Da-ri-ya-(h)u-(ú-)iš (cf. Hinz and Koch, pp. 290-91), Babylonian Da-(a-)ri-muš and so on, Aramaic drwš, drywš (cf. Schmitt, 1987, pp. 150-51), Egyptian tr(w)š, trjwš, intr(w)š, intrjwš (cf. Posener, pp. 161-63), Lycian Ñtarijeus-, Greek Dareîos (the standard form from Aeschylus onward), and Latin Dārīus, Dārēus are renderings of a haplologically shortened allegro form Old Persian *Dārayauš (replacing normal Dārayavauš), for which further indirect evidence may be found (Schmitt, 1990, pp. 197-98) in *Dariaus, the basis of the toponym Dariāsa (Ptolemy, Geography 6.2.12). The proposal by Chlodwig Werba (p. 148) that Greek Dareîos reflects a two-stem hypocoristic form *Dāraya-v-a- does not take into account the other forms mentioned. Old Persian Dāraya-vauš, which is composed of the present stem dāraya- “hold” and the adjective vau- “good,” must be translated as “holding firm the good” (cf. analogous expressions in Vedic texts) or the like. All attempts to explain it as shortened from a three-part compound name like *Dāraya-vau-manah-, *Dāraya-vau-xšaça-, or *Dāraya-vau-dāta- (cf. Werba, pp. 149-50) are erroneous, however. The ancient etymologies given by both Greek and Persian “authorities” may be passed over in silence.



W. Hinz and H. Koch, Elamisches Wörterbuch, 2 parts, Berlin, 1987.

M. Mayrhofer, Iranisches Personennamenbuch I/2, pp. 18-19 no. 26.

G. Posener, La première domination perse en Égypte. Recueil d’inscriptions hiéroglyphiques, Cairo, 1936.

R. Schmitt, Die Iranier-Namen bei Aischylos, Vienna, 1978.

Idem, “Review of Segal,” Kratylos 32, 1987, pp. 145-54.

Idem, “The Name of Darius,” Acta Iranica 30, 1990, pp. 194-99.

C. Werba, Die arischen Personennamen und ihre Träger bei den Alexanderhistorikern, Ph.D. diss., Vienna, 1982, pp. 141-53.

(Rudiger Schmitt)

Originally Published: December 15, 1994

Last Updated: November 17, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. VII, Fac. 1, p. 40

Cite this entry:

Rudiger Schmitt, “DARIUS i. The Name,” Encyclopaedia Iranica, VII/1, p. 40, available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/darius-i (accessed on 30 December 2012).