The Roman Eastern Frontier and the Persian Wars (AD 226-363): A Documentary History

By Michael H. Dodgeon; Samuel N. C. Lieu | Go to book overview

1

The Rise of the Sassanians

1.1.1. The lineage, parentage, and childhood of Ardashir (r. 226-241/2)

Agathias II, 27, 1-5: It is said that Artaxares’ (i.e. Ardashir’s) mother was married to a certain Pabak, who was quite obscure, a leather worker by trade, but very learned in astrology and easily able to discern the future. 2. It so happened that a soldier called Sasanus, who was travelling through the land of the Cadusaei, 1 was given hospitality by Pabak and lodged in his house. 3. The latter recognized somehow, in his capacity as a seer, I presume, that the offspring of his guest would be splendid and famous and would reach great good fortune. He was disappointed and upset that he had no daughter or sister or any other close relative. But finally he yielded his own wife to him and gave up his marriage bed, nobly enduring the shame and preferring the future good fortune to the present disgrace and dishonour. 4. And so Artaxares was born, and was reared by Pabak. But when he grew up and boldly seized the throne, a bitter quarrel and dispute immediately broke out between Sasanus and Pabak. Each of them wanted him to be called his son. 5. Finally, and with difficulty, they agreed that he should be called the son of Pabak, though born from the seed of Sasanus. This is the genealogy of Artaxares given by the Persians, and they say it is true since it is actually recorded in the Royal Archives. 2

(Cameron 1969/70: pp. 87-8. )

Syncellus pp. 440, 11-441, 2 (pp. 677, 11-678, 7 CSHB): Alexander, the son of Mamaea (i.e. Alexander Severus), was emperor when Artabanus the Parthian was the king of Persia. After Artabanus, the family of Chosroes (i.e. the Sassanians) began to rule. It began as follows: Artaxerxes (i.e. Ardashir), an unknown and undistinguished Persian, gathered a body of irregular troops,

-9-

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