home   :    ancient Persia    :    Achaemenid Royal inscriptions   :   index

The Behistun inscription (translation I)

Ancient-Warfare.com, the online home of Ancient Warfare magazine
The Behistun Relief. Photo Leen van Dorp. Behistun or Bisotun: town in Iran, site of several ancient monuments, including a famous inscription by the Persian king Darius I the Great. Here you can find a translation of the inscription; for the other monuments, go here.
 

Translation

The following translation was made by L.W. King and R.C. Thompson (The sculptures and inscription of Darius the Great on the rock of Behistūn in Persia, 1907 London). I have made some minor changes and added the titles of the sections.
 

Column one

Introduction: Darius' titles and the extent of his empire

(1) I am Darius, the great king, king of kings, the king of Persia, the king of countries, the son of Hystaspes, the grandson of Arsames, the Achaemenid.
Introduction
Discovery
Other monuments
Medieval legend
Translation 1
Translation 2

Persian text
Minor inscriptions

Darius the Great on the Behistun Relief. Photo Peter Veerman.
Darius

(2) King Darius says: My father is Hystaspes; the father of Hystaspes was Arsames; the father of Arsames was Ariaramnes; the father of Ariaramnes was Teispes; the father of Teispes was Achaemenes.

(3) King Darius says: That is why we are called Achaemenids; from antiquity we have been noble; from antiquity has our dynasty been royal.

(4) King Darius says: Eight of my dynasty were kings before me; I am the ninth. Nine in succession we have been kings.

(5) King Darius says: By the grace of Ahuramazda am I king; Ahuramazda has granted me the kingdom.


Map of the Persian empire. Design Jona Lendering.
(©**)

(6) King Darius says: These are the countries which are subject unto me, and by the grace of Ahuramazda I became king of them: Persia, Elam, Babylonia, Assyria, Arabia, Egypt, the countries by the Sea, Lydia, the Greeks, Media, Armenia, Cappadocia, Parthia, Drangiana, Aria, Chorasmia, Bactria, Sogdia, Gandara, Scythia, Sattagydia, Arachosia and Maka; twenty-three lands in all.
 


(7) King Darius says: These are the countries which are subject to me; by the grace of Ahuramazda they became subject to me; they brought tribute unto me. Whatsoever commands have been laid on them by me, by night or by day, have been performed by them.

(8) King Darius says: Within these lands, whosoever was a friend, him have I surely protected; whosoever was hostile, him have I utterly destroyed. By the grace of Ahuramazda these lands have conformed to my decrees; as it was commanded unto them by me, so was it done.

(9) King Darius says: Ahuramazda has granted unto me this empire. Ahuramazda brought me help, until I gained this empire; by the grace of Ahuramazda do I hold this empire.
 

Murder of Smerdis and coup of Gaumāta the Magian

(10) King Darius says: The following is what was done by me after I became king. A son of Cyrus, named Cambyses, one of our dynasty, was king here before me. That Cambyses had a brother, Smerdis by name, of the same mother and the same father as Cambyses. Afterwards, Cambyses slew this Smerdis. When Cambyses slew Smerdis, it was not known unto the people that Smerdis was slain. Thereupon Cambyses went to Egypt. When Cambyses had departed into Egypt, the people became hostile, and the lie multiplied in the land, even in Persia and Media, and in the other provinces.

(11) King Darius says: Afterwards, there was a certain man, a Magian, Gaumāta by name, who raised a rebellion in Paišiyāuvādā, in a mountain called Arakadriš. On the fourteenth day of the month Viyaxana [11 March 522] did he rebel. He lied to the people, saying: 'I am Smerdis, the son of Cyrus, the brother of Cambyses.' Then were all the people in revolt, and from Cambyses they went over unto him, both Persia and Media, and the other provinces. He seized the kingdom; on the ninth day of the month Garmapada [1 July 522] he seized the kingdom. Afterwards, Cambyses died of natural causes.

(12) King Darius says: The kingdom of which Gaumāta, the Magian, dispossessed Cambyses, had always belonged to our dynasty. After that Gaumāta, the Magian, had dispossessed Cambyses of Persia and Media, and of the other provinces, he did according to his will. He became king.


Gaumāta being trampled. Behistun relief. Photo Leen van Dorp.
Gaumāta being trampled upon

Darius kills Gaumāta and restores the kingdom

(13) King Darius says: There was no man, either Persian or Mede or of our own dynasty, who took the kingdom from Gaumāta, the Magian. The people feared him exceedingly, for he slew many who had known the real Smerdis. For this reason did he slay them, 'that they may not know that I am not Smerdis, the son of Cyrus.' There was none who dared to act against Gaumāta, the Magian, until I came. Then I prayed to Ahuramazda; Ahuramazda brought me help. On the tenth day of the month Bāgayādiš [29 September 522] I, with a few men, slew that Gaumāta, the Magian, and the chief men who were his followers. At the stronghold called Sikayauvatiš, in the district called Nisaia in Media, I slew him; I dispossessed him of the kingdom. By the grace of Ahuramazda I became king; Ahuramazda granted me the kingdom.

(14) King Darius says: The kingdom that had been wrested from our line I brought back and I reestablished it on its foundation. The temples which Gaumāta, the Magian, had destroyed, I restored to the people, and the pasture lands, and the herds and the dwelling places, and the houses which Gaumāta, the Magian, had taken away. I settled the people in their place, the people of Persia, and Media, and the other provinces. I restored that which had been taken away, as is was in the days of old. This did I by the grace of Ahuramazda, I labored until I had established our dynasty in its place, as in the days of old; I labored, by the grace of Ahuramazda, so that Gaumāta, the Magian, did not dispossess our house.


Assina. Behistun relief. Photo Leen van Dijk.
Āššina

(15) King Darius says: This was what I did after I became king.
 

Rebellions of Āššina of Elam and Nidintu-Bźl of Babylon

(16) King Darius says: After I had slain Gaumāta, the Magian, a certain man named Āššina, the son of Upadarma, raised a rebellion in Elam, and he spoke thus unto the people of Elam: 'I am king in Elam.' Thereupon the people of Elam became rebellious, and they went over unto that Āššina: he became king in Elam. And a certain Babylonian named Nidintu-Bźl, the son of Kīn-Zźr, raised a rebellion in Babylon: he lied to the people, saying: 'I am Nebuchadnezzar, the son of Nabonidus.' Then did all the province of Babylonia go over to Nidintu-Bźl, and Babylonia rose in rebellion. He seized on the kingdom of Babylonia [3 October 522].

(17) King Darius says: Then I sent [an envoy?] to Elam. That Āššina was brought unto me in fetters, and I killed him.


Nidintu-Bźl. Relief at Behistun. Photo Leen van Dorp.
Nidintu-Bźl

(18) King Darius says: Then I marched marched against that Nidintu-Bźl, who called himself Nebuchadnezzar. The army of Nidintu-Bźl held the Tigris; there it took its stand, and on account of the waters [the river] was unfordable. Thereupon I supported my army on [inflated] skins, others I made dromedary-borne, for the rest I brought horses. Ahuramazda brought me help; by the grace of Ahuramazda we crossed the Tigris. Then did I utterly overthrow that host of Nidintu-Bźl. On the twenty-sixth day of the month Āēiyādiya [13 December 522] we joined battle.

(19) King Darius says: After that I marched against Babylon. But before I reached Babylon, that Nidintu-Bźl, who called himself Nebuchadnezzar, came with a host and offered battle at a city called Zāzāna, on the Euphrates. Then we joined battle. Ahuramazda brought me help; by the grace of Ahuramazda did I utterly overthrow the host of Nidintu-Bźl. The enemy fled into the water; the water carried them away. On the second day of the month Anāmaka [18 December 522] we joined battle.


Martiya. Behistun relief. Photo Leen van Dorp.
Martiya

Column two

(20) King Darius says: Then did Nidintu-Bźl flee with a few horsemen into Babylon. Thereupon I marched to Babylon. By the grace of Ahuramazda I took Babylon, and captured Nidintu-Bźl. Then I slew that Nidintu-Bźl in Babylon.

(21) King Darius says: While I was in Babylon, these provinces revolted from me: Persia, Elam, Media, Assyria, Egypt, Parthia, Margiana, Sattagydia, and Scythia.
 

Revolt of Martiya of Elam

(22) King Darius says: A certain man named Martiya, the son of Zinzakriš, dwelt in a city in Persia called Kuganakā. This man revolted in Elam, and he said to the people: 'I am Ummaniš, king in Elam.'

(23) King Darius says: At that time, I was friendly with Elam. Then there were Elamites afraid of me, and that Martiya, who was their leader, they seized and slew.


Phraortes on the Behistun relief. Photo Marco Prins.
Phraortes

Revolt of Phraortes of Media

(24) King Darius says: A certain Mede named Phraortes revolted in Media, and he said to the people: 'I am Khshathrita, of the family of Cyaxares.' Then did the Medes who were in the palace revolt from me and go over to Phraortes. He became king in Media.

(25) King Darius says: The Persian and Median army, which was with me, was small. Yet I sent forth an[other] army. A Persian named Hydarnes, my servant, I made their leader, and I said unto him: 'Go, smite that Median host which does not acknowledge me.' Then Hydarnes marched forth with the army. When he had come to Media, at a city in Media called Maruš, he gave battle to the Medes. He who was chief among the Medes was not there at that time. Ahuramazda brought me help: by the grace of Ahuramazda my army utterly defeated that rebel host. On the twenty-seventh day of the month Anāmaka [12 January 521] the battle was fought by them. Then did my army await me in a district in Media called Kampanda, until I came into Media.



Revolt of the Armenians

(26) King Darius says: An Armenian named Dādarši , my servant, I sent into Armenia, and I said unto him: 'Go, smite that  host which is in revolt and does not acknowledge me.' Then Dādarši went forth. When he came into Armenia, the rebels assembled and advanced against Dādarši to give him battle. At a place in Armenia called Zuzza they fought the battle. Ahuramazda brought me help; by the grace of Ahuramazda did my army utterly overthrow that rebel host. On the eighth day of the month Thūravāhara [20 May 521] the battle was fought by them.

(27) King Darius says: The rebels assembled for the second time, and they advanced against Dādarši to give him battle. At a stronghold in Armenia called Tigra they joined battle. Ahuramazda brought me help; by the grace of Ahuramazda did my army utterly overthrow that rebel host. On the eighteenth day of the month Thūravāhara [30 May 521] the battle was fought by them.

(28) King Darius says: The rebels assembled for the third time and advanced against Dādarši to give him battle. At a stronghold in Armenia called Uyamā they joined battle. Ahuramazda brought me help; by the grace of Ahuramazda did my army utterly overthrow that rebel host. On the ninth day of the month Thāigaciš [20 June 521] the battle was fought by them. Then Dādarši waited for me in Armenia, until I came into Armenia.

(29) King Darius says: A Persian named Vaumisa, my servant, I sent into Armenia, and I said unto him: 'Go, smite that  host which is in revolt, and does not acknowledge me.' Then Vaumisa went forth. When he had come to Armenia, the rebels assembled and advanced against Vaumisa to give him battle. At a place in Assyria called Izala they joined battle. Ahuramazda brought me help; by the grace of Ahuramazda did my army utterly overthrow that rebel host. On the fifteenth day of the month Anāmaka [31 December 522] the battle was fought by them.

(30) King Darius says: The rebels assembled a second time and advanced against Vaumisa to give him battle. At a place in Armenia called Autiyāra they joined battle. Ahuramazda brought me help; by the grace of Ahuramazda did my army utterly overthrow that rebel host. At the end of the month Thūravāhara [11 June 521] the battle was fought by them. Then Vaumisa  waited for me in Armenia, until I came into Armenia.

End of the revolt of the Medes

(31) King Darius says: Then I went forth from Babylon and came into Media. When I had come to Media, that Phraortes, who called himself king in Media, came against me unto a city in Media called Kunduruš [Kangavar?] to offer battle. Then we joined battle. Ahuramazda brought me help; by the grace of Ahuramazda did my army utterly overthrow that rebel host. On the twenty-fifth day of the month Adukanaiša we fought the battle [8 May 521].

(32) King Darius says: Thereupon that Phraortes fled thence with a few horseman to a district in Media called Rhagae. Then I sent an army in pursuit. Phraortes was taken and brought unto me. I cut off his nose, his ears, and his tongue, and I put out one eye, and he was kept in fetters at my palace entrance, and all the people beheld him. Then did I crucify him in Ecbatana; and the men who were his foremost followers, those at Ecbatana within the fortress, I flayed and hung out their hides, stuffed with straw.


Tritantaechmes. Behistun relief. Photo Leen van Dorp.
Tritantaechmes

(33) King Darius says: A man namedTritantaechmes, a Sagartian, revolted from me, saying to his people: 'I am king in Sagartia, of the family of Cyaxares.' Then I sent forth a Persian and a Median army. A Mede named Takhmaspāda, my servant, I made their leader, and I said unto him: 'Go, smite that  host which is in revolt, and does not acknowledge me.' Thereupon Takhmaspāda went forth with the army, and he fought a battle with Tritantaechmes. Ahuramazda brought me help; by the grace of Ahuramazda my army utterly defeated that rebel host, and they seized Tritantaechmes and brought him unto me. Afterwards I cut off both his nose and ears, and put out one eye, he was kept bound at my palace entrance, all the people saw him. Afterwards I crucified him in Arbela.

(34) King Darius says: This is what was done by me in Media.
 

Revolt of the Parthians

(35) King Darius says: The Parthians and Hyrcanians revolted from me, and they declared themselves on the side of Phraortes. My father Hystaspes was in Parthia; and the people forsook him; they became rebellious. Then Hystaspes marched forth with the troops which had remained faithful. At a city in Parthia called Višpauzātiš he fought a battle with the Parthians. Ahuramazda brought me help; by the grace of Ahuramazda my army utterly defeated that rebel host. On the second day of the month Viyaxana [8 March 521] the battle was fought by them.





To part two




 
home   :    ancient Persia    :    Achaemenid Royal inscriptions   :   index