CYRUS i. The Name



i. The Name

Cyrus (Latin form of Gr. Kûros, later also Kóros < OPers. Kuruš [spelled ku-u-ru-u-š], reflected in Elam. Ku-raš, Bab. Ku(r)-raš/-ra-áš, Aram. kwrš, Heb. Kōreš, and Eg. kwrš; see Iranisches Personennamenbuch I/2, pp. 23-24 no. 39; cf. NPers. Kūreš) is a Persian name, most notably of the founder of the Achaemenid empire, Cyrus the Great (see iii, below) and of the second son of Darius II (see vi, below). The etymology of the name, which may be connected with OInd. Kúru-, mentioned in the Indian national epic, remains in dispute. Although sometimes given as “young, child, adolescent,” it is more likely to be understood as “humiliator of the enemy in verbal contest” (proposed by Karl Hoffmann). The interpretation of the name by classical authors as identical with the Persian word for “sun” (Ctesias, in Jacoby, Fragmente III/C, p. 470 fr. 15.51; Plutarch, Artoxerxes 1.3) is certainly incorrect.



H.-P. Schmidt, “An Indo-Iranian Etymological Kaleidoscope,” in G. Cardona and N. H. Zide, eds., Festschrift für Henry Hoenigswald, Tübingen, 1987, pp. 357-58.

F. H. Weissbach, “Kyros 5-7,” in Pauly-Wissowa, Suppl. IV, cols. 1128-29.

(Rüdiger Schmitt)

Originally Published: December 15, 1993

Last Updated: November 10, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. VI, Fasc. 5, pp. 515-516