RHODOGUNE (Gk. Rhodogoúnē) in all probability is rendering OIran. *Vṛda-gaunā-, fem. “rose-colored” or “rosy-complexioned” (cf. Schmitt, 2011, pp. 312f., also for other interpretations), even if with assimilation to Gk. rhódon “rose”; the same origin must be assumed for Sogd. warδγōn “rosy” and Pers. gulgūn “rose-colored”. There is evidence for several historical women bearing this name, in particular:

  1. The younger daughter of Xerxes I (r.486-465 BCE) and Amestris (Ctesias, fragm. 13 § 24 and 14 § 34); the information given by Justi, p. 261b, that she is named after her grandmother, is incorrect (see Schmitt, 2006, p. 183).
  2. A daughter of Artaxerxes II (Plutarch, Artoxerxes 27.7 after Heracleides of Cyme), married to the Armenian satrap Orontas (cf. Xenophon, Anabasis 2.4.8; 3.4.13). She is the link connecting the Orontid dynasty of Commagene with the Achaemenids.
  3. A daughter of the Parthian king Mithradates I (ca. 171-139/38 BCE) and sister of Phraates II (d. 126 BCE; Appianus, Syr. 67f.), married to the Seleucid king Demetrius II Nicator (d.125 BCE); she was the model for Rodogune, the eponymous heroine of Pierre Corneille’s drama of 1645.

The Old Persian cuneiform inscriptions on a wooden coffin with a mummy and on two objects in the coffin (a gold plaque and a stone slab), all saying that the dead woman embalmed and embedded therein is “Rhodogune, the daughter of king Xerxes” (i.e., no. 1 above), are crude modern forgeries as the coffin itself, too. The name of the alleged Achaemenid princess, written irrregularly r u-du-gu-u-n, apparently is nothing else than a transposition of Gk. Rhodogoúnē (see in great detail Schmitt, 2003).


F. Justi, Iranisches Namenbuch, Marburg, 1895.

G. Plaumann, “Rhodogounē,” in Pauly–Wissowa, RE 1A/1, Stuttgart, 1914, col. 956–957.

R. Schmitt, “A Further Spurious Inscription in Old Persian Writing: The Mummy of ‘Rhodogoune’,” Nāme-ye Irān-e Bāstān 3/1, 2003, pp. 3–13.

Idem, Iranische Anthroponyme in den erhaltenen Resten von Ktesias’ Werk (Iranica Graeca Vetustiora. III), Wien, 2006.

Idem, Iranisches Personennamenbuch. Band V/5A: Iranische Personennamen in der griechischen Literatur vor Alexander d.Gr., Wien, 2011.

(Rüdiger Schmitt)

Originally Published: October 25, 2017

Last Updated: October 25, 2017

Cite this entry:

Rüdiger Schmitt, “RHODOGUNE,” Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2017, available at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/rhodogune (accessed on 25 October 2017).