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ASTYAGES ăs tī’ əjez (Old Pers. Arštivaiga, Gr. ̓Αστυάγης). The last king of the Median Empire (586-550 b.c.), the son of Cyaxares I. When his father overthrew Lydia, he made an agreement with its defeated king, Alyattes, that his son would marry the king’s daughter, the princess Aryenis (Herodotus, Histories, I, 74). The daughter of this marriage, Mandane, was given to a lower ranked Pers. nobleman, Cambyses, as wife. According to Herodotus, the old man, Astyages was afraid of any son which would be born to Mandane by reason of a terrifying dream he had had (ibid., I, 108). After another dream, Astyages plotted to take away any son that might be born, and he did this when his grandson Cyrus was born. The infant was exposed by his grandfather’s palace steward, Harpagus. This man was later alienated from Astyages when the king had his son butchered and served him as food. When Cyrus, who had been raised by a shepherd and his wife, grew to manhood, Harpagus rallied to him with a good portion of the Median Army, and Cyrus in two successful campaigns overthrew his grandfather, capturing the Median capital, Ecbatana in 550 b.c., and thus became “king of all Asia” (ibid.) I. 117-130).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(Astuages; or Astyigas (in Ktesias)), or Istuvigu, son of Cyaxares.

I, king of the Medes 585-550 BC, and predecessor of Cyrus (Bel and the Dragon verse 1): His wife was the daughter of Alyattes, king of Lydia. The daughter of Astyages (Mandane) married a Persian, Cambyses, and a son was born to them who later became Cyrus the Great. Astyages had given orders to expose the babe; but Harpagus, on whom the task had been imposed, gave the child to a herdsman, with instructions to kill him. When the boy, who had been brought up as his own by the herdsman, arrived at the age of twelve, Astyages discovered that he was the son of Mandane. The king in wrath then had the son of Harpagus killed and served to his father as food. The latter concealed his feelings of hatred and resentment, and bided his time; and when the young Cyrus had grown to manhood, he stirred up the grandson in insurrection against Astyages, who was defeated and taken prisoner (Herodotus i.127-30). When Astyages marched against the Persians, the Medes, under the command of Harpagus, deserted their king, and sided with the disappointed Persians; and Cyrus was crowned king. This account of Herodotus is confirmed by the Annalistic Tablet of Cyrus (RP, series ii, 159). The dethroned monarch was treated with kindness by his conqueror. According to Ktesias, a home was provided for him by Cyrus in Hyrcania.

Astyages was the last of the kings of the Manda (Media). An exceedingly shrewd man, Deioces by name, had founded the kingdom 150 years before (699-646). Phraortes was the second in line (646-624), and Cyaxares the third (624-584).

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