HAZĀRBED (Hazāruft), title of a high state official in Sasanian Iran, from OPers. *hazārapati- “chiliarch” attested in Greek as azarapateîs [plur.] in a Hesychian gloss which defines it as eisaggeleîs “ushers, announcers” (Hinz, 1975, p. 120). The title occurs in the trilingual inscription of Šāpūr (Šābuhr) I on the Kaʿbe-ye Zardošt, as well as in the bilingual inscription of Narseh at Paikuli, as Mid. Pers. hz’lwpt (ŠKZ, Mid. Pers., lines 29, 31; NPi, Mid. Pers., lines 7, 15), Parthian hzrwpt (ŠKZ, Parth., lines 23, 25; NPi, Parth., lines 14), and Greek AZAROPT, AZARIPTOU (ŠKZ, Greek, lines 56, 61). It is attested as a loanword in Bactrian uazaroxto (Henning, 1977, p. 637; Humbach, 1966, pp. 73, 74; Mancini, 1988, p. 84) and in Armenian as hazarapet and hazarwuxt (Hübschmann, 1897, p. 174, n. 328). The epigraphic material suggests the word should be read as hazāruft rather than hazārbed, paralleled by the doublet dibīruft/dibīrbed “chief secretary” (= ARCHIGRAMMATEŌC; ŠKZ, Greek, line 65) with the spellings Parthian/Middle Persian dpyrwpt and Greek DIBIROUPT (ŠKZ, Parth., line 24; Mid. Pers., line 29; Greek, line 57), as well as Parthian dpyrpty (ŠKZ, Parth., line 28) and Middle Persian dpyrpt (ŠKZ, Mid. Pers., line 34). Probably the forms in -uft were the original ones, to which the doublets in -bed were forged in analogy to other titles in -bed (differently Mancini, 1988, pp. 82-84, who considers the the -w- in hz’lwpt and dpyrwpt as only orthographical and their Greek counterparts as mere transcriptions). Alternately, it has been suggested that Armenian hazarwuxt and hazarapet reflect a Parthian hazārbed from *hazāˊra-páti- and a Middle Persian ha-zāruft from *hazārá-pati- (Szemerényi, 1975, pp. 357-58), but there is no evidence that Armenian hazarapet goes back to Parthian times, since its earliest attestations are in the fifth-century Armenian translation of the Bible (Hübschmann, 1897, p. 174, n. 328; Russell, 1985, p. 116) and the fifth- and sixth-century historiographical writings, such as the Epic Histories attributed to Pʿawstos Buzand (Faustus, tr. Garsoïan, p. 108), the History of Vardan by Ełišē (Ełišē, tr. Thomson, pp. 76, 82, 180), and the History of Armenia by Łazar Parpʿecʿi (Ełišē, tr. Thomson, 1982, pp. 252, 256, 277-78, 294, 302, 314, 324).
Albeit widely assumed, there is however, no evidence that the office of hazārbed existed under the Arsacids (Chaumont, 1973, pp. 142-43). The evidence of the ŠKZ suggests that the office was first established in the Sasanian period under Ardašēr I, when it was held by a certain Pābag, who occupied this position under Šāpūr I, as well (ŠKZ, Parthian, lines 23, 25). The office is mentioned in Ardašēr’s and Šāpūr’s lists of dignitaries immediately after the names of the members of the royal house and the office of bidaxš “vice-roy” (ŠKZ, Parthian, lines 23, 25). In the inscription of Narseh at Paikuli, however, a new official, Šāpūr the hargbed “?” is listed at the head of the nobles and grandees (āzād ud wazurg) followed by the bidaxš and hazārbed (NPi, Mid. Pers., lines 6-8). Depending on the preferred etymology, the hargbed has been variously described as “fortress commander” and, more recently, as “tax collector, chief of finances” (Frye, 1984, pp. 223-24, 306; Gignoux, 1993, p. 35; idem, 1972, p. 23; Henning, “Mitteliranisch,” p. 41; Lukonin, 1983, pp. 735-38; Szemerényi, 1975, pp. 366-75; Skjærvø, 1983, p. 95, does not express an opinion). According to Petrus Patricius (Müller, Fragmenta IV, p. 189, frag. 14), king Narseh kept only two officials at his side when he received the Roman envoy to settle a peace treaty in 298-99: a certain Affarban introduced as praetorian prefect (hýparkhos ên praitōríōn) and the arkhapétēs Barsabṓrsos, who, depending on how the passage is read, either was in charge of Symios (tḕn toû Symíou eîkhen arkhḗn; Chaumont, 1962, p. 15; undecided Winter, 1988, 167, n. 3) or had command of written language (tḕn toû sēmeíou arkhḗn; Peeters, 1931, p. 27; Enβlin, 1942, p. 51; Felix, 1985, p. 124). Probably the praetorian prefect represents the hazārbed and the arkhapétēs the hargbed. The name of the hargbed Barsabōrsos if read as *Burz-Šābuhr (Justi, Namenbuch, p. 64; Chaumont, 1962, p. 15) may reflect that of the hargbed Šāpūr known from the Paikuli inscription. A recently published Manichean Coptic text mentions a certain Sapōrēs, who was Narseh’s hyparch (Sapōrēs p-hyparkhos) until the king’s death in 302 (Pedersen, 1997, p. 198, l. 25; p. 200, n. 23). Thus, the hyparch Sapōrēs, the arkhapétēs Barsabōrsos and the hargbed Šāpūr may all have been one and the same person (Skjærvø apud Pedersen, 1997, p. 200, n. 23). The description of the hargbed Šāpūr as hyparch in the Coptic fragment taken together with Ṭabari’s definition of the hargbed’s office as being above the offices of the artēštārān-sālār “master of warriors” and the spāh-bed (Nöldeke, Geschichte der Perser, pp. 110-11) suggests that the office of hargbed was also a military one (Chaumont, 1986, pp. 400-401; Winter, 1988, p. 167).
Early on, the hazārbed probably was in charge of the king’s safety, like his Achaemenid predecessor, and the commander of the guards-regiment (Frye, 1983, pp. 249-50; Wiesehöfer, 1994, p. 251). His duties probably did not include that of the (Parth.) niwēδbed “chief introducer” (= Mid. Pers. *āyēnīg?) as has been suggested on the basis of the Coptic Homilies (Chaumont, 1973, p. 146), for this office was clearly a separate one (Gignoux, 1991, p. 423). The duties of the hazārbed were also distinct from those of the spāhbed “commander of the army,” although it is possible that under Šāpūr I, the hazārbed temporarily took over the responsibilities of the spāhbed, as this office is not listed in the list of dignitaries under Šāpūr I, where instead we find an aspbed “commander of the cavalry” (ŠKZ, Parthian, line 25; differently Frye, 1956, pp. 315-16). A spāhbed is, however, listed again in the inscription of Narseh at Paikuli, once following the hargbed, bidaxš, and hazārbed, and once further on in the list (NPi, Mid. Pers., lines 7, 16), whereas the office of the aspbed is missing (Gignoux, 1990, pp. 2-3).
Later on, judging by the Armenian evidence, the office of the hazārbed became equal to that of the wuzurg framādār (Arm. vzurk hramatar) “grand intendant” (Chaumont, 1973, pp. 147-57; Gignoux, 1991, p. 424). Mihr-Narseh, a high official under king Yazdegerd I (r. 399-421), in his brief inscription at Fīruzābād, calls himself wuzurg framādār (MNFd, lines 1-2). The same Mihr-Narseh is designated indiscriminately by Ełišē as “wuzurg framādār of Iran and non-Iran” (Hübschmann, 1897, pp. 182-83, n. 354; Ełišē, tr. Thomson, p. 77, nn. 3-4) and “great hazārbed of Iranians and non-Iranians” (Hübschmann, 1897, p. 174, n. 328; Ełišē, tr. Thomson, p. 82). Moreover, a passage of the Syriac Synodicon Orientale mentions that the officials who were sent by king Yazdegerd I to proclaim the king’s approval of the decisions of the Council of Seleucia in 410, were the wuzurg framādār (hrmdrʾ rbʾ) Husraw-Yazdgerd and Mihr-Šāpūr from the “house of Argbed” (bytʾ d-ʾrgbṭʾ; Chabot, 1902, p. 21, l. 21 and 22; Chaumont, 1962, 16; Labourt, 1904, p. 97). Mihr-Šāpūr is presumably the hargbed, whose charge had become hereditary by the fifth century and was therefore taken as a surname, whereas the wuzurg framādār probably reflects the evolution of the office of the hazārbed in the later empire, as suggested by the parallelism between Mihr-Šāpūr (hargbed) and Husraw-Yazdgerd (wuzurg framādār) and Petrus Patricius’s *Burz-Šābuhr (hargbed) and Affarban (hazārbed; Chaumont, 1973, pp. 147-52; idem, 1962, pp. 16-17; Gignoux, 1991, p. 423).
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(M. Rahim Shayegan)
Originally Published: December 15, 2003
Last Updated: March 20, 2012
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