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Cadusii[1] were an ancient people living in north-western Iran.

Variants of name


The Cadusii lived in Cadusia – a mountainous district of Media Atropatene on the south-west shores of the Caspian Sea, between the parallels of 39° and 37° North latitude. This district was probably bounded on the North by the river Cyrus (today Kura, in the former Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan, historically known as Arran and Caucasian Albania), and on the South by the river Mardus (today Sefid River), and corresponds with the modern Iranian provinces of Gilan and Ardabil.

Jat clans


They are described by Strabo[2] as a warlike tribe of mountaineers, fighting chiefly on foot, and well skilled in the use of the short spear or javelin. It is possible that the name of the Gelae (Gilites) – a tribe who are constantly associated with the Cadusii, to the point of considering the former the national name for the Cadusii[3] – has been preserved in the modern Gilan.

No mention of the Cadusii has been found in Caucasian or Middle Eastern sources, and they are known only through Greek and Latin sources.

Before the Persian Empire: They appear to have constantly been at war with their neighbours. First subjected by the Assyrians, if we believe to Diodorus' doubtful sources[4], they were then brought in at least nominal subjection to the Medes, until they rebelled at the time of the king of the Medes Artaeus. In Ctesias' tale (reported by Diodorus) the war originated from an offence the king gave to an able powerful Persian, called Parsodes. After the offence Parsodes retired himself in the Cadusii's land with a small force and he attached himself with the most powerful of the local lords by offering his sister in marriage to him. At this point the country, who was subject to at least a nominal subjugation to the Medes, rebelled and chose as its war-leader Parsodes, giving him command of their army. Against these the Medes armed no less than eight hundred thousand men (these are the numbers given by Ctesias, which shouldn't be given much trust). Artaeus failed miserably in his attempt to reconquer the Cadusii and Parsodes was triumphantly elected king by the winners. Parsodes waged continuous raids in Media for all his long kingdom, and so did those who succeeded him, generating a state of perpetual enmity and warfare between Cadusii and Medes that continued until the fall of the Medes in 559 BC. But it must be remembered that all Greek records on the East before Cyrus must be treated with the utmost skepticism. This said, it may be that behind this legend there is a part of truth if we believe some scholars who identify Artaeus with Herodotus' Deioces, or better Duyakku, an important Mede chief in the age of Assyrian hegemony. Another point of interest in this story is that Ctesias here mentions for the first time the Cadusii. What seems more certain (in the report of Nicolaus of Damascus) is that near to the end of the Mede kingdom the Cadusii played an important role in bringing its downfall by allying themselves with the Medes' enemies, the Persians.

Cadusii and Persians: It does not seem that the Persians had initially great difficulties in submitting the Cadusii; they were immediately loyal allies of Cyrus the Great (559–529 BC), firstly against the Medes and secondly against the Babylonians.[5] And their submission seems to have been something more than nominal considering that Xenophon tells us that Cyrus assigned to a son called Tanaoxares (probably Smerdis) the satrapy of Cadusia.[6] But by the times of Darius the Great Persian full control on the region must have suffered a partial setback, since we never hear their name in Herodotus or in Persian inscriptions in the lists of peoples and territories being part of the empire. In an unknown year they had been, it would seem, successfully submitted and probably added to the satrapy of Media or that of Hyrcania; this because it is told that in 406 BC Cyrus the Younger, a son of the High King Darius II (423–404 BC), had just led an expedition against the Cadusii in revolt.[7] Cyrus' expedition was a success as three years later the Cadusii fought at Cunaxa under the banners of Artaxerxes II (404–358 BC) against Cyrus. But their obedience to Artaxerxes II didn't keep long; we see them rebelling in 385 and 358 BC. The first rebellion was defeated by a great army led by the same Artaxerxes. In the victory paid a key role the king's advisor Tiribazus, who smartly tricked the chief rebels in submitting themselves to the king. Another man who distinguished himself in the campaign was Datames, who would rise to become one of the most brilliant Persian generals.[8] The conflict of 358 under Artaxerxes III (358–338 BC) was the last major clash between Cadusii and Persians; for the last years of the empire the Cadusii remained submissive. This war was important since it gave an occasion for the Persian general Codomannus, to distinguish himself in a sole combat against a Cadusian chief; an action that paved him the road to the throne as Darius III (336–330 BC).[9]

Alexander the Great and aftermath: In the Macedonian conquest of the east the Cadusii remained loyal to the Persians all the way up to Darius III's bitter end; we read of their cavalry fighting against Alexander at Gaugamela (331 BC) and of preparing to send reinforcements to the High King after the battle. But at the end they were subdued by Alexander's general Parmenion.[10] In the subsequent Eastern wars they are mentioned as the allies of one or other party. After the division of Alexander's empire they became part of the Seleucid empire; in this context we read of them fighting for the Seleucids in the battle of Raphia against the Egyptians (217 BC), and their name is cited by Antiochus III's (223–187 BC) envoys at Aegium to the Achaeans as one of the many people under the sway of the Seleucids. But the crushing Romans victory at Magnesia started the disintegration of Seleucid power and the loss of all eastern territories. From this moment, little is known of Cadusian history; they seem to have been early submitted by the Parthians. As their allies Mark Anthony met them in 36 BC during his Parthian campaign; and two centuries later Caracalla in 216 repeated the campaign also entering in contact with the Cadusii. Excepting a forged letter by a Cadusian chief named Velonus to the Sasanian king Shapur I in 260, this is practically the last source that speaks of the Cadusii as an existing people; at this point they seem to vanish probably merging with other Caspian tribes. Modern day Talysh people generally identify themselves with the ancient Cadusians.[11]

Ch.8 Description of Darius-III's Army at Arbela against Alexander

Map - Location of Arbīl

They come to the aid of Darius-III (the last king of the Achaemenid Empire of Persia) and were part of alliance in the battle of Gaugamela (331 BC) formed by Darius-III in war against Alexander the Great at Arbela, now known as Arbil, which is the capital of Kurdistan Region in northern Iraq.

Arrian[12] writes....Alexander therefore took the royal squadron of cavalry, and one squadron of the Companions, together with the Paeonian scouts, and marched with all speed; having ordered the rest of his army to follow at leisure. The Persian cavalry, seeing Alexander, advancing quickly, began to flee with all their might. Though he pressed close upon them in pursuit, most of them escaped; but a few, whose horses were fatigued by the flight, were slain, others were taken prisoners, horses and all. From these they ascertained that Darius with a large force was not far off. For the Indians who were conterminous with the Bactrians, as also the Bactrians themselves and the Sogdianians had come to the aid of Darius, all being under the command of Bessus, the viceroy of the land of Bactria. They were accompanied by the Sacians, a Scythian tribe belonging to the Scythians who dwell in Asia.[1] These were not subject to Bessus, but were in alliance with Darius. They were commanded by Mavaces, and were horse-bowmen. Barsaentes, the viceroy of Arachotia, led the Arachotians[2] and the men who were called mountaineer Indians. Satibarzanes, the viceroy of Areia, led the Areians,[3] as did Phrataphernes the Parthians, Hyrcanians, and Tapurians,[4] all of whom were horsemen. Atropates commanded the Medes, with whom were arrayed the Cadusians, Albanians, and Sacesinians.[5] The men who dwelt near the Red Sea[6] were marshalled by Ocondobates, Ariobarzanes, and Otanes. The Uxians and Susianians[7] acknowledged Oxathres son of Aboulites as their leader, and the Babylonians were commanded by Boupares. The Carians who had been deported into central Asia, and the Sitacenians[8] had been placed in the same ranks as the Babylonians. The Armenians were commanded by Orontes and Mithraustes, and the Cappadocians by Ariaoes. The Syrians from the vale between Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon (i.e. Coele-Syria) and the men of Syria which lies between the rivers[9] were led by Mazaeus. The whole army of Darius was said to contain 40,000 cavalry, 1,000,000 infantry, and 200 scythe-bearing chariots.[10] There were only a few elephants, about fifteen in number, belonging to the Indians who live this side of the Indus.[11] With these forces Darius had encamped at Gaugamela, near the river Bumodus, about 600 stades distant from the city of Arbela, in a district everywhere level;[12] for whatever ground thereabouts was unlevel and unfit for the evolutions of cavalry, had long before been levelled by the Persians, and made fit for the easy rolling of chariots and for the galloping of horses. For there were some who persuaded Darius that he had forsooth got the worst of it in the battle fought at Issus, from the narrowness of the battle-field; and this he was easily induced to believe.

1. Cf. Aelian (Varia Historia, xii. 38).

2. Arachosia comprised what is now the south-east part of Afghanistan and the north-east part of Beloochistan.

3. Aria comprised the west and north-west part of Afghanistan and the east part of Khorasan.

4. Parthia is the modern Khorasan. Hyrcania was the country south and south-east of the Caspian Sea. The Tapurians dwelt in the north of Media, on the borders of Parthia between the Caspian passes. Cf. Ammianus, xxiii. 6.

5. The Cadusians lived south-west of the Caspian, the Albanians on the west of the same sea, in the south-east part of Georgia, and the Sacesinians in the north-east of Armenia, on the river Kur.

6. "The Red Sea was the name originally given to the whole expanse of sea to the west of India as far as Africa. The name was subsequently given to the Arabian Gulf exclusively. In Hebrew it is called Yam-Suph (Sea of Sedge, or a seaweed resembling wool). The Egyptians called it the Sea of Weeds.

7. The Uxians occupied the north-west of Persis, and Susiana was the country to the north and west of Persis.

8. The Sitacenians lived in the south of Assyria. ἐτετάχατο. is the Ionic form for τεταγμἑνοι ἦσαν.

9. The Greeks called this country Mesopotamia because it lies between the rivers Euphrates and Tigris. In the Bible it is called Paddan-Aram (the plain of Aram, which is the Hebrew name of Syria). In Gen. xlviii. 7 it is called merely Paddan, the plain. In Hos. xii. 12, it is called the field of Aram, or, as our Bible has it, the country of Syria. Elsewhere in the Bible it is called Aram-naharaim, Aram of the two rivers, which the Greeks translated Mesopotamia. It is called "the Island," by Arabian geographers.

10. Curtius (iv. 35 and 45) states that Darius had 200,000 infantry, 45,000 cavalry, and 200 scythed chariots; Diodorus (xvii. 53) says, 800,000 infantry, 200,000 cavalry, and 200 scythed chariots; Justin (xi. 12) gives 400,000 foot and 100,000 horse; and Plutarch (Alex., 31) speaks of a million of men. For the chariots cf. Xenophon (Anab., i 8, 10); Livy, xxxvii. 41.

11. This is the first instance on record of the employment of elephants in battle.

12. This river is now called Ghasir, a tributary of the Great Zab. The village Gaugamela was in the district of Assyria called Aturia, about 69 miles from the city of Arbela, now called Erbil.


Ch.11 Tactics of the Opposing Generals

Arrian[13] writes....Darius and his army remained drawn up during the night in the same order as that in which they had first arrayed themselves; because they had not surrounded themselves with a completely entrenched camp, and, moreover, they were afraid that the enemy would attack them in the night. The success of the Persians, on this occasion, was impeded especially by this long standing on watch with their arms, and by the fear which usually springs up before great dangers; which, however, was not then suddenly aroused by a momentary panic, but had been experienced for a long time, and had thoroughly cowed their spirits.[1]

The army of Darius was drawn up in the following manner: for, according to the statement of Aristobulus, the written scheme of arrangement drawn up by Darius was afterwards captured.

His left wing was held by the Bactrian cavalry, in conjunction with the Daans[2] and Arachotians; near these had been posted the Persians, horse and foot mixed together; next to these the Susians, and then the Cadusians. This was the arrangement of the left wing as far as the middle of the whole phalanx.

On the right had been posted the men from Coele-Syria and Mesopotamia. On the right again were the Medes; next to them the Parthians and Sacians; then the Tapurians and Hyrcanians, and last the Albanians and Sacesinians, extending as far as the middle of the whole phalanx.

In the centre where King Darius was, had been posted the king's kinsmen,[3] the Persian guards carrying spears with golden apples at the butt end,[4] the Indians, the Carians who had been forcibly removed to Central Asia, and the Mardian archers.[5] The Uxians, the Babylonians, the men who dwell near the Red Sea, and the Sitacenians had also been drawn up in deep column.

On the left, opposite Alexander's right, had been posted the Scythian cavalry, about 1,000 Bactrians and 100 scythe-bearing chariots. In front of Darius's royal squadron of cavalry stood the elephants and 50 chariots. In front of the right wing the Armenian and Cappadocian cavalry with 50 scythe-bearing chariots bad been posted. The Greek mercenaries, as alone capable of coping with the Macedonians, were stationed right opposite their phalanx, in two divisions close beside Darius himself and his Persian attendants, one division on each side.[6]

Alexander's army was marshalled as follows: The right wing was held by the cavalry Companions, in front of whom had been posted the royal squadron, commanded by Clitus, son of Dropidas. Near this was the squadron of Glaucias, next to it that of Aristo, then that of Sopolis, son of Hermodorus, then that of Heraclides, son of Antiochus. Near this was that of Demetrius, son of Althaemenes, then that of Meleager, and last one of the royal squadrons commanded by Hegelochus, son of Hippostratus. All the cavalry Companions were under the supreme command of Philotas, son of Parmenio. Of the phalanx of Macedonian infantry, nearest to the cavalry had been posted first the select corps of shield-bearing guards, and then the rest of the shield-bearing-guards, under the command of Nicanor, son of Parmenio. Next to these was the brigade of Coenus, son of Polemocrates; after these that of Perdiceas, son of Orontes, then that of Meleager, son of Neoptolemus, then that of Polysperchon,[7] son of Simmias, and last that of Amyntas, son of Andromenes, under the command of Simmias, because Amyntas had been despatched to Macedonia to levy an army. The brigade of Craterus, son of Alexander, held the left end of the Macedonian phalanx, and this general commanded the left wing of the infantry.[8] Next to him was the allied Grecian cavalry, under the command of Erigyius, son of Larichus. Next to these, towards the left wing of the army, were the Thessalian cavalry, under the command of Philip, son of Menelaüs. But the whole left wing was led by Parmenio, son of Philotas, round whose person were ranged the Pharsalian horsemen, who were both the best and most numerous squadron of the Thessalian cavalry.

1. See note 1 to ii. 10 supra.

2. These people were a Scythian tribe leading a nomadic life east of the Caspian. They are called Daoi by Herodotus, i. 125; Dahae by Ammianus, xxii. 8, 21; Livy, xxxv. 48; xxxvii. 38; Vergil (Aeneid, viii. 728); Pliny, vi. 19; Strabo, xi. 7. They are mentioned in Ezra iv. 9 as subjects of Persia. The district is now called Daikh. See Früst's Hebrew Lexicon, sub voce דֶֽה.

3. A title of honour. Curtius says that they numbered 15,000.

4. Cf. Herodotus, vii. 41.

5. This people lived to the south of the Caspian.

6. "Several names of various contingents stated to have been present in the field are not placed in the official return— thus the Sogdiani, the Arians, and the Indian mountaineers are mentioned by Arrian as having joined Darius (iii. 8); the Kossaeans by Diodorus (xvii. 59); the Sogdiani, Massagatae, Belitae, Kossaeans, Gortyae, Phrygians, and Kataonians, by Curtius (iv. 12)."—Grote.

7. This distinguished general succeeded Antipater as regent of Macedonia, but was overcome by Cassander, the son of the former, and became subordinate to him.

8. There were thus six taxeis, or brigades of foot Companions, as they were called, in the phalanx of infantry at the battle of Arbela. Arrian's description of the battle at the Granicus (i. 14) seems to be erroneous in some of the words of the text; yet it may be gathered from it that there were also six taxeis in Alexander's phalanx on that occasion also.


Ch. 19: Darius pursued into Media and Parthia

Arrian[14]After bringing these matters to a successful issue, he advanced towards Media; for he ascertained that Darius was there. Now Darius had formed the resolution, if Alexander remained at Susa or Babylon, to stay there among the Medes, in order to see if any change of policy were made by Alexander. But if the latter marched against him, he resolved to proceed into the interior towards Parthia and Hyrcania, as far as Bactria, laying waste all the land and making it impossible for Alexander to advance any further. He therefore sent the women and the rest of the property which he still retained, together with the covered carriages, to what were called the Caspian Gates[1]; but he himself stayed at Ecbatana,[2] with the forces which had been collected from those who were at hand. Hearing this, Alexander advanced towards Media, and invading the land of the Paraetacae,[3] he subdued it, and appointed Oxathres, son of Abulites, the former viceroy of Susa, to rule as viceroy. Being informed on the march that Darius had determined to meet him for battle, and to try the fortune of war again (for the Scythians and Cadusians had come to him as allies), he ordered that the beasts of burden, with their guards and the rest of the baggage, should follow; and taking the rest of his army, he led it in order of battle, and on the twelfth day arrived in Media. There he ascertained that the forces of Darius were not fit for battle, and that his allies, the Cadusians and Scythians, had not arrived; but that he had resolved to flee. He therefore marched on with still greater speed; and when he was only three days' journey from Ecbatana, he was met by Bistanes, son of Ochus, who reigned over the Persians before Darius. This man announced that Darius had fled five days before, taking with him 7,000 talents of money[4] from the Medes, and an army of 3,000 cavalry and 6,000 infantry.

When Alexander reached Ecbatana, he sent the Thessalian cavalry and the other Grecian allies back to the sea, paying them the full hire which had been stipulated, and making them an additional donation from himself of 2,000 talents. He issued an order that if any man of his own accord wished still to continue to serve for hire with him, he should enlist; and those who enlisted in his service were not a few. He then ordered Epocillus, son of Polyeides, to conduct the rest down to the sea, taking other cavalry as a guard for them, since the Thessalians sold their horses there. He also sent word to Menes to take upon himself the duty of seeing that they were conveyed in triremes to Euboea, when they arrived at the sea.[5] He instructed Parmenio to deposit the money which was being conveyed from Persis in the citadel at Ecbatana, and to hand it over to the charge of Harpalus;[6] for he had left this man over the money with a guard of 6,000 Macedonians and a few horsemen and light-armed infantry to take care of it. He told Parmenio himself to take the Grecian mercenaries, the Thracians, and all the other horsemen except the Companion cavalry, and march by the land of the Cadusians into Hyrcania. He also sent word to Clitus, the commander of the royal squadron of cavalry, who had been left behind at Susa ill, that when he arrived at Ecbatana from Susa he should take the Macedonians who had been left there in charge of the money, and go in the direction of Parthia, where also he himself intended soon to arrive.

1. This was the principal pass through the Elburz mountains from Media into Hyrcania and Parthia.

2. This was the capital of Media, called in Chaldee Achmetha (Ezra vi. 2). The present city of Hamadan is on the same site. It is situated at the foot of Mount Orontes, and was used by the Persian and Parthian kings as their summer residence. It was surrounded by seven walls, each overtopping the one before it, from the outer to the inner, crowned with battlements of different colours. Its citadel was used as a royal treasury. Below it stood a splendid palace, with silver tiles, and adorned with wainscotings, capitals, and entablatures of gold and silver. These treasures, to the value of 4,000 talents, were coined into money by Antiochus the Great of Syria. See Herodotus, i. 98; Polybius, x. 27.

3. This tribe lived in the mountains between Media and Persis.

4. £1,700,000.

5. Curtius (v. 23) says that 6,000 Grecian mercenaries under Plato the Athenian met Alexander in Media, having marched up from Cilicia.

6. Diodorus (xvii. 80) says that the amount of treasure deposited at Ecbatana was 180,000 talents or £41,400,000.



  1. Strabo, Geography, xi. 6, 7, 8, 13; Polyaenus, Strategemata, v. 44; Ptolemy, Geographia, vi. 2. 5; Arrian, Anabasis Alexandri, iii. 19; Pomponius Mela, De chorographia, i. 2; Pliny the Elder, Natural History, vi. 15
  2. Strabo, Geography, xi. 13
  3. Pliny the Elder, Natural History, vi. 18
  4. Diodorus, Bibliotheca, ii. 3
  5. Xenophon, Cyropaedia, v. 3-4
  6. Xenophon, Cyropaedia, viii. 7
  7. Xenophon, Hellenica, ii. 1. 13
  8. Plutarch, Parallel Lives, "Artaxerxes", 24; Cornelius Nepos, Lives of the Eminent Commanders, "Datames", 1; Diodorus, xv. 8, 10
  9. Diodorus, xvii. 6; Justin, Epitome of Pompeius Trogus, x. 3
  10. Diodorus, xvii. 59; Quintus Curtius Rufus, Historiae Alexandri Magni, iv. 15; Arrian, iii. 8, 11, 19
  11. Livy, Ab urbe condita, xxxv. 48 Archived 2003-03-09 at the Wayback Machine.; Polybius, Histories, v. 79; Historia Augusta: "Caracalla", 6; ibid., Historia Augusta: "The Two Valerians", 2.
  12. The Anabasis of Alexander/3a, Ch.8
  13. The Anabasis of Alexander/3a, Ch.8
  14. Arrian: The Anabasis of Alexander/3b, Ch.19