Tiribazos - an exploration of an incarnation

Okay, so this image came across my timeline on social media, with this info:

Zoroastrian Iranian symbol on Achaemenid (Hakhamaneshi) Coin

The Achaemenid Satrapie (province) of Greek Ionia

CILICIA, Soloi. Tiribazos, Satrap of Lydia. Second reign, 388-380 BC. Struck 386-380 BC.
Ahura-Mazda, body terminated by solar disk, holding wreath and lotus blossom 
Baal standing half-left, holding eagle and sceptre.

Naturally, 'cos of the number of hints of Azazael's presence, I had to go digging. Perhaps this is another one of A's incarnations. Or maybe not. 

As this image is a coin, I found most of the initial information on numismatic sites. I've included some linked images below.

Digging revealed a character called Tiribazos (also written as Tiribazus), who was appointed as governor over the Lydian region of the Persian Empire. This is the character this article will focus on.

Now, I'm not sure which side of the featured coin is meant to depict Tiribazos ... the one attributed to Baal, or the other side ostensibly featuring Ahura Mazda, the Zoroasterian god. Although, a number of attributions make it clear that the Ahura Mazda side is nominated as Tiribazos.

What I did find interesting in this little side journey, is the number of references to Issos (aka Zeus aka Jesus), although I admit I'm not sure of the context or purpose of why that name is featured, whether it's a place name or a personal name, or something else entirely. Oh, and then there's the story of betrayal. Again. 

For myself, as a knowledge-impoverished scholar, I first need to get my historical geographical bearings. Where is Lydia? Or ... where was Lydia?

According to the historian Xenophon, at the time of the retreat of the Greeks after the defeat of Cyrus II at Cunaxa, Tiribazos, then satrap of Armenia, proposed a truce with the Greeks while secretly preparing to attack them as they made their way through his territory. 

His plan backfired; the Greeks put the Persians to flight and succeeded in capturing the satrap's tent. Shortly thereafter, Tiribazos replaced Tiraustes as satrap of Lydia. 

Soon, the Spartan diplomat Antalkidas arrived at his capital to negotiate a peace between Sparta and the Persian Empire, and end the war which had begun in 399 BC. 

Tiribazos, convinced by Antialkidas' argument, agreed to help, though he did so without any authorization from the Persian king. 

In 392 BC, Tiribazos was replaced by Struthas, but returned in 388 BC. Upon his return, he became instrumental in formulating the peace treaty. 

In 386, he and Orontes were sent by the king to make war on Evagoras of Salamis, the mercenary commander who had helped to defeat the Spartans at Knidos in 394. 

Soon Orontes began to work against his co-commander by sending unfounded reports back to the Persian king, and Tiribazos was recalled to defend himself. 

His successful defense not only resulted in his acquittal, but also the promise of marriage to the king's daughter, Amestris. 

Later the king, however, withdrew his offer, and Tiribazos conspired to assassinate Artaxerxes and replace him with his son, Darius. The plot was soon discovered and Tiribazos was assassinated.


To cast my research net wider, I've thrown in all the images of similar coins that I could find, and made links back to the sources if you're inclined to do your own digging. Click on the images to bounce back to the sources.

Now, back to Tiribazos, who may or may not have been an incarnation of Azazael. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about him. [I reproduce it here incase information shifts before you have a chance to hop over.]

Tiribazus, Tiribazos or Teribazus (Old Iranian: Tīrībāzu) (c.440 BC-370 BC) was an Achaemenid satrap of Western Armenia and later satrap of Lydia in western Anatolia.

Satrap of Western Armenia

He was highly regarded by the Persian King Artaxerxes II, and when he was present, so Xenophon tells us, no one else had the honour of helping the sovereign to mount his horse.

Until 395 BC, Tiribazus served as the hyparch of Western Armenia.

Satrap of Lydia

He succeeded Tithraustes as satrap of Western Asia (Sardis). He was holding this office when, in 393 BC, Antalcidas was sent to negotiate, through him, a peace for Sparta with the Persian king.

In 392 BC, while the Corinthian War was being contested amongst the Greek states, Tiribazus received envoys from the major belligerents of that war, and held a conference in which a proposal for ending the war was discussed. That discussion failed, but Tiribazus, convinced that Athens was becoming a threat to Persia in the Aegean, secretly provided funds to rebuild the Spartan fleet. When the Persian king Artaxerxes II learned of this, Tiribazus was removed from power and replaced by Struthas, who pursued an anti-Spartan policy.

However, five years later, in 387 BC, Tiribazus was again in power, and worked together with the Spartan general Antalcidas to rebuild the Spartan fleet as a threat to Athenian interests in the region. This action brought the Athenians and their allies to the negotiating table. Tiribazus represented Artaxerxes at the ensuing negotiations, which led to the Peace of Antalcidas.

In 386/385 BC, Tiribazus was made joint commander of the Persian expedition against Evagoras I (r. 411–374 BC), the king of Salamis in Cyprus. He was assigned to the lead the Persian navy, while Orontes I, the satrap of Armenia, led the land forces. Tiribazus reportedly knew Orontes from his early days in Armenia, where he had served as the hyparch of its western part till 395 BC. By 382 BC, preparations for the campaign had been made, with a battle taking place the following year near the Cyprian city of Kition, where the Persians emerged victorious due to their larger fleet. Evagoras withdrew to Salamis, which he started fortifying.

Failing to gain help from the Egyptian pharaoh Hakor (r. 392/1–379/8 BC), Evagoras started to negotiate a peace treaty with Tiribazus, offering to withdraw from all the cities of Cyprus except Salamis, and pay a fixed yearly tribute to the Persian crown. Tiribazus was inclined to accept the offer, but the negotiations failed after Evagoras refused to also cede his status as king. The negotiations between Evagoras and Tiribazus led to Orontes to send a number of accusations to Artaxerxes II, which mentioned that Tiribazus was deliberately prolonging the war and planning to declare independence. Artaxerxes II was unable to make a proper assessment due to his distance, but could not risk Tiribazus ruin the recent Persian accomplishments, and as a result had him jailed in Susa, heavily weakening the position of the Persian expedition.

Glos, who was the father-in-law of Tiribazus, fearing for his own position, started plotting against Artaxerxes II and secretly making peace with Egypt and Sparta. Evagoras started to help from the Spartans and gave Glos information that would jeopardize Orontes' position. Under the threat of blackmail, Orontes was forced to make peace with Evagoras in 380 BC. The terms of the treaty was that Evagoras was obligated to pay tribute to the Persian king, but as a subordinate king rather than a slave. Artaxerxes II did not deem the conclusion of the war satisfactory, as it had cost 15,000 talents, and a result Orontes fell into disfavour. Meanwhile, Tiribazus was pardoned and restored to his former position.

Tiribazus now stood higher than ever in the royal favour, and received a promise of the hand of Amestris, the king's daughter. Artaxerxes, however, reneged on this arrangement, and married Amestris himself.

When King Artaxerxes reneged on a pledge to Tiribazus once more, this time with respect to Atossa, the youngest of the king's princesses, Tiribazus could no longer remain loyal to the king and incited Darius, the son of Artaxerxes, to join him in a plot against the king's life.

Tiribazus' plans were betrayed to Artaxerxes by a eunuch, and the conspirators were found out. Tiribazus offered a desperate resistance to the guards who endeavored to arrest him, and was slain with a javelin.

Tiribazus had a son, Arpates, who later killed Artaxerxes's favored son, Arsames.

Artist, Mo Rasoulipour's rendition of the appearance of Tiribazos based on attributed coin.



Lot 5 (below) Text is featured above.

Lot 257 (below)

CILICIA, Issos. Tiribazos. Satrap of Lydia, 388-380 BC. AR Stater (19mm, 10.68 g, 1h). Ba’al standing left, holding eagle and scepter / Ahura-Mazda, body terminating in winged solar disk, facing, head right, holding wreath and lotus flower. 

Lot 51 (below)

CILICIA, Mallos. Tiribazos. Satrap of Lydia, 388-380 BC. Struck circa 384-383 BC. Baal standing half-left, holding eagle in extended right hand, lotus-tipped scepter in left; MAP to left, TRBZW (in Aramaic) to right / Ahura-Mazda facing, head right, body terminating in solar disk with wings and tail feathers, holding up wreath in right hand, lotus blossom in left. 

CILICIA. Issos. Tiribazos, satrap of Lydia, 388-380 BC. . IΣΣIK-ON / 𐡕𐡓𐡄𐡁𐡆𐡅 ('tribzw' in Aramaic) Ba'al standing front, head to left, holding eagle in his right hand and scepter in his left. Rev. AMI Facing half-length figure of Ahura-Mazda, head to right, his body terminated by a solar disk, holding wreath in his right hand and lotus blossom in his left.

A historical tale, told from the Hellenic perspective.

This is likely the tale mentioned above, by Xenophon.

The Hellenes were now in Armenia. In this country there were no dangerous mountains, such as those they had just left, but here they had to contend against difficulties of another kind. The greater part of the country was 5,000 feet above the sea level, and in consequence of this, the winters were very long and cold, and the summers very short. In June the corn began to sprout. In September the harvest was gathered, and then the winter set in. It was now December, and the Hellenes were soon to experience the intense cold of an Armenian winter.

After crossing the Kentrites, they marched for a distance of a hundred and twenty miles over level country, without encountering any enemy. These marches occupied six days, and it mostly chanced that in the evening they found themselves near villages where they could shelter for the night.

On the seventh day there came to meet them a troop of horsemen, commanded by the satrap Tiribazus, who stood high in the favour of the Great King, and enjoyed the privilege, when he was at court, of helping the sovereign to mount on horseback.

He rode forward towards the Hellene army, and demanded speech of the generals, announcing that he was desirous of entering into a treaty with them. They were to promise that they would neither burn the villages nor do violence to the inhabitants, but they were at liberty to take any provisions that they might require; and he, for his part, would undertake not to molest them in any way.

This was all that could be desired, and the generals agreed to conclude the treaty on the terms proposed. But their previous experience of the Persians had not been such as to induce them to place much confidence in any promises they might make, and they judged that it was best, notwithstanding the treaty, to remain on their guard. Tiribazus followed their march at the distance of rather more than a mile.

During the night that followed, the Hellenes were encamped beneath the open sky, when they were overtaken by the first fall of snow. The next day there was nothing to be seen of Tiribazus, and thinking that the deep snow would prevent him from attempting any surprise, they ventured, when night came on, to take up their quarters in some villages which they had reached.

In the morning however, some of the soldiers who had strayed to a distance the previous night, reported that they had seen a great number of fires in the neighbourhood, which seemed to show that the army of Tiribazus was not far off. The generals decided therefore that it was too unsafe to break up the army by allowing the soldiers to scatter themselves over various villages, and on the next night again camped out in the open, where all could be together.

But again the snow came down, and this time more heavily than before, burying as if in a grave, both the men and their stacks of weapons. The frost too was very severe, and the transport horses were so benumbed that they could hardly raise their limbs from the ground. The soldiers remained lying beneath the snow, for they found it warmer to be thus covered up, as if with a soft blanket, but Xenophon roused himself, and taking an axe, began to cut wood, partly for the sake of getting warm, partly in order to make a fire. Then some of the men followed his example, and soon they had a number of fires blazing.

After a night of such severity, the generals were afraid to risk spending another in the open air, and decided that at all hazards they must take shelter the next evening in the villages. They determined however to send out a small band of men, under cover of the darkness, to search in the direction in which the soldiers had stated that they had seen the fires burning.

No fires could be discovered, but the soldiers came upon a man carrying a battle-axe, and a Persian bow and quiver. When they asked him who he was, and where he came from, the man replied that he was a Persian, and had come from the army of Tiribazus to seek for food. Then they questioned him further as to the size of the army, and the purpose for which it had been assembled, and ascertained from his answers that the satrap was keeping a little in advance of the Hellenes in order to seize a pass in the mountains that they were now approaching, before they should reach it.

There could be no doubt that the Barbarians were intending to play the same treacherous game as before. It was well for the Hellenes that they had not trusted them. The soldiers returned, taking with them the Persian they had captured, and brought him into the presence of the generals, who again questioned him. Having satisfied themselves that he was speaking the truth, they resolved to be beforehand with Tiribazus, and detailed a part of the army to set out at once under the guidance of the prisoner towards the place where the Barbarians had pitched their camp, not far from the pass.

As they were going over one of the mountains, the archers and clingers who marched in front, caught sight of the camp, and without waiting for the hoplites, rushed forward with a loud cry, which so frightened the Barbarians that they immediately fled in the most disgraceful manner,—just as when the lion opens his mouth and roars, all the lesser animals run away in fear and trembling.

Few of the Barbarians were killed, but the Hellenes captured twenty horses, and the magnificent tent of the satrap, in which were found richly wrought drinking vessels, and couches with silver feet. The bakers and cup-bearers of the satrap were also taken prisoners.

After this, the Hellenes returned with all speed to their comrades, and the whole army hastened forward to secure the pass before the enemy should have time to recover from their alarm. This they accomplished successfully on the following day.


As a curiosity, a serendipitous discovery I made in this diversion was that Lydia was (apparently) where coins were first minted.

The ancient kingdom of Lydia, which flourished in prehistoric times, created the first coins in the world.

The ancient Lydians invented coins as a means of authenticating payment. Coins represent a fundamental change in the human world, as their invention represented an important part of the history of trade between peoples since 600 BC.

The oldest coins on the planet are believed to date to approximately the second half of the seventh century BC during the reign of King Alyattes who was in power in Lydia from 619 to 560 BC.

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