HORMOZD I (r. 272-73 C.E.; Ōhrmazd in the Sasanian inscriptions, the name of both the king and the supreme deity, from OPers. Auramazdā, Av. Ahura Mazdā, q.v.), the throne name of Šāpur I’s (Šābuhr I) son and successor Hormozd-Ardašēr (Ōhrmazd-Ardaxšahr), spelled ʾwhrmzd-ʾrthštr in the Middle Persian version of Šāpur I’s inscription on the Kaʿba-ye Zardošt (ŠKZ, Mid. Pers., ll. 23, 25), ʾhwrmzdʾrthštr in the Parthian (ŠKZ, Parth., ll. 18, 20), and ŌRMISDARTAXIR, ŌRMISDARTAXAROU in the Greek version (ŠKZ, Greek, ll. 40, 48). In the inscriptions of Kerdīr the mowbed at Sar-e Mašhad (KSM), Naqš-e Rostam (KNRm), and on the Kaʿba-ye Zardošt (KKZ), he is called Ōhrmazd šāhān šāh. In both the Pahlavi and Manichean texts he is called Ōhrmazd nēw or Ōhrmazd šāh nēw “(king) Ōhrmazd the Brave” (Šahrestānīhā ī Ērān, in Pahlavi Texts, ed. Jamasp-Asana, I, p. 22, ll. 19-20; Sundermann, pp. 127-29).

GREAT KING OF ARMENIA Hormozd’s life and short reign are not well known. The ŠKZ mentions him on two occasions. In the short list (ŠKZ, Parth., ll. 17-19) of beneficiaries who received a “fire of good renown” (husraw ādūr; Skjærvø, 1991, p. 696, n. 18) established in their names by Šāpūr I “for the sake of their soul and memory” (pad arwān ud pāšnām), Hormozd precedes the other royal princes: Šāpur, king of Mesene (Mēšān) and Narseh, king of India, Sagestān, and Turestān; however, in his list of dignitaries (ŠKZ, Parth., ll. 19-29), where Šāpur I lists those members of the royal family and dignitaries for the sake of whose souls sacrifices were made, Hormozd’s name follows those of his brothers Warahrān king of Gēlān and Šāpur king of Mesene, but precedes that of Narseh king of Sagestān (ŠKZ, Parth., l. 20). Hormozd’s different position in the two lists has led scholars to assume that, in the former list, the royal princes were listed according to their merits during the Roman campaigns of Šāpur I, but, in the latter list, with respect to their age (Chau-mont, 1968, pp. 81-82; Henning, pp. 624-26). If so, Hormozd was not the eldest son of Šāpur, but the third born. According to Shapur Shahbazi (1989, p. 515), his position at the head of the first list designated him as heir apparent.

The ŠKZ refers to Hormozd as the “great king of Armenians,” a position that he must have acquired after the conquest of Armenia, which, according to the ŠKZ, opened Šāpur’s second Roman campaign (ŠKZ, Part., l. 4): “and the Caesar lied again, he did harm/sin to Armenia, and We moved into the Roman empire.” The nature of the “harm, sin” (winās) towards Armenia, of which the Romans are accused, is the subject of some controversy. Basing herself primarily upon the Armenian sources, Marie Louise Chaumont suggested that the pretext for Šāpur’s offensive against Rome could be related to the asylum it granted to the young, fugitive, prince Tirdād, son of the Arsacid king of Armenia, Ḵosrow, who appears to have been assassinated at Šāpur’s instigation prior to the Persian invasion. This asylum could then have been interpreted by the Persians as Roman interference in Armenia, which after the treaty of 244 C.E. between Šāpur I and Philip the Arab seems to have belonged to Persia’s sphere of interest, as suggested by the Byzantine chronicler Zonaras (Annales 12.19; Chaumont, 1968, pp. 83-86; idem, 1973, pp. 684-85; idem, 1976, p. 173; also Ensslin, p. 98). Slightly different is the conclusion of E. Kettenhofen, who, after a close scrutiny of the Armenian and classical sources, proposed the year 217 as the beginning of Tirdād’s reign, thereby surmising that Tirdād was, at the time of the Persian invasion of Armenia in 252 c.e., a mature sovereign with a history of 35 years of rule. Furthermore, Kettenhofen seems to subscribe to the opinion that Tirdād’s children sided with the Persian invaders against their father (Kettenhofen, 1982, pp. 38-43; idem, 1995, pp. 56, 140-43; see also Schottky, 1994, pp. 225-32). It is generally agreed that Armenia was annexed in 252 C.E., during the reign of Trebonianus Gallus and the coregency of Volusianus according to Zonaras (Annales 12.21; Chaumont, 1976, p. 172; Ensslin, pp. 18-19; Kettenhofen, 1982, pp. 41, 84; Marquart, 1895, p. 652, places the invasion shortly before 252; so does Rostovtzeff, 1943, p. 33).

It has been suggested by several authors that, in connection with Šāpur’s second Roman campaign against Syria, Cilicia, and Cappadocia (qq.v.) between 253 and 256, the campaign in Cappadocia and the conquest of Cappadocian cities were led by the crown prince Ōhrmazd-Ardašēr from Armenia, which he had recently received as his kingdom (Chaumont, 1968, p. 86; idem, 1973, pp. 672-73; idem, 1976, pp. 174-75; Ensslin, pp. 46-47, 104; Kettenhofen, 1982, pp. 68, 84-87; Olmstead, pp. 409-10; Rostovtzeff, pp. 26, 42; differently Sprengling, pp. 5, 96). This is partly supported by the description of the Cappadocian conquests, which, it has been pointed out, forms an appendix to the list of Syrian cities conquered by Šāpur I and suggests that it represented an independent campaign, the report of which was eventually inserted into Šāpur’s Res Gestae (Chaumont, 1976, p. 173; Kettenhofen, 1982, p. 83; Olmstead, pp. 409-10; Rostovtzeff, pp. 26, 42).

Hormozd’s military activities seem not to have been limited to Cappadocia. The Scriptores Historiae Augustae (Tyranni Triginta, II) reports that a certain Cyriades led first Odomastes and then Sapores (Šāpur) into Roman territory and assisted in the capture of Antioch. The name Odomastes was emended to Oromastes, that is, Ōr(o)maz-dēs, by Theodor Nöldeke (1878, p. 69, n. 1); and it is therefore possible that, after raiding Cappadocia, Hormozd joined his father for the conquest of Antioch. Since, according to ŠKZ, the capture of Seleucia preceded that of Antioch (ŠKZ, Mid. Pers., l. 6), it has been suggested that Hormozd, led by Cyriades, conquered Seleucia in order to cut off the escape route from Antioch to the sea before joining forces with Šāpur at Antioch (Baldus, pp. 235-36; Kettenhofen, 1982, pp. 59-61; Sprengling, p. 90). The date of the first capture of Antioch is contested, varying between 253 and 256 (Frye, 1951, pp. 104-5), but recent scholarship seems to favor the former date (Kettenhofen, 1982, pp. 59-65).

KING OF KINGS OF IRAN Hormozd’s career as the king of kings (šāhān šāh) of Iran is not well known. According to Kerdīr’s stereotypical account of his activities under Hormozd, this king invested him with the kulāf ud kamar “hat and belt” (KKZ, l. 4). Another source for Hormozd’s career are the Manichean Middle Iranian texts, in which he regularly has the epithet nēw (Coptic nagath[os], Sundermann, p. 127, n. 1; Shimin, Klimkeit, and Laut, p. 47; probably Sogdian yaxī/yaxē"brave," Sims-Williams, p. 283; Arabic al-baṭal and al-jarīʾ “courageous,” Ṭabari, I, p. 831; Biruni, Āṯār, p. 218; Ḵᵛārazmi, p. 102; see also Nöl-deke, 1878, p. 69; idem, Geschichte der Perser, p. 23, n. 2), which may reflect his military successes. According to the Manichean Homilies (the Crucifixion Narrative) Hormozd granted Mani an audience, as a result of which Mani was permitted to travel to Babylonia with a safe-conduct (Polotsky, p. 42; Sims-Williams, p. 283); and in the Coptic Psalm-Book Hormozd is said to have received Mani’s truth (Allberry, p. 43; Wurst, p. 107). In a fragmentary Parthian Manichean text, the king may be represented as paying homage (namāž) to Mani (Sundermann, p. 129), and Manichean Sogdian and Turkish fragments seem to contain parts of the same narrative (Shimin, Klimkeit, and Laut, pp. 44-58; Sims-Williams, pp. 281-88). In the Turkish fragment, which describes the encounter of Prince Hormozd (wrmzt tigin)with Mani and their subsequent contest, Hormozd is referred to as yʾxy wrmzt, presumably Sogdian yaxī/yaxē. The Sogdian text relates how a Magian, impressed with Mani’s parables and accounts, proposes to take him to the court of the king of kings, whose name is not mentioned, although Hormozd is a likely candidate (Sims-Williams, pp. 282-83). The historicity of Hormozd’s benevolence towards Manicheism is, however, as tenuous as that of Kerdīr’s persecution of Manicheism and other religions (KKZ, ll. 4-5).

No reliefs of Hormozd are known, but the coins struck during Hormozd’s reign contain some peculiarities. The reverses do not depict the usual two “assistants” figured on either side of the fire altar ever since their introduction under Šāpur I, but two types of investiture scenes featuring Anāhīd or Mihr (Göbl, 1968, p. 20, 43; for photos, see plate 3, nos. 35 and 36; idem, 1960, pp. 42-43; also Lukonin, pp. 102-3). Another peculiarity of Hormozd’s coinage is in the legend, which before Hormozd read mazdēsn bay [name of the sovereign] šāhān šāh Ērān kē čihr az yazdān “His Mazdayasnian Majesty . . . , king of kings of Ērān, whose seed is from the gods,” but was extended under his rule to encompass the term (ud) Anērān “(and) non-Iran”: “His Mazdayasnian Majesty Ōhrmazd, king of kings of Ērān and non-Ērān, whose seed is from the gods” (Göbl, 1968, p. 40, table 15). The addition of Anērān to the title of Sasanian sovereigns beginning with Hormozd undoubtedly reflects the territorial expansion of the empire, but exactly what territories were considered to be Anērān remains uncertain (Frye, 1984, pp. 298-99; Gnoli, 831-66).

The foundation of the town Ōhrmazd-Ardašēr (Sūq al-Ahwāz) is ascribed to Ardašēr I, as well as to Hormozd, although following the Šahrestānīhā ī Ērān (Pahlavi Texts, ed. Jamasp-Asana, p. 22, ll. 19-20) modern scholarship tends to attribute it to Hormozd (Christensen, 1944, p. 226; Henning, p. 626; Markwart, Ērānšahr, p. 144, n. 8; idem, 1931, p. 95; undecided Pigulevskaja, p. 123).



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Originally Published: December 15, 2004

Last Updated: March 23, 2012

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