PROTOTHYES (Gk. Protothýēs, not Prōto°, as it is often found in older editions, since this form is attested only in one late manuscript), according to Herodotus 1.103.3 the father of the Scythian king Madýēs, who is said to have gone into battle against the Medes; the otherwise unattested name without any doubt is of Iranian origin (see below) and must be equated with Assyr. Bartatua (written mBar-ta-tu-a), the name of a “King of the Scythians” (LUGAL šá KUR.Iš-ku-za) at the time of Asarhaddon (680–669 BCE; see ASSARHADDON). Bartatua, through the good offices of emissaries, has asked for the hand of one of the Assyrian king’s daughters. He wished also to enter into an alliance with Asarhaddon, who therefore by an inquiry at the Sun-god’s oracle examined Bartatua’s reliability.

For etymologizing the underlying Iranian name, the Assyrian form seems to be more important than the Greek one, which underwent several adaptations. Most plausibly one has to start from OIran. *pṛθu-tavah- (nom. *-tavā) “with far-reaching strength” or *pṛθu-tuvant- (nom. *-tuvā) “widely powerful” (cf. Av. pərəθu- “wide, broad” and -tauuah- “strength, power” or part. tuuaṇt- “able, capable,” respectively).



A. Fuchs, “Partatua,” in RlA X, 2004, pp. 342 f.

A. I. Ivantchik, Les Cimmériens au Proche-Orient, Fribourg and Göttingen, 1993, pp. 205-9.

R. Schmitt, “Die skythischen Personennamen bei Herodot,” Annali. Università degli Studi di Napoli “L’Orientale” 63, 2003, pp. 1-31.

Idem, Iranisches Personennamenbuch VII/1A. Iranische Personennamen in der neuassyrischen Nebenüberlieferung, Wien, 2009, pp. 64-66, no. 38.

Idem, Iranisches Personennamenbuch V/5A. Iranische Personennamen in der griechischen Literatur vor Alexander d. Gr., Wien, 2011, pp. 307-8, no. 275.

(Rüdiger Schmitt)

Originally Published: January 1, 2000

Last Updated: February 1, 2012