Mazaeus

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delos13
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Mazaeus

Post by delos13 »

Enticed by the thread in the off-topic forum "What happened to Pothos?" I decided to start a new topic in the main part of the forum hoping for it to become a long and interesting discussion.

As evident from the subject, this topic about Mazaeus. I hope it is considered close enough to Alexander and I won't be chastised for wandering too far from the main object of this forum. I became interested in this character some time ago and the more I read and thought, the more intrigued I became. In the beginning of my fascination I came to this forum and looked at the previous discussions. Typing Mazaeus' name into the search field above, I discovered it was mentioned 69 times here and I read through all of those threads.

I find it difficult to define my question to you because I am afraid the general questions "What do you think about Mazaeus?" is too vague. So I decided to present a few situations that puzzle/intrigue me in a hope that you can respond with your own thoughts and maybe even point me in the direction of the materials I am not familiar with. In addition to the modern sources mentioned below, I reread Arrian, Curtius, Diodorus.

First of all, his parentage. I could find nothing about his origins yet, according to Livius.org (and some other websites that maybe just copied the info from Livius.org) he was made a Satrap of Cilicia at the age of 24 or so by Artaxerxes III. Was his father the Satrap of Cilicia before? Then it would make sense, otherwise I can't come up with any reason. Afterwards he is given additional regions to govern and when Darius III ascends the throne, he makes him the Satrap of Babylonia, basically, the main satrapy of Persian empire and at some point offers him the hand of his oldest daughter in marriage. I know that my question sounds a little naïve/simple but why do you think he was promoted in such a manner? We are not told about any spectacular deeds by him.

It was mentioned on one of the threads here that Darius promised Mazaeus the hand of Stateira before the battle of Gaugamela to assure his allegiance. But...but... wouldn't Mazaeus as a satrap be required to join forces with Darius any way? Mazaeus commanded the right wing and his forces were practically the only ones that created problem for Alexander; he faced Parmenion's forces and the Macedonian general had even to ask Alexander for help (at least this is how it went according to most of the sources). So, why Darius had to promise his older daughter to Mazaeus? Was he afraid that his satrap would abandon him? Then why intrust him with most of the cavalry forces? Mazaeus was around 55 years old at the time and had at least two adult sons (was his wife dead by now?). Was there more to this marriage arrangement than meets the eye? Was Ochus, Darius own son who was taken hostage after the Issus, already dead and, should have Darius been killed at Gaugamela, Mazaeus, should he survived, as his son-in-law assume the throne of the Persian empire? If yes, why Mazaeus? Did Darius think him to be the best candidate? There is no evidence that Mazaeus had any Achaemenid blood (or did he?). Why Mazaeus and say not Bessos, who was Darius' relative and Achaemenid himself? Or why not wanting to leave the empire to his own (Darius') brother?

Coming back to "my theory" that Mazaeus was appointed the satrap of Cilicia at the age of 23 because his father was the satrap before him. I want now jump to another topic involving Mazaeus, the famous Alexander's sarcophagus. Previously considered to belong to Abdalonymus, king of Sidon, it was proposed some years ago by W. Heckel that it might actually belong to Mazaeus (I read quite a few discussions on the topic but couldn't find the original article by Heckel. If anybody has a link/document in the electronic format, I'd really appreciate if it can be shared). One of the drawbacks of Heckel's theory is why Mazaeus would be buried in Sidon, even the fact that he once governed the province is not convincing enough. But what if he not simply governed Sidon but was also from the area. True, Cilicia is not Sidon but he/his family may have associations with the area that we don't know about.

Speaking of the family origins, one other theory that he was a Babylonian, maybe even had familial links to the latest Babylonian dynasty or the priesthood. His sons bore Babylonian names and he was given this satrapy to govern by Darius. Personally, I am more in the favour of the theory that Babylonian links belong to Mazaeus' wife and one of my reasonings is his own name. In most cases it is spelt as Mazaeus but I think the more correct spelling will be Mazdai (note the missing "d"). I came across Mazdai spelling without any explanations as to why; my own explanation would be based on the inscription of the coins with his name, one of the articles here http://oldestcoins.reidgold.com/baal.html (or you can google "Mazaeus coin") I can't read Aramaic but I can read Hebrew and the languages are related. The first letter from the right is definitely M, the second one is Z, the third is D and the last one is AI (Y). Why I am trying to "correct" his name? Because in this form, Mazdai, it definitely hints at being derived from (Ahura) Mazda, a Persian, not Babylonian deity. Another indication to the Persian connection is the image on the reverse of the coin - lion jumping on the bull. The text from the coin website explains the meaning as lion representing Baal, supreme coin of the Cilicians and Bull represents Zeus and thus the coin symbolized the triumph of Baal over Zeus. I am no expert in coins at all, but I find this argument not persuasive enough. Why? The motif of Lion conquering the Bull can be found, for example, as one of the reliefs in the Tarhara palace staircase (Darius I personal palace at Persepolis) and I think in other places too. I doubt it had the same meaning but regardless of what/who both animals represent it shows Mazaeus Persian (as opposed to Babylonian) connection. Of course, if somebody would correct me that Persians took this motif from Babylonians, I will admit the wrongfulness of my argument. I am not a specialist in either empires' symbolisms.

I think this post is long enough to begin with. I left out intentionally the topic of Mazaeus being the first Persian satrap coming over to Alexander's side though of course I am curios to know your thoughts on the matter. Do you think it was because 1) Mazaeus didn't want Babylon to be destroyed like Tyre and he was clever enough to recognize that it was exactly what would happen after Gaugamela should he offer any resistance? 2) Mazaeus was fed up with Darius' incompetence/running away from the battles and decided that Alexander was a better option? 3) Mazaeus' surrender was "bought" before Gaugamela and he actually didn't do enough during the battle 4) other.

Looking forward to hear your thoughts on the above and any other interesting aspects pertaining to Mazaeus that I failed to mention.
Alexias
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Re: Mazaeus

Post by Alexias »

Delos, I don't know much about Mazeus, but here are a few thoughts.

Whatever the Cilicia connection, it is probable that Mazeus spoke Greek and that he had a large number of Greek mercenaries in his pay. If he supported Darius when he came to the throne, Babylon may have been his reward. It is unlikely that Mazeus himself was Babylonian as there had been too many rebellions against Persian rule in the past 2 centuries by the city to risk putting a Babylonian in charge.

Back in 2010, wrote a story about Mazeus, in which I gave Mazeus a (dead) Babylonian wife. I only mention this in case you read my story and thought I got the information from somewhere, but I didn't I made it up. Ignore this though if you came to the conclusion yourself.
I think this post is long enough to begin with. I left out intentionally the topic of Mazaeus being the first Persian satrap coming over to Alexander's side though of course I am curios to know your thoughts on the matter. Do you think it was because 1) Mazaeus didn't want Babylon to be destroyed like Tyre and he was clever enough to recognize that it was exactly what would happen after Gaugamela should he offer any resistance? 2) Mazaeus was fed up with Darius' incompetence/running away from the battles and decided that Alexander was a better option? 3) Mazaeus' surrender was "bought" before Gaugamela and he actually didn't do enough during the battle 4) other.
I also proposed these three points in my story. I also proposed that Mazeus may have withdrawn from Guagamela with the intention of rescuing Darius's family, and his proposed bride, from Alexander's baggage train. I am not sure this is correct however. Alexander may well have had two baggage trains, one close to the battlefield with supplies, remounts, weapons etc. to service the immediate needs of the soldiers on the battlefield. The non-combatants, the women and Alexander's administration team, may have been in a base camp further back. It would have been the first baggage train close to the battlefield that the Persians got into during the battle. It is also possible that the royal women may have been left much further west eg in Damascus.

As for Mazeus's betrothal to Darius's daughter being a bribe to secure Mazeus's loyalty before Gaugamela, this was also something I suggested in my story. I don't recall seeing this proposed by anyone else, but I doubt very much that it was an original idea. However, Darius was 46 when he came to the throne. He may already have had a daughter of marriageable age from a wife other than the youngish woman Alexander captured. The betrothal may therefore belong to an earlier period, especially as there is some confusion about the daughter's name - Barsine or Stateira, or was Stateira a royal name like Eurydike that royal women took on betrothal, marriage or other significant occasion. It is unlikely that Darius's daughter was the mother of Mazeus's sons though or we would surely have heard of this. If the mother of his sons wasn't dead when Mazeus was betrothed to Darius's daughter though, she was probably beyond child bearing , so Mazeus may well have put her aside to marry the young princess if there was any restriction on the number of wives he could have.

It doesn't seem likely that Darius would have considered Mazeus as his successor in any way. There would surely have been other collateral members of the Persian royalty he could have chosen instead of a non-royal.
sean_m
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Posts: 241
Joined: Mon Nov 17, 2014 4:00 pm

Re: Mazaeus

Post by sean_m »

delos13 wrote:Enticed by the thread in the off-topic forum "What happened to Pothos?" I decided to start a new topic in the main part of the forum hoping for it to become a long and interesting discussion.

As evident from the subject, this topic about Mazaeus. I hope it is considered close enough to Alexander and I won't be chastised for wandering too far from the main object of this forum. I became interested in this character some time ago and the more I read and thought, the more intrigued I became. In the beginning of my fascination I came to this forum and looked at the previous discussions. Typing Mazaeus' name into the search field above, I discovered it was mentioned 69 times here and I read through all of those threads.

I find it difficult to define my question to you because I am afraid the general questions "What do you think about Mazaeus?" is too vague. So I decided to present a few situations that puzzle/intrigue me in a hope that you can respond with your own thoughts and maybe even point me in the direction of the materials I am not familiar with. In addition to the modern sources mentioned below, I reread Arrian, Curtius, Diodorus.

First of all, his parentage. I could find nothing about his origins yet, according to Livius.org (and some other websites that maybe just copied the info from Livius.org) he was made a Satrap of Cilicia at the age of 24 or so by Artaxerxes III. Was his father the Satrap of Cilicia before? Then it would make sense, otherwise I can't come up with any reason. Afterwards he is given additional regions to govern and when Darius III ascends the throne, he makes him the Satrap of Babylonia, basically, the main satrapy of Persian empire and at some point offers him the hand of his oldest daughter in marriage. I know that my question sounds a little naïve/simple but why do you think he was promoted in such a manner? We are not told about any spectacular deeds by him.
I am not an expert on Alexander's day. I think that you will want to check a reference work like the Oxford Classical Dictionary, the Encyclopaedia Iranica, Pauly-Wissowa's Real-Enzyklopädia or Berve's Das Alexanderreich auf prosopografischer Grundlage for Mazaeus' life. Unfortunately none of the extant Greek and Latin sources gives a detailed narrative of the beginning of Darius' reign, beyond the stories about him and the evil eunuch. There might have been some details at the beginning of Curtius Rufus.

Within a few days of Gaugamela, the Astronomical Diary was calling Alexander the LUGAL ŠU2 (šar kiššati, "king of the world") who inspired mortal terror (hattu) in his enemies. To the Babylonian mind those are both legitimating. So very shortly after the battle the Babylonian elite had decided that the gods wanted Alexander to be king. Mazaeus made the same choice.

If Alexander had needed to fight his way into all the walled cities of southern Mesopotamia amidst disease and heat and shortages of food, the outcome might have been very different.
My blog (Warning: may contain up to 95% non-Alexandrian content, rated shamelessly philobarbarian by 1 out of 1 Plutarchs)
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