Livius.Org Anatolia Carthage Egypt Germ. Inf. Greece Judaea Mesopotamia Persia Rome Other

The Coronation Ceremony at Pasargadae


The tomb of Cyrus the Great in Pasargadae. Photo Marco Prins.
The tomb of Cyrus
Pasargadae: one of the oldest residences of the Achaemenid kings, founded by Cyrus the Great (r.559-530).
  
History Photos

The Persian coronation ceremony took place at Pasargadae. The Greek author Plutarch of Chaeronea (46-120) describes how this happened in his Life of king Artaxerxes, section 3.1. The ritual itself closely resembles a Babylonian ritual. The translation was made by Mr. Oakley and belongs to the Dryden series.

It was not long after the decease of [the Persian king] Darius [II Nothus] that the king, his successor, went to Pasargadae, to have the ceremony of his inauguration consummated by the Persian priests.

There is a temple dedicated to a warlike goddess, whom one might liken to Artemis.[1]. The royal person to be initiated must enter it, must strip himself of his own robe, and put on the one that Cyrus the First wore before he was king. Then, having devoured a frail of figs, he must eat turpentine, and drink a cup of sour milk.

Note 1:
This shrine must have stood close to the tomb of Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Achaemenid empire, because it is known from the Greek author Arrian of Nicomedia (a younger contemporary of Plutarch) that the robe was stored at this place. The goddess can not be identified.

Ancient-Warfare.com, the online home of Ancient Warfare magazine
History Photos
© Jona Lendering for
Livius.Org, 2004
Revision: 23 May 2010
Livius.Org Anatolia Carthage Egypt Germ. Inf. Greece Judaea Mesopotamia Persia Rome Other