DATAMES (Gk. Datámēs), Iranian personal name, reflecting Old Iranian *Dātama- or *Dātāma-, either a two-stem shortened form *Dāta-m-a- from a compound name like *Dātamiθra- or an unabridged compound *Dātāma-from *Dāta-ama-“to whom force is given.”

The best known bearer of this name (ca. 407 [or earlier]-ca. 362 B.C.E.) was the son of the “Carian” Camisares (whose name was, however, apparently of Iranian origin), who governed part of Cilicia at the beginning of the reign of Artaxerxes II (405-359 B.C.E.), and the Paphlagonian Scythissa, probably a princess (Nepos, Datames 1.1). Most available information about Datames is to be found in Cornelius Nepos’ Life of Datames (bk. 14), but, apart from the notorious shortcomings of this work, it is not easy to reconcile this information with that from other sources.

According to Nepos, at the beginning of his career Datames served in Artaxerxes’ palace guard and showed his military talents and bravery in the Cadusian campaign of ca. 385/4 B.C.E. (Nepos, Datames 1.1-2; for the date, cf. Sekunda, p. 38). Camisares was killed on this expedition, and his office of governor of “Cilicia next to Cappadocia” was conferred upon his son. In about 384 Datames was commanded by the king to join the campaign of the Lydian satrap Autophradates against “those who had revolted,” among them perhaps the Pisidians. He once more distinguished himself by saving the royal army, which was in bitter distress, and was then charged with “more important matters” (Nepos, Datames 2.1).

Presumably at about the same time Datames was involved in the quarrel between Artaxerxes and the Paphlagonian dynast Thuys, his maternal cousin, who had refused obedience to the king. Datames first tried to persuade Thuys to submit (Nepos, Datames 2.3), but after having escaped death only through his mother’s warning he declared war against Thuys, who was at last captured alive (2.3-5) and brought to the royal court by Datames in person (3.1-4). Datames was generously rewarded and given joint command with Pharnabazus (satrap of Dascylium) and Tithraustes over an expeditionary force to Egypt in the later 380s. When Pharnabazus was recalled to the court (perhaps in 373 B.C.E.), the supreme command was bestowed on Datames (3.5).

Before completion of military preparations for a new invasion of Egypt Artaxerxes ordered Datames to subdue a certain Aspis, who at that time held Cataonia (apparently as the official Persian governor) and had begun to disregard the king’s authority (Nepos, Datames 4.1-2). The choice of Datames for this assignment can be explained only by his positions as satrap of Cappadocia (see Diodorus, 15.91.2, though under the year 362/1 B.C.E.) and supreme commander of the army assembled for the Egyptian expedition. Although there is no sure evidence of the date when Datames received the satrapy, it had probably been earlier than 368/7 B.C.E., perhaps already in the 380s. As for the rebellious Aspis, Datames set out for Cilicia at once, marching day and night with only a small strategic force, and soon succeeded in capturing him (Nepos, Datames 4.3-5).

Meanwhile the number of Datames’ enemies at court had been growing continuously (Sekunda, p. 51). Datames was warned of developments by his friend Pandantes, the royal treasurer (Nepos, Datames 5.3); he then decided to leave the army assembled at Phoenician Akē in command of Mandrocles of Magnesia and to return “with his own men” (cum suis) to Cappadocia (5.6). This desertion probably took place in 368 B.C.E. In order to consolidate and extend his domain, Datames occupied part of Paphlagonia (5.6; cf. Polyaenus, Strategemata 21.1, apud Sekunda, pp. 45-46). He also attacked Sinope on the Black Sea coast and must have captured it, for he issued coins there. Despite the absence of historical details, some anecdotes from this period of his life are preserved in the account of Polyaenus (Strategemata 21.2.5; cf. Sekunda, pp. 46-47).

Datames, already accused by enemies at court of intending to revolt against the king, then decided actually to do so. Although during the Paphlagonian campaign he tried to conceal his plans (Nepos, Datames 5.6), he was the first to rise in the great satrapal revolt of the 360s, forming a secret alliance with Ariobarzanes, satrap of Dascylium. Datames sent his son Arsidaeus against the Pisidians (6.1), but he was killed in battle, so that Datames himself had to take to the field. He achieved a rapid victory with a small force (6.1-8) but failed to subjugate Pisidia. During this campaign his father-in-law, Mithrobarzanes, who commanded part of the cavalry, deserted to the enemy (6.3; but cf. Diodorus, 15.91.2-6, who provided more detail and dated this event to 362/1 B.C.E.).

Of much more consequence was the desertion of his own son Sysinas (or the like), who went over to Artaxerxes and denounced his father as a rebel (Nepos, Datames 7.1). At once the king sent a huge army of 171,000 men under Autophradates, satrap of Lydia, to Cappadocia to suppress the rebellion (8.2; cf. Sekunda, p. 49). Autophradates, perhaps marching from Akē (Sekunda, p. 49), was able to pass through the Cilician Gates before Datames could take them and to enter Cappadocia itself. Datames, whose force, including Greek mercenaries, was less than a twentieth the size of his adversary’s army (cf. Nepos, Datames 8.3), chose a defensive position suitable for delaying tactics and thus gained a first victory. Autophradates decided to make peace with Datames and to concentrate his forces against Ariobarzanes, the more dangerous opponent, thus effecting a reconciliation, that is, submission of Datames to Artaxerxes (8.6). Nepos did not provide much detail on ensuing events, recounting only Artaxerxes’ repeated attempts to assassinate Datames (9.1; cf. Diodorus, 15.91.7).

Datames’ activities during the following years are thus not clear; he seems to have launched several attacks himself, as there is sporadic information in the sources about actions in Pamphylia and even Mesopotamia (Polyaenus, Strategemata 7.21.3). For some time during the great satrapal revolt there was actually a danger that the entire western part of the Achaemenid empire, under the leadership of Datames with the support of the Egyptian pharaoh Tachos, might succeed in breaking away from the center and disintegrating into a number of separate autonomous states. As each satrap sought to obtain the greatest gain for himself, however, none could trust the others, and in the end Artaxerxes himself was the winner.

In 362/1 B.C.E. Datames fought another battle, this time with Artabazus, the king’s general, who had entered Cappadocia with a great army (Diodorus, 15.91.2) but was unable to gain the victory. At some unknown date, however, Artaxerxes finally succeeded in eliminating Datames by assassination: Mithridates, Ariobarzanes’ son, who had already betrayed and captured his own aged father, persuaded Datames to agree to a personal meeting and stabbed him with a hidden sword (Diodorus, 15.91.7; cf. Nepos, Datames 9-11; Polyaenus, Strategemata 7.29.1), which brought a virtual end to the great satrapal revolt.

Datames was apparently a bold and warlike man, a distinguished strategist. His memory seems to have remained alive in Cappadocia, for he was included in the genealogy of the provincial dynasty (cf. Diodorus, 31.19) in later times (see below). A number of Cilician and other silver coins (mostly from Tarsus) bearing the names Pharnabazus and Datames (in Aramaic or Greek forms) and apparent likenesses survive; they were minted for payment of mercenaries and crews (cf. Sekunda, pp. 41-42; Alram, pp. 109-10; Moysey, with further references). It must be stressed, however, that the difficulty of the Aramaic form tdnmw (read as trkmw by Lemaire, pp. 302-05), which is not easy to reconcile with the Greek form, remains unresolved.

There were several other known bearers of the name *Dātama. Datámās, leader of the Cadusians during the march to the fortress of Gadatas under Cyrus the Great (559-29 B.C.E.; Xenophon, Cyropaedia 5.3.38), was killed near Babylon (5.4.15-16). Another Datámās, a myriarch (i.e., “leader of 10,000” Persian horsemen), participated in Cyrus’ triumphal parade (Xenophon, Cyropaedia 8.3.17). One *Dātama (El. Da-(ad/ud-)da-ma), an official of unknown function in the reign of Darius I (522-486 B.C.E.), is mentioned several times in the Persepolis Fortification tablets (Hinz and Koch, pp. 246, 261, 300), and possibly another was owner of the Persepolitan seal no. 20 (probably from the reign of Xerxes I or Artaxerxes I), which bears a fragmentary Aramaic inscription “seal of dtm[“ (Schmidt, esp. p. 26). Datames, one of the Cappadocian kings listed in a ficticious genealogy linking the dynasty with Cyrus the Great (Diodorus, 31.19), was said to be the son of Anaphas, one of the “seven Persians,” and to have succeeded him on the throne; he was also designated as the father of Aria(ra)mnes (see ARIYĀRAMNA 5). This Datames was praised as a brilliant warrior and supposedly died in battle (31.19.2). Finally, there was the Persian Datames who commanded a fleet of ten ships sent to the Cyclades in 334/33 B.C.E., in the reign of Darius III (336-30 B.C.E.; Arrian, Anabasis 2.2.2). While anchored near Siphnus he was attacked by the Macedonian Proteas, who captured eight of his ships; Datames himself escaped to the main body of the Persian fleet (2.2.4-5).



M. Alram, Iranisches Personen-namenbuch IV. Nomina Propria Iranica in Nummis, Vienna, 1986.

M. A. Dandamaev, A Political History of the Achaemenid Empire, tr. W. J. Vogelsang, Leiden, 1989, pp. 301-03.

C. M. Harrison, Coins of the Persian Satraps, Ph.D. diss., University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 1982, esp. pp. 172-75, 256-65, 321-36, 478-84.

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

W. Judeich, Kleinasiatische Studien, Marburg, 1892, esp. pp. 191-93, 194-97, 204-06.

Idem, “Datames,” in Pauly-Wissowa IV/2, cols. 2224-25.

A. Lemaire, “Recherches d’épigraphie araméenne en Asie Mineur et en Égypte et le problème de l’acculturation,” in H. Sancisi-Weerdenburg and A. Kuhrt, eds., Achae-menid History VI. Asia Minor and Egypt. Old Cultures in a New Empire, Leiden, 1991, pp. 199-206.

R. A. Moysey, “The Silver Stater Issues of Pharnabazos and Datames from the Mint of Tarsus in Cilicia,” The American Numismatic Society Museum Notes 31, 1986, pp. 7-61.

A. T. Olmstead, History of the Persian Empire, Chicago, 1948, pp. 401, 409-13, 419-22.

E. F. Schmidt, Persepolis II, Chicago, 1957.

N. V. Sekunda, “Some Notes on the Life of Datames,” Iran 26, 1988, pp. 35-53.

(Rüdiger Schmitt)

Originally Published: December 15, 1994

Last Updated: November 18, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. VII, Fasc. 2, pp. 115-117