Media Astyages and the mages dreaminterpretation Anyway Deioces brought

the Median race together into one nation and ruled them. This is the number of the tribes of the Medes: Bousai, Pare-takenoi, Strouchates, Arizantoi, Boudioi, and Magoi [i.e., Mages].

1.107. Astyages had a daughter, whom he named Mandane. In his sleep he saw her make so much water that she flooded his entire city, and the whole of Asia was deluged too. He communicated the dream to the dream-interpreters among the mages and when he heard what they had to say he was terrified. Afterward, when Mandane was of an age to be given to a husband, he did not give her to wife to any of the Medes worthy of him, in fear of the vision, but he gave her to a Persian, whose name was Cambyses. He found him to be of good house and refined disposition, but considered him to be far below even a middle-ranking Mede. 108. So Mandane took up married life with Cambyses. In the first year of the marriage Astyages saw another vision. He saw a vine grow from his daughter's genitals, and this vine covered all Asia. After seeing this he communicated it again to the dream-interpreters. He summoned his daughter, who was now with child, from the Persians. When she arrived he kept her under guard with the intention of killing the child she bore. For the dream-interpreters of the mages had interpreted the vision as indicating that his daughter's offspring would rule in his place.

[Cyrus survives, is reared in secret, and plays at being king with other boys before his continued existence comes to Astyages' notice.]

1.120. In his deliberations about Cyrus Astyages summoned those of the mages who had interpreted his dream in this way. When they arrived he asked them how they had interpreted the vision. They repeated what they had said before, namely that the child must become king if he survived and did not die first. He responded to them with these words: "The child lives and survives. He was living in the country where the boys from his village made him king. He did every last thing that real kings do. For he distributed the posts of bodyguards and door-keepers and messengers and everything else, and ruled them. What do you think is the significance of this?" The mages replied, "If the child survives and has become king without contrivance, take heart from this and be of good cheer. For he will not rule a second, further time. Some of our prophecies are fulfilled in small events, and dream predictions can be brought to perfect realization in trivialities." Astyages answered with the following words: "I too, mages, am very much of the same opinion, that the dream has been fulfilled now that the boy has been named king, and that the lad no longer constitutes any threat. Even so, reflect well and advise me of the safest course of action for my house . . . and for yourselves." The mages replied, "It is of great importance for us ourselves that your rule should continue successfully. Otherwise, if the rule passes on to this boy, who is a Persian, it becomes estranged from us, and we, as Medes, are become slaves and considered of no account by the Persians, since we are aliens to them. But so long as you, our fellow countryman, remain established as king, we enjoy a share of power, and receive great honors from you. Accordingly we must by all means take precautions on behalf of you and your rule. If we could now see any cause for alarm, we would be forecasting it all to you. But now that the dream has come to a trivial conclusion, we ourselves take heart and we bid you do the same. Send this child out of your sight to the Persians and his parents."

[Cyrus, grown to manhood, has destroyed the Median army.]

1.128. As soon as Astyages learned that the Median army had been shattered so shamefully, he uttered threats against Cyrus: "Not even so will he get away with it scot-free." This much he said first, and then he proceeded to impale the dream-interpreters of the mages, who had induced him to release Cyrus. Then he armed the remnants of the Medes in the city, the young and the old. He marched them out, joined battle with the Persians, and was defeated. Astyages himself was taken alive, but he lost the army of Medes he had led.

Cyrus CONQUERED MEDIA IN 550 B.C. Herodotus is the only source to assert the Median origin of the mages. He may be right, but the claim may be based on nothing more substantial than the Greek folk etymology that derived the name of the Medes from Medea (40). The Persians could themselves perceive mages as frauds: Darius so describes the mage that became the "false Smerdis" in the Behistun inscription (see also Herodotus 3.61-78). The notion that dream-prophecies cannot be fulfilled and thereby diverted by contrivance is striking.

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