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Map showing the route of Alexander the Great
Achaemenid empire at its greatest extent
Location of Parthia

Parthia (पर्थिया) is a region of north-eastern Iran, best known for having been the political and cultural base of the Arsacid dynasty, rulers of the Parthian Empire. Parthia is the modern Khorasan.[1]


Parthia roughly corresponds to the western half of Khorasan region in northeastern Iran. It was bordered by the Kopet Dag mountain range in the north and the Dasht-e-Kavir desert in the south. It bordered Media on the west, Hyrcania on the north west, Margiana on the north east, and Aria on the south east.

During Arsacid times, Parthia was united with Hyrcania as one administrative unit, and that region is therefore often (subject to context) considered a part of Parthia proper.

Origin of name

Parthia in Median Empire

The name "Parthia" is a continuation from Latin Parthia, from Old Persian Parthava, which was the Parthian language self-designator signifying "of the Parthians" who were an Iranian people.


Ch. 19: Darius pursued into Media and Parthia

Arrian[2]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.


पृथा से परथिया

परथिया - ईरान का हरा-भरा देश ‘परथिया’ कहलाता है, जो कि अपभ्रंश है पृथा का। महाराणी कुन्ती के तीन नाम प्रसिद्ध थे - मायके का नाम ‘पृथा’, पांचाल देश के राजा कौन्त की पोष्य-पुत्री होने से ‘कुन्ती’ और देवहूती मंत्र जानने से ‘देवहूती’। इसीलिए ईरानी लोग पृथा की जन्मभूमि अर्थात् मायके को ‘परथिया’ और देवहूत को ‘हुमा’ कहते हैं, जो कि अपभ्रंश और लघुरूप है ‘देवहूती’ का (देखो हिस्टोरिकल लीजेन्ड्स आफ़ पर्शिया बाई जौन विल्सन डी० डी० एम० आर० ए० एस०)।

हूमा, एक नाम है जिससे अभिप्राय है स्वर्ग में रहनेवाली चिड़िया। देवहूती जिसका अर्थ है देवताओं का आवाहन करने वाली। दोनों का तात्पर्य एक ही है।

इसी परथिया देश में सूर्यकुमार कर्ण की उत्पत्ति हुई थी। इसीलिए जिस नदी में कर्ण का प्रवाह किया गया था आज भी वह नदी ‘करन’ कहलाती है जो कि ईरान की खाड़ी में गिरती है। ‘करन’ अपभ्रंश है कर्ण का।

ईरानी लोग कर्ण को ‘दारा’ तथा ‘दराव’ कहते हैं। दारा अपभ्रंश है ‘द्यौरा’ का और दाराब अपभ्रंश है ‘द्यौरवि’ का। द्यौ = सूर्य, रवि रविनन्दन। तात्पर्य है सूर्यकुमार कर्ण से। दाराब या दारा जिसको यूनानी ‘दी बास्टर्ड’ कहते हैं अर्थात् जो कवारेपन में उत्पन्न हुआ हो और जिसके पिता का पता न हो। जिस नगर को महाराणी कुन्ती अर्थात् हूमा ने श्री कृष्णचन्द्र व बलराम जी के नाम से बसाया था उसको सामराम कहते हैं, जो कि अपभ्रंश है ‘श्यामराम’ का (देखो हिस्टोरिकल लीजेन्ड्स आफ़ पर्शिया बाई जौन विल्सन डी० डी० एम० आर० ए० एस०)।[3]

पार्थिया प्रदेश

दलीप सिंह अहलावत[4] लिखते हैं:

पार्थियन बौद्ध प्रचारक - प्राचीन भारतीय ग्रन्थों में पार्थिया को ‘पह्लव’ कहा गया है, और रामायण, महाभारत तथा पुराणों में शक, पह्लव, बर्बर नाम प्रायः साथ-साथ आते हैं जो कि जाटवंश हैं। (तृतीय अध्याय, शक पह्लव, बर्बर प्रकरण देखो)।

पार्थिया प्रदेश बैक्ट्रिया (बल्ख) के पश्चिम और कैस्पियन सागर के दक्षिण-पूर्व में स्थित था। इसकी स्थापना पह्लववंशज जाटों ने 248 ई० पू० में की थी, जिनके नेता असरक और तरिदात थे। इन्होंने ईरान को भी जीत लिया था। यहां के राजाओं तथा निवासियों ने बौद्धधर्म अपना लिया था। दूसरी सदी ईस्वी में पह्लव वंश का बौद्धभिक्षु चीन गया। चीनी साहित्य में उसका नाम न्गन-चे-काओ तथा संस्कृत नाम लोकोत्तम था। वह चीन में श्वेताश्व विहार में रहा, जहां इसने अनुवादकों के लिए एक पीठ की स्थापना की। इसने स्वयं 100 से भी अधिक बौद्ध ग्रन्थों का चीनी भाषा में अनुवाद किया, जिसमें से 55 इस समय भी उपलब्ध हैं। उस अनुवाद पीठ में बहुत से विद्वानों में से ‘न्गन हिउअन’ का नाम उल्लेखनीय है। वह भी पह्लव वंश का था और व्यापार के लिए लोयांग में बसा हुआ था (पृ० 53, 165)।


Parthia Map 500 BC

City-states of "some considerable size" existed in Parthia as early as the first millennium BC, "and not just from the time of the Achaemenids or Seleucids." However, for the most part, society was rural, and dominated by large landholders with large numbers of serfs, slaves, and other indentured labor at their disposal. Communities with free peasants also existed.

By Arsacid times, Parthian society was divided into the four classes (limited to freemen). At the top were the kings and near family members of the king. These were followed by the lesser nobility and the general priesthood, followed by the mercantile class and lower-ranking civil servants, and with farmers and herdsmen at the bottom.

Little is known of the Parthian economy, but agriculture must have played the most important role in it. Significant trade first occurs with the establishment of the Silk road in 114 BC, when Hecatompylos became an important junction.

See also


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