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Gaumata (with Justin also Cometes , "long-haired") was allegedly a medical head of the Zarathustra priesthood and "magician" (priest) in Iran .


After the death of Cyrus II , his eldest son Cambyses II became ruler. In order to avoid disputes over the throne and uprisings, it was not uncommon to eliminate competitors when taking office; Cambyses therefore apparently had his brother and possible heir to the throne Bardiya (also known as Smerdis ) murdered in secret before the Egyptian campaign .

The high priest Gaumata took advantage of this during the Egyptian campaign in 522 BC. Chr. To pretend to be a Bardiya, a "false Smerdis". Herodotus (3:30) reports that the two are more similar through magic. In this way, Gaumata was able to deceive everyone, including Bardiya's supposed widow. Surprised by the news from home, Cambyses ordered the march back, died in July 522 BC. Chr. However from a self-inflicted leg injury.

Herodotus reports about it ( Historien III. 64):

When he had cried and complained of all his misfortune, he jumped on his horse, intending to move as quickly as possible to Susa against the skinny. But as he jumps up, the pommel falls off the hilt of his sword and the bare sword penetrates his thigh.

With the death of Cambyses, the direct line of the royal family (the Teispiden) became extinct. Gaumata apparently settled on July 1, 522 BC. Crown to the great king. Darius I , distant relative and "lance-bearer" of Cambyses, decided after returning from Egypt to become ruler himself. Probably on September 29, 522 BC. BC Dareios I killed Gaumata at Pasargadae . Herodotus mentions six noble co-conspirators: Otanes , Intaphrenes , Gobryas , Megabyzos , Ardumaniš and Hydarnes . Even after Gaumata's death, the power of Dareios I was not consolidated. He had to fight a total of 19 battles and defeat nine insurgent "lying kings" to get on December 28, 521 BC. To finally become ruler of the whole Persian Empire. This version of the incidents was recorded in three languages by Darius I in the rock of Behistun and passed on to posterity.

Some Iranians are said to celebrate the “feast of the magician's killing” on September 29th.

In modern research it is controversial whether Gaumata actually existed. It is possible that Darius I was actually rebelling against the real Bardiya, who in turn would have revolted against Cambyses. The person of Gaumata could only have been an invention of Darius I, which served him as a justification for his seizure of the throne (cf. Dandamaev 1976). This would be a possible explanation for the enormous resistance that Darius encountered after killing Gaumata / Bardiya. On the other hand, other arguments speak for the credibility of Dareios' tradition (cf. Wiesehöfer 1978). The historian Richard N. Frye noted that the sources are too thin for it to be possible to decide with certainty in favor of one of the two interpretations (cf. Frye 1984).


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