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Atossa ( ancient Greek Ἄτοσσα , old Persian Hutausā / Hutauthā ; * 550 BC ; † 475 BC ) was the eldest daughter of Cyrus II and the Kassandans ; her name means "giving good".


She was initially married to her half-brother Cambyses II . Sibling marriages , already common in the kingdom of Elam , taken over by the Persians, should keep the ancestry pure and were therefore mocked by the Greeks. She was considered the most educated woman at court - she could write - and headed the palace administration. After Cambyses II. Death was from skimmed Gaumata geehelicht to after his death by Darius I as the chief consort and head of the harem to be appointed.

Xerxes I , the first-born son of Darius I and Atossa, was patronized by them as the Great King, although Darius had older sons from a previous marriage with the daughter of Gobryas (Artobazanes, Ariabignes and?). Xerxes I. turned increasingly to the magicians. As a result, temples in Greece and Babylon were destroyed.

The influence of the Atossa is also held responsible for the change in religious policy from Darius to Xerxes. Herodotus (VII, 3) claims about her: “Atossa got everything she wanted.” Herodotus also says that the Greek doctor Demokedes was able to cure Atossa of a breast disease (maybe mastitis , certainly not breast cancer). However, Herodotus' depiction is highly controversial. The Oxford scholar of antiquity, Malcolm Davies , advocates the hypothesis that the name Atossa and the news about her were invented by Herodotus and that the actual mother of Xerxes is unknown. Davies points out that Ktesias of Knidos knows nothing about Atossa and that her name is missing from the Behistun inscription .

The Greek tragedian Aeschylus processed the figure of Atossa literarily in his drama The Persians . He does not mention her name in the text, only refers to her as "the queen". The only mention of her name before verse 159 may come from a scholion that did not belong to the original text but was later inserted into it.

Sons of Atossa with Dareios I.


The asteroid (810) Atossa is named after her.


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  1. On the nature of Atossa's disease see Philip Huyse: The Persian Medicine on the basis of Herodotus Histories . In: Ancient Society 21, 1990, pp. 141–148, here: 143 and note 9; Markwart Michler : Demokedes from Kroton . In: Gesnerus 23, 1966, pp. 213–229, here: 226 and note 51.
  2. Malcolm Davies: From rags to riches: Democedes of Croton and the credibility of Herodotus . In: Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 53-2, 2010, pp. 19–44, here: 42–44.
  3. ^ Henry D. Broadhead (ed.): The Persae of Aeschylus , Cambridge 1960, p. XXVI and note 1; on the role of Atossa in the play pp. XXVI-XXVIII. See Alexander F. Garvie (ed.): Aeschylus: Persae , Oxford 2009, p. 106.
  4. ^ Dictionary of Minor Planet Names, Volume 1 in the Google Book Search