ARTACHAIĒS, Greek rendering of an Old Iranian name *Ṛtaxaya (Elamite Ir-da-(ak-)ka-(a-)ya, Aramaic ʾrtḥy), containing Old Persian arta “truth” and perhaps (the weakly attested) Avestan haya- (nom. haēm) which Bartholomae (AirWb., col. 1781) connects with Mid. Pers. xēm, NPers. ḵīm “character.” The name is attested for several Achaemenid officials (G. G. Cameron, Persepolis Treasury Tablets, Chicago, 1948, p. 206; R. Hallock, Persepolis Fortification Tablets, Chicago, 1969, no. 1331). The best known of these was a son of Artaeus, an Achaemenid (Herodotus 7.22). “The tallest of all Persians,” Artachaies stood 2.29 m high, and “had a stronger voice than any other man in the world” (ibid., 7.117). He was deeply respected by Xerxes, who entrusted him and Bubares, another Persian noble, with the task of disjoining Mount Athos from the main land by cutting a canal twelve furlongs (2.400 m) long and of such a width “as to allow two triremes passing it abreast with oars in action.” The work proceeded carefully and with great success, and then the engineers were set upon the building of a bridge over the river Strymon (ibid., 7.22). When the army reached Acanthus, west of Mount Athos, Artachaies “fell sick and died. Greatly afflicted at the mischance, Xerxes carried him to the tomb and buried him with all magnificence; while the whole army helped to raise a mound over his grave. The Acanthians, in obedience to an oracle, offer sacrifice to this Artachaies as a hero, invoking him in their prayers by name. But Xerxes sorrowed greatly over his death” (ibid., 7.117). The tomb of Artachaies has not been traced with certainty, but the canal at the neck of Mount Athos was clearly marked early in the last century (Herodotus, ed. G. Rawlinson, 4th ed., 1880, IV, pp. 24f. with references). Otaspes, who commanded the southern Babylonians in Xerxes’s invasion of Greece (Herodotus 7.63), and Artayntes, who became an admiral after the battle of Salamis (ibid., 8.130), were almost certainly the sons of this Artachaies.
For discussions of the name see Justi, Namenbuch, p. 34.
M. Mayrhofer, Onomastica Persepolitana, Vienna, 1973, p. 163.
W. Hinz, Altiranisches Sprachgut der Nebenüberlieferungen, Wiesbaden, 1975, p. 211, with further references.
(A. Sh. Shahbazi)
Originally Published: December 15, 1986
Last Updated: August 15, 2011
This article is available in print.
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