HYDARNES (Gk. Hydárnēs), a rendering of the Old Persian male name Vidṛna (spelled vi-i-d-r-n), which is reflected also in Elamite Mi-tar-na, Mi-tur-na, Babylonian Ú-mi-da-ar-na-ʾ, Ú-(ʾ-)da-ar-na-ʾ, Lycian Widrñna-, Greek Idérnēs, Idárnēs, Latin Idarnes, and, possibly, Aramaic Wdrn. The etymological interpretation is far from clear, since the morphological analysis (as vi-dṛna-, vid-ṛna-, etc.) is not undisputed (Mayrhofer, 1979, p. 29, no. 58, and, more recently, Isebaert, 1980, p. 278 [“he who knows the guilt/wrong”]; Werba, 1983, pp. 204 f. [“he who is piercing the guilty”]). Among the bearers of this name are the following historical persons:

(1) H. (the elder), a Persian, son of Bagābigna (DB IV 84), one of the conspirators, including Darius, who made up the “Seven Persians” involved in overthrowing the False Smerdis, Gaumāta the mage (ibid.; Herodotus, 3.70.2; Ctesias, in Jacoby, Fragmente, F 13 par. 15 J. [Gk. Idérnēs]); seemingly he was among the close friends of Aspathines (see ASPAČANĀ), who introduced him to the circle of the conspirators. As commander of an army and as the loyal vassal of Darius, he put down the revolt instigated by Phraortes in Media; he fought the decisive battle at Māru in Media on 12 January 521 B.C.E. (27th day of month Anāmaka; DB II 17-29, par. 25). He seems to have been rewarded by the Great King as quasi-hereditary satrap of Armenia, since his descendants apparently held this office until Hellenistic times, up to the Orontes, whom Strabo (11.14.15) calls “the descendant of Hydarnes, one of the seven Persians.” (See also s.v. ARMENIA AND IRAN, EIr. II/4, p. 418b). Among his sons are Hydarnes no. 2 (Herodotus, 7.83.1) and Sisamnes, the commander of the Arians under Xerxes (idem, 7.66.1).

(2) H. (the younger), son of no. 1, “Persian by birth” (Herodotus, 7.135.1), under Xerxes “general (Gk. stratēgós) of the Men of the Coast in Asia” (ibid.)—a title which does not mean that he was a satrap; according to Herodotus (6.133.1), he took part in driving Miltiades the tyrant out of the Chersonesus; in Xerxes’ expedition to Greece in 480 B.C.E. he was the commander of the Persian élite forces or Royal Guards called the “Ten Thousand Immortals” (Herodotus, 7.83.1, 7.211.1, 8.113.2). He achieved his outstanding success at the pass of Thermopylae, when Xerxes sent him with his “Immortals” to pass around the Greeks by way of a path high up in the mountains on the advice of the treacherous Greek informant Ephialtes (Herodotus, 7.215-18; Pausanias, 3.4.8, 10.22.8 [where H. is called a “Mede”]). After the battle of Salamis he escorted Xerxes on his retreat to Persia, while the “Immortals,” who would have been the obvious escort for the Great King on this occasion, remained in Greece with Mardonius (according to Herodotus, 8.113.2, if this information is correct); another version (Herodotus, 8.118.1) said that Hydarnes on Xerxes’ command led the Persian army from Eïon on the Strymon River back across the Hellespont. The report of Herodotus (7.135.1) on Hydarnes’ meeting with the Spartans Bulis and Sperthias is the source also for Plutarch, Apophthegmata Lakonika 236A, where his name is found in the form Idárnēs (in most of the manuscripts wrongly Indárnēs), which is confirmed by Curtius Rufus’s Latin form. Whether this Hydarnes (or even his father) has anything to do with the *Vidṛna (Elamite Mi-tar-na, Mi-tur-na) or one of various *Vidṛnas cited several times in the Persepolis Fortification tablets (for the references, see Hinz and Koch, 1987, pp. 938, 940), is questionable (cf. Lewis, 1977, pp. 84 f., n. 14).

(3) Idérnēs, a descendant (perhaps a grandson) of no. 2, presumably satrap of Armenia; he is mentioned by Ctesias (F 15 par. 55 J.) as the father of Terituchmes (who later became his successor) and of Stateira, whom the future king Artaxerxes II married (the king’s daughter Amestris was given in marriage to Terituchmes). According to the Lycian Xanthos stele (Tituli Asiae Minoris I, Vienna, 1901, no. 44c, ll. 11 f.), he is also the father of the “Persian” (parza-) Tissaphernes (Lycian Kizzaprñna-), the famous satrap (see *ČIΘRAFARNAH, no. 3). Even if the context in which Widrñna- appears, is unclear, there can be no doubt about the family relationship, since the father’s name is in the genitive case (in -h) and thus the word for “son” is not needed.

In Xenophon, Anabasis 7.8.25, the interpolated list of satraps (which was not meant for publication, although it is a historically reliable source) names a certain Dérnēs as satrap of Phoenicia and Arabia; his name has been connected with (or even emended to) Idérnēs since Th. Nöldeke (Göttingische Gelehrte Anzeigen, 1884, p. 298, n. 1). However, this proposal is still problematic.

Moreover, there is no prosopographical connection with the various bearers of the Babylonian name Ú-(ʾ-)-da-ar-na-ʾ, who seem to be of Jewish or at least of Semitic stock and are mentioned in a number of Nippur documents for the period 432-419 B.C.E. (Zadok, 1977, p. 106; Dandamayev, 1992, pp. 130 f., no. 304).

(4) H., son of Mazaeus (satrap of Cilicia), presumably descendant of no. 3; he seems to have been commander of the Persian fleet under Pharnabazus and Autophradates in the reign of Darius III (as proposed by Berve, 1926, p. 376, no. 759); after the fleet had been dissolved, Hydarnes joined his father and in all probability took part with him in the battle of Gaugamela in 331 B.C.E. (where Mazaeus commanded the Syrians [Arrian, Anabasis 3.8.6]) and then surrendered to Alexander, who was moving towards Babylon (Curtius Rufus, 5.1.17, who does not mention by name, however, the adult sons of Mazaeus who accompanied their father on that occasion). Presumably Hydarnes, with his brother Artiboles, became companions of Alexander before being enrolled in the Macedonian cavalry in 324 B.C.E. (Arrian, Anabasis 7.6.4). It is generally accepted that this Hydarnes is identical with the Idarnes whom Curtius Rufus (4.5.13) mentions as one of the commanders of Darius III and whom the Macedonian general Balacrus defeated in 332 B.C.E.; but since the manuscript tradition is not entirely clear, it cannot be ascertained whether Balacrus then captured “Miletus (Miletum) again” (which place seems to be rather doubtful in connection with the satrap of Cilicia) or only captured “a number of troops (militum).” Connected with Hydarnes also are some satrapal coins of Anatolia containing an Aramaic legend, which in all probability should be read as Wdrn (= OPers. Vidṛna; see Harrison, 1982, esp. pp. 190 f. with n. 60).



J. M. Balcer, A Prosopographical Study of the Ancient Persians Royal and Noble C. 550-450 B.C., Lewiston, N.Y., 1993, pp. 125 f. (ad nos. 1-2).

H. Berve, Das Alexanderreich auf prosopographischer Grundlage II, Munich, 1926, p. 376, no. 759.

M. A. Dandamayev, Iranians in Achaemenid Babylonia, Costa Mesa and New York, 1992.

C. M. Harrison, “Persian Names on Coins of Northern Anatolia,” JNES 41, 1982, pp. 181-94.

W. Hinz and H. Koch, Elamisches Wörterbuch, 2 parts, Berlin, 1987.

L. Isebaert, review of Mayrhofer, 1979, in Orbis 29, 1980 [1982], pp. 275-78. Justi, Namenbuch, p. 368.

D. M. Lewis, Sparta and Persia, Leiden, 1977, pp. 83 f.

M. Mayrhofer, Iranisches Personennamenbuch I/2, Vienna, 1979, p. 29, no. 58.

[P.] Schoch and [H.] Berve, “Hydarnes,” in Pauly-Wissowa, suppl. IV, cols. 767-69.

Ch. Werba, review of Mayrhofer, 1979, in Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde Südasiens 27, 1983, pp. 203-7.

R. Zadok, “Iranians and Individuals Bearing Iranian Names in Achaemenian Babylonia,” Israel Oriental Studies 7, 1977, pp. 89-138.

(Rüdiger Schmitt)

Originally Published: December 15, 2004

Last Updated: March 23, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. XII, Fasc. 6, pp. 588-590